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-   -   Gear Reviews from a Two Month Trip (http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=421333)

HelloKitty 10-17-2008 03:59 PM

Gear notes
 
My husband and I took a 2 month, cross-country trip last summer and thought we should move our gear review notes over to the gear/equipment forum. So thanks to GB, this is where they now live. Enjoy!

- HelloKitty
-----------------------------
I noticed some of you were interested in my gear on this trip and how it performed, so I have just a couple photos and descriptions for you.

The protective layer consisted of my Shoei Hornet helmet, BMW Savannah boots, the BMW Summer pants and my RevIT Airforce jacket:

<table style="width: auto;"><tbody><tr><td>http://lh3.ggpht.com/d6bethany/SPj25...0/IMGP5827.JPG</td></tr><tr><td style="font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-size: 11px; text-align: right;">From Gear Review</td></tr></tbody></table>

The pants did show the dirt, but they were easy to clean - just pull the pads out and throw in the wash. I didn't even bother to separate it from the rest of the clothes we were washing, everything came out fine.

About the jacket, I've only had it for 10 months and can't say enough great things about it. Its very much a summer jacket with fantastic ventilation. The liner is good for 60 - 70 degree weather with long sleeve shirt. I added a gore-tex rain shell over the top and my heated vest and I could ride at 30-40 degrees pretty comfortably. The only issue I had was fraying on the cuffs from the velcro closure - apparently they fixed this in a newer version of the coat. We spoke to folks at RevIT about it and we're hoping they can sort it out for us.

Also, adding the gore-tex rain pants over the summer pants works really well - these things are completely rain and wind proof - I much prefer this to rain proof liners so far. Here's a pic of my "rain & wind" layer:

<table style="width: auto;"><tbody><tr><td>http://lh3.ggpht.com/d6bethany/SPj9w...0/IMGP5846.JPG</td></tr><tr><td style="font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-size: 11px; text-align: right;">From Gear Review</td></tr></tbody></table>

All of this stuff was easy to clean, just regular laundry. Except for the RevIT coat - but it actually stayed remarkably clean and odor free. Several times on our trip I used the hotel facecloth, hot water and a dot of the free shampoo to rub out the bugs and dust. This worked well and didn't take more than 5 or 10 minutes.

My gore-tex rain pants came from an LL Bean outlet in Wareham, MA - they were marked down to like $36. Its got the big dorky logo on the leg, but I loved the features (like full length/leg zippers & velcro, lined pockets & optional suspenders). They look like a leftover from "Steamboat" ski resort as they have a blacked out label inside. Outlets are great. :D

My rain jacket is a basic gore-tex shell from EMS, something from the ladies clearance rack / end of season type deal from a few years ago. If there are any petite ladies looking for gear like this, EMS and REI both seem to have lots of x-small and small sizes in hi-tech outerwear at the end of every season. My husband hates me for it.

About the helmet - the visor was much appreciated, although I wished it provided a tad bit more coverage. When I bought it, the cheek pads were too thick, so I ordered the smaller pads and now I can chew gum without chewing my face. It does fog up a bit when its cold, so it was good to have a buff as I had to leave the visor cracked in those situations. Cleaning it is laborious (can easily be a 20 min process), and sometimes tricky - if you don't have everything lined up, the visor won't close snugly (had to suffer this for a couple weeks til I had time to clean and fix it again). It keeps the sun out of my eyes, has great visibility and fits my head. I like this helmet.

Cheers,
Mrs HowlingMad

texmawby 10-17-2008 04:25 PM

John,

Great talking to you today on the phone. After reading and laughing through all 9 pages of your blog/posts i feel that i know you and bethany even better. Good to see that your Rev'it! gear held up and preformed as designed for you and Bethany.....also good to see that the good guys at Revzilla took care of your needs. Please let me know if there is anyway that i can further assist you. What an epic journey....I am INSPIRED!

