Dateline: 11 December 2011
For some months I have been analysing Adventure Rider Clothing.
It started when I read Adventure Bike Rider, a magazine with tales of intrepid derring do from long distance motorcyclists criss-crossing the world on giant BMW adventure bikes. The specialist bikes, the clothing, the roads, oh, just everything. I was enthralled - I wanted to be one.
It took me a couple of days to realise that, actually, I was one of these derring do-ers. But I was doing it on a cruiser wearing outlaw style black leathers. The voices in my head started up. "Well you don't look like a derring do-er. Wrong bike, wrong clothes. No derring"
One of the voices, a sensible one, said "Lookit. Every other RTW (round the world) does it on a Beemer looking like Charley and Wotsits (Ewan). They couldn't do it on great grunty cruisers. They're lightweights"
This voice was answered by a sneakier one "Yes, but they looooook like RTW's".
Rejoindered with "As do half the effing commuters riding to work"
At this point I was laying on the floor trying to wrench my head off - you know what I mean, you've been there yourself. So to appease the voices I got up and started the research.
Now I know exactly which features the best Adventure Textile Jackets have: in which conditions the various zip in / zip out features are best used; whether a 3/4 jacket is better than a hip length and which Technical trousers will fit with what.
For my own gratification I'll publish pics and the entire minutiae of the selection process later, plus riveting things like the three layer system and why merino wool is best next to the skin.
But this is a tale of capricious choice, and biker stuff bores non-bikers.
With the research almost completed I had decided (which means obsessed over for weeks) on a shiny olive coloured confection from Lindstrands - a famous Swedish manufacturer of Adventure clothing. I had tried the jacket, but not the trousers, at Motorcycle Live 2011 exhibition. The Swedish gentleman who helped me through the painful decision process "I would like a jacket that will serve me well in both the desert and high mountains" was assiduous in his attention to detail. Never once did he try to sell me anything. He simply analysed my needs and showed me exactly what I needed to survive my proposed journey.
I did not completely believe him of course. So I bought nothing. But on my return and over the next few days I researched every site and knowledgeable magazine I could find. Every source confirmed what he said. A little more research and the retail outlet was sorted (and visited for more tryons although it was an internet warehouse that did not generally deal with the public) and the price sorted. Lindstrands Olive, perfection and the epicentre of my dreams.
My wife is good with me, but not with motorcycles and obsessional behaviour. She knows little of motorcycling arcania, and prefers to remain in blissful ignorance of the finer deails of Outlast and Thermal Pile. So how come she bought me a lilac coloured all season Belstaff motorcycle textile adventure jacket for Christmas?
E-bay has a lot to answer for.
There I was, happily besotted with the online vision of the motorcycle I am hoping to buy when I thought "Oh my God, how can I ever wear a Swedish technical adventure jacket in Olive when I'm riding an Italian adventure bike?"
In less than a nanosecond I was searching for Belstaff. An English brand you may think; well yes. And no.
Belstaff was bought, backed and made famous by an illustrious Italian Movie Magnet. Who saw the Steve McQueen connection and projected the brand directly into the Hollywood A list. And me.
E-bay. Belstaff. Lilac.
Ewan and Charlie wore Belstaff, but they didn't have the balls for Lilac.
"Darling, you know you were thinking about a Christmas present for me?"
I hope they like Lilac in Tibet.