Tag Archives: Aerostich Kanetsu

Klim Overland jacket – first impressions

Full Klim Overland review here

klimov-11The cupboard was bare, the fridge was an icy cavern bereft of succulent goodies, and the sun was shining. It was high time for a shopping run to Ullapool. And, finding myself between chapters on the new AMH, it was also high time to saddle up the CB-X for a ride along the lochs and glens to try out some new gear.

Adventure Spec supply me with free or reduced cost
gear in return for advertising in AMH

In need of a decent coat for a winter getting to and from the desert, Adventure Spec recently sent me a Powerlet Rapidfire heated jacket and Klim’s Overland jacket. AS had already sent me a Latitude to look at a couple of months back. But considering the investment in such a key item of gear, I found the Latitude either a little small in L, or klimov-01way too big in XL. And in other ways it didn’t quite compare with an Aerostich Darien Light which I still consider a benchmark in travelling jackets.

Wearing the Powerlet liner (about the bulk of a fleece), the Overland in Large felt tight across klim_jacket_size_guidethe chest and shoulders and yet, according to the chart on the right, I’m (42″ chest, 6’1″, 95kg) at the lower end of their Large range. The Overland was snug on me dressed in full gear – but still useable.

What Klim say
If you’re taking your first steps into Adventure and Adventure Touring, the all new Overland series from KLIM® is a tremendous value [sic].

My first impressions
Good value, solidly built three-season shell that’s well-designed, has some tidy features and an understated look. Warmer than you think too, but could use more- or just bigger pockets in and out. And beware: Klim sizing comes up small.

Klim Overland – a quick look
• The Overland costs £379 with tax from AS and is listed as $429 + tax in the US or another $50 for the huge 3XL size
klimov-03• My Large weighs 2.04kg, less 330g without back armour pad
• It has four pockets: two hand pockets the hem with vertical entry water-resistant zips, a smaller vertical chest pocket and a similarly small one on the mesh inside (right)
klimov-06• There are water-resistant zipped armpit vents down the sides that you might just undo on the move, and two corresponding long vertical back vents (right)
• The front two-way zip lies under a velcro flap with a stud at each end, and the soft, Tricot-lined collar can be cinched for a snug seal. There are also cinch cords on each side of the hem, velcro arm tabs below the elbow and velcro at the wrists
klimov-02• The jacket has ventilated D30 E5 EVO XT armour on elbows, shoulders with a slightly less highly rated slab of non T5 D30 across the back (right)
• Eight discreet 3M Scotchlite reflective flashes front and back
• The cut is boxy and most of the arms and shoulders are over-layered with coarser and darker abrasion-resistant panels of 840D weight Cordura. The light grey body is made of much less stiff regular nylon fabric of about half that weight. The mesh lining is polyester and the membrane is Gore-Tex tw0-layer Performance Shell which is ‘Guaranteed to keep you dry ®’ and the jacket has a lifetime warranty too.

klimov-04Review
A few years ago when Klim first came to the UK, I remember looking at a Badlands or something at the Ace Cafe Adventure Day and thinking: £800 for a jacket – really? Of course Rukka had come to price themselves up there too, incorporating what I considered fussy, over-complicated ‘technical’ designs that seems to be a way of justifying high prices on a lot of stuff these days. But 800 quid for a garment made in Southeast Asia?

Maybe ‘start high – bring in the cheaper stuff later’ is a recognised marketing strategy. That’s how it looks to me with Klim in the UK and now we have more normally priced jackets like the Traverse, and the second take on the Traverse which is known as the Overland.

