Gear Review

Naomi – Gear Review

We were fairly experienced motorcycle tourers (doing trips all over Canada and the US) on sport bikes before leaving for this Adventure Trip. Why this helps is that there is limited space on sport bikes, on my Ducati I only have 18L to work with, so we had a really good foundation of the essentials we need to travel on bikes. We knew we were happy with and could get by with the stuff we routinely take with us on our sport bikes. Having 4 times more room on my BMW I just turned up the luxury and added a bunch of spares and things I assumed wouldn't be readily available in Latin America.

Stuff I had but didn't need:
-My thermal liners on my Rev'it Sand suit. I brought them but didn't use them once. When it was cold I just wore multiple layers of Icebreaker and my heated vest. That was sufficient.
-Pack of cards: I brought them in hopes that Alberto would play cards with me, but he didn't. I never used them :(
-PSSOR Recovery Kit: I love this kit and would happily bring it along on another trip but Alberto is such a boy sometimes and he wouldn't let me use it. He was happier to power through tricky situations instead. Even though we never used it on the trip I like the comfort of knowing I have the kit with me just in-case we get into a situation we simply can't power through.

Stuff I wished we had:
-Spare Goggle Lens: The lens' of both my goggles and visor got pretty scratched about mid-way through the trip. While I feel it is a bit impractical to pack a spare helmet visor along for the ride (I would arrange one to be waiting at a motorcycle dealer for me), it's easy to bring a few new goggle lens'. I wish I had spares.
-Spare Tent Pegs: We had the original tent pegs as spares, but we primarily use some heavy duty pegs we bought seperate. We only had 2 spares of the heavy duty ones and went through more than that on the trip. I would bring at least half a dozen extra heavy duty pegs for incidentals.

Stuff I had but wasn't really worth it:
-BMW Baselayer: I bought a synthetic baselayer (long pants and long shirt combo) for the trip and hadn't really tested it before going. I discovered what I probably already knew, synthetics aren't as good as natural fibers (like wool). So I ditched those and left them at the bottom of my bag and returned to my faithful Icebreaker layers.

Gear Review
BMW Enduro Helmet: Overall it is a good helmet and I was happy with its performance.

I almost exclusively wear Arai helmets because I find they fit my head the best. I chose to buy the BMW helmet for two main reasons; 1-it is very light (I was nursing a whiplash injury and it makes a difference) and 2-the peak/visor are easily removed. As it turns out, I never felt the urge to remove anything, but the weight difference does help. I really like the visor. It does a good job of not fogging up and at most road speeds when it rains the water beads nicely. I feel like there could be better air flow through the helmet but I have nothing to directly compare it to. I also don't think the foam is very comfortable, my Arai has a more plush feel.

The helmet protected me in one somewhat serious crash (when I hit the horse in Mexico) and that is the main point. Overall the helmet did the trick, though I'm not thrilled with it. I had the chance to compare the carbon fiber version side by side with mine. It's super light and would be even more awesome. All in all I would probably buy the same helmet again though for only one reason: it is lighter than an Arai.

Oakley XS O Frame Dirt Goggles: Great goggles that never left my face while I was riding; I would just change the lens to suit the conditions. They provided a pretty good field of vision, and the darkest lens worked well on the really sunny days. They don't get in the way; I can completely close my visor while wearing them (for highway conditions). Great goggles.

Rev’it Sand Jacket and Pants: I am a huge fan of Rev'it gear and I think the Sand suit is an excellent deal, considering the price point.

Positives: The armour (I cut a Sas-tec back protector to fit into the jacket and the rest is standard) has performed outstandingly, in particular when I ran into the horse. I also really like that I can open up all the vents while riding (I leave the back vents permanently open so I don't count those), instead of having to stop. Rev'it also really stand behind their product and I was really happy when I had a warranty issue with my pants (see below) and it was resolved quickly. My favourite feature is the collar flap that you can put in the open position. It's surprising how much extra air you get for cooling purposes. I also really like the cargo pockets on the pants. They are useful and comfortable.

Negatives: I wish there were more pockets on the jacket and none of the pockets are waterproof which is a bit of a downer. The crotch on the pants are low for me because unisex wear really just means mens wear, but this isn't a critique against Rev'it because they have women's products and pretty much all motorcycle brands are male biased. I could buy women's motorcycle gear but I like the selection and options of mens/unisex wear so I just suck it up. I also really don't like the hydratex liners. In the really hard rains we experienced I got wet. In that regard there is no substitute for gore-tex (Alberto was always dry wearing his gore-tex liners).
Negative turned positive: The stitching started to come out in three different places on the pants. I contacted Dennis at Beachmoto(where I bought them from) and immediately he was working to get me a replacement pair. He even went the extra mile and sent the new pants to me in Peru.

When it was really hot and humid I was uncomfortable but I don't think any multifunctional motorcycle gear can handle that kind of weather. On this particular trip you will experience really hot and really cold weather so there has to be a compromise. Overall I'm really happy with my gear. It's been comfortable and functional in every way I've asked of it.

Baselayer: I wear Icebreaker baselayers. They are made from merino wool. I have a combination of 150, 200, 260 and 320 weights that I mix and match depending on the weather. These products, while a bit pricey, are flawless. They provide a lot of warmth for the thickness and because they are natural they have no stink properties. They generally wash and dry overnight. I love my merino wool. The only problem is that when they get wet (really wet from getting caught in the rain) they smell like wet dog. Worth the money!

Heated Vest: I think that heated gear was a huge breakthrough for riding gear. It provides so much comfort and really enhances the riding experience when things get cold. I wouldn't do a long trip without a heated vest or jacket. My core is the part of me that gets cold when riding so if I can keep it warm I can greatly increase my enjoyment or in some cases tolerance. The Exo2 is a good vest that heats up relatively quickly. I never had any issues with it, it never stopped working. It is kind of bulky, but that means it provides more warmth off the bike so it is a compromise. You can buy an external battery pack for it, so that's a handy feature. I have a controller installed on my Ducati but I found that I was typically using it on maximum heat so I just went with a plug on the BMW. Max heat was good for me. Overall I'm happy with it.

Socks: I am a big believer in high performance technical clothing, and for that reason I am a big fan of motorcycle specific socks. You can also substitute technical hiking socks etc. My primary pair of riding socks for this trip were a pair of Rev'it Enduro socks. I am happy with the socks. They provided a comfortable fit with my boots, always stayed in place and were good in normal temperatures. When it was really hot my feet were a bit too clammy and when it was really cold my toes were cold. I substitute these socks with two pairs of Icebreaker hiking socks (one for really hot weather and one for cold weather). Your feet perform important functions on a bike so I think it's important to keep them happy. The Rev'it socks seemed as good as any pair of motorcycle socks so maybe I wouldn't recommend them because the price point is a bit high but I like them and will continue to use them.

Gloves: I brought two pairs of gloves. The Sand gloves (for most riding conditions) and the Tempest H20 gloves (for when it was cold or wet); both are Rev'it products.
The Sand gloves are light and comfortable. They are mesh so there is lots of breath-ability. I was wearing them when I hit the horse and the leather on the palms worked well. Unfortunately by the end of the trip the side mesh on my left hand pinky wore a hole. Mesh isn't as durable as leather sadly. I like the gloves though.
My waterproof/warm gloves are okay. They are a lot less bulky than most winter gloves, which is why I bought them, and they have decent knuckle protection. I like dexterity when using the controls so the lighter feel was important. They are mostly waterproof. In the really heavy rains my hands got wet. What is really annoying about them is that the membrane liner can be a huge PITA getting on once your hands are wet (like when it's raining) which is when I use them most. I found work-arounds though (using either talc powder to absorb the moisture or using a glove liner). They are fairly warm, but without heated grips I'm sure my hands would have been suffering on this trip. An okay glove, but not a great glove.

Underwear: I wear a seamless pair underwear when riding and it makes all the difference. These are not flat seam underwear, they are completely seamless on the sides because they are cut from one solid piece of fabric. Nothing to press into your legs on long riding days. No marks at the end of the day. Great!

Extras: The Umu is a soccer accessory. It is nice and light and is essentially a light weight neck warmer. I like using it on somewhat cold days but mostly dusty days. My Turtle Fur Beanie was awesome. I wear it under my helmet to keep my hair from knotting up in the wind but also to absorb all that sweat. It saves my helmet liner in the long run and works great for keeping my hair out of the wind.

