Phil’s Gear

This is where we will write about the gear for our trip – it’s a work in progress so please bear with us. (edit Oct 15th: Ok now we REALLY should update this. I’ll do that now)


2000 Kawasaki KLR 650

Pre-trip to mid trip

49000 km with top-end re-build at 40000km, due to a famous “doohicky” failure. (occured under previous owner).


-EM Cam chain tensioner bolt upgrade (aka doohicky) (winner)
-Supertrapp IDS2 race core exhaust (aka too loud)(loser)  Back to Stock exhaust, much quieter with minimal horsepower change (winner)
-Progressive front fork springs (winner)
-Aftermarket rear suspension (I’ll check make/model) Progressive 465 rear shock (not bad after all)
16 tooth front sprocket (big winner on north american highways)
-Swapped out lower end for 1996+ due to worn countershaft bearing. (not really upgrade, more sideways-grade)
-Amazing paint job. The previous owner had someone back into his bike, denting the gas tank. It was cheaper to get custom paint than to buy replacement stock decals. (winner)

-Homemade Lexan Windshield to replace the cardboard one that replaced my Clearview +9inch that I broke in the crash. (Update Dec 2013: No windshield at all!)

Renthal Handlebar filled with steel slingshot shot (for anti-vibration) (Dec 2013 update: Now on a steel bar, bent the Renthal)

Best before Aug 12

Aluminum barkbusters with Milkjug handguards (winner)

-Made in china heated grips (losers)

IMS footpegs (BIG WINNER. 100% better than stock)

Ammo can panniers (Winner on looks, loser on weight and capacity)

Givi E52 top box with Happy trails mount (gives 3 inches extra space for rider/gear) (winner) (Dec 2013 update: Happy trails mount can put a lot of stress on the bolts holding the rear rack down. They have sheared twice now.)

-Sheepskin seat cover (winner)


Tires: Kenda 270’s (winners)

Oct 15th 2012 update:  Now running a stock Dunlop Rear. It is wearing quite quickly. (Loser)

Update 25th Nov 2012: Just put on Avon Gripsters. I liked them, great wear, not bad on dirt.

Costa Rica: Continental TKC 80. Great traction, 10 000km of wear. Not bad.

Nov 2013: Continental escape.

Brakes: stock (meh)


Currently have two steel Ammo cans for side panniers. See above photo.

Update 25th Nov 2012: While the ammo cans are holding up great, I’ve broken the Rack mount twice now, and had it re-welded both times. Today’s re-weld is much more substantial. Thanks Trever!

June 5th: Picked up a Givi top box. The E52, has a 52L capacity, enough for 2 full face helmets apparently. Don’t know that I’ll use it for that. But we’ll see. I like that it attaches solidly, but removes easily. At least it will once I bolt it on. Oct 15th: The box has been great. Held on strong through much abuse and drops, and has enough capacity for my sleeping bag, thermarest, bike cover, some food, spare parts, and a (8) frisbee (s). Has been water tight through it all.


See gear reviews below list:

Jacket: Tourmaster Transition 3. Cheap, effective protection for crashes, but snaps snap off and NOT waterproof long term. Still great for the price.

Pants: Tourmaster Flex pants (Big winner)

Boots: SIDI Discovery. Really hot in the sun, but provide good protection in the spills.

Socks: Wigwam, ultimax ski socks (winners)

Gloves: Olympia Wind-tex, Generic mechanic gloves, PVC gardening gloves (winner/winner/loser)

Helmet: HJC FS-15 w/pin lock (loser) Update 25th Nov 2012: HJC RPHA Max Modular (winner so far)


Tourmaster Transition 3 Jacket. Size: Large/Tall

Comfortable, and way less flapping in the wind than my previous oversized leather Jacket. Wondering if I should have gone with the medium instead of the large, but otherwise so far I’m impressed!

Oct 15th, 2012 update: Still really like this Jacket. In hindsight I should have gotten the med/tall as it’s a touch baggy on me, but I went through the crash completely unscathed. I credit this jacket in part for that. Only downside: They put worse armour in the ladies version of the identical Jacket. (gel foam instead of plastic capped that came with mine). Jayne hurt her elbow in the crash. While there’s no way to tell if better armour would have prevented that injury, it certainly would have helped Dec 10th update: Tourmaster have addressed this, Jayne’s replacement jacket came with plastic capped armour!

Tourmaster Flex Pants. Size: Medium/Tall

The pants are certainly hot as hell with all the layers in, so if we encounter cold weather, I’ll be just fine below the Waist.

Oct 15th, 2012 update: I LOVE THESE PANTS. The versatility is just awesome. Any warm day i run them just as Mesh pants. If it cools off, i can zip on the exterior panels. If it starts raining, I pop in the inner rain liner. These pants also survived the crash, and performed admirably. I only had one scratch on my knee, and I think that might have been an abrasion from the zipper.

I highly recommend these pants. Super versatile with proven protection.

7th Jan 2013: Recent long days in the rain have resulted in a very damp lower half. I still quite like these pants… just not in the rain.


SIDI Discovery boots. (loser)

Pros: Comfortable, durable, solid toe cap. Pretty well water resistant, seem to have saved my feet from any injury in the crash.