As I say in the book, setting off on a long trip you’ll be wearing your jacket just about all the time for weeks or months. It’s got to work well, feel right and be up to the task as it’ll become your second skin. One thing that categorises Klim as a serious contender is they only make rugged waterproof shells and eschew what is to me the cheap measure of a zip-out membrane. If you want a serious Gore-tex type jacket, get one where it’s laminated to the outer shell. Yes, it costs more.

klimov-10I set off for what turned out to be a 180-mile ride on an October day with temps peaking at 13° and strong winds forecast. Underneath I was wearing the Powerlet, a thick shirt and a vest, and leather trousers plus thin unlined gloves. I planned to fire up the Powerlet when the chill got to me. As it turned out – perhaps because I was stopping a lot – that never happened. The Overland kept me warm all day right up to sunset which was impressive. It means you can wear less clobber underneath but I suppose may get hot working hard off road in a warmer climate. For that reason I chose the grey version rather than the black. It really can make a difference.

klimov-07Doing it up I noticed that with the Powerlet’s high wire-laden collar and a shirt collar too, there wasn’t really room for my thin neck buff I usually wear. The front collar stud was a two hand squeeze to do up and the collar felt tight at the front while loose at the back where the cinch is. In other words the collar fitting was too upright or – neanderlike many humans in this digital, screen-staring era – my neck and head stick forward like a round-spined Australopithecus. Trying it again now it definitely presses on my Adam’s apple, but not unbearably so. Normally I prefer loose clothing and the Overland is a ‘snug’ fit round the neck and in the arms  and across the shoulders with arms pulled backed which is probably more flattering, cosier and aerodynamic.

klimov-09klimov-08Riding along I thought I felt a chill under the arms through the vent zips, but not enough to plug in the heated jacket. And anyway this could be attributable to my bike / screen /posture / speed. Later on I didn’t even notice it.

P1000435At one point I left the bike perched on a sunlit hillside track and walked on to recce the route. In a black jacket I’d have cooked like a Findus boil-in the-bag cod in parsley sauce, but the Overland was surprisingly cool. By the time I got back to the bike I did have a bit of a glow on, but rode back the few miles to the main road unzipped and flapping by which time normal operating temps had resumed.

klimov-05An hour and lots of lipsmacking pics later I pulled in at a cafe near Poolewe and instinctively went to slot my gloves into a pocket to came up against the Overland’s main flaw: too small pockets. I suppose I could have stuffed then into one of the lower pockets but what I’d like a decent, map-sized chest pocket or some meshy drop pockets low down inside (they could actually be easily tacked on to the mesh. What do other riders do? – cart around a tank bag or backpack – or slip them in a topbox I suppose. A jacket called Overland needs overlandable storage. For the return run I also removed the back armour to free up some room. It made the jacket lighter and more flexible, but I can’t say it felt significantly more roomy. For that the shoulder pads need to come out but I’ll keep those for the moment.

P1130862Riding back with the sun now dipping behind the hills, I expected to resort to the Powerlet, but riding up to 80mph the Klim still hung in there. The wind was up now too, pushing me around on the single track roads and at one point coming over a pass I distinctly felt the wind catch the back vent flaps and pull me around in the seat.

klimov-12So – preliminary findings on the Klim Overland adventure touring jacket. Warmer than you’d think, under pocketed but the plain looks that are growing on me. Great armour and adjustability too. Resistance to pelting rain and ventability to be established. I always wonder if the latter might compromise the former.

Full Klim Overland review here

P1000489

Gonzo versus the Onesies

gonzobeanzThis Hurricane Gonzo seems to be taking a while to clear the area. It’s been so windy in the UK that yesterday for the first time more power was generated by wind farms than nuclear power stations. Must be all those beanz eaten by the greens. Though right against a wall, the X bike still got blown over by a gust which also blew my boat out of the park. And twice I’ve had to retrieve the rain cover pressed hard against a deer fence on the other side of the field.
I’ve lavished the BMW with ACF-50 rustbut actually as long as it’s more vertical than horizontal, a spell in fresh rain washes off any rain-bound salt sprayed off the Minch. Ferrous or otherwise, rust never sleeps up here, as the two bike racks on the right testify. I only bought them two months ago!
rukredFaced with the long ride south before an even longer run to Morocco, it’s good to have clothing like my prized retro Rukka  waterproof (left) in which I can confidently face two days of 60mph autumnal showers. It waterproof alright, but it’s only PVC cloth so not especially good against the wind chill.

