Preparation Update: T-minus 27 days - Part 2
Updated: Jul 21, 2018
Staying comfortable on the ride, now that you've arrived at your destination
In Part 1 of this article, I described the philosophy behind my choices for riding gear to bring on my upcoming trip as I ride the longer, more arduous stretches of the journey. In Part 2, I want to talk about the causal riding gear I plan to wear during the more leisurely portions of my trip: several days in San Francisco and extra time I intend to spend in Bend, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.
As I mentioned earlier, no one wants to ride around all geared up for adventure. There are times when you want to stay protected but you want a much more casual, dressed-down, everyday kind of look. Personally, I'm an ATGATT kind of guy ("All The Gear, All The Time" for those of you not up on the lingo). So, how do you stay safe and still manage a casual look?
Good question, and one I've been trying to answer for years. As a business professional, the lack of quality, workable casual motorcycle clothing has really irked me. Expect to see an article on that in the not too distant future. In the meantime, the following gear list features some of the best casual motorcycle clothing I have managed to find and purchase ahead of next month's trip.
Part 2: In the City
Once I reach San Francisco, I'll spend several days there with friends before heading up the West Coast. The plan for the second leg of the trip is much more casual. After pounding West at a clip of around 600 miles per day, I'll spend a day off the bike recovering from that first leg of the trip (4 days, 2,600 miles). After that, I'll cruise around Marin county and check out the Berkeley Hills before heading north. After an overnight in Eureka, California, I'll spend a couple of days in Bend, Oregon before heading up for a couple of days tooling around Seattle.
While this 2nd leg from San Francisco to Seattle will stretch almost 1,200 miles, only three of those days will be spent getting to my destination. The other six days will consist of hanging out in various cities, taking in the sights, exploring the roads, and generally taking it easy. I'll be wearing the same helmet and boots in the city that I plan to wear on the road, but for the rest of my gear, it will be a completely different story.
This is the gear I plan to wear during the city portions of the trip:
Jacket: Triumph Summer Mesh Jacket
A couple of years ago, I managed to score a Triumph-brand summer mesh jacket from Craigslist. It has since become my go-to jacket for hot weather. Comfortable, extremely cool (for a black article of clothing), and a stylish match for my primary motorcycle, this jacket is perfect for those hot summers days creeping through the asphalt jungle on your iron horse. Bonus: the zip-in liner is perfect for cooler mornings and easily stowed once the heat starts to crank up, and easily zipped back in if your ride takes you into the evening.
Shirt: Speed and Strength Last Man Standing Armored Shirt
As I said, my personal philosophy is to dress for the slide, not the ride. You won't catch me in short sleeves or a t-shirt while I'm on my bike. But there's always that temptation, you know? Wearing "all the gear, all the time" can get tiresome. It would be so easy to just throw on a shirt, hop on my bike and just go...
With this shirt, I get to combine safety with the ease of throwing on a shirt that looks casual but features built-in armor and Kevlar abrasion resistance. Granted, it's a bit on the heavy side; so much so that calling it a shirt lacks a bit of accuracy. However, it isn't so jacket-like as to give itself away immediately as anything more than a shirt. Great protection, casual appearance. Perfect for the biker about town.
Vest: "Name of Quality Products" leather motorcycle vest
Never heard of these guys? Neither have I. Based on research I've done online, it might be Pakistani. Who knows? It was a motorcycle show special that I took a liking to, and couldn't pass up after the vendor gave me a 50% discount for it on the spot. Who made it? Don't know, don't care. All I know is that this is hands down the best leather motorcycle vest I've ever seen, and I searched years for exactly this kind of vest. Whether I was in a local motorcycle shop or out at Sturgis, I just couldn't find a vest this well made with this quality of leather. And, as it turns out, it happens to be a conceal-and-carry vest. I'm not going to be packing (ever), but I have a LOT more pockets and carrying space than you'll ever find on your average leather vest. Bonus: it looks quite snazzy worn over my armored shirt.
Jeans: Draggin Jeans (Relaxed fit)
Once upon a time, I thought that denim jeans would afford me some protection on my motorcycle. I had my eye on wearing either the jeans I typically wore around town or maybe getting some stylish Carhartt pants to go with my new motorcycle. However, before I could hit the road, I read an article written by a fellow motorcycle journalist in which he described, in agonizing detail, why you NEVER, NEVER EVER want to rely on regular old denim jeans for crash protection.
Thankfully, there are a number of companies who are making quality jeans featuring abrasion-resistant Kevlar designed to help you survive an accident with your skin intact. To date, the best combination of affordability and quality I have managed to find stateside (Europe also has companies making comparable jeans) is Draggin Jeans.
Now, pants and I do not typically get along very well. My thigh-to-waist ration is unusual, to say the least...among American clothing manufacturers, that is. There are virtually no clothing brands that make clothing to fit African Americans well, at least off the rack. For most of my adult life, I have had to buy my pants (dress and casual) four sizes too big, then have the waist tailored down in order to accommodate the relative size of my thighs. One of the rare exceptions to my plight has been Girbaud jeans.
Strangely enough, I seem to have found another exception: Draggin Jeans. Combined with the Forcefield padding I wear beneath them (see below), these riding jeans give me an almost perfect fit. Yes, I still need to cinch the belt a bit to avoid that embarrassing gap at the spine, but they feel great and look great on and off the bike.
Body Armor: Forcefield Pro Pants With Sport Armor
Even with the abrasion resistance of Kevlar-reinforced denim jeans, I am paranoid about coming off my bike and slamming my knee into something (again, see the Jalopnik article about having something tear into your knee during a motorcycle crash. Yeesh). As a result, I researched and tracked down just the thing to give me complete coverage (thighs, tailbone, hip bone, shins, and knees) beneath my riding jeans. Even with the pads, these under-the-pants safety tights are surprisingly stealthy when worn under my riding jeans. Again, I get to look casual, even slightly dressy, without looking all geared up.
Gloves: Knox Orsa Leather Gloves
I have already waxed poetic about the Knox Handroid Pod MKIII racing gloves, but my relationship with Knox's amazing products started out with this pair of low-profile, street-oriented gloves. Like their sci-fi-looking big brother, the Orsa offers scaphoid protection, a Boa closure system for a customized fit, and plenty of impact protection across the back of the glove. Smaller and a bit less bulky, these gloves pack away more easily than the racing gloves, making them perfect for running around town.
That's the full list of gear I intend to wear once I get to where I'm going. If you missed the list of gear I intend to wear as I make my way to the West Coast and back, check out Part 1 of this article. If you have any questions or comments regarding my choice of gear, please be sure to drop m a line and let me know what you think.