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What you'll need........ Dual Sport Products Guide
Dual Sport riding requires different equipment than other kinds of riding. Aside from the obvious (like the bike), navigation (gps, roll charts), communication (sat phones and radios), and clothing equipment must be suited to long distance multi-day rides.
In addition to the aspect of a multi-day ride, add the elements of dirt, asphalt and inclement weather and the need for specialized equipment is essential. In Northern California survival is always at the forefront of concerns, in baja there are no bears, mountain lions, freezing weather changes and trails of no return - it's a little different up here. The following is a guide of products tested, reviewed and rated by Norcal Dual Sport staff and customers.
GPS - The single most important tool in the woods!
Garmin Gps is an excellent source to find a hand held or bike mount unit. Also available for the Garmin is Mapsource cd-rom software. There is also a free mapping software download from Garmin, which is available to Garmin product owners: http://www8.garmin.com/support/download_details.jsp?id=209. Units of note are the Zumo, Colorado, Oregon and the 60csx - all rugged reliable units and even after having a 60 csx get flooded in a rain storm, we received a brand new unit from Garmin within 1 week of sending it back to the service center in Kansas
A great source of information regarding dual sport GPS systems is Cycoactive. Whether you're PC or MAC they'll have a system and information regarding software and mounts.
Roll Chart Holders - for organized rides.
A lo-tech wonder, roll charts have been used since the earliest of world explorers. Basically a rolled up map, enduro riders have also been using them for years to keep their speed and time consistent.
An excellent source for roll chart mounts, lenses and such, is Four Strokes Only. A.H. Mclaughlin has amassed a great selection of roll chart stuff.
Ms racing has a nifty chart holder for around $27.
Any aspiring dual sporter should be able to go down to the local moto vendor and scoop one up from the parts guy. Enough said.
Mounting Devices - keeping your junk on your bike.
Mounting all your gear is just as challenging as shopping for it. Enduro Engineering has and excellent bar clamp mount perch device that is stainless steel and pretty much bomb proof. We mount GPS, Roll Charts, radio, or just about anything you can think of on the bird perch. The kit comes with two different sized perches and is easy to install. Ram mount and bicycle type devices are available from $8 for the bicycle ebay special to $40 for a RAM mount system to an $80 shock proof mounting device at Cycoactive. enduro engineering bar perch - cool stuff!
Additional Navigational Aids:
The Delorme Gazetteer Maps for the California Region work great in concert with the GPS and a good old National Forest Service Map. Cost for the Gazetteer is around $30 and is worth it's weight in gold. The NCDS trail team has cut out the pages and taken them to kinkos for lamination............instant waterproof map. Use this with the GPS and the FS map and you'll probably know where you are - and we won't have to come looking for you!
National Forest Service Maps
It may sound silly, but go to the forest service and get a MAP!!! even if your GPS dies (and it happens!) you'll probably find out where you are. Tip: ask if they have any old maps from ten years ago...........they show all the trails!!
$12 at the Forest Service Station.
Helmet radio systems are a must for any group adventure. The H.R.S. eliminates un-needed stops to coordinate gas stops, meal breaks and photo ops. Radio kits include foam molded ear pieces, boom microphone, push to talk handlebar mount button, a harness and comes either with or without a radio. In Northern California, everyone uses the Vertex standard 160 x uhf model which is a tough reliable radio with excellent reception .
A phone is a good thing, believe it or not. Any decent dual sport ride should render your phone useless (that's the point right?). Well, in case of emergency you might want to get a helicopter quickly. Enter satellite phones: The Iridium or the Globalstar phones can be purchased, leased or even rented. Cost for rental is affordable at $60 per month.
Not your normal dog........Spot transceivers may save your life like man's best friend, but this Spot will also be able to show your loved ones where you are with their subscription service that allows those at home with a laptop to locate you through Google Earth. Some question the positive aspects of your wife knowing where you are, but when your stranded 20 miles into the endless singletrack canyon and have to spend the night by yourself (I hear that it sucks) you may want someone to know.
Tip: Thumpertalk offers a free year when you buy online, which means you get 2 years of service for the price of 1.
Dual Sport Conversion Kits
Depending on your needs, make and model of your mount and overall technical dexterity, the following vendors should have a system to get you on your way. When looking for the right Dual Sport kit, keep in mind your needs: not all kits are created equal!
If you do a lot of road miles then a less expensive kit will fit the bill. If you do more hard, dusty off road rides, then a higher quality kit will be more fitting. Things to consider are how often do you wash your bike? are you a hard core singletrack rider or gravel and asphalt? The first things to go bad on a dual sport kit are the handlebar switches and the connectors. 9 times out of 10 the reason the wiring goes bad is that pressure washer in your garage.
