Motorcycle Equipment: 1994 - 1997

These are some pieces of Motorcycle touring equipment which we have or which we have had to discard or replace along the way. We are, by the way, not sponsored or otherwised supported by any of the manufacturers, and these are simply the things we have found which work best for us. No endorsment of any product should be assumed or is implied.

Clothing: Bullson Old Chieftain riding suit

Living in Switzerland as we do, we needed riding clothes that could handle a large variety of weather and temperatures. The Bullson Old Chieftain riding suit was the perfect answer. It is a very heavy duty gore-tex lined riding suit. It is very roomy making it very easy to wear normal street clothes underneath. The gore-tex lining made it waterproof, at least for the first 3 years. After 3 years or so the gore-tex lining had come apart at the seams, and the jacket was no longer waterproof. It still works great as a riding jacket but we have to carry waterproof gear. The pants have a nice zippered vent, and the jacket has lots and lots of pockets. After 170,000km and 6 years we still continue to use the suit everyday, a testimony to its endurance.

Boots: Hein Gerick & Sidi

Real motorcross boots. Heavy, durable and safe. A friend of mine recently broke a couple of toes while riding off road on his GS even while wearing boots. So you can still get hurt, but wearing boots will at least give you a chance. We have had these boots for a long time and we will have them for a much longer time so they are definitely worth the investment. Downside, they get hot, or rather your foot inside the boots can get very hot. I have seen heated socks, but I have yet to find air conditioned socks.

Rainsuits: Rukka

Even though our jackets were once upon a time waterproof, we still carried rain gear. The reason is obvious, long distance touring requires one to be prepared for all sorts of weather. In Canada it rained on us for practically two months straight. Our rainsuits not only made sure we were relatively dry, but also kept us warm. Regardless of what many may think rain gear is not absolutely waterproof. Riding in a hurricane (Louisiana) is going to get you wet. How wet you get or don't get depends on how well you can seal the various entry points. Around the neck has always been our worst point. For a few hours it is not too much of a problem, but after a day riding in heavy rain, we get a noticeable amount of water coming in through the neck area. Never enough to dampen the joy of traveling which is after all the most important thing. Have fun, always, regardless of weather. The Rukka rainsuits are very sturdy and can handle years of wear and tear unlike a lot of other "lighter" suits. Downside is that they can get pretty hot. A major weak point is the boots, whose soles are simply to flimsy to last very long under prolonged usage.

Pack Bags: Ortlieb Wasserdicht 80L

What do you pack everything in when travelling? We have found that a couple of large waterproof bags is the best solution. No more packing everything in plastic bags inside another bag, strapped to bikes with spider webbing or bungy cords. We carry up to 5 of the Ortlieb bags and strap them down with straps, not bungies, so that they become, in essence, part of the bike. No more moving around when the bike hits a pot hole, and everything stays dry, dust free. We carry two types of bags one opens at one end, making it perfect for storing things like tent, cooking gear etc. The other opens in the middle, a perfect bag for keeping clothes etc. in. In the US we have seen some nice bags in camping stores devoted to kayaking called SealLine which work on the same principle, but don't seem as sturdy as the Ortlieb.

Boxes: Aluminium

Aluminium boxes are almost a requisite for long distance touring. In our case I wasn't able to find boxes that fitted my very exacting demands for long distance touring, so I had some specially made. This was certainly not the cheapest alternative, but in the long run (almost 2 years, now) they have more than proven themselves. One of my major requirement for the boxes was that they have no holes. I have seen numerous boxes most of which have been riveted together and which usually have screws for the mounting brackets through the box. Eventually the vibration causes the rivets to enlarge the hole in the boxes, which then have to be re-riveted or otherwise plugged. The worst problem seems to be with the mounting bracket which when the bike crashes (and it will) landing on the box, causes the screws to be ripped through the box wall. Not a pretty sight and a real mess to fix. Another major item was the size. Sizes of boxes on the market vary greatly, but for my tastes they are generally too big. Mounting brackets, as already mentioned screws or bolts through the box are in my book a no, no. One of my favorites mounting techniques was employed by Helge Pedersen on his 10 year around the world journey. He used a plate welded to the box on which a circular tube was affixed this would fit through a bolt mounted on the bike. The whole thing held down by a nut and a small lock if memory serves. The system was designed so that the weak point was the bolt welded to the bike. When he crashed badly that would break hindering any further damage to the box. He said that on his journey he only had to have that piece re-welded 3 times. My boxes use a steel cradle in which the boxes fit. When the bikes go down this cradle keeps the boxes from ever touching the ground. It is extremely strong and still very lightweight. Some additional details, like a lid that opens outwards from the bike, mounting brackets for water or gas canisters, as well as numerous attachment points for bungee or straps, complete the setup.Last but not least I would like to say that all boxes have been designed with a particular purpose and function in mind. One of the foremost seem to be ease of removal, and aesthetics after removing the boxes. My boxes are easy to remove but the remaining cradle destroys the beautiful lines of the GS (no laughing now). In practice we have found that we practically never remove the boxes just to go riding around without them. We do remove the boxes quite frequently to use as chairs and a table when camping, and as soon as we are finished, re-mounted on the bikes.

Tankbag: BMW

To be honest the only reason I got the BMW tank bags was the harness. The GS PD has a very "steep" tank with a storage compartment just below the fuel filling point. They developed a harness especially to fit this model bike so we went ahead and bought two. Just because they are BMW doesn't make them very good. The zippers are usually the first or in some cases the second thing to go. The other competitor being the map pocket flap, which likes to start tearing itself off the bag and ripping the plastic with it. The zippers are easily replaced, we have replaced them with the heaviest (read largest) zippers we could find, and the map pocket is just very gently handled. I am considering sewing it back on (again) if it gets much worse. We do like the size and the fit though, so everything isn't as bleak as it sounds. We still use them after all and they have come in very handy on the trip.

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