Heading out on the road with no set destinations and a couple of days to burn is a rite of passage for motorcycle riders. Commuting is too much like work, and track days can lead to obsessive behaviors. But losing yourself in the saddle — letting the world fade into you and vanish in a wave of blurry mirrors — well, these are the days that must happen to you, sir. Of course, you only reap those romantic rewards if you outfit yourself with the right stuff to guard against everything mother nature can throw at you; otherwise you might end up wet, shivering and miserable. Adventure touring gear is designed specifically with the long haul in mind. Not only does the good stuff protect with armor, it keeps you dry in the rain, cool in the heat, warm in the cold and easily switches modes on the fly. For our long weekend ride through Northern Ontario, Canada, GP’s Matt Neundorf turned to the Italians: A Ducati for the ride; a two-piece suit, boots and gloves from Dainese; and AGV’s newest bucket for brain protection. With eighteen hours and 900 miles already logged, here’s how they performed.
Dainese D-Stormer D-Dry Jacket
The D-Stormer D-Dry Jacket is a four-season riding jacket in the truest sense that I’ve found. Aimed squarely at the growing adventure sport-touring market, the D-Stormer features a tailored fit and increased versatility over traditional three-quarter length, long-haul jackets. Removable, composite shoulder and elbow armor are EN 1621.1-certified, and there is an internal pocket for back armor as well. Modular, zip-in liners for both rain and thermal protection can be used either alone or together with the outer shell for warmth and dryness when the weather turns. The waterproof portion of that combination utilizes D-Dry, a proprietary fabric developed by Dainese that, much like Gore-Tex, is both breathable and waterproof.
While I only experienced some spotty showers that the treated outer shell readily managed, the D-Dry liner became a must for cool early morning escapes. It provided the perfect extra layer of warmth so I didn’t have to don long sleeves or sweaters. With afternoon highs hovering in the mid-80s, this made adjusting to conditions quick and easy. The D-Stormer’s on-the-fly adaptability to changing temperatures and conditions is second to none.
Two large chest panels, full-length sleeve venting and a large, adjustable back panel all combine to create a customizable approach to cooling that is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a breathe of fresh air. Running wide open, the D-Stormer kept the air flowing through, cooling my upper body while maintaining its fit. At just over $500, the D-Stormer isn’t exactly inexpensive for a textile jacket, but for its versatility in all temperatures and weather conditions, it is an excellent investment for riders who don’t hang up their helmets when the weather turns ugly.
Dainese Travelguard Gore-Tex Pants
Linked to the D-Stormer through a rear full-width zipper, my lower half was protected by Dainese’s Gore-Tex, Travelguard Pants. Much like the jacket, the Travelguard pants came equipped with a removable thermal liner and EN 1621.1-certified soft armor at the hips and height adjustable hard-shell pads at the knees. Unlike the jacket, waterproofing comes in the form of Gore-Tex instead of Dainese’s home-brew D-Dry.
Two zippered vents along the upper thigh area of the Travelguards are the only airflow openings available and they are quite small. Unlike other riding pants that feature full-length out-seam zippers, the Travelguards rely on the positioning of their venting than its size. They did a decent job of swapping hot air for cool, provided I was positioned properly; hugging the tank with my knees tightened the pants too much to let the vents open up and do their job, so I had to adopt a cruiser style of riding and let it all hang out when things got warm. While this isn’t necessarily ideal, riders locked into the saddle for multiple hours tend to shift positioning fairly often during the day so don’t consider it a deal-breaker. It should be noted that, for slightly less money, the D-System Evo D-Dry pants employ a larger thigh panel that can be folded open to provide more effective venting in all positions and maintain the all-weather abilities of the Travelguard pants.
AGV AX-8 Dual Evo Helmet
A good helmet needs to do one thing: protect. A great one, well — it needs to be quiet, comfortable, light, aerodynamic and look good all while protecting. Conceived of with the adventure tourer in mind, the AGV AX-8 Dual Evo Helmet is damn good and, with some easy modification, great.
At just over 3 pounds, the DOT– and ECE 22.05-certified Dual Evo is one of the lightest full-face buckets on the market today. It also comes in an attractive package — the chiseled chin bar and integrated peak scream dirt-track chic while the visor, venting and overall shape beg for an open road — but it needs a helping hand to really make it work. For adventure touring, AGV’s instructions say to run with the visor installed and the peak attached. This made the Dual Evo noisy and warm on the highway; the integrated peak redirected wind and created a bassy buffeting reminiscent of rusty Honda Civic DX’s and high-school parking lot radio wars. It also made the upper vents borderline useless. A quick operation with a philips screwdriver and the peak was long gone (along with my headache). Devoid of its wind-catcher, in “street fighter” mode, the Dual Evo’s aerodynamic shape magically fell into the slipstream and ventilation improved as well. In this configuration, the Dual Evo is essentially the Evo Naked, AGV’s other version of the same bucket, so if you’re riding will be mostly devoid of dirt-track diversions, save yourself the Andrew Jackson and go with the nude version.
Dainese Travelguard GTX Gloves
Constructed with a breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex inner membrane and a thin, thermal lining, these Travelguard Gloves provided the perfect protection for damp, chilly morning runs out of town. Unlike some inclement weather hand wear, the Travelguards don’t feel bulky like ski gloves. Credit the flexible and thin goatskin-reinforced palm, which communicate throttles response and road feel in similar fashion to summer gloves. Soft, protective inserts with reflective stitching deliver impact protection for your backhand while helping with visibility as well. While they are an early morning go-to, they do get a little warm as the sun rises. That being said, those leaves won’t be green for much longer, so the Travelguards will get a lot more use in the coming weeks.
Dainese Carroarmato Gore-Tex Boots
I started riding with the Dainese Carroarmato Gore-Tex Boots about a year ago and they’ve yet to disappoint. Extremely comfortable, breathable and waterproof, these adventure touring boots remain in heavy rotation. Regardless of the weather, the bike or the destination in mind, the easy-on/easy-off adjustable buckle and velcro fastening system, full-length shin protection and nylon inserts at the ankles and heel make these a great choice for riding boots. The rubber soles are grippy on wet pavement and absorb the vibration and harshness. Outfitted in all black, they even look passable for dinner attire — provided you aren’t rocking skinny jeans, that is. Otherwise you’ll be tucking those in.