THE BIKEFirst up would be the bike, in this case a Connie I picked up in a field late last summer for eight hundred bucks.
After a winter of repairs, it safetied in April and I've since put on almost two thousand miles with nary a complaint. It starts at the touch of a button and feels much more substantial than the 650 Ninja I had before. It also continues to surprise me with its athleticism.
As a long distance bike its comfortable seat and upright riding position (greatly aided by risers on the handle bars installed by the previous owner) make long rides very doable. It'll manage about 40mpg in regular use and gets up into the mid-forties on the highway at a brisk pace, giving you well over 200 miles to a tank.
I miss the lightness of the Ninja (the Conours weighs over two hundred pounds more than the Ninja did), especially when I do something stupid like ride the Concours into deep sand, but it handles two up riding with ease and still wants to play on winding roads. As a compromise it's a great piece of engineering that still has soul.
The HelmetI picked up a Bell Revolver Evo Warp (!) helmet during the winter. I tried it on my first trip of the year and it was AGONIZINGLY PAINFUL! Since then I've had at the inside of it, removing the snap buttons from the padding around the temples. Without the hard buttons pressing through the padding into the sides of my head like a torture device this helmet has suddenly become very wearable for long trips. It managed the Georgian Bay run with no pain, though it is heavy and noisy wind-wise. It looks a treat though.
|The perfect helmet? Full face when|
you need it, open when you don't.
Jo Sinnott wears just such a helmet in Wild Camping, but those Roof Helmets are impossible to find on this side of the world.
The JacketI picked up a Teknic Motorcycle jacket at the North American Motorcycle Show in January from Two Wheel Motorsport. My first jacket was a discount deal, the first thing that looked like it would do the job.
This Teknic jacket is next level in every way. It breaths well in warm weather and keeps me remarkably warm when it isn't. It was able to handle the twenty degree swing in temperatures on this trip with ease. It's a bit disco, but I like it, and with my initials on it, I couldn't say no.
Too bad Teknic seems to have gone under.
The GlovesI brought a long a pair of colder weather gloves but never used them. Between the Concours' wind protection and the multiple talents of the gloves I brought, I never used them.
These leather mits from Leatherup.ca have far exceded any expectations. They breath well, are warm in the cold and feel both sturdy and protective. Other than some tired velcro on the wrists that still work, these gloves have been flawless. I need a red pair to go with the new colour scheme.
The BootsAnother second generation purchase, these Alpinestars MX-1 boots were a second season buy to replace the discount boots I purchased to attend riding school. Like the gloves, they manage a wide range of temperatures, especially on the well equipped Concours.
Unlike the cheap boots, I sometimes forget to change out of these when I get to work, they're that comfortable. They did the whole Georgian Bay trip flawlessly. The only time I'd worry about them is in rain, which I didn't face - they are vented.
The PantsI brought along a pair of motorbike-specific jeans, but never used them (I intend to pack much lighter next time around). The Macna pants I got last year but got too fat to fit into fit much better now, and I never took them off.
They look a bit spacey, but I like that. They breath like shorts and still manage to provide excellent wind protection and remarkable warmth behind the Concours' fairing. Best pants ever? Maybe! The armoured jeans stayed in the panier all weekend wasting space. These Macna pants are one of the few pieces of kit I can offer no improvements on, they are ace!
The LuggageThe Concours comes equipped with a pair of panniers from the factory which I used for tools and tech on one side and rain gear and clothes on the other. I generally never had to go into either.
When I first got the bike I got a Givi Blade B47 tail box. In general use it stays on the back and is used to hold helmets and bits and pieces when I commute to work. Like my previous Givi it has performed flawlessly.
New for this trip I picked up an Oxford X30 magnetic tank bag for less than half price thanks to Royal Distributing's tent sale in the spring. What a fine piece of luggage this bag is! On the ferry to Manitoulin I consolidated the book and camera bags I brought along into it and put them away in the panniers never to appear again (I plan to pack much more lightly next time around).
The Oxford worked as a backpack, camera bag and laptop case. Fully expanded it carried all of those things and more with room to spare. It was also nice to lay on when bombing down the highway when I wanted to get a couple of minutes out of the wind. I'd highly recommend it.
Good kit can make all the difference, and what I had for this trip did the job so well I didn't need any of the backup I'd brought along. After you've done a few trips I imagine you refine the kit until you've narrowed it down to just what you need and nothing more.
I'm still looking for the helmet I fall in love with. I must have an oddly shaped head, but I live in hope. I'm going to have to commit to a top tier helmet, but not until I'm sure it fits, and it can do everything I need it to.