Counting the three-month hiatus we took from our trip Dave and I have been on the road for 312 days as of Sept. 16, 2015 to July 27, 2016. This isn’t quite halfway into our two-year trip but with some down time this week waiting for parts before we head into the true north of the Dempster and Dalton highways, (tire-eating, gravel-pelting haul roads. Or so we’ve heard…) this is a great opportunity to talk about what we’ve changed in our gear and on our bikes thus far.
It was a fortunate option for us to return to North America and ride through home (otherwise known as parents’ houses storing our crap) in the middle of travelling. How many times would we get the chance for a re-do on what we’d screwed up or what had screwed-up gear-wise for a trip lasting 731 days? (2016 is a leap year, did you know.)
Our first plan was to ride south from Revelstoke, B.C. until the road ran out, fly across the swamp then ride until that road ran out. Then we’d put the bikes on a cargo flight to Cape Town, South Africa, and ride that continent until the elephants chased us away.
But we’ll be the first to tell you a plan—especially one encompassing two years—will never follow its course no matter how well organized or intentioned. We didn’t plan to come back to North America until the fall of 2017, but there we were back in our old stomping grounds, one of which was Arlington, WA at Dave’s dad’s house where we stayed for 19 days. It was nice for Dave and his dad to have some quality time together hanging out in Rick’s garage and shop doing man stuff while I tried to catch up on an endless to-do list. Oh yes, there are still to-do lists even for those of us with no jobs and travelling.
Below is a detailed account of what we’ve swapped out, changed, added and warrantied since returning to North America. We hope it’ll offer some insight to those looking to travel in a similar way. If you have any questions, send us an e-mail from our contact page or add your comments below.
Here is the original photo of what we packed to take the first time.
During the last 312 days, we’ve downsized three times; the first time was in Loreto, Baja in December, 2015, where we dropped about 30 lbs of gear (below) and left it with a friend travelling past Dave’s dad’s house.
The second weight loss was in Lima, Peru in March, 2016, where we asked another friend who was flying back to Vancouver to take a few odds and ends. No photo for that one but it was: two motorcycle covers, a RAM mount and Dave’s electric toothbrush with charger.
The third gear blitz was in Quartzite, Arizona in May, 2016, where we left a box of things pictured below with a friend of Dave’s mom’s for when she comes back to spend her winter. (Dave’s downsizing not pictured. This is all mine!)
This shedding of pounds was great but as every dieter knows the pounds just come back. We may have gotten rid of these items but some were replaced with more favourable options; the result of learning along the way about what was working and what wasn’t.
During our three weeks in Arlington, WA, I traded my heavy, hard case panniers for lighter weight soft bags. And lighter they were but so far I find them far more of a nuisance than the hard cases. There are advantages and disadvantages. If you’re so inclined, I’ve detailed the pros and cons here.
On Dave’s bike:
- Akrapovic muffler. Why: there were practical reasons but mostly because “it looks and sounds cooler.” —Dave
- Replaced cable-actuated clutch with hydraulic version. Why: former return spring created hand fatigue
- New front tire and tube. Why: simplified tube scenario and his last tire choice sucked off-road.
- Oil change. Why: maintenance.
- Air filter: Why: maintenance.
- Removed wiring harness for jumper cables. Installed one that works with jump-start battery, which was smaller and lighter. Why: multi-function use. (Can use same battery to charge our electronics.)
- New chain and sprockets. Why: maintenance
- Auto chain oiler. Why: ease of maintenance
- Replaced mount for skid plate. Why: damaged in impact.
In Dave’s luggage:
- Heavier Icebreaker long underwear, top and bottoms. Why: because it’s cold in the north!
- Swapped pair of socks. Why: Heather says, “Too stinky!” Dave says, “Worn out.”
- Added camera, lenses and Pelican case. Why: much heavier but the opportunity to photograph wildlife in the north (from far away!) would be missed without it.
- Swapped Ortlieb duffle bag for Dakine waterproof backpack. Why: wanted bigger backpack capability; multi-function as keeper of tent, mat and sleeping bag.
- Swapped Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex boats for Sidi Crossfire 2’s. Why: stiffer sole. Sore feet equals wimpy, pussy guy.
On Heather’s bike:
- New front and rear tire, new rear tube. Why: worn out.
- Fork overhaul. Why: maintenance.
- New spark plugs, air and oil filter. Why: maintenance.
- Soft bags. Why: see pros and cons quick review here.
- Repaired OEM support bracket for luggage rack. Why: broken.
- Touratech crash bars back on. Why: had other crash bars that worked with highway pegs but too bulky and pegs are liability off-road. No more highway pegs. Knees very sad.
In Heather’s luggage:
- Lighter, thinner yoga mat. Why: old one too bulky.
- New t-shirt and casual sundress. Why: because a girl gets tired of wearing the same clothes everyday.
- That said… left behind two pairs of pants. Why: don’t need four.
- Left behind 12-volt car charger for laptop. Why: one hard case was wired to plug it in but left hard cases behind.
- Added rain jacket and pants. Why: Dianese riding pants not waterproof anymore (working on warranty). Left super ugly Gore-Tex liner for riding jacket behind in favour of rain jacket I could use off-bike.
- Bear spray. Why: you know why.
- Added bear vault. Why: difficult to store food away from animals on bikes.
- Added cable lock to tank bags. Why: anti-theft
- Pinlocks for helmet visors. Why: eliminates fog on visors.
- Cyclops high and low beam headlight. Why: far better lighting on highway and in the dark. Better longevity. (Dave replaced his headlight bulb twice so far.)
- Swapped Primus multi-fuel stove and 1 litre fuel bottle for Primus teeny, tiny micro-stove.
- Swapped MSR cook set plastic cups for Silipints.
- Arc’teryx jacket. Why: main zipper fell off in laundry.
- Shoei GT Air helmet visor: Why: drop down sun visor malfunction.
- Rear shock replaced by Touratech. Upgraded to Extreme because no electronics involved. Why: under warranty, broke in South America.
- New Sena communicator. Why: possible water damage.
- InReach device. Why: possible hardware malfunction.
- Hilleberg tent sliders. Why: zippers on two doors malfunctioning.
- MSR cook set. Why: leaves gross, weird residue from finish on plates stored inside. Note: Replacement didn’t fix problem. New one leaves same gross residue we have to wash off before meals.
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