01 March 2009

Wild Geese that fly with the moon on their wings

In the April 2009 issue of Rider magazine, nine staffers revealed their favorite goodies that they just couldn’t do without when they rode. I thought that it was interesting their differences of preference. This morning, for some reason or another, I woke up thinking about my favorite things. Here’s a list of them.

Heated gear- When I moved out here from the East Coast to the Inland Northwest almost twenty years ago, I thought that heated clothing was for the older and somewhat retired set of riders who just couldn’t handle a little bit of a chill from time to time.

It was on a midnight ride in the middle of June while riding from Spokane Washington to Bozeman Montana that I had an epiphany. It can get really cold out here in this neck of the woods even in the middle of summer. The temperature on the truck stop sign confirmed this, 36˚ in the middle of June!

Out here on the Palouse, it is not uncommon for the temperatures to linger somewhere in the 40’s all summer long during my early morning commute. Heated gear makes all the difference. My electric vest only takes up a fraction of the space in my bags compared to the clothing that I would need to otherwise stow when I wasn’t trying to stay warm.

My personal choice is the Tourmaster Synergy vest with the heated collar. I prefer this over my old Eclipse because I have a choice of temperature settings. When the temperature is in the 40’s, I keep it on the lowest setting, but if the ride is long or drops lower than that, I can always turn up the heat.

Turtle Fur- This is nothing more than a tube of fleece about six or seven inches in width that protects the exposed portion of my neck between my jacket and helmet, it cost less than $10 at Cycle Gear and has been well worth the investment. I always make sure that this simple little piece of fabric is in my bags before I go anywhere. If you don’t have one of these things, I recommend trying one out. For only $10, trust me, you’ll get your money’s worth. You’d be surprised the difference a warm neck makes.

Storage- My bike is one of my main sources of transportation (if I lived in a warmer climate, I wouldn’t be too surprised if it were my only source). Because of this, I need storage and quite a bit of it.

Recently, I discarded my old KLR soft saddle bags and Charlie and I installed a new pair of Aluminum touring boxes from www.klr650.com. Now I have a secure place to stow my belongings without having to worry about any dismal creature that possesses the ability to manipulate a zipper to rifle through my stuff whenever I am away from the bike.

Storage makes all the difference on a daily rider.

G.P.S/Delorme charts- My riding takes me to some pretty remote places and 9/10’s of the time I don’t know exactly where I’m at, and I prefer that. When I need to find my way out, even the most basic G.P.S. when used with one of my Delorme charts will tell me exactly where I am. I’ve given a lot of thought about buying something with an on screen map, but for my type of riding in the wilderness, the limited information that I would receive wouldn’t be sufficient.

All I really need are Coordinates and a chart, with my background in aviation, I am very comfortable with Pilotage and Dead Reckoning, I don’t need arrows telling me to turn left or right and in the wilderness I don’t think they would work well anyways.

I’ve been lost in a lot of big cities before; in that case a product like a Garmin Zumo would be a perfect tool. But most of the places I ride, I am not limited to paved roads and right angles and to quote Martha, “that’s a good thing.”

Tire Repair Kit- I never go into the wilderness without one of these; it’s a long walk out, enough said. It should be noted that one should know how to use one of these as well.

So there you have it, my list of Favorite things. I’m curious now, what are some of your favorite things.

Ride Well



Baron's Life said...

A GPS system is on top of the list for me followed by heated grips.
Will have to wait a little longer to afford them

Lance said...

Thanks Earl for your review. I'm going to look into some of your favorites to help my ride. BTW, I get Rider regularly, and have really enjoyed that magazine.

fasthair said...

Mr. Earl: My road trip gear.

I agree about the little neck thingy. My First Gear leather coat has one of these built into the removable liner and I've always said it is worth it's weight in gold. Some day I'll have some electric clothes.

I always carry a small tool kit that included a H4 headlight bulb. Having had one short out years ago in the middle of the night to where neither the low or high beam would work I've always carried one since. To this day, as popular as this bulb is, I still have never seen the bulb in a truck stop. To say the State Trooper was less then thrilled when he pulled me over that night would be putting it mild. That's a road trip story for another time.

Electronics. I take my laptop for many reason but one of them is for the GPS software on it. I always take my cellphone and car charger that I can plug into my bike I use for online weather reports. It's always nice to know if the rain is going to last long or if you are going to have to suck it up and get wet. Not to mention it can bail you out of a tough spot. I also take a the most high-tech thing ever made, a big road atlas.

I know this one sounds simple but I ways take a spare set of keys. In that same line I always test my bikes alarm system and make sure I can do the manual shut off routine incase the remote fob will not work. Yes that has happen before.

Last and without a doubt the most important thing to me. My massive chain and lock. After having my bike stolen the one and only time I left town on a trip without it, this the very first thing I lay by the bike when I get ready to load up.


Earl Thomas said...