rukplugProblem is how to run the Aerostich electric vest with the Rukka without wires coming out my trouser leg. The answer: a Powerlet Luggage Electrix Connector (left) normally powerletused for powering/ recharging gadgets stashed in your tank bag. Melt a few tactical holes in the Rukka, then screw it on with some Aquaseal for good measure (right)

AustinimogulWith my snug Gul fleece onesie (left), I expect this set up to get me nominated for the Bake Off TV show. It may not get you invited to the best parties (unless you’re the celebrated sartorial unitarian, Austinimo, right), but it eliminates a two-piece’s heat sapping overlap and associated cold spot around the critical kidneys, while stopping you packing on so many layers you feel like a turkey trussed up for Christmas. That creates a feeling of comfort which induces relaxation and so defers fatigue and rhythm-ruining pee stops. (I think I’ve just hypnotised myself).

With my double onesie combo and heated jacket I can turn on, plug in but not chill out on winter’s long road.

CRF Mile 949: California

Oops, wrong Twain.

Oops, wrong Twain.

Wasn’t sure where I was heading today other than up Highway 395. I had two days to get near Roseville near Sacramento for a talk at a moto shop. Al had recommended a ride up to Mammoth Lake and I wanted to check out Mono Lake which I’d read about recently in Mark Twain’s Roughing It.

First I needed to find a new o-ring for the Leaking Containment fuel bladder, or better still a regular red plastic fuel can. I’ve lost faith in the LC. It’s definitely the answer for occasional use, but not every bleeding day! I was getting tired of petrol splash. A rigid can may be more bulky but will be easier to lash down securely. Anyway, a guy at a tranny shop in Bishop gave me a seal and up the road a couple of Subways would placate the day’s appetite.

cc-airboxJust after I’d left Big Pine I remembered to deploy Plan B – untape the extra holes drilled into the air box to lean out the mixture. My immediate impression was a bit more induction growl and perhaps it was running better – hard to tell for sure as you always think that with more noise. But out of Bishop on the long climb from 4000- to over 8000 feet the L was indeed trucking along and headwinds notwithstanding, was touching 70 on the downgrades (all speeds are true, read off the Trail Tech not the under-reading Honda speedo).

cc-highsierraBy the time I got to Mammoth town I had some power loss but I’ll accept that – I wasn’t feeling so sprightly myself. Mpg at the servo clocked in at 58US or 70UK – that will do nicely. The snow barrier was only a couple of miles on at around 8500′ and to me was just your regular alpine scenery – pretty enough but nothing very Yosemite on this side at least. I swung back down to the 395 and continued north sitting at around 7000′, snuggly wired in to my Aero Kanestu vest. Where yesterday I could barely crack 40 now it was pulling up to 65.

cc-monoMono Lake was an eerie spot, if for no other reason than the wind had dropped out of sight. The strange tufa columns exposed after LA’s water department drained half the lake in the 40s added to the ambience. I’m sure the Owens Valley was mentioned in Chinatown set in that era just as LA started booming.

That’s the great thing about chinatownriding around the US of A; from The High Chaparral to Breaking Bad I’m as steeped in modern US cultural iconography as the rest of the world. It’s not unusual to find a place that’s in a movie, a TV series or mentioned in a great song. The fabulous theme from Chinatown itself is surely in that category.

c3-monoarmlakeAl had suggested I swing out to Bodie ghost town but I wasn’t sure of the fuel situation, having given my bladder a day off. Plus I don’t think I’ll be short of ghost town action on this ride. Instead, I filled up in Bridgeport where mpg was still a promising 58 and where they advised I head another 40 miles plus two feet over the border to Lake Topaz Casino, NV, if I wanted cheap lodging. I set the satnav but a few miles up the road a dirt track heading in the right direction caught my eye. Shall I, shan’t I, it’s getting late, WTH let’s do it – satnav suggests it’s only an 8-mile detour.