Camelbak: Great, works like a charm. I try to use a minimalist pack, cause I don't like carrying weight on my back. It only has two small pockets that can stash emergency things (extra food from lunch, or a drink etc...). It was pretty easy to get dehydrated on this trip so I think it's really important to have access to water while riding. I really like wearing my pack and I don't even know it's there most of the time because I'm so used to wearing it. Very durable and practical product, no complaints. It even survived the horse crash!

Sidi Adventure Gore-tex boots: The boots now find themselves more scratched up and certainly a lot smellier than when I first got them but I never had a single leak and didn't suffer an injury to my feet so I am really pleased with the boots. While they are not the most agile to walk around in (as noticed when hiking up Marshall pass in Colorado) I think it is a nice compromise between touring and MX boots. They are certainly more comfortable to walk around in than full-on MX boots. These are a good quality par of boots.

The bike: The bike appeared to truly be unstoppable. And it was, numerous downs and an encounter with a horse and the bike was still going strong...
... And then we arrived in Peru and all hell broke loose. What is most unsettling about the whole engine drama is never getting full resolution. We still have no idea what caused the engines to break so suddenly and so catastrophically. It's stupid that BMW HQ's official stance is that it was a fuel issue, claiming the issue was that we were putting in 87 octane and that the engine re-map (offered in North America) doesn't count, we should still be putting in 91. They could have just said we put in a tank of bad fuel and been done with the whole thing. I'd feel a lot better if I could tell people what the exact problem was, but I truly don't know, I just have my suspicions. So the engine incident, which is well documented, left a bad taste in my mouth. The bike never felt the same afterward and it continued to have minor issues (oil leak and weird engine noise). And that was the only point of the trip where I wish I had a cheaper, less of a drama queen motorcycle.

So instead I will talk about the bikes attributes and leave the engine incident out of things.

First the things I don't like. I think that first gear is pretty tall for a bike that is used on dirt roads. This probably can be improved with a sprocket mod. Also the seat is god-awful for long trips. It was less of an issue on fun days, but on some of those long Panamericana days the pain led to a lot of resentment between me and the seat. Again there are things that can be done (beads, airhawk...) but I didn't want to sacrifice any seat height. The rims are pretty soft. I feel that for a bike of this quality and cost, it should come with more durable rims. The fan also gets clogged pretty easy with mud. It was scary (oil warning light flashing) the first time it happened because we had no idea what was going on but after a visit to Island BMW we were able to troubleshoot it ourselves. It's still annoying that you have to keep an eye on it though. Seeing an oil warning light is never fun.

Why do I like this bike? The bottom line is that it is a badass bike that looks good. I've always put a lot of emphasis on image in my motorcycle's probably why I ride a Ducati Monster instead of a Bandit. I like the bike I ride to put a smile on my face when I catch a glimpse of it, and the BMW certainly does that. All geared up with luggage and farkles it looks good. Secondly, I respect German engineering. I feel that you get a higher quality product when you buy a BMW. I'm not saying it's better or will get the job done any better, I just think it presents a different package. I don't know how exactly to describe it but you get a different feeling when you do a long overland trip on a BMW. It happens when you pass other BMWs on the road or see them stopped for a break. There is a sense of community when you ride a BMW. No doubt there is refinement in a BMW model motorcycle, from the heated grips to the computer and ABS. I like the cushy-ness of all my gadgets and comforts and for that reason I like the BMW. I like the hazards lights function, and find myself constantly wishing my other bike had them.

It's weird for me to reflect on the BMW with so much nostalgia. When I first got it I hated it; it wasn't my Monster. It felt big and heavy and clumsy. Or maybe that was just because I was behind the wheel. But gradually over time I came to respect the differences between the two bikes and I came to appreciate the qualities of the BMW. It is a bike that can do a lot of things well and because of that it provides the rider with freedom. I think the 800 GS is the perfect compromise. The bigger engine (than a 600 something) provides lots of power for those long highway days, or passing a slower moving vehicle. The smaller size compared to its bigger more famous brother, the 1200 GS, makes it way more fun on the remote dirt roads. There were times where the bike's size and height made it awkward in challenging conditions but I think the only solution in those situations was a dirt bike so I don't fault the F8GS. I like the BMW F800GS, it is a tough, multi-use bike that does a lot of things well. 

Just as a weird comment. I think it would be really cool to have a navigation direction indicator on the computer. Nothing fancy, just like a car. I want to see with a N,E,S,W on the computer indicating the direction I'm traveling. It would be a welcomed gimmick and would fit nicely beside the time. 


Protection: The barkbusters and gear-it-technology add-ons are part of my essential requirements and they performed flawlessly. They have made the difference time and time again when crashing and dropping the bike. These are the most necessary farkles to put on a bike like this. I don't think our bikes would have come close to surviving this trip if it wasn't for these products. And it is not just important to put on a set of crash bars and bash plate, it is imperative that you install the right ones. When we were in San Cristobal for the BMW Rally we saw a bike that had just recently been in a crash in town. The 650GS had crash bars, which did protect the engine but didn't cover all the plastic. The bike was in rough looking shape and I doubt that that plastic was cheap to replace. If that bike had the G-iT crash bars it would surely have been a different story. These products are tough, and they will keep your bike going even after serious crashes.

I put on both folding gear and brake levers because I liked the idea and I thought they would be very functional. In touring mode though they are rarely in the impact zone because the rear cases keep the bike fairly upright. I still carry the original shift lever just in-case the folding one dies in the field but during the trip both levers rarely made contact with the ground. I'm still happy I have them though because on day rides the bike doesn't have the rear cases and there is still a distinct possibility that the bike may go down. Worth the investment in my mind.

A headlight guard is also a good buy. When you are on a long trip it's much easier to find a piece of plexiglass to replace a cracked headlight guard than buy replacement BMW headlight covers. On our shake-down trip I crashed my bike hard in the ditch. The headlight guard cracked but that was all. It was an extremely cheap fix. What I like about this specific product is it's easy to keep every thing clean because the guard just folds down.

The radiator guard and exhaust guard. I'm not sure if these were actually put to the test but I had them anyways. I heard many rocks smashing into the front of my bike so I like to think that at least these two things would provide some resistance.

I love the rotopax products. Sure it's a bit of overkill and you can get away with using a normal jerrycan but I like having the rotopax. I like that they can be mounted and are therefore very secure. I had mine on the back of my cases which meant they were in the impact zone. These containers are TOUGH. They got beat up and showed only minor signs of damage. We never had any leaks and we went through severe elevation changes and temperatures. I would highly recommend these products and plan on installing some in my jeep very shortly.
As far as carrying extra water and gas goes I'm glad we did. We used the extra water frequently when we were in remote areas. Also it's nice to know you have it, should the worst happen. The spare gas was crucial in southern Argentina. We were using it to top up almost every day to get between gas stations. If you had room, I think it's beneficial to carry both.

Luggage: The basis of my luggage system is two hard plastic side cases and then three soft cases mounted on a cargo plate and the back seat using straps. First the side cases. I have always been a fan of Pelican cases, and I was familiar with their attributes so when I came across caribou cases I was sold. Unfortunately the case sizes they offer were much bigger than I wanted so I decided to use their mounting kit and do my own thing. I chose to use Hepco Becker racks because they are a brand I trust and the racks had a reputation for being very durable. I used a smaller size Pelican case and mounted the caribo case mounts on the outside. It came together quite nicely.
Using them in practice? Pelican cases aren't the lightest, or the skinniest but they sure are the toughest. I pretty much care about one when undertaking a trip like this: I don't want irreplaceable/critical stuff to break because it's a huge inconvenience. Luggage cases are irreplaceable/critical. I crashed these cases so many times I lost count, but if I had to guess I'd say that these cases kissed the ground at least 500 times. They still open and close, and they are still dust/water proof. Aside from cosmetic damage they are like new. And that's really the bottom line. These cases went through hell and are fine. Also Pelican are a really good brand and stand behind their products, in our experience any issues will get resolved quickly.

