Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting ready for Winter on a Hypermotard - boots, pants, jackets and gloves

It feels like the winter weather has started to set in, in Melbourne. More times than not I am donning the wets and rugging up. It's a whole change of set up riding in the wet, and I've got plenty of areas to work on.
First up there's my boots situation. The Aplinestars SMX-5 I've got, aren't the waterproof ones. So on ADR this year when they got extremely wet for endless hours of rain and then dried, they shrank. And the toes have wrinkled up which hurts. Wah...


Alpinestars SMX 5 - the non waterproof ones

 I've got to get out and about for a bit of a research about what's out there for a quick fix. And by quick I mean cheap. Cheap, waterproof and comfortable. Which also leads me to thinking about wet pants. Wet pants are a necessary pain in the arse. I have two sets of slip-overs and neither of them are particularly expensive or awesome, and neither really do the job very well. The main problem I have is leg length. Being of monkey descent I have long legs that means pants are rarely ever long enough. Once I'm sitting on a sickle with both feet on the pegs, the pants ride up and make a virtual funnel for water to run down into my boots.

 I have never gone for insulated wet pants, but I'm starting to wonder if I have this wrong and need a different approach. They also make me feel a little bit like Rain Mans' brother, or someone from the Big Bang Theory. Like a big lanky Sheldon in plastic pantaloons. Awesome. In winter I go one step further in classy fashion statements, making it a three step process of joy, with a set of winter liner thingamies that I picked up cheap from Aldi. Dare I say it, they like a dual compound Lycra mesh, they fit pretty snug, have elastic ankles and waits and you sling jeans over the top them, then the slip-overs, over that which makes getting dressed and undressed for work/riding three or four times a day is a freaking nightmare. Surely there must be a good set of pants that just keep you warm and dry that are relatively safe for winter riding? It also serves as a reminder to check that your insurance policy is up to date as well, winter seems to be a good time for slip-overs and slip-offs - better to be covered with someone like http://www.rac.co.uk/insurance/motorbike-insurance/ than not because crashing a Ducati even slightly can be expensive. More researching and trekking around the one store I could find open on a public holiday, I found no real revelation.

 I need to hit the city the morrow to check out other solutions in my lunch break. Then on my way back from the shops I randomly remembered a pair of Icon boots I shoved in the outdoor cupboard after last year's Winter finished (or was it the one before?) and I thought, bewdy, resurrection.

So after checking for redbacks I and donning the big heavy clodhoppers (Icon Field Armor ankle boots) back on and walking around stiffly like a demented caterpillar walking in peanut butter I remembered why they went in the cupboard. I can't get them off. I mean, they come off eventually after much straining, bending down and tugging at the ridiculous buckle latches, but I've remembered that these boots were meant to be chucked in the bin. But I couldn't bring myself to do that then and I still can't now.

 Perhaps the magic buckle pixies will fix them one day, which would be good because I feel like someone out of Mad Max wearing them. But to the point - 3/4 or ankle boots stil let the water in, and buckles are shite. I'm over high maintenance buckles and would rather a zip and velcro waterproof solution that's comfortable. Nothing found in the hunt today either. I looked at cheap 'Extreme' boots at discount outlet AMX and ventured through the range in 'RJays' and up to the more expensive 'DriRiders' and 'Alpinestars' but nothing really grabbed me. Then off course there is jackets. I am something of a jacket whore. I have at least four motorcycle jackets that meet different needs. Then there are my everyday jackets - I can't even begin to count how many of those I have. But keeping warm, dry and safe on a bike in the winter means I go for a twin lined textile jacket. Something that has a removable thermal lining, is waterproof and safe enough for a slide down the road. I picked this one up on sale, for a great price from Ducati City and it does everything really well in one jacket.
Ducati Corse Textile Jacket

 It's a great jacket that I picked for the high neck. It's great at keeping that draft out under your chin when it's completely zipped up. I've also got a DriRider that looks pretty much like this nice new Ducati Flow 2012 jacket which is perfect for Summer.

Then there's the old Walden Miller leather GP jacket in the cupboard, but that's pretty *ahem* tight these days... but I feel like I have the whole jacket thing covered for now. Unless it starts snowing... Gloves wise I have collected many pairs, and tossed out very few, over the years and my choice for Winter is the definitely the big padded mits by DriRider - the Nordic ones. Probabaly suited for snow boarding but I dont care, they pull up right over you sleeves and feel like they are practically heated. Fully waterproof and no complaints here from them.
Dririder Nordic gloves


 Tyres are both Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corse now, front and rear so I feel like there is some actual tread pattern there to carve the water out of the way and the bike feels a whole lot better in the wet for it.
 
Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa

 Still need to be more cautious with that raucous throttle and snappy clutch in this weather or things tend to get edgy. And avoid tram tracks. They suck. On the whole I'm looking forward to winter on the Hyper. I kind of slip into the whole 'Personal Protection Environment' thing that is living inside all of this gear, and still enjoy the solidarity of being on two wheels rather than trapped in a cage, bleakly staring at all the other trapped cagers stuck in traffic wishing they were home eating pot pie. I'm out in the elements, but snug in my inner sanctum navigating the wet-wide-world on two wheels. It's a feeling that isn't easily beaten. Now I just gotta sort out this boot issue, which will most likely lead to solving the pants issue. Until then Naked fans, ride Naked but stay dry.
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