If you're building an XR 250 commuter special then the $60 Chinese Ebay special will probably be OK.
Trick Dual Sport - Great product - The most high tech reliable product on the market, great customer service also.
Baja Designs - The standard by which others are judged.
Ryco Moto - Built by a Yamaha Guy for Yamaha's.
Doctor Enduro - a great source for Enduro lighting kits and Dual Sport Gear
Ogio - Flight Vest
When I first got this gem from a supplier to test, I thought it was really overkill - but after riding with it for over four months, I feel naked without it. It holds my radio, ALL my tools, tubes, first aid, camera gear, fluids, and has probably the best hydration system on the market, carrying 2 liters of fluid. Granted I'm carrying 40 lbs., but it's HOW I'm carrying it - the weight is very evenly distributed via wide shoulder straps and a cinch system that gets the weight on your hips, but not quite like a fanny pack that makes your hips sore after 60 miles.
pros- you can put EVERY thing in it and not feel the effects and it accommodates my radio. You can hang all kinds of gadgets, loppers, trail marking ribbon and such from the exterior loops. works like a chest/back protector when fully loaded with tubes and gear. Small enough to still wear a camelback "Hawg" or "Mule" over it for your jacket or a small chain saw.
cons - tough to wear over a chest protector and I am contacting Ogio to ask them to integrate shoulder and upper arm protection into next years flight vest - this would make it perfect and far surpass the Zac-Speed product which is really a camelback attached to a chest protector - I've been down that road.
AXO - Pressure Suit - Supplied by Atomic-Moto.com
Brian at Atomic-Moto surprised me with this one, as the box showed up unannounced and I wasn't sure what to do with it, but after doing a few rides with it I was sold. I first tested the suit when the weather was still cold and it offered welcome insulation when in the snow and I got to thinking that it would be a cold weather item only - boy wa I wrong. I took the AXO Air Cage along for the ride on this years Oakland MC's Sheet Iron and wore it both days in the 100 degree heat through Stoneyford and Cow Mountain and all parts in-between, and I was pleasantly supervised how well it let the breeze through while still offering maximum protection and I'm very glad I had it when I went down several time while going through Stoneyford' singletrack on day 1 while chasing AA riders when I shouldn't have been. I wore no undershirt, a vented jersey, the flight vest and a camelback over it, I was still ok in the heat and was comfortable. The air cage has an integrated kidney belt and a road race style back protector, all the right protection in all the right places.
Great Product - Thanks Brian!!
Forma Boots of Italy - Supplied by Atomic-Moto.com
Rating: Three Checkered Flags!!!
Atomic Moto of Bend Oregon sent us a pair of Forma Boots for test and review. After one month and almost 600 miles of riding both dirt and street the boots have performed flawlessly. When we initially received the boots our first impression is that they looked great, the materials and workmanship are top notch and the buckle/closure system is of very good design. Forma has made a great product that is light, great fitting and void of strange pressure points or buckle glitches. The Forma boots are light! much lighter than the Alpinestars or SIDI boots. What we liked most about the Forma boot is how well it fits with knee braces, the top of the boot has an elastic dust cover that acts as another upper boot closure device keeping the braces elevated and out of the boots. When wearing the Alpinestar or SIDI boots, knee braces are allowed to sag and fall down.
The Forma boots are a great buy at $60 from atomic moto.
Contact Brian Price at firstname.lastname@example.org for other great products, or go to www.atomic-moto.com for a look.
Shift Recon Pant
Rating: two thumbs up!!!
The Shift Recon pant is an excellent product for the price. At just under $80 the pant has no zippers, which are the nemesis of any adventure ride, especially if there's any manzanita nearby. The Recon pant has large pockets that hold tools, food or whatever the adventure/dual sport rider needs to have a good safe time.
Update: 5/15/2009 - the fly zipper broke - the only zipper!!
Carhartt Pants - The last pant you'll ever buy
Yes, believe it or not America's favorite heavy duty work clothing manufacturer makes an excellent adventure/dual sport pant. The Carhartt pant comes in a 8, 10 and 12 oz. duck fabric that is breathable and very protective and best of all will not burn on headers. We have tested the lined and unlined version with double fabric in the front leg/knee area. We are convinced that at $45 for the unlined and $65 for the lined version, these pants will probably last longer than you have your current bike. The pants come in a variety of colors weights and fabrics, but we have found that the duck fabric is Manzanita proof. www.carhartt.com Lumberjack approved!!
The Cramp Buster..........
Yes, it works. Don't laugh, you have to ride the asphalt sometimes and as many times as we've broken bones in our wrists and hands this little baby works! Click on the picture to visit the site.