Gear review; the good, the bad and the ugly!

We’ve covered more than 7.000km on this trip on the Honda CB1100 deluxe so it’s time for some reflection about all the gear and stuff we have with us. What follows is our opinion on some of our gear, regardless if it was donated to us or bought by us!

HONDA CB1100 Deluxe:

We bought these bikes brand new, two weeks before we set off for this Americas trip. The funny thing is that in all the presentations we give (and the blog) I always said this: “never leave on a trip on an expensive bike, that you don’t know, and that you are not willing to just walk away from if something happens”. Well I guess rules are meant to be broken…

The Good: It just looks absolutely great! It’s a timeless machine, that weighs a ton but at least it’s a real bike with a timeless design. Allright, sometimes I just think about “what would it be like to do this part on a GS or something similar” but the thought goes away as quickly as it came, this CB is just fun fun fun! (once it rolls) Another great thing is that the bike is really stable. Even fully loaded and in the midst of a twisty curve, if you need to break hard, the bike responds quickly and doesn’t change trajectory and keeps stable all the time. The bike is predictable and just hasn’t let us down for a single second.

The Bad: We sometimes wished we had put a small windshield on it, but it would have ruined the looks… Again, against our own rules as I really never ever cared how my travel bike looked like before. And whoever at Honda claims that the seat is comfortable for long rides, clearly never has taken any long rides on that seat! The sitting position is not perfect when spending several hours a day on the bike, our knees hurt from time to time due to the inclination of our legs while riding. Again, no problem for an hour (or two) but after that, the knees and the behind start to hurt. Another thing that might be a problem (and I say might as it hasn’t happened yet) is the starter. From time to time the bike just doesn’t fire up at the first push of the starterbutton. On both bikes we had this feeling that from time to time it just takes a second too long, or she starts and then dies within half a second. At the second start all is fine, but this shouldn’t happen to a bike like this. So let’s hope it’s just “normal” and doesn’t get any worse…

The Ugly: The groundclearance really sucks! But then this bike is in no way meant to take topes (speed bumps in Mexico) or to go hard-core offroad, so we live with this restriction and just hope the exhausts will survive the trip.

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HEPCO & BECKER XPLORER cases for on the bikes:

(We got a discount for Seb’s set and Kim’s set was donated by Hepco & Becker)

It’s an unconventional choice but there are a few reasons why we wanted to have the Xplorer cases on the bike. The H&B racksystem is absolutely beautifull and doesn’t destroy the looks of the bike, even without cases attached to it.

The Good: They are aluminium boxes and they open from the top, something Seb really liked from his previous BMW alu cases. They’re sturdy and the overal feel is good, and they’re big! It’s easy to put them on the bikes and to remove them, they’re waterproof and you can also use them as a chair if you want, which we don’t do often as we have camping chairs with us this time. One of the advantages is that the cases are fully waterproof, but you have to watch out when you install the bars on the topcase, because when you tighten the bars to hard, the case can leak. The carrying handles you can get separately to put on the sidecases makes it very easy to carry them and they don’t cut into your hands even if the cases are very heavy. (read: overloaded)

The Bad: The Xplorer cases are not meant to be on a CB1100. When the topcase is on the bike, you “can’t” open the sidecases. The more normal choice would have been the Journey cases from H&B but we wanted the Xplorers so we deal with it. H&B told us the Xplorers were a strange choice but we ignored that. The only downside we found is that the bottom of the cases (inside) is not flat and the cases have some things sticking out on the inside that makes you loose some room and that makes that the cases are not fully rectangular on the inside but have some weird loss of space.

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KLÍM Gear:

(donated to us by Klím USA)

Of course we knew about the Klím gear, but we didn’t own any Klím gear prior to this trip. We met Mark, the promotions manager earlier in 2014 while touring the USA, he attended one of our presentations and before we knew it we were the proud owners of a lot of Klím gear after visiting the Klím HQ in Idaho.

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The Good: Our Overland pants and jackets are absolutely 100% waterproof! Even after hours of riding through snow, mud, hail, ice, rain and all the other nasty stuff you can imagine, we were still dry! Even though the jacket and pants are the cheapest in their whole range, thus the entry level, they still perform absolutely great! The other thing that we both really like, is that Klím works with a layer system. Something we’ve been doing for a couple of years now on our own. You use the baselayer, which is your (thermal) underwear, then a midlayer (or two of it gets really nasty cold) and then the actual motorcycle jacket/pants. So the jacket is just an outer waterproof shell with protection without any fancy inserts (that are useless anyway) or “waterproof” layer that is inside your jacket (also useless). So yes, we are definitely convinced the Klím gear is one of the best (if not the best) available on the market. It’s not the cheapest, but it is absolutely worth the investment!