Cheers to you and Bethany,

Tex Mawby
Rev'it! Sport USA

HowlingMad 10-17-2008 06:31 PM

Gear Review - Part 1
 
Well, she beat me to it as usual. But here's the beginning of my review, beware it's long and boring.

Since I've been writing this for 6 hours so far, each review is getting shorter and shorter so I'll stop here and finish the rest later. Please let me know if there is a particular piece of equipment that I forgot to review.

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Usage – Every day for 62 days, 12,000 miles
Conditions –Mixed terrain, ample rain, no mud. August through October.
Temperature range 24 -100 degrees Fahrenheit
Body Type – Athletic build
Motorcycle – 2007 BMW R1200GS Adventure
Bias – Like most BMW gear, own at least 3-4 coats and pants. I’m also a big fan of the Rallye II and previously considered it the best gear for this type of travel.
Background – 15 years of consistent riding, almost no understanding of garment/fabric engineering. 20+ years of camping, mountaineering in all climates.

<o:p> </o:p>
<o:p>http://lh4.ggpht.com/d6bethany/SPkT9...0/IMGP5843.JPG
</o:p>
<st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Cayenne</st1:city></st1:place> Pro - Pants (Large, Black)

Pros:
  • Fit- Perfect with room for adjustment, thermal and waterproof liners without being baggy or restricted at either extreme. Not sure how they did that, but it works. Also, the adjustable waist is a simple godsend that allows many different body types to use 3-4 size pants.
  • Durability – Outstanding. The cuffs usually take a beating under this type of torture, but they show zero signs of wear. (Note: the R12GSA pegs would often grab the inner cuff of the pant as I would put my leg down, I was shocked that it never ripped or strained the seams.) Also, the black color never showed any dirt as opposed to my tan Summer pants or grey Rallye pants. The only drawback was heat. See below.
  • Temperature range – Excellent. The thermal and waterproof liners allowed me to ride below freezing with nothing else on. In the past I would wear thermal liner (power stretch fleece) and heated chaps to ride in these temperatures. In the heat, they were a bit warm, but performed as well as any pants of this type I’ve owned. It’s worth noting that the pants were black which doesn’t help this issue.
  • Cargo – Good. The pants have two waterproof pockets (brilliant) but it did leave me occasionally looking for more. I have grown to like the cargo pocket of my Summer pants. (I stored my passport in my coat which I would often remove and put down for short periods. I would have employed the cargo pocket in a pants and not been concerned)
  • Ease of Use – Excellent. The zippers at the top and bottom are superior to the hook and snap design used on other removable liners. Also the vertical zippers make boot adjustments or entry much easier.
  • Appearance – Good/Great. Black hides a world of sins including 12k miles of grime and bugs, but I think I might have preferred something that wasn’t entirely black without looking like I just landed. I always hated the attention that the Rallye II brought in it’s Spaceman Spiff styling, but basic black gets boring. Also, I love the fit, but hate the according styling that probably allows for flexibility and versatility.
Cons:
  • Serviceability – Poor. There are no care instructions on the pants or coat. (edit: found the tag in the pants) The instructions on the website do not permit for basic field care. Considering this coat appears to be marketed for third world adventure, they should allow for appropriate care in these environments.
  • Other:
    • Velcro – I’m learning to hate this stuff. The adjustable waistband granted excess male Velcro which tore holes in my Widder electric vest and mangled my Techwick (quick-dry polyester) shirts. This might have been prevented or lessened by using female blanks. Something I would advise they ship with the pants.
    • Two holes developed in the pants pockets in the same place, at the bottom of the zipper. No idea why or how this happened, but considering the symmetrical faults, it seems to be a design flaw. (unless I have unusually bony posterior superior iliac spine) Note: Rev'it asked me to send the pants back to them for review, look back here for updates.
    • Would suggest exploring an waterproof overpant. The inner waterproof liner in the coat is not an issue since you usually have a shirt on, but I usually only wear underwear or thin shorts under the pants. Getting half naked on the side of the road in the summer* in the rain draws more attention than I prefer. (* in the fall, the liners stay in almost full time, so this issue is more prevalent when the temperatures stay above 70 degrees F
http://lh3.ggpht.com/d6bethany/SPkT8...0/IMGP5837.JPG
<o:p> </o:p>
Overall: Outstanding. These will be part of my future kit for expeditions. I’m hoping Rev’it will sort out the small issues for me.
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<o:p> </o:p>
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<st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Cayenne</st1:city></st1:place> Pro – Coat (XL, Grey/Red/Black)