I used a combination of SealLine dry bags and one Sea-to-Summit Compression sack. These were all strapped down using Rok Straps. I used a G-it cargo plate which is a nice product. Lots of lashing points. I used a SealLine wide mouth duffle for most of my personal items and clothes. Anything I didn't typically need handy during the riding day. I've seen lots of people's set-ups, either with Wolfman or North Face duffle dry bags, but what I didn't like is that their duffles hang out over their side cases. I want access to my side cases at all times so that's why I like the shape of the SealLine duffle. Also I've been using their dry bags for several years and find them to be very durable products, with excellent customer service. My mom crashed a dry bag on the highway. The dry bag went sliding with the bike for quite a ways. The bag was all scraped on the side but was STILL waterproof. That's how tough these are. The tent lives in a 20L Baja Bag. These are great bags, traditionally used for kayaking, but they are completely versatile and functional. Lastly, my sleeping bag lived in a Sea-to-Summit Compression Bag. I wasn't happy with this bag as it did not remain waterproof for the entire trip. In hindsight the bag material is really light but it doesn't seem all that durable. Probably great inside another bag (like a backpack) but not on it's own. And lastly, Rok straps. If you haven't tried these yet get a pair because they will change your life. It is easy to secure a load using only two Rok straps, whereas with traditional bungees or straps it might take four. Really reliable and functional. Excellent idea and design and once again great customer service. I wouldn't do any trip without a few pair of Rok straps.

We fitted a homemade second exhaust tool tube. It worked well through the trip, though some modifications are required. Mine was too long and when my suspension was stretched to the limits (like riding over speed bumps) it would impact on my chain guard. Subsequently my chain guard is now in two pieces, the second piece is somewhere on the Carretera Austral. Either way it is a good idea and a handy place to store everyday tools. I like having it and never had anything stolen from it on the trip.

Other extras include...

LED Brake Lights: These are SO important and a real asset for making yourself visible. They are fairly cheap and provide a level of safety well worth the price-tag. People drive like mad and having that extra eye-catching light can make the difference. They are also handy for anyone you may be riding with because it brings daydreaming drivers back to the present so they don't come into that corner too hot. Never had any issues during the trip. No repairs required.

Mudsling: A rather pricey add-on but I think it's worth it. The rear shock is very exposed and seeing how much stuff builds up on the mudsling I am happy it's not going on my shock. Very functional part that gives you piece of mind. No issues with the product.

Sidestand Enlarger: Essential. I will give an anecdote about my sidestand enlarger. After a tough off-road day back on the CDT the enlarger fell off. The next morning at the campsite my bike fell over in the soft dirt (I hadn't re-installed it yet). The sidestand enlarger really makes the difference when you are carrying a bunch of weight and are parking in soft ground. I have no particular preference between all the different options. Just find one you like and get it... you need it!

The sleeping experience: I think that the tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag need to be selected as a unit for the type of traveling you intend to do because it is the combination of these things that will ensure your comfort. Why we like our tent? The tent itself is all mesh, so it is happy in warm climates. It becomes a waterproof wind shelter once we put on the fly. It has two doors and two vestibules so each of us has our own side. This provides each person with a bit of independence and their own personal space. The tent is nothing fancy, just a solid tent that meets our needs. We've never got wet from the top, only the bottom. That is probably because the bottom is no longer waterproof. We started having troubles with the zippers near the end of the trip but we got everything sorted out with MEC when we came home. MEC are a solid company that stand by their products.
We both used a -12C Hybrid sleeping bag. The idea behind this is that it is a compromise between down and synthetic. The sleeping bags were really warm when we first got them but near the end of the trip I fear the down had compressed and they were no longer very warm. That will happen. Still I am happy with the bags. I like mummy bags because they provide a lot of warmth. Also ours can be zipped together when things get really cold. On warm nights we just slept without the sleeping bag.
I liked the design of the BA Insulated Air Core sleeping pad, it packs really small considering the size it blows up to. We got two pads with manufacturing issues so we struggled with punctures, but Big Agnes was happy to take care of us, even on the road. I like the sleeping pad and I hope I don't have puncture issues with the new one.
I had two pillows. One was a BA inflatable one. These are great because they pack down really small. The second was a Tempurpedic pillow. It's a good idea most of the time and packs pretty small because you can squish it. The only issue is that the material turns to stone below freezing so not recommended for winter camping.

Towel: Microfiber towels are great for anyone who travels. I can't imagine anyone out there who is still traveling with a regular size towel. They pack up really small, do an excellent job drying you off and then they dry really fast as well. An essential item for any trip. No particular brand preference.

Cooking: Both myself and Alberto have a strong tolerance for lame food. Our typical evening meal while camping was pasta and tomato sauce. We'd add a few spices, maybe an onion, and that was that. We usually would carry enough pasta and sauce for 2-3 meals at any one time. We left Canada with a selection of spices so that we could make any meal tastier: sea salt, pepper/garlic, and an herb mix. Along with spices another good thing to have on hand is oil for cooking. We had a 150ml squirt bottle with extra virgin olive oil that came in handy for frying stuff. Also we made sure to always carry peanut butter. This is my go-to snack. It provides much needed calories and protein. We try to carry either quesadillas or crackers to put the peanut butter on. Both have a good shelf life. For breakfast we exclusively eat instant oatmeal. While I very much dislike oatmeal it provides an easy, efficient morning breakfast so I put up with it on the road. We also carried three backpacker meals for emergencies. This is what we carried full-time. However when we were in large centers we stocked up on good stuff: nut mixes, fancy pasta sauces, pepperoni sticks... Also when we came across markets picked up fresh produce: tomatoes, onions, avocados...

Cooking Equipment: The stove we use is a MSR Dragonfly. It is compact and can run using multiple different fuels. We use white fuel in Canada, and briefly used gasoline on the trip (before we were able to stock up on white fuel again). Cooking with white fuel is less dirty and smelly. It also burns cleaner. The stove itself is loud, but it's main advantage is that it can simmer. The heat settings are quite flexible, making for more accurate cooking. To-date we have never had any issues with the stove. The only issue we had was trying to build up enough pressure in the gas bottle at altitude. Also we were unable to use our lighter at elevation so we used our flint stick. Definitely need a flint stick if you are going to be camping at elevation.
The medium size pots and pan set from MEC is perfect for serving meals for two. The tele-spatula worked really well and was useful when frying stuff up. The dishes we use are compact and functional. We use the flexible bowls for oatmeal breakfast and the collapsible bowls for dinner time. They take up very little space and work well. We have built up our selection of dishes over time and you could probably save room if you bought one of those MSR or GSI kits.

Other bits and pieces:

Ted Simon has his elastic bands, Alberto has his Goop. I introduced him to the product on our cross-Canada trip last summer and he's never looked back. You have to keep an eye on him though; he'd Goop everything in sight given the chance.

My shampoo bar from Salt Spring Soap works is awesome (Lush also make a similar product). It takes up less room than a container of shampoo and conditioner (and works just as well if not better) plus it is environmentally friendly. It's great. Everyone who travels needs one (the size of a bar of soap).

The cooling vests we bought in Tuscon have proved to be a critical addition to the team. We put them on for the hot days in the morning and they are easy to re-charge during the day (just find a public restroom). I think Central America would have been much more unbearable without them.

Maps: We sort of decided to leave for the trip kind of suddenly so we didn't pre-buy any maps. We didn't have any major issues finding maps on the road and actually most of the maps we found on the road were ITMB (from Vancouver). For Central America I would recommend getting the Central America map and then buying country maps for the countries you plan to do the most exploring in. In South America the ITMB maps were fairly accurate though in the mountains the distances on the maps were more like the crow flies. We didn't have maps for our TomTom GPS and didn't really regret it. There were moments of course (mostly in large cities) but we got by with just our paper maps and asking directions.
My favourite was the waterproof maps, so when possible buy the more durable waterproof maps. I like the layout of the maps, and we never had any issues following them. You could get by with a map of Mexico, the Central America map, but I would recommend buying specific country maps for South America because the countries are big (that's the only way you will get enough detail).

Shoes: From the sport bike days, I am limited to carrying only one pair shoes when traveling so I need a pair of versatile shoes. The Sunkosi 2 shoes are amphibious shoes so you can use them in the water or for going for a walk. They get full of sand when you are on the beach but other than that they are extremely versatile. When it's raining I just put on my gore-tex socks and my feet stay completely dry. Perfect.

Communication System: My review of my Collett Racefone requires a bit of background information. Three riding season's ago we purchased two Collett communication systems. The reasons we chose this brand were because they claimed to be 100% waterproof, had decent range and they were a Canadian company. The first year of using them was excellent. We were really happy with the product. The second year we were using them we went on a long distance trip across Canada. During the trip (after some heavy rain) one of the systems stopped working properly. When we came back from the trip we sent the system off to Collett to be fixed. They diagnosed and essentially held hostage our communication system for over 7 months. Every time we spoke to customer service they told us it would be in the mail in the next few days. This was obviously bullshit! Eventually I flipped out at them on the phone and demanded they send me two racefones as a replacement. So this is what I'm using on this trip.
The other day when my system went bipolar it was after a day of heavy rain. I guess these things aren't 100% waterproof. Based on our terrible experience with their customer service and product we wouldn't have even used them for this trip, but we already had them and didn't have the money to buy what we really wanted (some new scala riders).
So in conclusion, I'm not happy with my Collett communication system and I wish I had something else.