c3-tpoazingThere’s got to be a name for the sort of dirt you get up here in the high pine country – a kind of sandy loam that agrees very nicely with the L’s  dirtish tyres. Soon I passed a parked up MAN overland truck – Germans to be sure saving a penny and having an adventure. Then up ahead I came to a flat grassy clearing and wondered should I camp – this nightly moteling is getting expensive after all. The place was on a pass, exposed and with little cover from the wind, but dry and with some firewood. I dithered and looked for a sheltered spot but then checked the satnav again: 8034′ – I don’t think so. It will freeze for sure and with only my flysheet for a tent I’d spend the night huddled against the chill. It will warm up somewhere sometime soon.

cc-highcampDown the far side of the pass there were still patches of snow and muddy ruts to navigate. I came across an even more idyllic   pitch at only 6500′ plus tree shelter and snow to melt (right). And like the other place, there was not a speck of rubbish. Well it’s good to know these places are out here.

I carried on downhill through more mud and snow and rock falls and had a mini panic when at 8 miles it was another few miles of dirt. But round the ridge and riding along the  top, down below I could see the road to Topaz that I was cutting around.

redwoodPleased with my late afternoon adventure, I pulled into the casino which was no real bargain at $70. Plus it felt like the sort of place I’d want to take all the luggage indoors.

chvronlogoNext day I chose to forsake the Chevron and take off up over US89 towards Lake Tahoe, but soon regretted it when the two villages up the road weren’t serving fuel. Let’s see if the satnav can help. “7-11, Gardnerville Ranchos, 12.3 miles”. So it was, plus a quick snack and then over the windy pass into Lake Tahoe’s pine-rimmed bowl where the air was sharp enough to slice week-old tomatoes and the scenery redolent of a Redwood Creek poster.

cc-embay

cc-tahobendI pootled round the east shore, past glittering Emerald Bay, ending up at a mate’s cabin out of Truckee, scoring a record 73US or 88mpg on the mpg-o-metre. Opened out airbox holes have fixed the mpg and power. Now I have to fix the air box holes.

Before I had a chance to do that, Christian insisted we go out for a burn up in the woods, him on his 95o Adventure. OK then. Unhitch the bags and off we go – me soon eating dust spun off his TKC as wide as my head. As before on the dirt, the  Honda’s wide gearing was exposed and so was the harshness of my jacked-up rear shock (see this). Still, I’m not complaining cc-cpel– the bike is as light as a feather and the preload is keeping the loaded bike level. Too hard is better than too soft, IMO. Plus I’d just read on Thumper Talk that Hyperpro in the Netherlands have brought out a fully adjustable shock for the CRF (unlike Race Tech’s basic unit). So it’s there if I want it.

The little L was being hung out to dry by the KTM, but that 950 has got to be running five times the horsepower with only half as much weight and top of the range suspension. A decent shock would sure improve CRF-L dirt riding at this sort of pace, but it wasn’t all bad; I was lucky enough to have a few days’ house sitting for Christian – a chance to reorganise and sort out that fuelling once and for all.

Next post.

cc-splash

BMW F650 GS SE ~ pre-Morocco test run

Morocco trip report here.

I did a bit more work on the GS then loaded it up and took it out into the countryside for a spin. The last-minute jobs included:

  • Sizing up the Enduristan panniers on the Metal Mule rack.
  • Hard wiring in a 3-socket, 12-volt PTO off an accessory plug under the battery cover.
  • Fitting a larger side stand plate.
  • Fitting an Aerostich wool seat pad.
  • Fitting a couple of thick canvas pouches onto the engine bars.

First discovery was that, at around half a metre long, the velcro straps on the Enduristan Monsoons were too short to throw over the back of the GS. They’d have been barely long enough even if the bike had not had a Metal Mule rack and would have flapped around on the offside as the 650 doesn’t have nice slab-sided sides like bikes of old. I believe throwovers are a throwback to simpler biking days when twin shocks kept them in place. These days, for overlanding I’m not convinced it’s a long-term solution to soft baggage – a rack is needed or they’ll melt on modern cat pipes. And if you have a rack you may as well mount them properly. This has always been my plan with the Monsoon’s for my own bike, after the Morocco job is done. I was offered hard panniers by a couple of manufacturers but turned them down.

Anyway, how to get round the strap shortage. In the end I decided on a solution with minimal intervention and easy field repair, and sewed in an extra six-inch loop with a mini snaplink to slip the Monsoon velcro bit back on itself (pictures below).

