European touring tips for bikers
If you’re anything like me, the stresses and time-consuming tasks of daily life often mean you don’t get quite as much time on the road as you’d like, particularly when it comes to the meatier tours. This means you really have to make the most of them. The obvious storage limitations to bikes as compared to their more spacious cousin, the motor car, mean that planning and logistics are more important than they otherwise might be. Here’s a collection of tips that should help with that particular aspect; some of them are from personal experience, some have been told to me over a pint and others are the result of scrupulous Internet searching. However, all will help you do one thing and one thing only: enjoy your tour, whether you’re touring the world, Europe or your own country.
Organise your ‘must-packs’.
Think of this as separate from your regular packing. The key here is safety. First aid, toolkits and emergency gear are essential when touring. Similarly, maps and map covers are going to be your best friends during your trip. Whatever you do, don’t scrimp on any of this stuff. If you don’t already have a decent ‘essentials’ kit, create one that covers all the bases, and actually works. I can’t stress how important it is to check your toolkit actually works before you set off. The chances are that you won’t need most of the emergency gear, so pack it tight.
More, more, more.
Thinking about storage is a matter of thinking smart, rather than thinking more. A great tip here is to buy your bags last. Of course, if you already have bags, then this is a moot point, but remember that a year’s touring is not going to require significantly more space than a week’s. Tailbags, fueltank-top storage and panniers are all an option, but do you really need all that space?
Don’t dress to impress.
Your single most important piece of clothing on any tour is your motorbike clothing. You know how you ride, so get clothing that fits your style and feels comfortable. It’s also worth thinking about how many layers you want underneath. In my experience there’s nothing worse than freezing to death on a leg of your journey filled with spectacular sights – you just wind up missing it all. You can find pretty much everything in thermal material nowadays, so check the weather – from numerous sources – before you go and pack appropriately. At the risk of sounding like Gok Wan, it’s all about layers, babe.
Packing up your troubles.
If, like me, you’re a man with dubious packing skills, there’s one rule: pack heavier stuff on the bottom. Obviously try to balance your load and centralise weight wherever possible. However, this shouldn’t be at the expense of functionality. If you have your snack food handy, it makes those little pit-stops all the more enjoyable. Here’s one tip that comes from painful personal experience ¬– if you’re using bungee rope or netting for anything, just double up with a bit of duct tape over the fastenings. You’ll thank me one day.
Your key motivation for any tour is to enjoy yourself. It’s a wonderful experience to take those longer tours, and keeping both safe and sensible makes it all the better. Making sure you’re prepared for the most common issues takes away all the irritation and helps you enjoy your freedom even more. Good luck and happy touring.
HOOD are the UK’s leading manufacturer of protective motorbike jeans.
Our Relationship with KNOX Armour
With a history that stretches back as far as 1981, KNOX armour is the go to gear for dynamic impact protection for motorcycles. That’s why we at Hood Jeans use this great guard in our products.
The consistency and the technological superiority of the KNOX brand has made it a leader in the industry and the ideal, high quality product to team up with our great high end jeans. All of KNOX’s products are CE approved and held in the highest acclaim by those in the motorbike industry.
Our optional use of the KNOX knee and hip armour ensures that should the unfortunate happen, the mix of this gear and our own Hood Jeans keeps you as safe as possible - have a look at our real life stories for testimony.
KNOX Flexiform Lite Range
The latest generation of the KNOX Flexiform Lite range is one of our most popular upgrades for our jeans. Made from the highest performing PU foam, these are soft and very flexible protective pieces that offer amazing protection yet are barely noticeable in your jeans. This new armour adds that extra comfort many other protectors don’t to riding - something at the centre of our jeans.
Our great modern looking jeans offer amazing impact protection thanks to the KNOX option. Aside from this new KNOX armour, we also have some other fantastic, body saving KNOX products and the Kompakt Back Protector is one of our favourites. Team this item up with our K7 jacket and you have one of the most comfortable protectors on the market and also one that’s brilliantly portable as it’s amazingly light and folds up to a tiny footprint.
This item is suitable for everything from extreme sports, and is extremely slim and light - only 500g - meaning unlike others we could mention, you’ll probably not even notice it.
KNOX Advanced X armour is also a great addition to the range and provides amazing, award winning protection Advanced X is very economically priced and and is one of our best sellers. It’s a three layer armour and has a honeycomb core, making it light weight and extremely flexible. It’s available for knees, hips, elbows and shoulders also, meaning you have protection where you require it.
The technical innovation of KNOX products goes well with the on the ball ethos of our own products. All of KNOX’s gear is independently tested and CE certified, so you know you can trust it. Unlike others, KNOX armour is seen to live up and to surpass its claims through independent tests.
So, if you’re looking for great quality products, from two companies who provide excellent mutually compatible products, then our work at Hood Jeans with KNOX is probably exactly what you need. Protection, style and innovation for you via our excellent K7 range.
Need to know more? Check out our range of motorbike jeans with Knox Armour options.
Poole Global Trek and Hood Jeans
A world trip via the road is probably the greatest of all testaments to biking. Getting out in the open air and just seeing the great planet we call home is one of the dreams of many riders. Nick and Lesley Poole from Wymondham in Norfolk, England did so, wearing Hood Jeans motorbike jeans all the way.
The couple started their journey in 2006 and managed to travel to as far flung places as Panama and Laos on their BMW GS1150 Adventure - an aptly titled bike if there was one. Having covered a distance of 89,000 miles their trip in our jeans is a testament to the spirit of adventure and one we are proud they trusted us with.
Across the Universe
From culture to culture and country to country and dare we say it dubious driving nation, to dubious driving nation, the journey these pair took is something of spectacular merit.