Alberto – Gear Review 

2010 BMW F800 GS Alpine White
The good: it's the most off-road capable of the GS family. Excellent gas millage (300 to 400 kms per tank depending on load/weight, road surface, driving style and wind conditions: Chile/Argentina). Fun machine to ride. Comfortable riding position. Amazing ABS brakes that saved our butts countless times in crazy Latin American driving culture. Useful LCD info (you need to have the computer option). More than enough power and fast enough for most of ADVriders (Peruvian cops will never catch up to you). Good looks -I'm biased- and it sounds mean! Overall, a very solid motorcycle... If you don't count our engines fiasco.

The bad: It can be a bit heavy for more demanding off-road conditions: deep mud, deep sand, decent size boulders. I'm 1.78cm tall (5'9'') and sometimes I wished I had longer legs like Vikings do (read Dutch/Germans). The rims are too soft and bend easily and the front suspension/forks is too soft and bottoms out a lot on potholes or off-road. The stock seat is a but killer … very uncomfortable (hard). First gear is sensitive especially riding in off-road conditions. I sometimes felt that second gear needed more torque on low revs and shifted down to 1st gear and felt that it was too revy, so I wished there was a more 'middle ground' between 1st and 2nd gear (torque). Both front brake discs are very loose and rattle a lot (even when I walk the bike). My bike's discs are worse than Naomi's. I have compared the discs to brand new F800GS (at BMW dealers) and they are definitely too loose. I'll claim warranty on the discs and keep you guys posted.

Controversial topic: Engines can blow up and BMW will not tell you why exactly. Fuel remap to lower octane fuel (regular – 87) is still not totally clear if it works or not under exotic world travel conditions.

The 'new' engines don't seem to be working normally IMO. Both bikes have oil leaking from the engines. The 'low pressure oil' light comes on from time to time when starting the engines from cold. So we'll take the bikes to Island BMW for a complete check-up. We'll keep you guys posted.

Bike Mods/Accessories

Airhawk seat
The good: In my experience: AMAZING-ly comfortable. I can literally ride twice as long with half the butt-pain. That's the main point of these type of seats and it delivers.

The bad: I must have gotten a bad batch of rubber for my Airhawk because I had more than 20 punctures during the trip. Either that or I have a sharp ass! When it rains overnight, the cover gets wet and the next day you'll have a wet but if you're not using waterproof bottoms. The straps break easily. I had to fix 2 of them with my supper GOOP. It can be pricey too.

We'll see what Airhawk has to say about warranty (replacement) due to the constant punctures.

Barkbuster VPS Handguards + plastic sliders + wind deflectors
The good: VERY durable, they take a beating and don't look like they have suffered much damaged. Truly great stuff! Naomi hit the horse partly with the handlebars and the Barkbusters protected her nicely. Besides, they look awesome and have many colors available.

The bad: none.

Car size plug to DIN size socket magic converter
The good: inexpensive and very necessary as we used it all the time during the trip.

The bad: it broke a few times. I had to open it and make a more durable connection (so it was good that I brought a battery operated soldering pen + solder with us). Also, make sure you keep the connectors clean (dirt/rust) because a lot of the time it sits out there when it is raining.

Carbon Fiber Front Mudguard Extenter
The good: Looks cool (Carbon Fiber) and does the job for what it is designed: keep dirt away from your radiator/bike.

The bad: it fell off …. so make sure you super glue it to your fender. I used the silicone that Touratech provides (and I was very generous) but it didn't do the trick.

Cheap eBay Right and Left Mirrors
The good: they are cheap, so my thinking was: 'when I drop the bike and these break, it's all good because they are cheap and I wouldn't have to spend $200 to replace the OEM ones'. Well... I was wrong because they broke many times and It was a pain to fix them all the time. I ended up buying better mirrors at a small moto place in Ecuador (for $5) that lasted the rest of the trip.

Clear Front & Back LED indicators
The good: they worked great without any issues throughout the trip. Easy to install. They are very bright = safer! And lets be honest: they look cool.

The bad: none

Denali LED Lights
The good: Amazingly bright. They use very low wattage and last forever (well.. almost). You can stack them up for better visibility. I used them all the time during the day. I like to be seen by oncoming traffic.

The bad: a bit pricey. The on/off switch that comes with the lights broke/failed and I had to hard-wire them to the high beam.

Gear-it-technology Bash Plate
The good: very tough and well built. It protects the oil filter as well. It performed flawlessly. When it 'fell off' towards the end of the trip it was due to the failure of the OEM BMW bottom bolts that hold the plate in place.

The bad: none

Gear-it-technology Cargo Plate
The good: like all G-iT products this cargo plate is well built and it has many strapping/bungee points to neatly secure your cargo load. My cargo plate bent out of shape by the time we got to Guatemala but this was my fault for putting so much load towards the back end of the plate. I got a local welder to reinforced the plate and also changed the way I placed stuff on the cargo plate.

The bad: none.

Gear-it-technology Crash Bars

The good: this is the single most important 'farkle' we put on the bikes. Car crash (day 01), horse crash, low-speed crahes, high-speed crashes... you name it, these crash-bars deliver. Perfect for a trip like this and for people not scared of letting their bikes go for a 'nap' often. The crash bars are super durable and do an excellent job protecting the radiator, fairing, engine, etc. We've seen many F800GS in this trip and many had all kinds of damage from naps; they had other brand name crash-bars. We haven't found a single rider dissatisfied with the G-iT crash-bars. The bars are placed away from the fairing (~2 inches) which is a clever design because after a hard crash the bars bend closer to the fairing due to the impact forces. I've seen other crash-bars that are placed right next to the fairing and after a crash the bars themselves damage the bike because they crash into the fairing.

The bad: none.

Hepco-becker lock-it side racks
The good: tough and well made. They performed very well throughout the trip.

The bad: my loaded (heavy) pelican cases 'resonated' at high speeds (above 110 k/hr). It could be that the racks need to be more rigid and allow less movement or it could be that the cases were too heavy for what the racks were designed. Naomi thinks it was the mounting system not the racks themselves. Naomi did not experience this resonance issue (bike starts shaking at high speeds). The fix: I used heavy-duty zap-straps to attach the top handle of the pelican cases to the side bars that the F800GS comes with (on both sides of the pillion seat).

HID Lights (Low and high beams) 55W – 4300K
The good: very very bright. I thinks it makes your ride safer because oncoming traffic sees you more than with conventional/stock lights.

The bad: one ballast failed during the trip. I bought these lights off eBay (cheap china-made) and maybe that is why one of the ballast failed: they are cheap.

Home-Made 'second exhaust' Tool Tube
The good: takes advantage of the wasted space between the right side-case and the bike. Very easily accessible and just great for storing all sorts of tools.

The bad: we made these tool-tubes a bit too long and when the bike's suspension went down the tubes rubbed against the chain-guard. By the time we reach Carretera Austral in Chile the chain-guards in both bikes had been broken in two and broke-off completely. We're going to shorten the length of the tool-tubes now that the bikes are back home.

Humvee GS & F800GS decals
The good: durable and very nicely done. Reflective at request. They lasted the whole trip and still look like new. Excellent quality. You can order customized colors and sizes.

The bad: none.

Kaoko Cruise Control
The good: simple design and it works well. I used it a lot in northern Chile and Argentina. I like it.

The bad: pricey and I didn't use it as much as I thought I would.

MachineArt Mudsling
The good: very effective. It keeps your rear-shock clean as a whistle. It does everything it was designed for. Can't be happier with our Mudslings.

The bad: none.

Mivv suono Carbon Fiber Exhaust
The good: great looking exhaust. It makes the bike sound wicked! Lightweight and it is supposed to make your engine deliver ~ 2 extra HP.

The bad: pricey (made in Italy). The carbon fiber & rivets completely failed towards the end of the trip. The exhaust literally came apart and fell off while I was riding. I recently claimed warranty due to structural/manufacturing failure with PJ Parts (excellent costumer service – highly recommended) and they sent me a warranty replacement right away. MIVV-Italy did not recommend getting a full-carbon replacement for racing or off-road conditions (interesting they make a full-carbon exhaust for the F800GS if they are not recommended for off-road). So I got a neat Titanium-Carbon Fiber instead. Can't complain!

Nippy Norman's Instant Visor Cleaner
The good: brilliant! It makes keeping your visor clean an easy task. I like it a lot.

