Tag Archives: motorcycle

TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex Boots

Over the past couple of years, most of my riding has been done while wearing my TCX X-Move WP Boots. These have been great boots for day-to-day use. During riding season, I wear them all day every day. They’ve held up to the wear and tear of daily use surprisingly well and have remained waterproof for all this time. The only real downside of the X-Move boots is that they do compromise a bit of protection in exchange for comfort.

I’ve also changed the type of riding I’m doing when riding the Kawasaki Versys. I’m beginning to explore some roads that are a bit off the beaten path. I’ve been on some dirt roads and some easy trails a few times and a better, more protective boot seemed like a good idea. This led me to look at some of the many varieties of adventure riding boots that are available.

TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex BootsThe primary features I was looking for included a waterproof liner, good shin protection, good foot and heel protection, and good support and protection for light dirt road riding while at the same time, remaining comfortable enough to wear all day when touring. All of the major gear vendors offer boots that fit this criteria so I relied on various reviews and my past experience with TCX boots. After much consideration, I settled on the TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex boots.

I went ahead and ordered the boots from Revzilla and had them ship them directly to my daughter’s house in California so that they would be waiting for me when I got there in early February.

I generally wear a 9.5 or 10 in US sizes so I ordered a size 44 and the fit was spot on. They did feel kind of stiff at first but they softened up quickly enough. The right boot dug into my ankle a little bit in the beginning but once the boot broke in, this went away and they’re now quite comfortable to wear while riding.

The buckles are easy to adjust which is a good thing because I have had to re-adjust them a few times.   The adjustment sometimes changes when I take them off so I sometimes need to re-adjust them. Not a big deal, it’s just that it would be nice if the adjusters stayed where I left them.

As far as protection is concerned, these boots appear to be well made and seem to have just about everything a good sport touring/adventure boot should have. The toe and heel areas are well protected, there are hard parts around the ankle, and there are nice sized shin protectors too. These are not stiff like motocross boots so there’s a good amount of flex around the ankle.

The liners inside the boots are very comfortable and the velcro around the top is comfortable around my calf. I don’t really know how they’re going to perform in blistering hot weather, freezing cold weather, or torrential downpours quite yet because I’ve only spent about a week wearing them. I can state that for 60-85 degree weather, they’re great.

It took some time to get used to the different feel on the shifter and brake because these boots are thicker and stiffer than what I’m used to riding with. A quick adjustment of the shift lever allowed me to get my toe under the lever more comfortably. These boots feel nice and solid when standing on the foot pegs and don’t slide around at all.

I was a bit concerned that these were going to be difficult and uncomfortable to walk around in when wandering around off the bike. While I wouldn’t want to wear these all day at work, they’re actually better than I was anticipating for short walks. Considering that these are full height riding boots, I’m pleasantly surprised at how good they feel when just walking around. I think they’re continue to get better as they continue to break in.

The TCX X-Desert boots are nice comfortable boots that offer a good level of protection for the type of riding I do. I’m sure that they’ll get even better as I get more miles on them.

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Coolest Building in the World?

When I was in California a few weeks ago, I decided I needed a new pair of sunglasses since it was so bright and sunny outside.    I’ve always just stopped a the local gas station or convenience store and bout cheap sunglasses but I decided that this time, I’d go ahead and buy a nice pair of Oakley glasses.

A quick search on the internet for local retailers revealed that I was only a few minutes from the Oakley World Headquarters.  So, I hopped on the bike, punched the address into the GPS, and headed to Foothill Ranch CA to try on some new sunglasses.

20150205_143311The building was a bit difficult to find as it sits atop a hill and the GPS didn’t exactly bring me right to the front door.  Once I found it, I was surprised to see one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever seen as I rode into the parking lot.  The building has a futuristic military look to it that seems to be something from a sci-fi movie set.

I went ahead and parked the bike and went inside.   The military theme continues as  you walk through a pair of heavy steel doors and into the lobby.  Click Here to see some other photos from inside the building.

I spend about 20 minutes trying on a whole bunch of different styles of glasses and settled on a pair of Crankshaft sunglasses with polarized lenses.  They are by far the most expensive shades I’ve ever bought but they do fit nice and the optics are great too.  Now I just have to make sure that I don’t scratch them or loose them.

More Dirt Roads

wpid-20150206_151532.jpgI went out to explore some more dirt roads in the Cleveland National Forest and found myself getting in a bit deeper than intended.  Some of the “roads” that I traveled today were definitely intended for 4×4 vehicles rather than street bikes ridden by fools with no off-road experience.

wpid-20150206_150335.jpgFor you folks that have ridden dirt bikes, or are seasoned adventure riders, maybe these roads wouldn’t have been all that difficult.   For me, it was definitely the most challenging terrain I’ve encountered so far.