Good:
  • Fit – Excellent. I often have difficulty finding a coat that allows enough shoulder width without having a barrel waist. Although there is a tad more room through the waist than I would prefer fully cinched, it’s still the best fitting riding coat I’ve owned. The adjustable waist straps made it worth the extra money over the original <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Cayenne</st1:place></st1:city> for me. The sliding collar button with bungie holder is brilliant and worked remarkably well. I would have appreciated a little more adjustment as I was unable to close it with the electric vest, but my neck may be larger than most. Armor was all well placed and rarely noticeable except for weight, The original backpad is poor and should not be included. My dealer was good enough to upgrade it to a Sastech for free.
  • Durability – Excellent. The grey color is showing the miles, dirt and bugs, but the red color does not appear to be fading. There are no tears, pulls or frays. All the seams are in order. The Velcro is well placed and did not graze on any other articles of clothing.
  • <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Temperature</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Range</st1:placetype></st1:place> – Great/Good. The coat did amazingly well given the extremes. Overall it worked better in the colder temperatures than the warm, see cons below. The inner two liners allow flexibility without electric heat. The engineering of the zippers and ease of insertion is excellent. There are two options for zipping the coat and pants together which also allows extra range in temperature.
  • Cargo – Excellent. Where to start. This coat has more pockets than you know what to do with, until you take a long trip. I found a use and regular home for things in each of the pockets. The there are two waterproof pockets instead of a removable sleeve which I prefer. The combination pocket/mesh inner pockets helped temperature control.
  • Ease of Use – Great. I had minor issues with the rubberized zippers on the arms, snap closures of inner sleeve liners, but otherwise the entire coat worked flawlessly. The pant connect zippers were easy to use, something I’ve never been comfortable using in the past.
  • Appearance – Great. I very much like the styling of the coat and although it still draws attention, at least they recognize you’re from this planet. What little this may detract from the coat is made up for with versatility. I would prefer a smaller logo on the back, or a large check for the advertising. ( I removed the BMW logos from my Rallye II)
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • Serviceability – Poor. Please see pants.
  • Other:
    • Temperature range was better in the cold. They might have improved the higher end with longer arm zippers and longer back zippers. I was able to wear the coat in 100 in Death Valley, but I was very uncomfortable in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Philadelphia</st1:place></st1:city> traffic at 85-90 (plus humidity). Please Note: My experience may be different than others based on motorcycle conditions (windshield, etc)
    • Logo – You’re on the map now, could we make this a little smaller? Please?
<o:p> </o:p>
Overall: Outstanding - These will be part of my future kit for expeditions.
<o:p> </o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
BMW <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Savannah</st1:city></st1:place> Boots

Pros:
  • Fit my wide feet well with all day comfort.
  • Good temperature range, although better in the cold
  • Bombproof. They are absolutely waterproof and don’t look any worse given the conditions
  • Stankproof. These boots didn’t stink at all and they had every right to.
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Cons:
  • A little warm in hot weather, but I doubt any boot could fit this role and be any cooler.
<o:p> </o:p>
Shoei Hornet
http://lh5.ggpht.com/d6bethany/SPkuK...0/P1050568.JPG


Pros:
  • Most comfortable and quiet helmet I can remember owning
  • Durable – has worn very well on this trip.
  • Visor was very helpful during sunrise and sundown.
  • Looks cool.
Cons:
  • Minor rattling in visor.
  • Visor could be a tad longer.
  • Satin/matte finish was more difficult to keep clean.
  • Needs ratchet strap, D rings are old and slow.
<o:p> </o:p>
Garmin 276c GPS

