Clothing and Protective Gear
all about layering and you friendly hiking specialty store has all
the information and products to help you.
You have to be prepared for extremes i.e. hot and cold, wet and
dry, calm and windy conditions. Over and above this, the motorcycle
limits you to fabrics that can fit into a very confined packing
space. Your only trump card is your riding jacket which if it is
water proof and has a zip-out lining, automatically makes it multi-purpose
(thus leather jackets are not the best choice for touring) It is
a good idea to shop at your local hiking store for warm, windproof,
lightweight garments. If you are near Johannesburg try "Snow Scapes"
in Fourways. This alpine snow sking shop has state of the art protective
clothing that is both warm, light and dries quickly.
Characteristics that you should be looking for when it comes to fabrics and garment
construction are as follows
1) Efficient wicking away of moisture from the skin.
2) Insulation. Achieved by many thin under-layers
4) Light and small for packing.
5) Easy to wash and quick drying
6) Hard, rough fabric against your skin will drive you nuts
7) Draught-free, leak-proof construction incl. pockets
Draughts and leaks
are big problems and can cause you to become cold and wet very quickly. Outer
garments must be double layered around the main zip - thus cruiser-type leather
jackets with exposed, decorative outer zips will leak. Other critical areas are
the cuffs, collar and ankles which should be well elasticised to form a tight
Bikers Cordura jackets are also an option being almost totally waterproof. As
much as I love my leather jackets I have to concede that Cordura biking jackets
are better for touring than leather as they are lighter and usually have a thermal-type,
zip-out inner lining.
An unlined rain suit is an essential item. This suit should allow body moisture
to escape. This can be achieved by large, built-in, mesh-covered, flap protected
vents under the arms and across the back. Alternatively, and a lot more expensive,
are the breathable waterproof fabrics e.g. Gortex. They should be suitably elasticised
to prevent it inflating with air at speed and letting water in.
Huge fluctuations in temperature and limited packing space is the challenge when
motorcycle touring. For this reason long pants where the bottom half zips off
to form shorts can save valuable space.
Bikers should take care when travelling in extremely hot, dry windy conditions.
All skin should be covered by light windproof clothing as the hot air rushing
over the skin can cause dehydration in less than an hour. It is a good idea to
tie a bandana around your neck as it prevents sun burn in this exposed and dangerous
area and it is easy to wash at the end of a tiring day.
Longer tours mean washing your clothes and thus a strong plastic container with
cold water washing powder is needed. Personally I prefer a bar of pure soap as
it cannot soil the rest of your kit (green Sunlight soap bar in SA). It is also
suitable for washing dishes.
A small sewing kit has many uses and should be part of your touring equipment.
Take one smarter outfit that you do not tour in. Store it in a strong ziplock
plastic bag. That way it stays clean and can facilitate you being able to do or
go somewhere special on your trip without feeling like a slob.
Do not forget your hat for when you arrived at your destination!
A final word on clothing. Equipment to keep you and your bike healthy and moving
is far more important than extra shirts, shorts, pants etc On a long tour you
can always buy and dispose of general clothing . . . this is not true of a clutch
cable for example.
A neck tube is a marvellous item. Small and warm they go a long way to keeping
the cold out in the important neck area.
You need to take the íkití approach here.
1) Bike repair kit
2) Luggage repair kit
3) Puncture repair kit
4) Cleaning kit
1) Bike repair kit
Your bikeís tool bag . . . maybe?! Sometimes the quality of the provided tools
is so poor that you may need to replace them with decent ones. Ensure that the
plug spanner does actually fit your particular bike with its own access limitations.
Also that you have a full set of torx and Allen keys to fit every size found on
your bike. If your bike uses size 8 and 10 nuts, ensure that you have one flat
and one plug spanner of each size.
2) General repair kit
Broken plastic panniers etc can be a major problem but with a small repair kit
can be easily repaired even on the road.
Cracks or breaks
in plastic can be ísewní together with thin wire. Make the holes for the wire
with a red hot steel needle. Heat the needle with a gas cigarette lighter.
A selection of large safety pins, a tube of contact glue, a reel of thin fishing
line, a roll of duct tape, 4m of thin nylon (parachute) cord, 60cm of thick wire,
2m of thin wire (bailing wire if you can get it), 30 plastic cable (zip) ties
(3 sizes), duct tape, sewing needles (large and small) and a spare plastic click-buckle
completes this kit.
A putty type glue that can be used to plug holes in radiators, cracked tappet
covers and damaged aluminum panniers. Leaking petrol tanks can be temporarily
repaired using a piece of hand soap. Once the tank is empty than a more permanent
repair can by made with putty glue
The items above have seen some strange uses over the years of hiking, camping
3) Puncture repair kit
Two tyre levers, a puncture repair kit for your type of tyre (with fresh glue),
an extra tube of high quality rubber cement, a high pressure, push-pull, bicycle
pump (also for maintaining tyre pressure in remote areas) and an aerosol can of
tyre repair foam. A 6 inch square patch cut from an old tyre tube for larger and
side-wall punctures. Also a small pencil tyre pressure gauge (Petrol stations
tyre gauges of often inaccurate). You can also buy a CO2 cartridge system for
inflating flat tyres - one cartridge gives one bar (if you fit it quickly enough!).
You should also take a spare front tyre tube. In an emergency this can also be
used for the rear wheel as well. Also useful if your tubeless tyre gets a large
side-wall puncture that is impossible to repair properly. If you will be travelling
off road, fit heavy duty tubes as they can often shrug off potential punctures
from thorns etc
4) Cleaning kit
One cloth for dirty jobs e.g. chain lubrication and a cloth for clean jobs e.g.
the plastics. A small container of hand cleaner.
Leather boot treatment. Even one day of harsh conditions and your riding boots
will take a pounding. Look after them! with a product that maintains your bootís
waterproof qualities. You also need a small soft brush that can be used on your
boots as well as on the bike.
A product that you use to clean your visor which has a lingering de-misting property
should you have to ride in the rain. In South Africa the product íMr Miní is highly
recommended although the can is very large.