Baron's life: I'm considering heated grips as a replacement for my heated gloves. I have found that the wiring required for the gloves can be a little cumbersome at times, perhaps if I feel like spending the money, I might invest in a pair of battery operated ones.

Lance:I think that the "turtle fur" is a cost effective and great place to start. Mine gets daily use at highway speeds in some pretty brutal conditions, it does a great job. You'll be surprised at the increase in comfort that you'll get from that little piece of fabric.

Fasthair: I'm considering purchasing the "Scorpion XD" adventure jacket this year for that little neck thingy that they have built into the jacket. Of course there are other features that I like about the jacket, but my current Fieldsheer doesn't have that feature.

I do carry extra tools including a miniature socket set and screwdrivers in addition to the took kit that comes with the bike, you can never have too many tools when you are stranded in the boondocks. I think a spare lamp for my headlight is a great idea, I didn't think of that. I'd love to read about your experience with the trooper in one of your posts, sounds like fun. I could tell you about mine last summer (pulled over twice, ticketed once, in eight hours during the weekend of a biker rally, coincidence?)but then I just find myself in a dark mood for the rest of the afternoon.

I'm currently in the market for a lap top for some of the reasons that you describe. Still a desktop guy.

I learned to always carry a spare set of keys from an old Harley guy years ago, he also got me into the habit of not using a key chain and too many keys in the ignition so they wouldn't scar up the area around the handlebars.


Conchscooter said...

A Locking Top Case. I like soft bags as they are lighter and expand a bit allowing me to stuff them just a little bit. A Windshield. It should come up to a level just below my eyes. A Loobman chain lubricator. For $35 it's the simplest way to keep a chain well oiled. At 23,000 miles my chain is still brand new, benefitting from monthly kerosene baths as well no doubt.
My daily riding is all on the road and I am allergic to electrons.

bobskoot said...


I have heated grips on my SV, but purchased heated gloves for my X500Ri and while the wires are cumbersome, I think the heated gloves work better. I have the grips with the Hi-Off-Low switch so perhaps this is not the best kind. Hi is too high, Low is too low.

Security: I have two Xena type alarmed disk locks for travelling. One for the front which is very visible and one on the rear disk which would be almost impossible for you to see without crawling on the ground.

I also have one of those Necky things and won't leave home without it, esp during the winter.

I also purchased one of those Netbooks (Aspire One) so I can keep comunicated (I love electrons), for downloading photos and checking emails

I keep forgetting to purchase a spare Headlight bulb, but good idea

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Earl Thomas said...

Conch: After returning back to a chain driven bike from two shafties, I had forgotten how much I "didn't miss" lubing the chain. A lubricator is on my short list.

It appears that you and I seem to have the same allergies as well.

Bobskoot: I'm still on the fence as to whether to install the grips or not. The only other pitfall to my heated gloves that I have found is that on long rides in the cold, my hands can get a little clammy. This is usually remedied by shutting the heat off every now and then. I've worn my gloves on some pretty long rides with temperatures down in the teens and I never felt any discomfort from the cold, at least in my hands.


Stacy said...

I've been struggling with my heated grips for the past couple of months. They're the kind with the resistor in the low circuit. Well, it only took a few weeks of vibration before the resistor broke all to hell. I've been jury-rigging the thing only to have it break again within the week.

The solution to my problems is going to be a Heat-troller.

My essential piece of gear: my homemade visor squeegee.

Charlie said...

Have no real comment about things needed on a ride. Just wanted to say hey and was wondering how the "big" bags are on the road. Pictures looked great of them. You need to post them up on your site.

Earl Thomas said...

Stacy: I remember the post when you made your squeegee, it's cool to see that it's working so well for you. Fortunately, I don't get as much rain on this side of the mountains (unlike you folks over on the west side). I see AeroStitch has that feature on their Elkskin roper gloves. I'm going to be in the market for a new pair in the near future; that's something to consider.

Charlie: The new Aluminum cases are doing well. I don't notice any real change in the riding manners of the bike in a heavy crosswind. If anything, my 60 M.P.H. top gear roll-on might seem a little slower, then again that might just be in my head. They are big though, I'm still getting used to looking in my mirrors and seeing the Aluminum lid peaking up at me.
Pictures will be coming soon.


Stacy said...

You drysiders are lucky! But then again, you get snow. Everything's a trade-off!

irondad said...

I haven't used a heated vest all Winter. It scared me how easily I got used to it. Not only that, but almost dependent. So I went back to my Spartan roots.

Interestingly, my favorite thing in the cold is a Harley Davidson scarf. Yes, I ride a Yamaha and a Honda. I don't care what brand is on the scarf as long as it keeps my neck warm!

Anonymous said...

The Turtle Fur neck wrap is on my list for next winter. Even my Balaclava does not go down my neck really good enough.

Ride on,

Earl Thomas said...

Torch: Trust me, for the price of that little piece of fabric, you'll get you money's worth.