Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Motorcycling around Ireland

I set off recently to do a ride of Europe and managed to tour Ireland before having to put the rest on hold. I took my previous post about my plans down to reword but now I shall just write a little about riding the Emerald Isle. 

My plan was to first pick up the 2007 Kawasaki Versys 650 I have had sitting in Ireland in storage. I purchased this bike very reasonably priced and have it stored with, Motofeirme. This is a service that purchases and stores motorcycles for people wanting to ride Europe more affordably on a bike they own rather than high rental fees or shipping a bike there. In Ireland my plan was to ride the Wild Atlantic Way from Kinsale to Derry. Arriving at the bike storage place to see the Versys in real life first time I was pleased it seemed in good order. Tyres were as new and it had a Scott oiler fitted and full luggage. It even had a Garmin 220 Zumo and heated grips installed. I was able to leave my suitcase at the storage centre and once packed was ready to tour. I had lunch in Kinsale a lovely seaside town and then started on the Wild Atlantic Way.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Alpinestars Andes tourer pants review

I updated my previous 3 season Alpinestars Drystar pants to the new 3 season Andes Tourer drystar pants. So far however I have not found them quite as good.

The pants are a waterproof goretex style item in adventure styling. Alpinestars use a material they call Drystar but the material is basically same as goretex. My old Drystar pants had waterproof pockets which were handy as if you encounter a shower you need not stop and move things to inside your jacket. The Andes has two side/leg low mounted pockets which are in a comfortable position when riding but are not waterproof. There is two exhaust vents each side adjacent to the pockets. The effectiveness of these is rather limited. If they had been flipped about face and put on the front side of the legs a little lower then they might have been really good to assist getting some air to the part of the legs which I find gets warmest, behind the knee lower leg section. The matching jacket has two similar vents and they work quite well in this way at the shoulders. There is a zip out quilted liner and it works well when the temperature drops and still manages to cope with warmer days so you need not remove it until it gets quiet warm/hot. 

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In my previous Alpinestar Drystar pants I needed what was labelled as a size 2XL (despite my regular pant size being much smaller) so I ordered same in these but they were miles too big for me and impossible to wear them so I exchanged for XL and these seemed to be a perfect fit. Length and waist and inner leg all are correct. Standing straight the bottom of the pants almost touch the floor so good leg length, however in use on a motorcycle with legs bent the pants ride up my legs about 30 cm. If not constantly pulled down by hand while riding they will ride up and sit about even with the top of my boots allowing cold air and rain into my boots and generally feeling uncomfortable.

Not sure why the want to ride up. On a recent ride when striking cold weather my legs where often cold due to the air entering from where the pants ride up high. Then on the last day I was caught in steady rain all day and on the highway the pants sitting up so high inevitably the pants allowed rain into my boots. I was lucky to be on my way home ending a tour to be able to dry everything out. I suppose I should have also donned my rain suit in those conditions but the leg length remains an issue even on fine days with cold air on my lower legs. Just to repeat the length off the bike standing is the pants almost touch the ground so I have not bought a small size.

There is a couple of other things to mention about them. See the black crouch section in the photo, this area retains water in the rain which means you get very cold around those parts of your body with cold water close by although fortunately they never leaked and once the day warmed up and the rain eased this was not a problem.

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Above, the crouch area that stays wet and gets cold made me wish I had a seat heater on my last tour.

Update, I ordered some elastic pant clips to try hold the pants down when riding. I had a pair of these long ago for my BMW City Pants V1. Those would also want to ride way up high on my legs but then I replaced those pants the V2 of same model after the originals faded and the V2 BMW City pants never wanted to ride up my legs at all so when I moved to Japan I threw the set of clips away along with a 100 other things I thought I would never need again (all of which I seem to be slowly buying again…murphy's law) These are not as good looking as the set I had from USA previously but with 99 cents postage from Hong Kong Vs $19.80 postage from USA made in China wins. How could postage for something so small and light be $20… I will update if this works or fails when the weather cools enough to wear the pants again. 

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Update -  I tried these clips on my recent 6 day tour. The pants desire to ride up my legs is stronger than the clips which could not hold them down and soon after getting on the bike they let go and spring off the pants. It might be possible to fit some sort of eyelet to the pants and then use a different strap to hold them down but starting to get desperate and I have simply returned to my old model pants and packed these away for now.

This is my new solution to the pants wanting to ride up above the top of my boots.

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I have sewn on elastic boot straps that I hope will force the pants to remain down. My next tour is in a month so I shall report back after then the effectiveness of this hack. 

Final update – sorry for the delay I forgot to come back to the post and update it. The elastic straps work fine. The elastic is sturdy but allows a fair bit of expansion so holds the legs about where my original Drystar pants sit by themselves. I still have no firm idea why these pants wish to ride up like they do but the cut of the pants is certainly different to my original Drystar pants which were more baggy so that has to be affecting how they fit me. The great thing about wearing Gore-tex gear is when you encounter a shower you can just ride on so these pants not having waterproof pockets is a weak point since I have to stop and transfer wallet and phone to inside the jacket. I don’t keep them in my jacket if dry as it takes too long to get to them at a toll booth or for a quick photo since the waterproof pockets in the matching Andes jacket are located inside the lower front part requiring you unzip the jacket nearly all the way then dig down inside deep pockets. The other thing I will update is these are 3 season pants and get very hot in summer. I have ridden in them with the liners out in 31–32 degrees days and while it is bearable if moving it would be so much better if they had put the vent lower and front facing, as it is you really do not want to be wearing them above 28 degrees.

So assuming the fit issue is just me not going to affect others then for the price I would still suggest these pants are worth looking at. Like the jacket they retail well below other brand offerings and if you overlook a couple little things then you have yourself a pair of 3 1/2 season goretex riding pants for similar price to simple kevlar jeans which have by comparison a very limited temperature and weather range they can deal with. I have washed them a few times simply in the washing machine, cold wash on gentle setting and no problems, I wash the liners usually mid tour and after and no problems just in the washing machine. In rain they do not leak. Have a look and see how you go.