riding gear



You may already have all the basic MX or off-road riding stuff, but let me start at the toes and go to the head and tell you what I suggest for both Andes crossing AND for coastal riding.  I recommend the less expensive sites like Dennis Kirk or Rocky Mountain .
Keep in mind that on a long trip like this you are very likely to fall at least once. My 16-yr old son Luke fell 5 times on our 10,000 km South American trip (Around the Block 2007), yet the worst he hurt himself (even in falling off a bridge) was a small bruise on his back. That is because we had the right gear, head to toe.  
Feet: Motocross Boots -  ABSOLUTELY ! We have had NO twisted ankles on any of our rides despite everything. I go with the ARC atv boots as they have better grip soles than the MX ones (for pushing in mud). The difference is that you have to lift your foot to get it off the peg. They are only $90 for new (and fairly comfortable) boots. My son prefers a tighter fit using thinner soccer socks, but I prefer looser with the thick ARC MX socks.
Shins/Knees: Don't go anywhere without knee guards! They are very useful to kneel while working on the bike, especially in rocks. I use the $10 ones with elastic and Velcro around your calf. ARC Knee/Shin guard. If you use the MX style pants, you have the slide-in MX type of shin guard.
Pants: You may use MX style pants if that is what you have that would be comfortable with the MX boots, but that type of pant does have its disadvantages. In choosing your riding pants,
1) I like the an "over-the-boot" style because (a) You will look "not so strange" around small Andean towns, as a covered boot doesn't draw so much attention. (b) It sheds water (and dirt) OUT of your boots.
(2) Choose a "ventilated" pant so that you can control your body temperature. They even work great high up in the Andes.
(3) Maybe even choose a pant that unzips above the knee, turning it into shorts. In the hot weather (along the coast), whenever we stop for more than 15 minutes (meals, to watch the Dakar, etc) we take off our boots, shin guards, and lower pants and are cool enough without changing out to casual shorts.
(4) Choose something with pockets (like for your  license, moto papers, and a little money), but not up near the hips where in a fall something in the pocket could bruise your leg.  I use Shift Recon Pants. There are many others with all the same features, but these were on liquidation for 1/2 price.
Under-Armor: The only way to go! With Under-Armor, you control your "monkey-butt" and it is the most comfortable way to go. I use one set of shorts/short sleeve shirt for the hot weather, and one set of long leg/long sleeve for the cold. They can be washed by hand at night and will dry almost immediately, and they take up virtually no room in your luggage. They are also like a "full-body" kidney belt for those of us who are not as "rock-solid" as we once were!   I think it cuts down on the full body exhaustion.  I use ARC Padded Riding Shorts shorts and Answer Long Under Armor long leg. The tops I just get at WalMart (during the summer) for very cheap.
Kidney Belt: Any, as long as it is narrow in the front and doesn't bunch up.
Upper Body Protection:  A MUST!  At least you must have shoulder and elbow hard protection.  I go with a street jacket that has incorporated hard shoulder and elbow armor.  Shift Airborne Jacket  The pads are removeable, and all is washable.
If you are accostomed to riding with the incorporated kidney belt/backbone protector, that's fine but for this kind of riding I think it a bit bulky.  For racing, ABSOLUTELY!
Gloves: For regular riding, even at high altitude (if the sun is shining), a ventilated MX glove is the best. I've found sales for $4.99 a pair, so it's not a big deal. When it does get cold at high altitudes, be prepared with some winter riding gloves. You don't want just some regular outside winter gloves. You want something that is thin in the palm, yet padded for warmth on the outside. I have some made by ICON that has all that AND has plastic protection on the knuckles in case of a fall. They also have an Under Armor-like soft glove on the inside that is removable, which is very practical. And best of all, they are made clenched so that you don't have bunched up extra material when you clamp your hands down on the handlebars.
Helmet: Any full face helmet is fine.  You don't have to spend $400 on an expensive helmet!  I have been an off-road rider all my life and for trips like this I will still use an MX style helmet with goggles... for various reasons: I find that air flow over your body is VERY important, especially to the head. Am I ever cold because of the wind getting in around the goggles? Not really. If it gets a bit too much, I use an inexpensive Under Armor thin balaclava, so really there is no skin exposed. With the MX style helmet, you have a sun visor (make sure it is WELL ventilated) and you can change goggles from clear to shaded when needed. With goggles there is no steaming up the inside of your lens and you don't overheat.
Keep in mind that a heavier helmet tires the neck when there are alot of bumps...

There are some very cool (and very expensive) full-face helmets (made by ARAI and also by 2 European companies that look pretty much like an MX helmet, but also have a shield that pivots and hides up under the visor...  now AGV even makes a $140 one now.
Goggles: I use the ARC Corona Goggle It is really a SCOTT 89 goggle, but for only $12.99. So I keep 2, one clear, and one with a light-sensative lens.
High Altitude Wear: REMEMBER, that although it is 'technically' summer down there, that is the more moist time of the year, and you feel the cold more.
For your legs simple "long-johns" over the under armor works fine, though we rarely use them.  It seems that the legs, being protected from the wind by the tall MX boots and knee guards, never get cold. The long Under Armor and the ventilated pant are usually enough.
On top of the long-sleeved Under Armor, (and under the jacket) I at times put a fleece with the neck zipped all the way up. I think that only twice in all my Andes riding have I used a neck warmer over that.  It gets too bulky.
I find that layers that can be added or taken off are the key. I ride with only Under Armor even if I am sightly cold. It keeps you comfortable, alert and alive. If it becomes uncomfortably cold, I add one thing until that edge is just barely solved, and continue. When I no longer feel that edge of freshness, I take something off. And so on.... The body MUST breath! This does require much liquid consuption though or the "freshness" will dehydrate you. Back "in the day" all we had was plastic that we had all over our bodies to stay warm, but it was clingy, uncomfortable, and you soaked with sweat. Then when you stopped, the wetness froze you!
In the event of piercing cold (like on a high pass or a day without sun), we will put on our rain gear OVER everything and cut the wind, but that is just a stop gap until we pull over and wait out the moment.  Get cheap raingear that is BIG ENOUGH to go OVER all your gear!

"Non-Riders": (those riding in the support vehicle) who will be "double-upping" on the motos when on pavement or during the "rest" days to tour around, you DO need a few things...
Bring your helmet, a fleece and "over-the-ankle" type shoes/boots to ride with. The only other thing I would "recommend" would be inexpensive knee and elbow guards, just in case of a fall. It's not much hassle, and knees and elbows are the first things to hit the ground, even in a small fall.

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Around the Block Moto Adventures, LLC

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Bristol, ME, 04539



San Jose de Yarinacocha

Pucallpa, Peru, South America


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