The bad: hard to find anywhere else but on Nippy Normans website.

Nippy Norman's radiator Guard
The good: well made and lightweight. It looks great with the 'GS' letters on the front. Offers great protection for your radiator.

The bad: none.

P3 LED brake lights
The good: brightest brake LED I've seen and for this reason I think they a great improvement for your safety. It makes any rider/driver behind you aware of you applying the brakes. I got the 'voltage meter' option and I used it a few times on the trip to make sure my battery was doing OK. I also think the different blinking patterns that you can choose from is a neat feature of these P3 lights.

The bad: I attached the lights to my license plate and the vibration (+weight) of the lights made my plate start cracking and nearly fell off. I had to 'goop' my license plate which solved the problem.

Pelican 1300 Case converted to tank bag
The good: pelican cases are very durable and offer great protection (dustproof, waterproof, crashproof) for its contents. In this case, my Canon T2i camera + telephoto lens. The camera was well protected throughout the trip. Good warranty.

The bad: both latches (plastic locks) that secure the case broke (one broke in the US and the other one in Mexico) making the case less dustproof/waterproof/crashproof. I was using a small lock to keep the case from opening and in rainy days I used duct-tape to prevent water from coming in. Not Ideal... When we came back home a few weeks ago I contacted Pelican and they were very helpful and sent me a warranty replacement.

Pelican 1400 Case
The good: I placed this case behind me (on the pillion seat). Same as all pelican cases, this case is very tough and it didn't have any kind of issues. I used to to keep all sorts of random (fragile) stuff in it and they were all well protected the whole trip.

The bad: none

Pelican 1440 Cases (used with Caribou Cases ALS mounts)
The good: these cases are close to indestructible. They took all crashes well and never suffered any severe or irreparable damage. They might not be the lightest cases but surely they are the toughest cases you can get. I wouldn't change them for aluminum (we saw many other riders with that option and many had been badly damaged after crashes) or for other plastic cases (VARIO cases = crap, they will most likely break after the first crash). The Caribou mounts are very good and their design allows the lock to 'break off' in case of a crash. In a hard crash the lock breaks and the case comes off. This allows the impact forces to 'leave' your rack system and protects your entire rack system from suffering structural damages. We saw a few riders with badly damaged racks because their cases did not come off the racks and the forces stayed within the rack system and damaged/bent the racks badly. We even heard of riders with damaged bike's chassis because of bolted or permanently locked cases that did not come off after a crash.

The bad: their weight.... maybe?

Pivot Pegs
The good: these are great pegs! I like having the option of pivoting my feet depending on the surface conditions. I even use the pegs to stretch my calves on long riding days.

The bad: they are not cheap $.

RAM mount for SPOT2
The good: I am very impressed with this mount. We never had a problem with it. The SPOT2 never came loose or off the mount even under the most terrible road conditions in Peru and Argentina. Flawless design.

The bad: none.

RAM mount for TomTom Rider2 / Iphone 3G
The good: same as the SPOT2 mount: flawless. No issues of any kind. When I took off TomTom Rider2 (after Mexico) I used my iPhone 3G with industrial velcro and a hair elastic setup that worked very well.

The bad: none.

Rotopax 2 G Fuel Container
The good: Super tough construction and clever mounting design. Naomi's container survived every crash and did not suffer any considerable damage, which is impressive. My rotopax ballooned up under the intense Mexican heat and the high altitude of the Andean mountains (atmospheric pressure changes). We never had a leak in any of the 3 rotopaxes we brought with us on the trip. Having a rotopax (or any other gas can) is like a first-aid kit: you never want to have to use if but you need to have it with you in case you need it.

SealLine Kodiak 15L Dry Bag

The good: completely waterproof. I like the pressure release valve because it helps to stuff inside neatly. Excellent warranty and costumer service.

The bad: I mentioned the warranty and costumer service because the seam on the bag came apart (glue failure) in Peru and I had to repair it using 'goop' and duct-tape (which worked nicely). I got a warranty replacement sent to me in Canada.

SealLine See 10L Dry Bag

The good: completely waterproof as well. SealLine makes quality bags of different materials, sizes and colors. I am very happy with my SealLine dry bags overall.

The bad: some of the PVC plastic on the folding closure system (rolling end of the bag) started to crack; although not compromising the waterproofness of the bag now, I could see how eventually it can be an issue. Anyways, I was sent a warranty replacement.

SealLine Wide Mouth Duffle Bag
The good: very spacious and 100% waterproof. Very well made (tough) and allows flexibility when packing. I really like this duffle bag.

The bad: none.

SW-Motech Quick-Lock tankbag system
The good: very practical locking system. Excellent system to use with other tankbags that are not SW-Motech, like I did with my pelican case. Good warranty policy.

The bad: Twisted Throttle will not sell you the tank-ring (bottom) or the bag-ring (top) if you don't buy a SW-Motech bag first. So I had to buy a bag to get the rings. The tank-ring broke in Argentina. I had to keep my pelican case in place using heavy-duty zap-straps. I was sent a warranty replacement from Twisted Throttle.

Throttle Rockers (left and Right)
The good: this is a cheap alternative to expensive cruise control systems. They definitely help relaxing your hand/fingers/wrist on long riding days. I like them a lot.

The bad: the left Throttle Rocker broke after a crash. One has to be very careful with the setup of the right (gas) Rocker. I had a couple of scary moments when I needed to brake hard to avoid rear-ending drivers in Mexico; the problem was that as I was trying to quickly slow-down the throttle rocker on the gas side was not letting me ease-off the gas and the bike was braking&accelerating at the same time. Not a good feeling...let me tell you.

Touratech Alternator Carbon Protector
The good: good looks and it offers some protection (aesthetic) for the alternator.

The bad: none

Touratech Clutch Cover Carbon Protector
The good: again it looks good and it offers some protection (aesthetic) for the clutch.

The bad: none

Touratech Engine Guard Extension
The good: Judging by the amount of scratches/dings that I see on the plate and how the bottom part of my exhaust system has no signs of damage; I would say that this guard does a really good job. It is designed to work with the Touratech bash plate to completely protect the bottom of the bike. The G-iT bash plate doesn't extend all the way back to close the gap between the two guards. It still works fine.

The bad: none

Touratech Exhaust Guards
The good: they work well protecting the exhaust.

The bad: none

Touratech Folding Brake Lever

The good: this was an excellent addition to the bike. It worked very well in every crash we had. Just as designed. No issues with it at all.

The bad: none

Touratech Folding Shift Lever
The good: same as the folding brake lever, this lever worked really well. No issues with it at all.

The bad: none

Touratech Frame guard ALU left and Touratech Frame guard ALU right
The good: better than the original plastic protectors. They worked well.

The bad: none

Touratech Front Sprocket cover
The good: I especially like this cover because it is easier to keep an eye on the front sprockets wear. It is also good for keeping the front sprocket clean.

The bad: none.

Touratech Heat Sink Guard
The good: better safe than sorry I guess.

The bad: none

Touratech Rear Cover Brake Reservoir
The good: better protection than no-protection :)

The bad: none

Wunderlich Carbon Tank Protector
The good: It is big enough to protect most of the F8GS tank. It looks great and definitely protects well.

The bad: pretty pricey @ US$ 80

Wunderlich Front Brake Fluid Protector
The good: I can tell that Wunderlich makes higher quality aluminum protectors than Touratech. Why? Because they are made out of thicker aluminum and the finishing is of better quality. This makes the Wunderlich protectors look better too IMO.

The bad: none

Wunderlich Handlebarclamp
The good: I am guessing that this clamp does a better job than the stock clamps but I can't really compare the two because I replaced the stock clamps as soon as I got the bike.

The bad: none

Wunderlich Headlight Guard
The good: I like this headlight guard in particular because it makes it easy to keep the headlight clean by simply flipping down the guard when you want to clean the headlight. If you manage to break the clear plastic protector you can easily (and cheaply) get cut new plexiglass for it.

The bad: make sure to tighten the flip-down protector because it tends to come down with vibration (off-road).

Wunderlich Mirror Extenders
The good: These extenders work really well. I like them.

The bad: a bit pricey.

Wunderlich Sidestand Enlarger
The good: a must for a bike of this kind. I absolutely recommend any kind of sidestand enlarger.

The bad: the bolts come loose and the enlarger on both bikes were about to fall off a couple of times. Solution: apply glue over the bolts to prevent them from coming loose.