The dirt roads I rode on were actually roads not trails and I did see tire tracks in the dirt so there had been other vehicles on these roads.  There were many areas where there were very deep ruts, rocks, and loose dirt.  Some of the ruts were knee deep with large rocks and sand in them.  I was able to go around the worst of the ruts by hugging the side of the road while at the same time, trying not to go off the side of a cliff.

Thankfully, most of my route was down hill so I didn’t have too much trouble with spinning the rear tire.  I was actually quite amazed at how well the combination of the Versys and the Scorpion Trail tires did on these roads.  There were many times when I thought that the tires would spin or slip but they never did.

More than once, I figured I was going to tip over only to roll through whatever obstacle was in the way without any hint of instability.  It was amazing because I really don’t have any skills.  Luck seemed to be on my side.

I think this is about the end of my dirt road adventure riding for this trip.  I’ll stick to pavement for the next couple of days.

Off Pavement Riding

One of thThe Versys on a Dirt Roade reasons I chose the Kawasaki Versys was because I wanted a bike that I could take out on some of the less traveled dirt roads found all over the southwest. Over the years, I’ve passed countless dirt roads while riding my full sized touring bikes always wondering where they went.  My Harley Ultra Classic and BMW K1600 are definitely not made for travelling on gravel roads or forest service fire roads.

In the last couple of trips to California,  I spent a little bit of time trying out some easy dirt/gravel roads and I have to admit, I kind of like it.  I still go very slowly and haven’t really tried anything remotely challenging, but I’m gaining experience and getting a little more comfortable with the bike each time I turn off onto another dirt road.  I never really rode dirt bikes all that much so it’s going to take me a while to get my skills to where they need to be.

End of the roadThe tires on the Versys are Pirelli Scorpion Trails which are heavily biased toward street riding rather than off-road riding so I’ll be trying to avoid mud and sand for the time being.  The bike is also a bit heavy for real off-road or trail riding.   While I haven’t tipped it over yet, it’s bound to happen sooner or later and I really don’t want to have to lift it up by myself more than once or twice a day.

The gearing and power delivery seems to work pretty well for me. I can go as slow as I want to without worrying about bogging the motor.   For the most part, I’ve been staying under 30mph on the unpaved roads so first, second and third gear are all I really use.  I like the fact that I can let the rpm’s drop real low and the then rely on the torque of the motor to pull me along nice and slowly.

I’m looking forward to many more off-pavement adventures exploring the places that I’ve been unable to visit in the past.

Mid-Winter Riding in Southern California

I recently flew out to Southern California to visit family.  It’s great to get away from the cold and snow that is so typical of Upstate NY in February.    Daytime temperatures here in California have been 75-80 degrees making it perfect riding weather.

The last time I was out here, I had discovered some roads that are a bit off the beaten path but didn’t have time to fully explore them.  So this time, I kind of knew were to go and decided to give these routes another try.   I rode up the Ortega Highway to a road called South Main Divide.  This road starts out as a normal road but eventually turns into a single lane paved trail that meanders through the canyons.  It’s a nice easy ride through some beautiful mountains.

At the end of the South Main Divide trail, I found some nice easy dirt roads/trails to continue onto.  There were some rutted sections but nothing that seemed too challenging.   When I ran into a  gate that prevented me from continuing, I stopped and had some lunch.

On the return trip, I retraced my path.  It’s amazing how much different the same road looks when going in the opposite direction.  The afternoon shadows in the canyons made for some amazing views that were not visible earlier in the day.

The ride was through the canyons around Malibu.  I did have to spend some time on the freeway to get there and back, but it was worth it.  The LA traffic wasn’t too bad and I’m becoming a bit more comfortable with lane splitting so even when things do slow down, I can keep moving and a reasonable pace.

I got to Malibu at around 9:00 am and before heading into the canyons, I stopped at a Starbucks to get a cup of coffee.  It was rather obvious that this is an upscale neighborhood by looking at the cars parked there.  There was a black Bently coupe, a white Bently convertible, a couple of Audi’s, a Porsche, and various types of BMW  cars and SUV’s.

After my coffee stop, I started the good part of the day’s ride by heading up Latigo Canyon.  From there, I turned on to Mulholland Highway and headed toward the Rock Store.  From there, I turned around and took Encinal Canyon Road back down to the PCH.

I went North on the PCH and turned on to Decker Road  heaidng back into the canyons.  I’m not exactly sure what roads I took once up in the canyons but I ended up on Yerba Buena Dr. at some point.

Yerba Buena Dr. is a bit beat up but has some spectacular scenery making it a road worthy of exploring.  This road brought me back down to the PCH where I stopped at Neptune’s Nest for a fried seafood lunch.

The PCH north of Yerba Buena Dr. was closed off for some reason so after lunch, I headed south on the PCH and turned back onto Encinal Canyon Road to get back up to the Mulholland Highway.  I continued on Mulholland, picked up the 101 near Woodland Hills and headed back home for the day.

Perfect weather, and very few cars in the canyons make for a great day of riding.  The canyon roads here in Southern California never disappoint.