We are so in love with the Torque jacket. It’s warm, comfortable to wear and it packs away very small and doubles as a pillow if you go camping. On the colder days we wear the Torque jacket underneath the Overland Jacket and this is a perfect combination. Also at night when it gets colder the Torque is our first choice. We both wouldn’t want to ever leave on a trip again without this.

The wintergloves have this kind of visor wiper on the left indexfinger which makes it very easy to clean your visor when it is raining (or snowing) even though your glove is soaking wet on the outside. A nice small feature that makes a world of difference.

The womens casual wear fits great and makes you feel really comfortable and at ease. The pants, the hoody and the longsleeve shirt do not only look good, they also feel good.

The Gore-Tex casual jackets (Stowaway) are fully waterproof and pack away very small when needed. This in combination with the Torque keeps you warm and dry in the event of cold and or wet nights!

The bad: The wintergloves are waterproof untill a certain point and they will start letting water in after a while. But truth be told; they last longer than any other gloves we ever had before getting wet. Untill now we never found a real fully waterproof pair of gloves. After a couple of hours they all leak.

The ladies T-shirts are made out of a certain fabric that makes them smell very bad after one day, so it is almost impossible to wear them two days in a row if you are sweating just a little bit and the same goes for the summer thermal underwear, but if you wash them, they dry overnight and then they are ready for another day.

The only downside for Kim when she is wearing the mens Overland pants is that they are too short and that is why the kneepads tend to be out of place when she sits down on the bike. This brings us to this tip: if you are a woman be sure to try the (men’s)pants on first before you buy them as the fit is not exactly the same as the women’s pants. But other than that, the pants fits nice and Kim’s really happy with them!

SCALA RIDER G9 Intercom System:

(donated to us by Cardo Systems)

Ok, this is a funny one… Both of us never ever wanted to have an intercom. We couldn’t imagine having one to talk to eachother or to have an argument or even worse. But now that we have had the Scala Rider G9 set, I don’t think we’ll ever want to go riding again without this set!

The Good: Once you know how it works, it’s easy and just great! We both love to listen to music on the more boring stretches and it’s great in combination with our Iphone using the bluetooth for listening to music. Haven’t tested it in combiantion with the GPS or calling with a phone though, but it works really well for us to talk to eachother and to listen to music. We are both transformed from “never” to “Don’t want to leave anymore without it”. It’s certainly handy whenever we hit a town/city or if one needs to say something (un)important. 😉

The Bad: As you might expect, the voice activation is not always 100% acurate so we prefer not to use it and just push the button to set up the communication from one person to the next. Also something that is really annoying if when in the middle of a conversation, the friendly (and very loud) lady from Cardo just interrupts your communication to tell you “mobile phone disconnected”. It pisses us off sometimes. But that’s the only bad thing we can possibly find at the moment.

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FORMA ADVENTURE BOOTS:

The Good: Absolutely the best shoewear we ever owned to travel. They are comfortable and soft enough for longer walks. We did a 10miles/16km hike in them while in London and we managed just fine! Couldn’t have done that with any of the other boots we owned in the past. We’re glad we ordered them just before we left. The boots are sturdy yet amazingly flexible and the clips to fasten the boots are very easy to use.

The Bad: Kim’s boots are waterproof and Seb’s boots are not… strange… This caused Seb to have frozen feet those couple of days in the snow and he was really not happy then. But Seb is very forgiving in this matter, just because he loves these boots a lot.

WOLFMAN LUGGAGE:

(donated to us by Wolfman)

We have had Wolfman equipment for the last several years, can’t really go wrong with this! We both love all the stuff we ever bought from Wolfman, it’s great quality and you just know it’s designed by somebody who rides himself.

The Good: The dry duffel bag is awesome, the mounting system for on the bike is easy to use, the fastening system of the bag itself is very easy and practical, it is 100% waterproof and the shoulderstrap makes the bag easy to carry. Without doubt the best dry duffel we ever owned (and we had a lot of Ortlieb stuff before this). But Seb hates to have a big bag behind him that he constantly feels in his back while on the bike. So we repacked the bikes and now we have one dry duffel less to carry around. Kim on the other hand loves it as she can lean against it when tired. It’s all a matter of personal opinion and likes!

The good thing about the Timberwolf tankbag is that it is easy to remove from the bike with just three clips and you can turn it into a backpack in under 10 seconds with the separate sold straps.

The Bad: We have a love-hate relationship with the Timberwolf tankbags. They have a nice size, but for the CB we feel they’re a bit too big. We already removed the two smaller sidebags that are attached to the tankbag (a really nice feature though!) but we can’t fully turn the steering as the tankbag will always come into collision with either the horn (left) or the 4 turnsignals (right). And the tankbag is our only piece of equipment that is not waterproof…

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Well, we think this covers the most important parts.

The next update will be story as usual!