Wunderlich Winglet Deflectors
The good: I can't really compare these winglets to no-winglets because I put them on the bike as soon as I got the bike. However, judging by the amount of dirt and bugs that get deflected on the winglets I can see they work well.

The bad: you'll have to be brave enough to drill holes on your F8GS fairing to install these winglets.

X2 Plastic Tool tubes (mounted on side crashbars)
The good: Very easy to install (zip-ties). Very cheap at $20 a piece. It's a great place to place tools, extra straps, spares, etc. Naomi was very impressed (and surprised) that my tool tubes survived (not fell off) the whole trip after all the crashes and terrible roads.

The bad: some water seeps-in if you don't close the lid tightly.

X4 Rok Straps
The good: what can I say about these amazing straps. They are really great and even revolutionary as they make bike packing a much safer and easier task. We love them and always say 'you can't have too many of these'. The warranty is outstanding and their costumer service is first class.

The bad: I managed to break a couple of straps but I got sent warranty replacements right away.

Riding Gear
Alpinestars SP-X Gloves
The good: very comfortable and ideal for hot weather. They offer good protection for a short glove with bits and pieces of carbon fiber. They lasted for over 80,000 kms from the time I first bought them. They look great also.

The bad: I had to replace them towards the end of the trip. Both gloves had developed a few holes on some of the indexes. They had a good life.

Gerbing Headed Vest

The good: FANTASTIC-ally warm. It heats up in seconds and I really like how the neck area warms up nicely. I had zero issues with this vest. I didn't use it as much as Naomi used hers. I am a very warm person, so even though I wore it a lot of the time I didn't need to turn it on. I've never had it max-out as I find it too warm to turn it all the way up. I had this vest on in Colorado then not until Peru and Chile's Andes and the Argentinian Patagonia. It is also a great vest to be used when you're not on the bike. I really like this heated vest.

The bad: compared to the 'jacket' this vest needs extra wires running down your arms to your wrists to connect your heated gloves to the temp controller.

Gerbing Heated Boot Soles
The good: suffer from cold toes? Suffer no more and get a pair of these. You won't be disappointed. They warm up fast and evenly throughout the entire foot sole.

The bad: the cable that goes up the leg should be a 'flat' type of cable for better comfort. The cable can rub against your ankle/foot and the boot. It takes some fiddling around to get the cable setup right. The soles are thicker than the average sole that comes with your boots. This can be a problem because it can make your boots fit too tight or not fit at all. I would recommend trying these soles in your boots before you buy them or if you're buying new boots, take the soles with you for a prefect fit.

Gerbing Heated Gloves
The good: these gloves are very warm and very comfortable. Naturally, these are bulkier than your average riding gloves but no bulkier than regular winter gloves. They warm up in seconds and it is amazing how every index is kept nice and toasty (even your thumbs!). These gloves offer excellent protection against abrasion. I crashed at 6 and 80 km/hr in Argentina on gravel wearing these gloves and they did and excellent job protecting my hands. They don't even show any type of damage as a result of the crashes.

The bad: I was never able to find a perfect setup to avoid water/rain from getting into the gloves on wet&cold days. I tried wearing them over my Rukka jacket, inside the jacket, in between my jacket and the gore-tex liner.... nada. Once water gets in the gloves it's game over: your hands will get cold. Also they don't have knuckle protection so a serious high speed crash may not end well.

Hyperkewl Cooling Vest
The good: I had my doubts about this vest but boy... was I wrong! (thankfully). We got these vests in Tucson and used them all around Mexico, Central America and parts of South America. They do a really good job keeping you cool. The science behind it is very simple: you soak the vest in water and while riding your bike, the wind will try to dry the vest so the water starts to evaporate creating a 'cool' air draft that cools down your core's temperature. You can easily soak the vest at gas stations or restaurants along the road (on very hot and long days).

The bad: none

Icebreaker 320 jacket
The good: merino wool is your best friend for a trip like this: non-stink, very light, dries super fast and keeps you warm when you need it. No issues with this jacket. Very happy with it.

The bad: merino wool in not cheap, but performs much better than cotton.

Icon Field Armor Vest

The good: good protection. I have a bad back and if I crash (which I do for fun) I want my back to be protected... then I can crash comfortably. If you are the type that gets cold easily this vest is for you because it will keep you warm. It looks good I think, but that it is a matter of taste.

The bad: it is way too warm to be wearing in warm/hot weather. I had to attach it to the back of my bike many times (you can see it in many pictures).

Joe Rocket Mesh Jacket
The good: I got this jacket at a sale on for under $20. The jacket is almost all mesh (great for hot days) but even-though it comes with elbow, shoulder, back protectors I don't see how the jacket would structurally stay together on a high-speed crash. I brought this jacket because it packs very small and because I wanted to use it on days where I only needed to go to get groceries or when I only needed to go for a short ride to town or for a fun spin in hot weather places.

The bad: I didn't use it as much as I though I would.

MEC H20 Hydration Pack
The good: I like that this backpack is small but at the same time it allows you to carry some small stuff in it. I usually had gas-station snacks in it, as well as my flashlight, Leatherman, some electronics cables (inside ziplok bags).

The bad: the water container started to leak from the seams by the time we got to Honduras. I tried 'gooping' it but it didn't work because the leak was too great to be fixed. Fortunately, my cousin there was generous enough to give me his water container from his camelpack.

Rukka A.W.S. Baselayer Long Sleeve - Rukka A.W.S. Baselayer pants - Rukka A.W.S. Baselayer Short Sleeve - Rukka A.W.S. Baselayer underwear

The good: I personally really like Rukka's baselayers. They are very comfortable and work well regulating your body's temperature. Easy to wash and get dry very fast.

The bad: they don't like velcro... velcro gets attached to this material very easily and damages it when you pull them apart. Keep velcro away from your Rukka baselayers.

Rukka All Road Jacket
The good: very comfortable. It offers outstanding protection in case of a fall. Rukka's patented meshy protectors are lightweight, allow the flow of air through them, and most importantly offers very good protection. Every time I crashed my upper body landed either on my shoulders/elbows and hands. I could feel the hard impact against my shoulder and elbows but only after a few seconds (sometimes minutes) the pain would go away. I am very satisfied and happily impressed with the performance of this jacket, in terms of protection. Even though the protectors are lightweight, the jacket itself is a bit heavy. I really like all the pockets (more than 12) and the sleeve pocket for my driver license, which I taped inside. I would just have to show my 'forearm' to corrupt policemen in Peru and tell them with signs that they could see my license and all the information they needed in case they wanted to give me a ticket. This way, I avoided losing many copies of my driver license in Peru. The passport pocket is a great idea but has issues (read below). The neck wind-breaker is great but restricts head movement (shoulder check). The gore-tex liner is close to 100% waterproof.

The bad: my jacket has many stitching issues all around. I have tried to contact Rukka in Europe with no luck. The Rukka distributor in Montreal Canada Techno MotoSport is crap. They were less than helpful when I contacted them regarding the 5-year warranty that Rukka offers on its products. If any of you know any Rukka customer service representative (name and email) for North America/Europe PLEASE send me a PM with the contact info. Besides the stitching issues, the passport 'waterproof' front pocket is not waterproof at all (had to keep my passport in a zip-lock bag). The other two bottom front waterproof pockets are also not waterproof. I would like to claim warranty on all these flaws. I paid big bucks for this jacket and I expect big performance other than good protection. Next time I buy an expensive jacket/pants/suit I will be looking at one that offers an outer waterproof layer instead of the inner gore-tex layers. They are a pain in the ass to get them on on the side of the road.

Rukka All Road Pants
The good: uses the same Rukka meshy protectors and they work excellently. I really like the hip protectors. They make a big difference in case of a crash. The knee protectors also offer outstanding protection. The cordura material is very tough and the anti-slip arse area works very well. I am a big fan of the over-the-shoulder straps that keep the pants in place.

The bad: Same as the jacket, these pants have stitching problems. Also, the left zipper on the bottom leg broke-off and I had to ride with a duct-taped leg for thousands of miles. The failed zipper would expose my left leg to the elements and even on simple water crossings, water would get it my boots. Very annoying. The knee protectors were moving too much inside their compartments so I had to glue them to the pants inside their compartments. I wish the pants had cargo pockets. On very wet days, water seeps in on the back of the pants/gore-tex liner and you end up with a wet crotch (not a good feeling). I was not able to find the 'sweet' setup in which water wouldn't get past the gore-tex liner. I am also looking to claim warranty on these pants. Rukka better step up... bad press these days is not a good thing.