On the pipe side I hooked on a full-sized carabiner for the bag’s front location strap which clips to the pillion footrest; otherwise the strap would have melted on the nearby pipe for sure. And on the back of the rack I screwed on some hose clips with R clips to help locate the back location straps (see photos below).

Under the tank there are at least two more 12v power take-offs, assuming you have the right BMW lead (the white plug with three yellow wires in the photo). With a bit of experimenting two of the three wires got screwed onto a 3-plug cig lighter socket jammed on the bars with duct tape and a ziptie. As with many jobs here, if this was my bike I’d do a neater, more permanent job. (Or would I…?) I like bodging for the main reason that it’s quick to do and easy to repair and I like to think there is an art to it.

I read on ukgsers that these OE accessory sockets off the wiring loom are controlled by the ECU and disconnect fuselessly under all but the lightest loads (that’s why my heated vest is wired directly to the battery). I tried my mini air compressor in the plug and sure enough, it tripped after a couple of seconds, but worked after switching off and on (to trip again). Good to know, so I changed the leads on the pump to croc clips to wire directly to a lead I made off the heated vest connection.

Similarly, I didn’t want to be welding bits to BMW’s bike (the voltages could put the ECU in a spin, even with the battery disconnected), so held back from getting a plate welded to the side stand foot. Instead I found a new Touratech screw-on plate on ebay for nearly half price. From my experience in the desert I’d say that this beautifully crafted bit of CNC’d alloy is about half the size it needs to be to support a loaded bike on soft sand. A cynical person could even say it’s a metaphor for the way things are these days: finely made and expensive bling that falls some way short of being functional. Anyway if it’s hopeless or breaks off I’ll remove the stand and get a proper steel plate about the sized of a fag packet welded on by a Moroccan metalbasher for five dirhams.

The Aero sheep’s wool pad went on with a couple of strips of pushbike inner tube (other elastics and hooks were supplied) and it’s certainly soft and furry to stroke; to sit on we’ll find out later. I can see someone nicking it, it looks so nice.

Great thing with engine bars is that you can attach stuff to them. In my case a one-litre, thick canvas army ammo pouch that I think goes back to my very earliest desert bikes. In fact here it is on my Tenere in ’86. This one has a hole in it to take a 1.5 litre water bottle poking out the top. Others use plastic drainpipe with screw on caps, but these pouches made at least 50 years ago if not in WWII) are seriously thick and crash proof and cost next to nothing. I liked mine so much I bought another pair off this guy on ebay for 4 quid each and fitted one on the other side: handy for oil, rags and whatever.

Finally I had a look around the bike to see what extra tools are needed. No great surprise to find that the 4-piece toolkit (right) clipped to the seat base has a limited range – though I’m still not sure what that 17mm is for; certainly not the front or back wheel which needs your own 24- and a 12mm to adjust the chain. There are plenty of those Torx fittings all around. I have to say Torx are probably not just a way to make you buy new sets of tools but better than Allens and of course much better than the mushy cross heads and hex bolts of old.

Shake down
Sunday morning I set out to follow a 33-mile pushbiking exercise loop I occasionally do, from south London out into Kent past Darwin’s house, Biggin Hill aerodrome and along the course of the Pilgrims Way – the ancient route from Winchester to Canterbury which follows the base of the North Downs – and back north into London.

I was trying out a lot of new stuff that had just turned up: a chunky Aerostich Falstaff jacket (like a Darien but in waxed cotton), an X-Lite X402-GT modular helmet (right; I decided the Airoh TR1 was just too noisy). I was also wearing my Kanetsu hot vest (the right way round and inflated this time) and had a Nuvi on the ‘tank’ top under a net to see if it worked there (it didn’t). They’re great in cars but I’m not sure I can see me getting into these satnavs while motorbiking. I could be wrong (I was…) but it takes too much concentration to focus on it, let alone fiddle with it (I have no recall but I suspect this crash 9 years ago was caused by scanning the GPS while riding). Still, at very worst it will be a handy map to whip out of a pocket when needed and perhaps a high bar mount will work better. On this morning’s ride I knew where I was going, and across Spain I’ve managed for 30 years with maps and route details prepared or memorised in advance. We shall see – perhaps I will become a convert (I did).

