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Friday, January 9, 2015

Equipment - From The Bottom Up

Being prepared for the unknown starts at the bottom. Enduro bikes can avoid most obstacles and wheelie over the rest. Heavier adventure bikes have to plow through the mess and take the occasional hit. Just being bigger means they are going to hit more things.

A skid plate takes the hit so that the engine cases don't. Sadly, many factory plates are totally inadequate. The skid plate on my Transalp was made of plastic! A good skid plate is made of heavy aluminum and wraps completely around the bottom of the engine. One that merely covers the bottom is not good enough take a fall.

Most adventure bikes have fairings. Fairings are made of plastic. All that plastic is very expensive. When the bike falls over, which it always does, it will break all the plastic and then your bank account when you go to replace it.

Crash bars take the hit instead of the plastic. Generally they cost about the same as a single panel, which means that they are a very good buy. Plus, they look really cool.

Running out of gas can ruin your day. Either you're stuck or your buddy is stuck, and nobody is happy. Most factory tanks are good for day rides but going farther afield requires a bigger tank. A bonus is that most after market tanks are made of plastic, so they are significantly lighter than stock. This is weight saved high on the bike, which helps handling. The clear plastic tanks also let you know your fuel level at a glance. For some odd reason, people with large tanks constantly fill the tanks when they don't need the extra range. Putting three extra gallons in a big tank adds 18 pounds at the highest point on the bike. This will obviously affect the handling in a bad way.

Can you change your tires with your current tool kit? If not, make sure you have plenty of water and Power Bars for the hike to get help. Motion Pro makes some very nice tire irons that incorporate the axle wrench into the end. They are made from forged aluminum so they are both light weight and very tough. There is also an adapter that converts the tire iron into a 3/8” drive for sockets. More savings on weight and space.
Rocky Mountain carries a Mini T-handle wrench that works with 1/4” sockets. I went to Sears and expanded the collection of sockets and screwdriver tips to cover every screw, nut, and bolt. It's now my go-to tool when I'm away from my shop.
I'd love to have the set of titanium wrenches for their light weight but my budget isn't quite up to it at the moment.

To state my position clearly - Auxiliary lights are bling. “Hey, look at me!” Just another thing to break when you fall. Add the silly guards and the facade screams that you have more money than common sense. Usually seen with bikes that have no mud or scratches on them. I will allow an exception if you are going to the Arctic Circle in January when the sun never rises above the horizon.

On the other hand, additional lights at the rear of the bike that supplement the stock tail/brake light are good. Just skip the modulators please.

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