Scorpion Magnum gloves
The good: these gloves offer decent protection. Comfortable and lightweight. Also, they look good.

The bad: the velcro on these gloves is crap. It wears out very fast. I only used these gloves for the last 12,000 km and I can see stitching coming apart on both gloves and one of them already have a hole on one index (on leather!). I am not too impressed with these Scorpion gloves.

Shoei Hornet Sonora Helmet
The good: Shoei fits my head the best compared to any other helmet brand. I tried Arai, BMW, AGV, Suomi, HJC, etc and none fit me like the Shoei helmets do. For me, roomy 'ear compartment' is paramount. Shoei has lots of room for your ears. This Hornet helmet is not too heavy and offers a great field of vision (horizontal angle). It protected me very well on the crashes I had, especially the one in Torres del Paine in Chile.

The bad: The visor is not anti-fog treated (I am envious of Naomi's BMW visor). One of the peak's side plastic screws broke in Chile and the peak came off and flipped up while I was riding in the Atacama desert. It was not a fun experience. I had to duct tape the peak to the helmet to prevent this from happening again. Also, the new visor would rub against the peak when the visor was up (and I would ride with my goggles on). This generated a bad vertical scratch in the center of the visor, which is a bad spot to have a big scratch. I am planning on claiming warranty on the killer peak and the scratched visor. Will keep you guys posted on what Shoei's response.

Sidi Adventure Gore-tex boots
The good: very comfortable and they offer very good protection for your shin, ankle and foot. I really like these boots. They are gore-tex and comfortable enough to walk in them around the market but not to go on hikes wearing them. They also look good!

The bad: the stitching on my right boot has come off and I have a feeling that the boot is not waterproof anymore. I will be doing the 'bathtub' test soon and keep you posted of the results. I will claim warranty with Sidi about the stitching and if my feet get wet I will claim warranty regarding the waterproofness (with Gore-Tex).

Sidi Summer Monza Socks
The good: very durable, lightweight and comfortable socks. They go up high near your knees. They wash easily and dry very fast. It is amazing that after ~100,000 kms these socks have no holes and are still going strong!

The bad: I use these socks under my base layer, so they stay in place but just recently used them with no baselayer on top of them and the socks started to sag-down while I was walking or riding. The elastic materials on the top part of the socks are kaput. Time to buy new ones and since Sidi don't make these socks anymore I bought the ones that replaced this model: Sidi Tech Road Socks, which are (so far) just as fantastic!

Von Zipper Bushwick Snow Goggles
The good: they fit perfectly with the Shoei Hornet helmet. They are very comfortable and allow a good amount of air flowing through the inside of the goggles. The green visor is great for keeping cops intimidated and away from seeing that I am not a gringo but a cholo just like them. Also people think I am alien in remote towns in Peru..

The bad: these are snow goggles and replacing the visors is not as cheap as replacing the visors on dirt goggles.

Tools and Spares
Assortment of Zip Ties
The good: Believe me: you will need these, especially the heavy duty ones. They will save your day, many days. Zip ties are inexpensive; bring lots of them with you.

The bad: none

Leatherman Skeletool

The good: Lightweight and tough. The blade is still sharp after many years. Leatherman is definitely good stuff.

The bad: it has limited tools (no cork screw or scissors) but this is why it is small and not too heavy. Somewhere towards the end of the trip I lost one of the screw-driver's head attachment (Phillips). This little piece must have come out of its storage place. Maybe a fix is to have duct tape on top of the attachment? It's cheap to replace though.

Light bulb spares
The good: it was a good decision to bring some spares. Naomi's headlight bulb burnt 3 times in the trip and mine did once. What's up with BMW sotck bulbs?

The bad: none

Manual Air Pump
The good: what if you can't use your electric air pump for some reason and still need to inflate a tube? I was glad we had one of these with us.

The bad: none

Plastic Ruler (to measure chain slack)
The good: accurate chain adjustment can be a breeze with one of these. But by the end of the trip I became an expert at adjusting the chains and did not need the ruler anymore. It was good for the initial training though, and it was free from Telus.

The bad: none

Repair kit for Tubes
The good: it's obvious: to be able to fix a flat on your own and not have to flag cars down or walk to the nearest gomeria/vulcanicadora/llantero.

The bad: not bringing it with you and getting stuck.

Soldering mini-gun
The good: lightweight and very portable. Uses AA batteries. If you like fixing your electronics like I do, you must bring one of these soldering guns with you. I was able to fix many of our faulty electronics: communication system, earphone, cigarette lighter socket, chargers, etc.

The bad: make sure you keep well charged batteries (or new batteries if not rechargeable) at all times.

Spare Batteries (AA, AAA, CR2032)
The good: you will need new batteries at some point. Especially lithium batteries or good rechargeable batteries. Buy them BEFORE you go on this trip, you can get them really cheap off eBay. Even if you are lucky enough to find lithium batteries in places like Nicaragua, they will be very expensive. You'll need lots for your SPOT.

The bad: none.

Stop&Go Mini-Air Compressor
The good: it works really well and it packs really small. It inflates a tyre from flat to 33 psi in 10 minutes. We were very happy with this compressor.

The bad: none.

Travel size jumper cables
The good: better safe than sorry. We didn't need to use these once but we were glad we had them in case we ever needed them.

The bad: needing them and not having them.

Various bonding agents (favourite is Goop)
The good: goop heals all wounds … just like time does. Get 2 (or more) tubes for your trip. Other bonding agents are good to have too: super glue, metal bonding, epoxy, etc.

The bad: none.

X1 ABUS Detecto 8000 Disc Lock
The good: super strong and almost impossible to break. It has an alarm that might scare thieves away from the crime scene.

The bad: this lock is not cheap and it is quite heavy.

X1 bottle of Nikwax Neutral
The good: Nikwax works as advertised. I like their products.

The bad: the effect of Nikwax fades with time, so you need to re-apply. Unfortunately, for a trip like this you can't possibly bring enough Nikwax with you to re-apply it to your riding gear/tent/others.

X1 bottle of Rain-X
The good: I like how Rain-X works on my visor. It makes rain slip-away from the visor on rainy days. Naomi hates it because when the rain is not strong enough the drops stay on the visor as tiny little drops. I agree that Rain-X works better on heavy rain falls (which is when you need it the most). I put Rain-X on the Nippy Norman's Instant Visor Cleaner container.

The bad: none.

X1 Bungee cargo net
The good: I am glad I brought one of these because I used it a few times on this trip. When I had to strap the spare tyres we got in Colombia or when I wanted to have groceries rapidly packed away on the bike. A cargo net is always good to have IMO.

The bad: none

X1 Chinese brand disk lock
The good: very cheap compared to the ABUS lock. I used it in Mexico more than anywhere else. I was glad I had one of these. It allowed me to sleep better at night when the bikes had to stay outside the motel's room. Surprisingly, the alarm was louder than the ABUS's alarm.

The bad: not as tough as the ABUS lock, not even close.

X1 DuctTape
The good: we used this tape A LOT in this trip. If you have seen photos of my packed bike, you can see how I found a place for the tapes I brought. This allowed very easy access to the tapes and was really great to just use the tapes whenever we needed it.

X1 Pair of Safety Goggles
The good: you can work under your muddy/dirty bike all you want and keep your eyes protected from particles entering them. Be smart, be safe. Also good to use if you need to ride at night and your goggles and visor are tinted.

The bad: none.

X2 Reflective Safety Triangles
The good: We got these in Guatemala after I wished I had them in Mexico when Naomi crashed with the horse. In that accident I had to use my orange helmet and also my bike as 'safety triangles' and it wouldn't have been a good scenario if a crazy Mexican driver had run over my helmet or crash into my bike. I was glad to have the triangles after that experience even though I didn't need to use them again. I've heard that corrupt police in Argentina will threaten to give you a ticket (pay a bribe) if you don't have safety triangles on your bike... (also fire extinguisher or other outrageous stuff). I was hoping someone would ask us for them and we could bust them out and put them in their face.

The bad: they can be very heavy and take a lot of room depending on what type of triangles you get. Our were very light and very small.

X2 Set (front & rear) of spare tire tubes
The good: who goes on a trip like this with no spare tyre tubes? No one I hope. You will need a set of these. I had to replace one rear and one front tube on our bikes. All flats we had happened in Peru... not a coincidence according to the locals. They say that 18-wheelers still use old wooden cages and many have loose nails that come off their cages while on the road. With thousands of these old trailer cages and as many nails coming off them all the time, it is not a surprised that most ADVriders we met had most (or all) their flats on Peruvian roads.

