How do you choose your motorcycle gear, be it riding suits, luggage, aftermarket parts, or tires? For most people, it’s about that perfect intersection between quality, purpose, price, plus a little bit of looks, style, o personal preferences. For me, there’s one more crucial factor: is this a piece of gear I can just use and forget I’m even using it?

@JohannesCarlsson made an excellent comment under my recent ramblings about genuine vs fake reviews, asking one simple question – what gear is the least annoying? And I resonate with that so, so much. There’s a lot going on when you’re riding – on or off the road, short or long distance, your focus is on the, well, riding. The traveling. The experience. What you want to think about while riding is the trail or the road ahead, the adventure, the being in the here and now; what you most certainly do not want to think about is your gear.

Some gear, however, tends to remind of itself in the most irritating ways. Broken zippers and loose mounts, luggage that was supposed to be waterproof but oh look it isn’t, a jacket that seemed well designed but chafes at the elbow protectors or has a weird collar thing that allows cold air in, boot buckles that fail – things like that are pure nuisance, and it doesn’t matter which brand it is or how much you’ve paid for it – it’s just annoying.

So for those of you who like to completely forget the gear you’re using while you’re using it, here’s my list of the least-annoying stuff that simply fulfils its intended function allowing you to just ride. No more, no less.

Mosko Moto Backcountry Panniers

Man, how I loved these things. For several years, I rode with Mosko panniers – it was an older model than the existing Backcountry, but still thoroughly awesome in every way. The shape of the bags was just right to pack away things like tents, sleeping bags, hiking boots, and my entire closet; a small duffel on top for office gear and toiletries, and that was that. Stop, take the stuff out without de-attaching the panniers, then pack everything back up with plenty of space to spare, buckle up, and ride. If you crash, you’ll earn a few scuff marks at the most. Need to take the panniers off? Because of the easy sliding system, it tool all of two minutes, and the bags were off. Need more space? Add bags using the MOLLE system. That’s it, no fuss, no muss; no special care instructions, no breaking buckles, no weirdly shaped, good-looking-but-useless designs.

Gear That Isn’t a Nuisance // ADV Rider

However much I love the Reckless system, the tube-shaped pannier drybags are a struggle every time I’ve got to pack up camping gear. I have to compress and contort the sleeping bag into impossible shapes, stuff raingear around the tent so as not to waste space, and still battle the rolltops so it all closes properly. Now, it’s not the fault of the Reckless – it’s meant for minimalist packing and pure off-road adventures, and if I had camping gear that packed smaller, or just less stuff in general, this would be ideal. Alas, as it stands, I pine for the Backcountry.

Leatt 5.5 Enduro Pants

Several brands now offer modular gear aimed at ADV riders who mostly ride dirt; I would love to lay my paws on Mosko’s gear to test out their new stuff, and Klim’s Dakar series seem pretty solid, too. However, for the last few years, whenever there is a rally situation or simply a long stretch of off-road riding ahead, I stick with Leatt 5.5 Enduro. It’s a thing of beauty: knee-brace friendly while still wearable without the braces, super lightweight yet much more durable than pure MX/enduro pants, and featuring two glorious, spacious pockets at the front that can easily house a timecard, a phone, some cash, and an energy bar, leather insets at the knees for better grip – that’s it. It just works.

Gear That Isn’t a Nuisance // ADV Rider

Klim Artemis Jacket

For pure ADV riding – and speaking of women’s gear here – I haven’t worn anything better than the Artemis.  I mean, the old Altitude model was OK, but it had mediocre ventilation, little in terms of decent pockets, and a weird cut. The Artemis – for me – has got it all: great design, plenty of ventilation including chest vents, good-sized pockets than can host more than a lip balm and spare change, a longer back that keeps your behind warm and waterproof no matter the weather, solid protection and abrasion resistance – I’ve had some serious spills while wearing the jacket and waked away unscathed every time – and, the thing is extremely comfortable on and off the bike. Over the years, it had become a sort of an exoskeleton, and I never once had to worry about broken zippers, leaky GoreTex, or sleeves that don’t close properly at the wrist allowing cold air in.

Leatt Knee Braces

Being a severely mediocre rider, I figured I need as much protection as I can get for the onger off-road rides and rally attempts, and Leatt’s knee braces seemed like the most solid knee protection I could find. I’ve read reviews of adventure riders using them on and off the road, but when the things arrived, I thought they’d feel weird, chunky, and irritating to wear. I mean, they’re huge and appear somewhat unwieldy at first glance – and, if you don’t put them on right, they’ll pinch and chafe making life absolutely miserable.

But if you do put them on correctly – position them right, adjust the inner pads if necessary, and do all the straps up properly – you don’t even feel you’re wearing them. At all. I’ve spent 10+hours on the bike wearing the braces and never felt it was a nuisance; and when I’d crash, my knees wouldn’t even bruise. It’s solid, it’s meant for extreme abuse, and it is not annoying in the least if you put them on and secure them properly. Bliss.

 

This is the good stuff; but what about the bad? Over the years, I’ve had gear that just didn’t work, no matter how many compromises I was prepared to make. Over-designed stuff that would fail because of the over-design; failed zippers, buckles, and useless Velcro’s; too little ventilation creating your own tropical climate in your jacket or pants after just an hour of riding; “waterproof” features that aren’t even water resistant at the best of times; hard shell top boxes that crack and disintegrate after a couple of crashes; the list goes on.

What about you? What gear has been the least – and the most – annoying so far?

 

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