Bay to Cape: Japan Motorbike Tour — Riding Gear

Typically speaking, I’m not an ATGATT (All the Gear All of the Time) rider; usually opting for a jacket, gloves, and helmet as the get-around-town gear. However when I go for longer rides I make sure to suit up properly — the gear is there not just to protect from accidents but the elements as well.

The Helmet (and associated tech)

Admittedly, might be too much tech bolted on my helmet, which is an RX-Q, a street oriented helmet from Arai. I’ve been wearing this lid for just over 2 years, and while I’m itching to upgrade to something a little quieter and comfier, it’s light and very durable, and has unbeatable safety ratings for the price. The visor is scratched to hell and so I’ll be getting a new one in Japan, getting a slight upgrade to their ProShade system with a Pinlock insert.

It’s visors all the way down

Mounted on my helmet are a Sony Action Cam and the Sena 20S bluetooth comms device.

Sena 20S: While I can’t say that I’ve actually used the intercom yet (it’s a new purchase), it’s a fairly decent package for music and GPS directions. While the accompanying smartphone software is decidedly on the shitty side, it’s more stable than what I was initially expecting.

Sony AS-200: The slim, flat profile makes it perfect for helmet mounting even if the mounting hardware itself is a bit clunky. The image quality is fantastic compared to motorcycle specific helmet cams (while the memory card buffer protection may cut off early if there is an accident) and was a direct challenger to the GoPro Hero 3 back when they were both flagship products.

Unfortunately the position of the recording button and the force and accuracy needed to start recording is near impossible to use with gloves: most of the time I wouldn’t even know if the device was recording or not, and would end up with a dead battery and a card full of bad footage. I plan on upgrading this in Japan as well; the new models have been redesigned with a new, relocated button and add optical stabilization which is an absolutely killer feature.

Suiting Up

I’m strangely brand loyal to Dainese and also to the color black. Dainese is one of the only brands out there that makes gear small enough for me, since every other brand’s size XS is made for a 5' 10" 180lb man. I’ve tried womens’ gear as well but that stuff is weirdly short and curvy to the point of exaggeration. I don’t know how women riders put up with some of the design choices.

While Dainese is well known by and predominately caters to the supersport rider (Ducati Panigale owners in city traffic lol), their sport touring gear is surprisingly capable and well made. I do want to make the distinction however, that this isn’t enduro riding gear. They truly mean Sport-Touring: the gear is predominantly road-focused with light off-road capability.

Considerations for the gear I’m bringing:

  • The temperature and weather I’ll be riding through will vary wildly, ranging from 8º to 26ºC. The gear needs to work for the entire range.
  • Body needs to be water resistant, extremities must be water proof.

Jacket (Hawker D-Dry): I love this thing. It has a great outer shell with a high collar and smart vent locations for warmer days (still gets hot when not at speed). The best feature is that it has not one, but two liners. The first removal liner is a water and wind proof layer. The second is a nice high quality fleece layer with a poly shell. Both snap into each other, and make this jacket amazingly versatile, and it should keep me warm till the lower 10s.

Pants (D-System EVO): Another smart design — there are mesh panels that can be revealed by opening flaps above the knees for extra airflow. Also includes a waterproof liner but I haven’t needed to use this just yet.

Gloves (Four-Stroke EVO, Tempest D-Dry): I’ve been wearing the Four-Strokes for ages now and they’re fantastic for the good spring/summer weather. I recently purchased the Tempest for the rain and cold, but I haven’t used them yet. Cool features like a visor wiper for the rain and touchscreen finger tips.

Boots (Long Range D-WP C2): Not much to say about these, just a solid workhorse: good water proofing and styling is minimal in the good sense. They trades a small amount of lateral protection for comfort and style when off the bike.

Miscellaneous: I have a set of Motosafe earplugs and a backup set of another pair of “music protection” plugs. I can’t stress the importance of hearing protection enough. Tinnitus is no joke.

Sweet Jesus, don’t wear it like that

Another small piece of riding gear that makes a lot of difference is this weird tube scarf/balaclava thing that I picked up from a German bike gear shop. Works great to keep warm or cool and makes sure my hair doesn’t pull in the helmet when worn like I’m going skiing. Warning: this can make you look fucking ridiculous.

Also: Hair ties. So many hair ties. Tangled hair post-riding is literally the worst thing.