Monday, October 29, 2018

11 Motorcycling Gear that are the backbone of my rides

A Colorful Pit Stop enroute to Munnar

Motorcycling gear is all about comfort, reliability, usability, safety and some bit of style and fashion. Back in the days when I started riding, the concept of motorcycling gear was limited to the brands imported into India at high prices for the owners of the superbikes. But, today, there are a plethora of options to choose from. Home grown brands such as Cramster, Mototech, Rynox and Scala Gears have started coming with with great designs at Indian prices and then there are offline stores and websites such as Big Bad Bikes for those bigger international brands that come at expensive prices.

Motorcycling packing for the open road

Any true rider would know that gear is a matter of personal choice and it has to suit your kind of riding, the weather you ride in and the kind of motorcyclist you are in overall. While we all want to carry the entire kitchen sink with us, we know that is not feasible for long motorcycle rides. And while we could get our motorcycles and us outfitted with all the latest motorcycling gear at one offline gear shop such as Moto Cafe, we would not know its true worth till we actually experience it in real time actual riding conditions.

Monsoon Motorcycle Ride to Bisle Ghat, Karnataka

And this is why I am sharing a list of my favorite motorcycling gear that I have picked up over the past 20 years and that have been tested in over 200,000 kms of different riding conditions. All of this do not belong to one particular brand, are easy on the wallet, are extremely reliable and do not compromise on safety, which is the main requirement for any kind of motorcycling gear.

1) SOL Off Road Style Helmet

A Dash of Yellow and a Lush Manchinebele Dam View, Karnataka

Since I mostly ride in tropical conditions, I prefer helmets that offer the best air circulation. And it has to have clear visors for those early morning, late evening and night rides. And I prefer it to have off road style sun and rain shades to protect my visor and my eyes from the elements. And the overall comfort and safety has to be there. I find all of this in my SOL off road style helmet. It is moderately priced between 6000 and 7000 INR. Other decent options can be found in LS2 and LS3.

2) A Classic Leather Jacket

Decked up in full motorcycle gear

I do understand the importance of an armoured jacket, but nothing beats the charm and comfort of a good old classic leather jacket. Whether it is a bomber jacket, a short hip motorcycle style jacket or a classic dinner jacket, I feel every motorcyclist needs to have one in their wardrobe. I own a few in different colours that I flaunt with different looks. These kind of jackets can cost you anything between 5000 to 20,000 INR depending on quality, type of leather used and brand.

3) Cramster Eclipse Armoured Jacket and Harbinger Gloves 

Fully decked on the motorcycle and the open road

I am quite partial to leather products, which is why you will find me looking for leather even in those protective jackets. Even though I like the summer jackets of Scala gears, I use the Cramster Eclipse leather armoured jacket for those long motorcycle rides. This multi weather jacket makes you look dapper when you are riding the motorcycle and it protects you from all kinds of elements. It costs under 10,000 INR.

When it comes to gloves, I prefer half palm gym gloves to full finger motorcycle gloves. The reason being they offer a much better grip, don’t come in the way of using your phone or your camera shutter button, give you much better control and are perfect for the tropical weather of our country. I use Harbinger leather gloves. I think they cost about 1,500 INR.   

4) Berghaus Trekking Boots and Classic Leather Boots

Chilling next to a railway crossing

It is for my footwear that I don’t opt for motorcycle boots at all. Instead, I prefer high ankle trekking boots for long rides and high ankle leather boots for lifestyle rides. I use Berghaus trekking boots that are waterproof, super light and can serve in many conditions other than riding, which makes it perfect for all kinds of trips. For those lifestyle rides, short rides and city rides, I use high ankle quality leather boots.

5) Ray Ban and Oakley Polarized Sunglasses

Posing on a off road track near Manchinebele Dam

A lot of people prefer tinted visors on their helmets, but I am old school in that department. I prefer clear visors and good quality sunglasses. As day rides are usually super bright in the tropics, it is best to protect your eyes with good quality UV and polarized sunglasses. The only catch is to find sunglasses that are snug and fit well inside your helmet. My Rayban Aviators and Oakley Holbrook glasses do the job admirably well and each one of them costs below 10,000 INR.

