June 25, 2021

After the trip – thoughts about equipment/kit

  • the bike – my trusty steed, a Triumph Tiger 885 built in 2000 which I bought used about 5 years ago with 13000kms on the clock. Very solid 900cc triple adventure style bike which is certainly not light but, as I said, is solid. Mostly original, fork springs were uprated to progressive springs and more fork oil (why didn´t I do it earlier?), Garmin 590 Zumo navigator hard-mounted above the instruments behing the screen with Sena bluetooth system in helmet (excellent), extra adjustable MRA screen to reduce turbulance at helmet (low cost and high benefit addition), K&N washable air filter, H&B luggage carrier with H&B top case. G+G aluminium cases left 40L right 32L (a lot cheaper than the usual suspects, look cool and are watertight). Tyres were a set of two year old metzeler tourance nexts which are great for road up to moderate unpaved roads. Finally, Triumph original crash bars mounted around the engine in case of a prang. All-in-all a lovely bike for exploring the world without all the stress and costs of a high-powered modern dual sports bike. The winter project will be to find a way to sort out the fuelling which is rather too lean at low and mid-range but fine at the top.
  • Büse air ventilation suit – I bought this recently with a view to finally buying some decent kit for any trips that come up. It was reasonably priced and has two removable layers in the jacket and one in the trousers with ventilation slits to open and close in trousers and in the jacket body and sleeves so that with a bit of thought you can find a good setup for 30°C plus mediterranean climates to 10°C cold and wet days in central Europe. I was impressed with quality and function, the only slight gripe is that there isn´t a pocket large enough in the jacket for wallet and phone so I put them in the tank bag which was fine as things turned out and actually more practical at payment stations on the French autoroutes.
  • Helmet HJC ALPA 70 with Sena bluetooth audio and microphone system – worked very well and didn´t leak at all in a biblical storm (as long as you close the air vents in time). Audio is fine and easily adjustable on the go with your left hand. Phone calls are possible if you back off the speed a bit. The built in dark screen to raise and drop via the left-side slider is terrific.
  • Berik adventure boots – I bought them in an attack of adventure-ness and because my old Daytona boots are slowly falling apart. At first I thought OMG because on first use they are like putting on ski boots with zero feel for the levers and no give in the sole, they did, however, loosen up quite quickly and became much more comfortable to walk in but you still are forced into a western style swagger which could be, I suppose, part of the image. Feel for the levers will never be up to a soft racing style boot but I got used to it and didn´t notice it after a while. It´s probably a matter of personal preference like most things, the boots feel safe, are comfy after a day´s riding and dry quickly so basically all bases covered there.
  • the camping list – in all fairness to myself it was a pretty good and comprehensive list. As usual I still took more stuff than I needed, particularly tools which are very heavy and weren´t used. In retrospect, if I had needed to do the chain (which I didn´t) I could have found a small garage. I could have saved at least 5kgs on tools. The 2.5 man tent and sunshadow was a luxurious solution, nice to have the space but a 1.5 man tent would have done as well, the sunshadow was an excellent and light-weight, low-space solution to gain some shelter room and I would take it again. I took too many socks, but 4 t-shirts was fine. I did take a laptop and various assorted cables which worked well but wasn´t the lightest of all solutions. A Microsoft surface would have been lighter but is also a lot more expensive and thus riskier. Do you need a spare light-bulb in France? No, but I had one, it is easy to source most things in western Europe so definite luggage savings possible here. The airbed and pillow were amazingly comfortable and only slightly bulkier than a mat so I would take them again. The only failure I had was the stove and I would definitely consider taking a very light one for coffee making and soups but no serious cuisine.