The bad: They take quite a bit of room.

100 W Power Inverter
The good: I used this inverter A LOT and highly recommend having one with you. Running out of battery on your ipad/netbook/mac in the middle of nowehere? No problem, just plug the inverter into the cigarette lighter socket of your bike and charge your stuff up. This inverter also has a USB port which makes it ideal to charge your ipod/iphone. It is very small and lightweight.

The bad: none.

Acer 10.2'' netbook
The good: at $250 this netbook is all you need to keep family and your blog up to date. Highly recommended to bring one with you.

The bad: the battery doesn't last as long as a Mac's battery (but then again a Mac costs 6 or 8 times more money). This little netbook is only good to handle digital photos but not videos. If you plan on editing video of any kind, get a Mac.

Bluetooth dongle for Iphone 3G
The good: allows me to listen to music from my iphone (or any mp3/music player) on my communication system. Great stuff on days you want to enjoy the ride with some tunes. I bought a pair of these dongles off eBay (for under 20$ each) a few years ago.

The bad: the battery only lasts approx 6hrs. Maybe nowadays I could get dongles that have better battery life.

Canon Rebel T2i SLR Camera
The good: This is a very decent entry-level DSLR camera. It is smaller than the 7D or the 5D (surely, it doesn't take as good pictures as those two cameras either) but it is a good balance between performance, price and size/weight. Make sure you bring spare batteries with you. You should also buy high quality filters: polarizer and UV filter (I wish I had these with me on the trip).

The bad: it doesn't take as good pictures as the more expensive 7D or 5D models but the price is right for the quality photos you get.

Collett Communicator Rider-to-Rider Bluetooth System
The good: only one: voice activated feature. Naomi and I really like that you don't need to 'push to talk' because many times you need to say something fast to your riding partner (i.e. unsafe condition on the road) and you really only have time to warn your partner by speaking up and not enough time to 'push' any buttons to speak up.

The bad: these communication sets are rubbish. They are not waterproof at all (5 out of 5 sets failed in raining conditions) despite the fact that they are advertised as '100% waterproof'. Collett also advertises that the communication range between these sets is up to 2 miles (3 kms) it is a complete lie. They barely communicate beyond 500m on a clear straight road. The sets don't always 'communicate' with each other for many minutes and all of the sudden, out of the blue, you can start to hear your partner. AVOID getting these. We thought that it would be good to support 'made in Canada' motorcycle products like this but we were very wrong in this case, why? Because above all the technical problems we've had (and still have) with this system, Collett's costumer service is the most unprofessional and inefficient costumer service we've ever had to deal with. No exaggeration. The second time I sent my unit for warranty repairs (water damage) I did not get it back until 7 MONTHS later, after countless emails and phone calls to Collett's offices in Manitoba. They were rude and just terrible. They finally accepted that they had 'lost' my unit in their shop. I asked for a replacement and it wasn't until I had to talk to the president's wife (because the president, Mr Collett was too busy to take my call). She had to agree that 7 months was more than enough time to get this sorted out and I pretty much had to demand for a free warranty replacement. In the end, the units they sent me also suffered from water damage during the trip and are now useless 50% of the time. Maybe I was just unlucky to have 5 units out of 5 that had manufacturing issues, and I was also maybe unlucky that Collett didn't resolve my issues with them for 7 months... maybe there's someone out there that can help me dealing with them again that our communication system is acting up again. Please let me know and send me a PM because I am very afraid of sending my units for repairs and not getting them back until 2012 … if ever. I've pretty much given up on Collett.

Digital Tyre Gauge
The good: small and accurate. It has a 90 degree valve that makes measuring the tyre pressures on motorcycles a breeze.

The bad: none.

Digital Voltage Meter
The good: don't know why a certain electronic component doesn't work (even on your bike)? This is the tool you need for troubleshooting; given that you like fixing your own stuff and know how to use one of these (youtube can help you if you don't)

The bad: none

Energizer compact battery charger
The good: excellent universal battery charger.

The bad: none.

Etymotic ER-6i headphones + DB-Blockers
The good: Etymotic makes good quality headphones and these are not the exception. Good sound, especially if you wear them with customized DB-Blockers (or similar)

The bad: they are not cheap. You can get cheaper in-ear headphones like these ones

Gerbing Dual temperature controller
The good: I get cold feet and hands but my core is normally nice and warm. If you are like me, then you need a dual temp controller. I started using my gerbing heated gear without this controller and it was a battle between freezing my hands/feet or burning my core body. No more because I can now have very warm feet and hands while my core (heated vest) is set at low temp or even off. For this setup you'll net to get a 'y' splitter to hook-up your gloves and soles to one of the controller's output and leave the vest by itself.

The bad: all the wires can be a big mess to deal with. This is what I find the most annoying about Gerbing's products but hey... they work well keeping you warm, you just need to allow 5 to 10 extra minutes to gear-up before hitting the road.

Go Pro HD Video Camera plus mounts
The good: good video quality and photo quality for such small camera. The casing is 100% waterproof when used with the o-ring/rubber seal; without it it's only water-resistant. I like the different mounts and the versatility of the many different places you can mount this camera. GoPro has an outstanding warranty policy and great costumer service.

The bad: I wish this camera had an integrated LCD screen. Now you can buy an external screen but I think it should be included in the package. You better bring the operator's manual with you if you want to play around with the settings.

Solar Mio Solar Charger
The good: this solar charger can be very useful in case of an emergency and the only source of energy to charge you cellphone/spot comes from the sun. It charges up an iphone from dead to 100% on one full charge.
The bad: not powerful enough to charge a netbook/laptop. It takes several hours to get charged to full charge.

Spare Camera: Panasonic DMC-LX2
The good: this is my backup camera if my Canon T2i ever failed. I didn't have to use it thankfully!

The bad: takes space to bring a spare camera but I am glad I had one. It is not uncommon to hear many other ADVriders having lots of issues with broken/misplaced/stolen cameras and having to find a suitable camera in a foreign country.

SPOT GPS tracker
The good: small and powerful. This gadget can literally safe your life if you're ever in deep trouble (lost in Uyuni or went off a cliff on a remote road in Peru). You can get optional rescue package and evacuation services. It is definitely worth every penny and will give you (and your family and friends) peace of mind while you're on the road. It is excellent to keep track of the routes you take and to 'find out' where your other ADVrider friends are relative to your location.

The bad: bring lots of lithium batteries with you. Can be bad if you are Nick Sanders and are going through Mexico.

TomTom Rider2
The good: very easy to follow instructions. Small and waterproof.

The bad: only good for North America. Put it away once you cross into Guatemala going south. Not compatible with Garmin maps/points/routes. If I had to get a new GPS navigator it would definitely be a Garmin.

USB Cigarrette lighter charger
The good: great for charging ipods/cellphones/iphones right from your cigarette lighter sockets. Can get them for less than 1 dollar off eBay. Amazingly, mine survived the elements of the entire trip. I can see how it is rusting up but it is still working fine.

The bad: none.

USB Cooling Fan (Flexible)
The good: It can be the difference between enjoying camping in hot/humid places while you're in your tent or hating your life until you fall asleep (and wake up again soaking wet with sweat). I wished I had one of these from the start of the trip but I was only able to get one in Peru.

The bad: not having one for Mexico and Central America.

Western Digital 500GB external HDD
The good: it is always a wise decision to back-up your photos and videos on an external drive in case your netbook/laptop craps out.

The bad: I wish I had brought a bigger drive: 1 terabyte at least.

X1 2GB SD card
The good: this is my spare SD card and I used it often when I forgot my 32 gb SD card inside the netbook's SD card reader.

The bad: none

X1 4GB USB drive
The good: this is another backup storage drive that thankfully I didn't have to use.

The bad: none

X1 80GB Classic Ipod
The good: lots of capacity for lots of music. Small and great companion.

The bad: it doesn't like vibration. Naomi had lots of issues with her ipod the entire trip. Especially after a day of bad road surface. She had to restore is 3 times.

X2 32GB SD card
The good: lots of memory for large photo files and videos. I never had an issue with running out of room... and I take lots of photos all the time.

The bad: none

X2 Iphone 3G

The good: excellent portable entertainment system. It's a phone (works with any SIM card in any country if unlocked, like mine), a music player, video player, video game player, internet browser and an eBook.

The bad: I abused mine on the trip and wasn't completely diligent on covering it with a plastic bag on rainy days. It quit on me in Colombia and I was never able to get it back to normal (WIFI stopped working). Now that we got back home I was able to fix it with a heat-gun trick that I learned off youtube!