<o:p> </o:p>
Pros:
  • Full control of information, flexibility of display and ease of use without being too elementary.
  • Large display, rugged, waterproof and good battery life
  • Flawless performance under harsh conditions for 4 years.
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • Awkward plug design
  • Proprietary memory = expensive expansion
  • Buttons would be better located on left panel
  • Moving maps is tedious and battery consuming in the field.
<o:p> </o:p>
MSR Mo Room 3

http://lh3.ggpht.com/d6bethany/SPksA...IMGP4687-1.JPG
Pros:
  • Large, spacious design with ample headroom everywhere
  • Compact packed design is not much larger than most of my 2 person tents.
  • Weight is considerably less than any other competitor we reviewed
  • Spacious vestibule is ideal for storing moto kit and doubles as a kitchen in bad weather.
  • Lots of pockets, 2 gear hammocks,
  • Truly a three person tent with gear
  • Two doors
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • Difficult to set up with one person
  • Time consuming to break down
  • Must be staked, not freestanding (difficult in some conditions)
  • Frost collected inside, then melted and dripped inside when warmed
  • Vents allowed rain to leak when not erected on level ground.
  • Too big for our taste for two people. Will take a two person tent next time.
  • Cost - $500
<o:p> </o:p>
BMW R1200GS Adventure

<o:p> </o:p>
Pros:
  • Bulletproof, powerful, comfortable, great ergonomics, fantastic handling
  • Fuel consumption ranges from average to great
  • Versatile, tool like design is the Swiss Army knife of bikes.
  • Off road capable beyond expectations
  • Shaft drive simplicity was beautiful compared to F650GS daily maintenance.
<o:p> </o:p>

Cons:
  • Heavy, difficult to extract when turtled. Bags often needed to be removed before it could be righted even in ideal conditions.
  • Cost
<o:p> </o:p>

BMW R1200GS Tank Bag

Pros:
  • Large, versatile bag
  • Well contoured to bike, never left marks on paint
  • Extra pocket good for small items
  • Very waterproof
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • Difficult to organize, often felt messy and cluttered
  • Could benefit from more small pockets on the outside.
  • Map pocket is almost unusable. It’s designed for A4 paper and the closure is smaller than the pocket. The plastic is discoloring and BMW will happily return it if you have your original receipt.
  • cost
<o:p> </o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
BMW R1200GS Adventure Panniers (Touratech)

<o:p> </o:p>
Pros
  • Ample space
  • Sharp looking design
  • Airtight, watertight
  • Dual open design lids work well, removable feature came in handy in windy areas for cooking
  • Durable, suffered mild torment without much issue (see below)
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • Tight tolerances in lid closure are unforgiving when dropped. They are also no field serviceable without more precise tools to return to original shape
  • Wire lid hanger falls off incessantly.
  • Wide design is difficult for tight offroad conditions
  • cost
<o:p> </o:p>

Ortlieb Roll-top Duffle (XL)

<o:p> </o:p>
Pros:
  • Bombproof design is truly a world traveler
  • Ease of use with four buckles
  • Quality is all first rate
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • None.
<o:p> </o:p>
Touratech Windscreen Spoiler

<o:p> </o:p>
Pros:
  • Significantly reduced buffeting for me (5’11”, 32 inseam)
  • Clip on design allows easy removal for off road
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • Cost - $123 is expensive but worth it for me.
<o:p> </o:p>
Custom Rear Gear Rack


Pros:
  • Worked well, allowed easy keyed removal of duffle without undoing straps
  • Held other small repair items: extra straps, Velcro, JB Weld, small bungies
  • Reduced height of load
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • No (comfortable) capacity for passenger
MSR Whisperlite International Stove