6) Cramster Saddle Bag

Cramster saddle bags - a great motorcycle travel gear

I have used my Cramster saddlebags for more than 100,000 kms. It has seen its fair share of abuse and tears, but given its simple and rugged construction, I was able to fix it at any small tailor shop. It has kept my bag contents dry even in the rainiest conditions and even when I drove through water. I have always packed the contents inside the saddlebag in trash bags, but that has hardly been tested thanks to the good construction of this Cramster saddlebag. Also unlike the Rynox saddlebag, the Cramster one is a single piece which gives it more stability and control. I am also a fan of Enduristan saddle bags and waterproof duffels, but they are a bit on the expensive side. Cramster saddle bags should be below 3000 INR. Rynox one should be below 4000 INR and Enduristan ones start at 7000 INR.

7) Mototech Knee Bionics

The scenic Pothamedu road of Munnar

I am one of those who don’t prefer dedicated motorcycle wear like motorcycle pants that get connected to the jackets. I don’t like them as I find them to be inconvenient in conditions where I am doing much more than just riding. Which is why I prefer to carry separate knee bionics instead. These serve well for those long rides and for those off-road adventures. My choice for such knee support is Mototech’s knee bionics. They cover the entire knee and shin and are super comfortable, snug and safe. They cost less than 4,500 INR.

8) Mototech Rain Jacket

Independence day motorcycle ride through the rainforests of Agumbe

Most of the motorcycle gear companies label their apparel as waterproof, but what I have found during my rides in heavy rains is that water somehow or the other finds its way inside. Hence, I usually wear quick drying clothes and cover them up with a fully waterproof no-zip jacket that is totally sealed at all ends. For this, I prefer Mototech’s rain jacket. They do the job admirably, are easy to carry and do not smell like the other rain jackets. Its cost is 1500 INR.

9) Casio G Shock Watch

The 3 beasts that chased the Neelakurinji across Kerala and Tamil Nadu for 10 days in 2018

I find Casio’s G shock watch to be extremely rugged, shock proof and water proof and they have ridden with me admirably in different conditions. They are handy to see the time at all times of the day and night, are convenient if you wish to set an alarm and some models even have altimeters, thermometers and barometers for those riders who wish for it. These watches usually cost below 10,000 INR.

10) Mototech Mesh Style Bungee Cords

Bikers and their beasts take a break in lovely rural setting

Bungee cords are that dream accessory that come handy in so many situations, especially when you are carrying that additional piece of luggage, which cannot be fit into your saddle or tank bag. While individual bungee cords do the job, I prefer Mototech’s mesh styled bungee cords that strap your luggage efficiently from all directions. These good quality nylon bungee cords with fiber and/or steel hooks cost about 450 INR.

11) North Face Lumbar Pack

I carry my wallet, phone, sunglasses, important documents, DSLR camera and any other essentials in a lumbar pack that is strapped to my back. A lot of riders prefer fanny or waist packs, but I like the comfort of lumbar packs. They do not come in the way of my riding, but they don’t allow you to take a pillion rider. For this, I have been using a 15 year old trekking style lumbar pack from North Face. It should cost you less than 6000 INR.

My Custom Motorcycle at a vineyard in Rural Chikkaballapur, Karnataka

I am a bit old school in my ways. Hence, you will not see those RAM mounts on my motorcycle. My GPS is either my intuition, my conversation skills with locals or a good old paper or book based map. Likewise, you will not see those Go Pro mounts on my helmet or on my jacket. I have been tempted quite a few times to get myself a motion camera, but for some reason I have stayed away from it. I prefer to stay in the moment and when tempted to click, my DSLR is strapped right to my back.

Enjoying the beautiful forest view during a pit stop near Munnar

As you can see, my motorcycling gear is fairly simple and basic. They are fairly cheap, easy to maintain and fix in case of issues and most of all, they serve the purpose in our testing Indian conditions. I hope this article helps you in buying the perfect motorcycling gear for you. Do let me know in the comments below if you feel I should try out some awesome motorcycling gear product in the market.

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