Cons: Hot. Real hot. So hot you can fry an egg. And then the water resistance keeps my sweating feet soggy. and they don’t dry out. and they harbor athletes foot spores like a boss. I’ve had some hate for these boots for awhile now. I’m going to drill holes in them for ventilation (then seal with gore-tex patches while stopped in Houston. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to burn them so that no one else will ever have to suffer. I would not recommend these boots. Get something that ventilates. (In long way round Ewan McGreggor drills holes in his boots. I understand why.)

25th Nov 2012: I broke one of the clamps on my left boot while in Texas. Fixed with a nail, two washers and JB weld… yes, that’s right, JB weld has actually fixed something. It was their ‘Putty’ though.


The HJC FS-15 is adequate. Overall is a loser for this trip. It has some vents, the visor flips well, and the pin-lock is great for anti-fog… for awhile. I have found the Pin lock inner visor stretches at the pins, causing it to fit more loosely over time. That allows dirt and dust in between the layers, and is irritating to clean. Rain also leaks in on this helmet, nestling itself between the pin-lock and visor, causing blur that can’t be easily resolved.

I find myself staring longingly at Jayne’s internal sun visor many days. The modular helmet also allows for easy eating and drinking. There may be one in my future soon.

Update 25th Nov 25th 2012: Bought an HJC RPHA Max Modular helmet

PROS: The RPHA Max is quieter and lighter than the FS-15, plus has the built in sun-visor. The fact that it is modular is just gravy.

CONS: The included sun-visor is “light smoke”, aka about as dark as a very light amount of smoke in the air. I may pick up a darker edition.

Also, the clear visor creaks a little when opening and closing.

-HJC customer service SUCKS. Buy a Shoei. For the same cost you get a proven helmet and equally terrible customer service… but still a better helmet.

Dec 10th: The visor latch lets in water when it rains, splashing up into my eyes and onto the inside of the visor… where the water drops dry and leave water marks.

7th Jan 2013: The advice from HJC on the leaky visor was to take it back to Houston where I bought it for a warranty claim. When I advised them that this was not possible. They suggested I try “weather stripping”… Seriously. I’ve used silicone to seal up the gap. Not impressed for 500$.



TBA. I just lost my Olympus 770sw at Sasquatch festival.

Oct 15th, 2012 update: Now have purchased an Olympus tough. Waterproof, drop proof, Phil proof. Though not theft proof, as this on replaces the similar Olympus I had borrowed from my dad that was stolen in Vegas.


Garmin Nuvi 550. Waterproof, shock resistant, with luck: Phil resistant. I’ve used it on a couple trips both via car and bike and it works well. On the bike I attach it by suction cup to the windscreen. Oct 15th, 2012 update: I’ve used my GPS twice. Jayne uses hers, I prefer paper maps. The combo is good. I get big picture, Jayne says “turn right now!”. But overall I have found myself disliking the GPS for anything but city navigation.


12 volt plug mounted to dash (loser)

While the location looks slick and is out of the way in theory, anything plugged in here tends to vibrate loose and lose power. If not vibrating loose, the wire tends to get caught up when turning the handlebars, pulling out and losing power.

Update 25th Nov 2012: Changed the mounting location and added a loop of old inner tube for plug retention. Problems resolved.


Problems on the road thus far:

28th July, 2012: Broken wire to fan switch






30th July 2012: Rusted out, broken wire to L rear signal light. (eventually fully replaced in Calgary)

7th August, 2012: Crash north of Atigun pass, Alaska:

-Broken fairing, windshield, side panel, bent pannier rack, bent ammo can, forcefully disconnected kickstand safety switch bypass and clutch switch bypasses, air in brake lines.

Misfiring problem Alaska crash to Arizona: Diode pack not plugged in fully post crash. No really, 6000km of misfiring misery over a loose connection (groan). Entire electrical system replaced piece by piece before problem was found.

4th Oct, 2012: Leaking waterpump seal. Replaced seals, cleaned out oil screen.

10th Nov, 2012: Clutch has begun slipping

16th Nov, 2012: Clutch plates replaced; Head gasket seeping, replaced. In the process: Cylinder and piston head exchanged to 688cc.

24th Nov, 2012 (pre and post sand riding course aka multiple drops):

-Panier rack weld broken…again.

-Right footpeg bolts fully stripped.

-Windshield broken… again.

-Radiator mounts loose and vibrating… tightening sheared a mounting bolt. ugh.

-Rear brake master cylinder mounting bolts vibrated loose (thanks for catching that Cam!).

Here’s a video for you:


4 Responses

  1. Dale
    Dale at · Reply

    Hello Guys!
    Such an amazing ride you are partaking on. A few years back i did the Dusk to Dawson and endured the dempster highway all the way to inuvik and back unforgetable to say the lest! One day plan to travel to the tip of Tierra del Fuego when timing permits. But I have a Question regarding the panniers, What brand are they and how have they held up to the trip? Pictures?

    Thank you and save Journey!

    1. Jayne
      Jayne at · Reply

      Hi Dale,

      I have Dirt Baggs boxes on my bike. They have proven to be excellent value for money so far. 9 inches wide and mounted on Happy Trails SU racks. They are lockable and all my stuff fits in them.
      That’s the only link I could find for them, but I know Colin reads this blog so he can definitely help you out.


      1. Dale
        Dale at · Reply

        I thought I saw the little dino lol. I am good friends with Colin. Thanks for the Reply and again safe journeys too you both.


  2. Jeannie Dettori
    Jeannie Dettori at · Reply

    Interesting feedback on all of your gear, wow- who would have thunk it !

    – I thoroughly recommend Versace!!! xxxx

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