<o:p> http://lh5.ggpht.com/d6bethany/SPksr...0/P1070215.JPG</o:p>
Pros:
  • Will burn almost any fuel, ideal for moto travel
  • No other fuel to search for/run out of
  • Small, durable design
  • International availability for service, parts, replacement
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • Poor temperature control, largely dependent on bottle pressure
  • Gets sooty with each use when using unleaded
<o:p> </o:p>
Coleman Space Bags

<o:p> </o:p>
Pros:
  • Design allows great compression, maximum space
<o:p> </o:p>
Cons:
  • Bags tore open after less than 12 uses
  • Bags leaked and needed to have straps/restrictions to keep from re-aerating
<o:p> </o:p>

<o:p></o:p>
<o:p>Yet to review:</o:p>
<o:p>-BlueAnt</o:p>
<o:p>-Tool Tube</o:p>
<o:p>-
</o:p>

HowlingMad 10-23-2008 09:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by akadvntr
Looking forward to the review of your Blueant gear when you get time.

I will cross post this in the current BlueAnt equipment forum as well.

Blue Ant Interphone

Pros:
  • Works well, clear communication for us up to about 55 mph (largely dependent on wind noise, helmet type, etc)
  • Easy setup - in less than 20 min total, (install, read manual, connect) you can be up and running with little other adjustments
  • Ease of Use - Hardware stays on helmet, no other cables, nothing to attach to the motorcycle
  • Ideal solution for rental bikes. We've used this abroad and it's ideal if you're already bringing your own helmet. The charger even works at 110 or 220 volts.
  • Good ergonomics - the buttons are well placed and easy to feel with a glove on.
  • Warranty Claims - Both headsets will be covered under warranty, although it seems to take just over a month for the replacement to arrive.
Cons:
  • Cables - I'm on my second headset already in less than one year. Although I do a fair amount of riding, this is less than what I think we should expect from a product.
  • Line of Sight - a limitation of Bluetooth more than the product, but these devices have a good range as long as you have line of sight with others. Off road situations usually don't offer this and that's when I feel I need the device the most to confirm my wife is still upright.
  • Battery Life - We typically get about 5-6 hours of battery life, but we've learned to work around it by turning on and off. A PTT switch would make this much easier to cope with, although it would make it more complex and probably more difficult with Bluetooth.
  • No on-board charging. Although they sell a car charger, you cannot be using the device while it's charging, something that seems poorly thought out.
  • Poor Customer service - While on this two month trip, the second headset failed and the headquarters in San Francisco was unable to help me other than direct me to a reseller. (fine) They pointed me to several retailers, none of whom carried the Interphone. I called back again later hoping to get someone else who would understand and assist, but received the same process. They only seem to know who carries BlueAnt devices, but not a specific device. Given the bulk of their products appear do not appear to be moto related, this results in a wild goose chase. Long story short, after a 2-3 hours of phone calls, there is only one supplier in the US for aftermarket products. They could have saved me this time with a tad more training.
  • Lack of US/Global suppliers - There appears to be only one US supplier for the headset booms in NYC, and they are currently out of stock on this product with no ETA for a replacement. I've tried calling them (MobileCityOnline.com) twice and waited on hold for 7-10 minutes before being dumped into voicemail. After speaking again with BlueAnt, they confirmed that I have no other options except this one vendor to deal with.
Overall
Good product for short trips (two weeks or less) and ideal for vacations with rented bikes, but lack of suppliers, company support and powered options removes this as a viable option for extended travel or anywhere you are truly dependent on the hardware. I will pruchase an Autocom for future trips and leave these on the shelf for hired bikes. I am disapointed with the company more than the hardware, something that could be fixed.

HelloKitty 10-23-2008 10:15 AM

more on the blueAnt...
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by HowlingMad
I will cross post this in the current BlueAnt equipment forum as well.

Blue Ant Interphone

Pros:
  • Works well, clear communication for us up to about 55 mph (largely dependent on wind noise, helmet type, etc)
....

