On the way down to the storm-lashed West Country (left) to pick up my new X Country (first impressions here), I knew I’d be getting drenched so I waxed my Altbergs and rolled up my Rukka one-piece, along with some Armr WXP8 gloves, my X-Lite helmet and the Kriega R30 backpack. I should have taken my Kanetsu electric vest but wasn’t keen on wires dangling out of my sleeve or neck and didn’t want to hole the one-piece just yet. With just a shirt and merino cardy, the Rukka was a bit skimpy for the non-stop 280-mile ride back at 6-7°C during which I was periodically pelted with hail. It got to that point where you can’t handle the bike so precisely through roundabouts as the limbs numb down.
I like my Bell Mag 9 cheapie but took the similar X-Lite X402 GT this time. The long visor comes right down past the chin (removable chin section MIA), but rain drops eddy onto the inside surface or just run down from the top. Result at night in the rain: visibility as bad as a car with broken wipers – same as it ever was on a bike. Maybe flashier full face helmets seal better. Then there’s the deafening racket at some positions/speeds – I really ought to get into ear plugs. But I like the smoothly operating giant visor and pull-down sun shade. For my sort of riding and speeds, modular helmets do the job.
Kriega R30: Fail
I expected the outside pockets to let rain in, but hoped the white proofed nylon liner might do its job. Actually, I didn’t trust it at all, so put my Airbook and Kindle in an Enduristan isolation bag (right) for insurance.
Even then, you’d think that sitting on my back the bag would be out of the direct line of fire, but after three hours in the rain, on arrival in Cornwall the bottom of the bag was soaked like it had been sitting in a pool of water. And inside the white liner had let water through to the Isobag which lived up to its name. Not altogether surprised, but now I know. I wonder if Kriega Overerlander System owners are finding the same?
In future I’ll have to take a spare Orlieb PVC dry sack if using the Kriega in the rain. Proofed nylon or polyester fabric with taped seams are just not as reliable against leakage compared to heat-welded PVC. In all other ways the R30 makes a good if rather heavy, overcomplicated and pricey backpack that’s designed to sit securely on your back at 190mph. £139.
(Since sold and replaced with a more conventional old-model, PVC Over-Board 30-litre backpack, right)
Rukka one-piece PVC: Pass
Good old Rukka, I knew it wouldn’t let me down but I was pleased to finally put it to the test. How could it leak, it’s lush, tactile, dolphin-unfriendly PVC! Even then it’s pretty amazing that sat for hours at 70 against unscreened rain, nothing gave way, neither a seam in the backside nor the double storm-flapped front zip. With a snood neck thing, nothing came through there either. At least thirty years old and going from £30 quid on ebay. Make sure you buy big enough ‘EU’ sizing is confusing (see link above).
Armr WXP8 gloves: Pass-ish
The Armr gloves I also expected to succumb to the torrent, even though they were protected behind hand guards. On arrival the insides were damp but not outright soaked. A complex shape like a glove must be a nightmare to seal securely with a cheap membrane. The smart answer is those naff looking handlebar muffs or hippo hands. If I was riding each day in winter as I used to, that’s what I do. Other than that, the Large size has fingers a bit too short for me, the velcro strap seems redundant against the larger velcro flap but I guess is there to keep the glove on in a heavy crash. £40.