Review: Cardo Packtalk Bold

This one’s a guest contribution from Shih. Because when one of your biker buddies happens to be a techie and gadget freak, and you’ve both spent a long time riding together with an intercom system, you just ask him to write a review on that, right? Here we go.

Last year I went on a tour in the Pyrenees with Jean. A full week on the road with tent, sleeping bag and a bunch of luggage. Since it was my first bike trip ever… needless to say I had a bunch of questions.

One of which was: how the heck would we communicate while riding? Was I supposed to perform a drive-by, start signaling or waving my arms? I had a better idea: how about a bluetooth intercom system?

My helmet already had one installed, so if Jean would get one too, we’d be good to go. But my BMW Motorrad Communication System wasn’t up to par. Sure, it’s a great system when you ride alone and want to listen to music or answer phone calls. You can even have a talk with your pillion, if he or she sports the same system of course. But chat with the rider in front or behind you, let alone a whole group of riders? Forget it.

Which brought us to the Cardo Packtalk Bold. On paper one of the top systems for rider-to-rider communication, partly because of its DMC technology Continue reading

Gear-update 2019

Alpinestars Toucan boots
In February 2017 I bought a pair of Alpinestars Toucan boots and there hasn’t been anything to complain about. After two years they’re still perfectly waterproof, they only show some slight traces of use despite using them very often, and there’s no Sidi squeak. Recently however, I noticed cracks in both of the boot’s shafts. I asked Rad, the shop where I bought them, if this was normal, knowing the boots just passed their 2-year warranty period. Rad contacted Alpinestars, who took their time to answer (three weeks!) but luckily had great news. They said they believed this was subject to wear, but exceptionally they wanted to take the boots back and exchange them for a new pair. Using the new pair for a few weeks now. Me happy!

Klim Badlands motorcycle pants
Also for more than two years in use (and still to my great satisfaction): my Klim Badlands motorcycle suit. One shortcoming: the zipper of the pants began to close worse and worse until it finally gave up. A broken tooth. Time to find out if Klim’s lifetime warranty – which doesn’t cover regular wear and tear – is worth something. I contacted Klim and got a reply within a few hours: send your pants in, we’ll replace the zipper. Meanwhile the pants with the new, perfectly fixed zipper already found their way back to me. Me happy!

Doubletake mirrors
Allroadmoto gave me a pair Continue reading

Review: Gerbing G-12 heated gloves

About a year and a half ago I wrote a review of my Gerbing heated jacket. In a nutshell: I’m a big fan. I wear it during almost every ride (except on summer days of course), which proves that for a frequent rider like myself a heated jacket is more of a must-have than a luxury accessory.

At the start of the previous winter I switched my heated Mobile Warming gloves for the Gerbing G-12 heated gloves. They differ in power supply. The Mobile Warming gloves have rechargeable batteries while the Gerbing pair has to be connected to the bike’s battery via a cable.

The reason for the switch is that the heated jacket warmed my body decently but the gloves didn’t always warm my hands enough. For various reasons:

  • The batteries of the Mobile Warming gloves won’t last for hours. So I always played safe and set the temperature just high enough to get home before the batteries ran out. Which means: no comfortable warmth during freezing winter rides but just enough not to let my fingers transform into popsicles.
  • At temperatures around 0°C riding became painful, even with heated grips. Still it hurt less than ordinary winter gloves but a pleasure it surely was not.
  • If I forgot to recharge the batteries at night, the next day’s ride would be a torment.

With the Gerbing heated gloves all that is a thing of the past. Just connect them to the bike’s battery and set them as warm as you want. After a long summer this is my second winter with Continue reading

Bought: TomTom Rider 550

Some people are surprised if I tell them I don’t have a motorcycle GPS. I never really felt I needed one: friends with a GPS with whom I rode out, test bikes that could often be equipped with a GPS, organized rides where you just follow the pack. But I knew one day I would have to get one. Even if my old school solution (written instructions scotch-taped to my tank) is so cool.

So there you have it: I bought a TomTom Rider 550, at Waypoint Leuven. A Garmin also was an option because of the offroad possibilities, but after some reading around on the net, my good experience with the Rider 450 during the trip to the Alps last year, advice from GPS owning friends and MrGPS’s extensive review (in Dutch!), I decided to go with the TomTom. Long solo offroad rides aren’t on my agenda any time soon anyway.

Next week I’m off to the Vosges for a short trip. A good opportunity for a first extensive test.

Review: Gerbing 12V heated jacket

Layer after layer after layer. That’s how I rode through the winter. A three-layered Rev’it Sand 2 jacket and underneath that: a thermal liner (borrowed from my IXS summer jacket), a thick fleece jacket and my regular clothes (t-shirt and sweater). The Rev’it pants (also three layers) kept my legs warm enough but at times my upperbody was awfully cold, even under those seven layers.

Still, a warm (or in this case: cold) feeling on your bike depends on more than just your suit.

The heat factors on a motorcycle:

1. The weather
The temperature plays a big role of course. But 6°C for example doesn’t always feel the same. A charming sun or a rain shower can increase or reduce the feeling a few degrees. The same applies to a warm breeze versus a chilly north wind.

2. The motorcycle
Heated grips and even heated seats can be found on more and more bikes, but the model itself also has an influence. For example, behind an RT’s fairing and windshield you catch less wind than on a Monster, something that certainly affects comfort on longer journeys.

3. The ride
A sporty ride on winding roads, constantly moving your whole body, or two hours on the highway with just your eyes peeking in the mirrors and your thumb operating the turn signals now and then? The type of ride too makes a big difference.

4. The gear
And of course your clothing plays an important part. A three-layered suit is warmer than a light summer jacket, winter gloves are warmer than summer gloves, and so on.

In short: a lot of factors influence the warmth during rides. Though long winter trips are mainly a matter of strong character. Yet I prefer to arrive nearly frozen than taking the car and lengthen my daily commutes with 30 minutes. But temperatures around 0°C were the limit.

Heated clothing

With heated clothing, winter rides become less a matter of strong character. I already had a pair of heated gloves, the type that’s powered with rechargable batteries. I’m not entirely satisfied by them because they only break the cold if you go on long rides and don’t want to run out of juice.

Another option is heated clothing you connect to your bike’s battery, which offers more warmth than gear with rechargeable batteries. Past winter I tested Gerbing’s heated 12V inner jacket. The summary: I don’t think Continue reading

Tow a caravan behind your motorcycle

If you travel by motorbike, you’ll spend the night in a hotel, a B&B, your tent or – why not – your caravan. Because towing a trailer behind your bike is an option too.

Moby1 builds caravans for motorcycles. You might lose a bit of riding pleasure because of the weight (between 280 and 320 lbs, depending on the model you get). And obviously you can’t expect a luxurious five star stay.

The Moby1 C2 caravan has a length of 80” and is available in two widths: 40” and 48”. In other words: if you don’t travel alone it’ll be very cozy.

A mattress covers the complete floor of the C2 caravan and there are some hanging cabinets. There’s also a rear door that conceals some more storage space and a worktop. Toilet, shower, dishwasher, microwave and jacuzzi are of course absent. Although every caravan is built to order, starting from $ 6.500 and according to the wishes of the customer, so you never know what you can ask for.

If you know other manufacturers of motorcycle caravans, please let us know in the comments below.