Its worthy to note that we both had either plugs or in-ear headphones that affected the sound / loudness. For me, I was wearing a pair of qJays and it was tricky to have a conversation above 40-45 mph. I never managed to turn on the volume-boost on my unit to compensate - I know John had his enabled, but his battery didn't last as long as mine. I'd say wearing plugs cut the loudness by 40% vs. no plugs at all.

Also, I had the following experience using the blue ant for phone calls:
  • With my Blackberry 7130, it paired up just fine but I could only hear if I was stopped on the bike. For some reason I could not get the volume high enough when paired with this phone.
  • With my HTC Touch Dual, it also paired up easily and was 30-40% louder than when paired with my blackberry. I drove on city streets in Rapid City with speeds up to 50 mph, with no plugs in, and had an amazingly clear conversation with my mom. She had no clue I was driving the bike and I didn't miss a word!!
Overall, I really like this blue ant. I do think its a shame the parts for these are not easy to get.

GB 01-06-2009 03:36 PM

Pruned from this excellent ride report:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=378123

HowlingMad 01-06-2009 03:43 PM

Thanks GB!:D

HowlingMad 01-06-2009 09:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HelloKitty
... The only issue I had was fraying on the cuffs from the velcro closure - apparently they fixed this in a newer version of the coat. We spoke to folks at RevIT about it and we're hoping they can sort it out for us.

Just thought you should know that Rev'It sorted the cuff issue out for us as well. We've been very impressed with not only the company, but also the fact that the dealer (Revzilla) has stayed involved the whole time as well.

Thanks Anthony and Tex! :thumb

decodent 01-06-2009 11:19 PM

Wow ... nice ride report!
 
(GadgetBoy ... thanks for the link over to the ride report)

I really like the way you two did your ride report, and especially that you committed to taking pics and posting them as you went.

It also makes me realize I want to find a partner who likes to ride. :rofl

HowlingMad 01-09-2009 12:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HowlingMad
<st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Cayenne</st1:city></st1:place> Pro - Pants (Large, Black)

Cons:
    • Two holes developed in the pants pockets in the same place, at the bottom of the zipper. No idea why or how this happened, but considering the symmetrical faults, it seems to be a design flaw. (unless I have unusually bony posterior superior iliac spine) Note: Rev'it asked me to send the pants back to them for review, look back here for updates.
<o:p>
</o:p>

Rev'it and Revzilla came through again and sorted out the pants for me. Nice to know there are still businesses out there (that you can actually reach) that care about customer satisfaction and product quality. Very impressed.

:thumb

R_W 05-01-2009 12:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HelloKitty
Its worthy to note that we both had either plugs or in-ear headphones that affected the sound / loudness. For me, I was wearing a pair of qJays and it was tricky to have a conversation above 40-45 mph. I never managed to turn on the volume-boost on my unit to compensate - I know John had his enabled, but his battery didn't last as long as mine. I'd say wearing plugs cut the loudness by 40% vs. no plugs at all.

Also, I had the following experience using the blue ant for phone calls:
  • With my Blackberry 7130, it paired up just fine but I could only hear if I was stopped on the bike. For some reason I could not get the volume high enough when paired with this phone.
  • With my HTC Touch Dual, it also paired up easily and was 30-40% louder than when paired with my blackberry. I drove on city streets in Rapid City with speeds up to 50 mph, with no plugs in, and had an amazingly clear conversation with my mom. She had no clue I was driving the bike and I didn't miss a word!!
Overall, I really like this blue ant. I do think its a shame the parts for these are not easy to get.

Gotta love their customer service :baldy:

I did have an email conversation with them about making a dual-speaker version and adding music support. The response was "that would be dangerous on a motorcycle" :huh As opposed to talking on the phone???

Sony and Jabra both make/made bluetooth music/phone adapters that used any headphones (like qJays or Ety's) but they don't have the noise suppression on the mic's to be usable while on the bike.


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