The “Fill in the States Map” Part 1 tour is over, and I want to share some information about the motorcycle and riding gear. It’s always good to look back, and pay attention to how effective was the planning.
Just after starting out on this trip, the 2008 Suzuki V-Strom DL650 rolled past the 60,000-mile mark. It has been a phenomenal motorcycle and it continues to provide reliable transportation. Not once during the whole 2,400-mile trip did it give any hiccup. As some of you know, I have been testing the Michelin Anakee 3 tires, and they proved to be very good. I have said before that the tire gives confidence on the street, and after this trip, I can report that they are just as incredible in the rain.
After every tour, I go over the motorcycle with a fresh service—oil, filter, chain cleaning and lube. The amount of rain I encountered really demands some attention on the chain, so it’s going to get some special TLC.
I wear an HJC CL-15 full-face helmet, a Tourmaster Intake mesh jacket with a rain liner, Tourmaster Solution touring boots, and a pair of First Gear rain pants. My choice of riding pants are Carhartt double-kneed canvas dungarees, and my riding gloves might surprise you—a pair of Wells Lamont Heavy Duty work gloves.
Several years ago, I became discouraged that every year, I would have to replace my summer riding gloves, and replace them for about $50. I think gloves should last longer than that. One day at my local Costco store, I spotted a package of three pairs of Wells Lamonts for $19. Bought the package and started wearing a pair for my riding gloves. I have seen deerskin gloves for $80 at the motorcycle accessory shop that look just like the Wells Lamonts. So, why do gloves labeled “motorcycle gloves” cost so much more? Well, after three riding seasons, my first pair of Wells Lamonts finally gave out on this tour. Not to worry, I have two more pair!
I have several HJC helmets. They fit my head perfectly—comfortable and good fit. My only complaint with the HJC is the seal for the visor around the top of the face opening. It doesn’t seal as well as it should. In heavy rain, water will run down the inside of the visor. This can distort the view a little. I have tried to adjust the visor, but to no avail. It’s a good helmet and okay in light mist or rain. It’s the heavy rain that causes concern.
I really like the Tourmaster Intake jacket. When I bought it in 2009, I wondered how effective a rain liner would be worn under the mesh, but it works and it works well. This is my summer touring jacket. In the mountains, I can put on a fleece jacket, rain liner that acts as a wind barrier, and then the mesh. I’m comfortable in the upper 40s. That’s versatility!
I may have been too harsh on the rain pants on Day 5 of my ride. I think what really happened was that the waist band slid below the bottom of my jacket rain liner, and the water poured into my pants. That’s a much different scenario than the rain pants leaking. These rain pants do not have suspenders—just a very high waist. So, the waist band can work its way down the torso over time. As a side note, I was thinking that’s an awful lot of cold water to be a leak!
My Solution boots are getting old. I have used waterproofing on them in the past, but did not treat them before this trip, and I should have. Waterproofing the boots can extend their life, so I’m going to give them a treatment before I ride in the rain again.
The Givi hard luggage is great. It never leaks. It’s lockable making it easy to secure valuables like laptops and cameras. I always carry my clothes in a waterproof duffel. On this trip, I used the 20” Wolfman Expedition waterproof duffel. Everything inside stayed dry, as it should. My reason for the duffel sitting on the pillion is to give me a little bit of a backrest on those long highway miles. It works well and I think reduces fatigue.
The one action I will take before the next tour is to do the waterproofing as noted above. Otherwise, as far as doing a little trip prep, it’s just put gas in the motorcycle and go!
That’s it for the equipment report. If you have questions, write a comment and I’ll respond. Coming up: The Soul Searching.
See you on the highway.