Friday, September 13, 2013

CBR250R Sport-touring… Retrospectively

It was back on 2011 July 30th when I took delivery of my CBR250R (aka Scully). Over two years later, I am still here I am still surfing. Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to pause and take a moment to ponder and enjoy the moment. When I set out to start blogging I was apprehensive about writing, about sharing with all who wish to read my perspectives on touring and related topics. And yet I set out to write with only one goal: to share my adventures in a poignant, unapologetic manner.

Sport touring is a questionable endeavor, one full with many perils yet immensely rewarding. As I have mentioned on previous posts, every trip is filled with common uncertainty, elusive perfection. It is this axiom that pervades my mind constantly, the knowledge that any trip at any given time can be a one-way tour. 

I would like to thank my family (and my four legged dependents) for simply being there and supporting my choice and freedom to surf. I would like to thank you the unknown follower for coming along for The Ride. My name is Fredo, I am a Tarmac surfer is what I do best, it is what inspires me, and this is my reality exponentially beautiful reality.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sport Touring: AGV leather suit and touring set up review*

I have been riding the 250 for over two years and over 8300 miles and continuously tinkering with my gear and set up. These are my two cents on the topic.

*Disclaimer: I am not an expert on the subject matter, simply a moto enthusiast.

AGV  Dragon leather jacket and Willow perforated pants
Miles < 500

I opted for this suit on my last trip and it worked really well. The jacket is made of thick  heavy cowhide that feels nice to the touch and reassuring should one happen to slide on the tarmac. The red stripping is a nice touch. It has CE rated armor on the shoulders, and elbows and a regular thin pad on the back. It is not perforated instead it has two zippers in the front and two in the back that provide minimal airflow.

Photo credit by the Tripod

It can get really hot in this thing, at around 85F and humid it was really uncomfortable at a stand still, once moving it was tolerable. 

The fit (at least for me) is just right, at 5’ 6”, 130lbs. I normally wear a size 36 Short coat, but base on AGV’s sizing I ordered a size U.S. 40 and fits nicely.  The jacket comes with a removable thin vest for cooler weather, but I think I will wear my Gore wind stopper fleece under it for extra warmth when needed.  The fit around the neck and shoulder is nice and snug, the armor sits comfortably on the shoulders, forearms and elbows. The only thing that I found may be a problem for some is the forearm fit, they are really narrow and fit snug even for me, maybe is supposed to be this way by design to hold the armor in place during a slide. Either way is not physically uncomfortable but it hot weather the forearms will get really sweaty and stick to the liner. This is not deal breaker for me, since the rest of the jacket fits and is well made for the price.

The inside of the jacket has one small zippered pocket big enough for a cell phone and a wallet, the outside has an additional two pockets. Overall the jacket feels and fits nicely, has waist zippers so it can be connected to other agv products and for the price it is a really nice and practical deal.

The pants also feel heavy but nice to the touch, the leather is thick and it has CE armor on the knee and shin areas, some padding on the seat, and stretchable fabric behind the knees and crotch area for airflow and comfort.  It also comes with removable pucks attached via Velcro for a possible track session.  Sizing is true to size, at 5’ 6” 30 inseam, I ordered a size 30 and it fit just right.  It fits snug around the waist, but won’t make you feel like a sausage (assuming a one has somewhat slim waist). It comes standard with a zipper, a waist strap, and two small front zippered pockets,  basic but functional design.

The pants feel awkward when standing but once on the bike they fall in place and fit really snug and mostly comfortable.  The only thing I have found so far to be an issue and this may have to do with breaking them in is that the knee pads tend to compress the kneecaps and add pressure after extended periods or riding leading to discomfort.  The calf area fits really snug and it closes via a zipper, I tuck mine in my boots for added safety and comfort. I am not sure if these can be worn over boots.

The pants and jackets can be zip together but I have not worn them attached yet. After nearly five hundred miles mostly worn on the open road I’d give this set up a good rating. I can’t comment on durability yet, but so far craftsmanship is acceptable for the price point.  The leather is not waterproof so if you plan on wearing these on extended trips a rain suit is a must.

250R touring set up

I have had this set up for the entire time I’ve own my bike and had made only slight adjustments.  The saddlebags and tank bag are First Gear Silverstone. They have held up to long miles on the road under high heat and lots of rain. (they are not waterproof). I have used large plastic bags for keeping items dry in the saddlebags but will be switching to 35-liter dry bags as carry on in the near future. The bags did come with rain covers, but I think they are useless. I only use the rain cover for the tank bag. I like to use a minimalist approach to gear when traveling and tend to think that if it does not fit in these bags (excluding my sleeping bag) than I can do without it.

If you look closely you can see the cable running from under the seat to the the tank bag and the gps. On the right side you can see the water reservoir. I use Rok straps to attach the saddle bags to the bike along with DYI saddle bag supports that consist of two 24" aluminum bars attached to passenger pegs via hose clamps. Simple and practical. The only thing missing in this shot is the new yellow dry bag.

I also like to avoid strapping multiple items that flap in the air and can be lost, so lately I acquired a 65 liter compressible dry bag for my sleeping and cold weather gear that tend to be bulky. I also installed a RAM mount to hold my gps, it is a car version a bit outdated but it gets the job done. I also carry an assortment of maps as my primary navigation tools. I used the battery tender power cable to power electronics such as the gps, phone charger or other items. It works well except I can only power one item at a time, I may install a power distributor in the future to handle multiple items simultaneously. When you are out on the road for days it is a welcome luxury to be able to power your phone and gps. 

The challenge is converting this mess into...

Something that looks like an organized Moto traveler

For hydration needs I switched to a Platypus water reservoir (bpa free), it is easier to clean and it won’t make the water taste foul, like other brands. I tend to fill it with one third water and the rest with ice and place it in one of the saddle bags, this allows for neutral tasting, cold water for a few hours. I used to place it in my tank bag, but it takes a lot of space, it could leak and ruing my electronics, and having in it the back forces me to stop for breaks to drink and stretch. 

Depending on my destination I may carry all or a combination of the following: chain lube, three pairs of gloves (heated, perforated, and non heated water proof), paper maps, one person tent, thermarest sleeping pad, 0 degree sleeping bag, gps, phone charger, coins for tolls roads, warm/windproof fleece, pants, shirts and under garments made of breathable materials (not cotton). I also carry spare keys, two disc locks, head lamp, camera w/tripod, ear plugs, sneakers, a travel size bike cover and always a slime tire repair kit with a pump under the seat.

Feel free to comment and let me know if you have suggestions or questions about the set up. Enjoy the Ride.