Does my bum look big in this?
The bike rode fine enough – the K60 tyres are still not as secure as the originals (only 40 miles old) but ought to prove their worth on the piste.
My payload was about 21 kilos including 5kg of food; the departure weight will be a little more (50lbs), plus water. Not too bad, but heavy enough all hung out the back. I tried to set the bags as far forward as possible, but jeez this gear is wide. Probably even a little wider than the Tenere set up on TTech Zegas or a GS12’s barrels. I swear when this job’s over I am going to make a luggage system on a platform rack for my own GS: same roll-top principle with a stiffener inside, but long, set low and slim, not short, high and wide.
I’m sure sticking out stuff influences handling and aerodynamics at high speed. At least it’s soft enough not to damage whatever it knocks into. The huge silencer is partly to blame; Metal Mule (and I bet Jesse Luggage too) sell an alternative pipe that tucks in better and takes a slimmer rack. You do wonder why silencers are round; maybe it’s cheaper that way.

Nothing flapped, melted or fell off and the stiff back shock works a bit better with the weight, so other than trying not to knock off the Sunday morning drop-bar and lycra brigade, I was more pre-occupied with the performance of my cushy new X-Lite and Falstaff jacket which needs a good airing to get the pong of wax out of it. Another re-pack and all is set for the month’s run to Morocco in a couple of days.

I don’t think I can face blogging out there – I like to get away from that stuff once in a while – so the full trip report on the 650 is here.

Preparing the F650GS for Morocco

BMW F650gs SE Index Page

I nipped back down in the 6°C fog to Vines in Guildford for a first service and to get some parts fitted. They pretty much add up to the essentials I did to the Tenere for its Morocco trip: luggage rack, protection and better tyres. I also asked them to fit a 16T sprocket (I tooth less); riding through London I never got out of second gear, so the gearing is definitely on the tall side for town and trail. Swammping sprockets on this bike is not a simple two-bolt job – a puller is required.
Down at Vines all is efficiency, courteous service and coffee with a biscuit. I’ve never experienced anything like it, not having dealt with a new-bike-from-a-dealer since the late 1970s. In most cases back then, I swore never to buy any bike from that dealer ever again. A few hours later they’d first serviced the bike and done or fitted the following:

  • Replaced 17T with 16T sprocket.
  • Metal Mule rear rack. This took some time I was told, but then so does fitting the official BM racks for the 650.
  • Metal Mule taller screen – a good 8-inches taller than the BM high version.
  • Metal Mule radiator guard – recommended by Paul at MM.
  • BMW handguards.
  • BMW engine bashplate and engine bars.
  • Heidenau K60 tyres

Other new bits I’ll be fitting include:

  • Enduristan Monsoon panniers.
  • Garmin Nuvi SatNav (alongside my Garmin 76) off a CAN bus plug.
  • Aerostich sheepskin saddle pad.

Leaving Vines the new K60s felt a squirrely, though that impression wore off by the time I got home some 40 miles later. I’m expecting them to last longer than TKCs, feel as good on the road and be nearly as good on the dirt. Along the M25 motorway, the taller Metal Mule screen was certainly better than the OE effort, but my feeling was it curves back too much at the top, rather than staying upright like the Tenere one – even if that one needed to TTech screen extension to be effective for me. The lowered gearing seems to have gained about 400 rpm/lost 4-5mph, so I’m doing around 7-8mpg at tickover in first now. Better than nothing. With the full-length bash plate and engine bars, I’m hoping this bike won’t suffer the cracked crankcase my Tenere picked up one gnarly evening in Morocco. And the rad guard won’t do any harm, though I’ve not heard they’re vulnerable. The chunky Metal Mule rack built for their tough cases may be OTT too for the Enduristan panniers resting against it.

 The Metal Mule parts were supplied in exchange for an advert in AMH6.