The journey, which took on board raising money for charity Keeping Abreast, began in 2006, though the couple would claim that they had decided on doing so a lot earlier. Beginning from Norfolk they brought the very basics necessary initially including a ball compass, 2 security cables and of course an inflatable saddle cover for comfort on those longer tracks. They also brought essentials such as a skipping rope, umbrella and a Frisbee.
The couple travelled the USA first and have managed to see such far flung parts as Alaska, before heading to Mexico and Central America and its wonderful countries. From there South America was on the cards, before they skipped across the New Zealand and the Australia, where they visited family in both places.
The Far East
Asia was next on the wonderful trip and trips to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and elsewhere ensued before they travelled to Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. Of course, travelling through the Middle East, to Europe is one that not even our gear can help them with and it all was dependent on the political situation at the time, which was fortunately okay. Once in Turkey, the couple rode home across Europe, through Bulgaria, Hungary and the South of the Continent until they reach Blighty.
Through thick and thin and thrill and excitement, Nick and Lesley managed to come back all in one piece after the trip of a life time. Our gear protected them all the way and still looked good at the very end, while it also obviously ensured their safety on their trip around the world.
Three years is a long time to be away from home, however upon arrival home, the press heard about the trek they wanted part of the wonderfully exciting story. Just so you know, the BMW also remained in one piece and we’d imagine there are few bikes in the world that have seen so much, in fact we doubt any of our Hood Jeans gear has either.
Interested in checking out our 2012 collection? Click here - Hood Motorbike Jeans
What is D3O Armour?
D3O armour has the excellent properties of being soft and flexible in normal conditions, but on impact , its molecules lock together to reduce and dissipate the force transmitted it’s nearly impenetrable. It is available on all of Hood partner brand Kyrano’s motorbike jeans as standard.
D3O armour’s popularity is down to the simple fact it provides the strength of body armour, yet it doesn’t actually take on the bulky appearance of such strong, but large plating and it’s soft and flexible so comfortable to wear . So, how does such thin armour actually work?
What’s it Made From?
The D3O technology is a composite material, comprising polymers and dilatant fluid – dilatant materials increase viscosity with the rate of the strain. For the non-scientific among us, this means in standard conditions, the molecules flow freely allowing the material to remain soft and flexible, but on impact, they lock together to absorb impact energy and reduce the force transmitted. The molecules instantly return to their flexible state.
The material is strain rate sensitive which means the stronger the impact, the more the molecules react, and better the protection.
The best and most real life example most people use is corn starch and water. If you stir the mixture at a slow rate it can be easily done, however faster stirring means increased viscosity and makes it a lot harder to do. This is very similar to what happens when D3O materials take an impact.
The great thing about D3O armour on bikes is that it’s amazingly flexible and as comfortable as normal clothing when it’s in everyday use. However when it undergoes an impact its molecules lock together to reduce the force of the bang transmittedand dissipates the impact energy across its mass.
Originally the D3O material made its way to the public eye in winter sports and the winter sports games as it was used in the Spyder race suits for the US and Canadian Ski teams.
The vanity of snow sports means wearing a conventional helmet is off limits, though obviously essential for well being if you land head first into some concrete like compacted snow. So, D3O beanie hats became the answer to all problems. These hats offer a fashionable, but practical take on head gear for snow sports.
This then led to the material being used in ski jackets and pants, as well as into lacrosse armour, ballet shoes and a range of other areas, including iPhone covers.
When compared to older kinds of armour, D3O is a far slimmer and more stylish alternative. The fact that the armour can be placed in our motorbike jeans means it is very popular with people who don’t want the atypical biker image.
The pads also provide a lot more flexibility for everyday life and really just feel like any other form of slightly thick clothing. The material has only begun to find its position in the consumer market and with a number of advances expected in the near future, expect to see the armour become increasingly strong.
If you want any more information on D3O body armour and its amazing properties - just contact us.
Road Safety Campaign for Younger Riders
Teachers will tell you one of the best ways in which to teach children of any danger is to show them the repercussion of their actions. Of course for younger ones, speed is often one of the pivotal motivations of purchasing a bike and a mixture of inexperience and power can be deadly.
There’s no doubting that no matter what young people will want to go fast, so the only real pragmatic thing to do is to educate them and protect them. This is why our work with the Road Safety Team of Gloucestershire Council began. We wanted to show the different protection levels of different clothing.
We’re all familiar with inexperienced riders without the appropriate gear – tracksuit bottoms being one example of the apparel on show. So, with the commission of the Safety Team, we created a garment that was half jogger, half our HOOD K7 Motorcycle Jean. This garment was used at clubs, events and talks to show people that protection doesn’t have to cost in style terms. The perceptions that leather trousers are the only protective gear out there still is strong with many; however, we wanted to change that notion.
Our commission didn’t end there; the council asked us to do a drag test with our motorbike jeans and the high street jogger mix to show the variation in protective qualities. We joined these two pairs of trousers in two halves and put them through the same drag test.
By filling the trousers up with 50KG of para- aramid and dragging the garment for a quarter mile at 40mph, we could show the protection levels of the different clothing. We drove both sides of the trousers for this same distance, or as much of a distance as they would last. As you can imagine, it was an eventful but expected result.
A 40mph, the jogger became a shredded shadow of itself within the first few metres, whereas our renowned Hood K7 jean’s side performed just as we expected – excellently.
Our speciality Hood/ Kyrano jeans, with their tight weave denim did very well in the test and when compared to the jogger show instantly what we set out to show. The denim lasted for a good period of time and when it eventually wore though the high-tech para-aramid lining did an excellent job of holding everything together and staying perfectly intact.
Of course, this demonstrates to anyone on the spectrum of very interested to sceptical the abilities of our jeans. Our Hood Jean has never failed a customer, even at speeds of up to 90mph. The high-tech para-aramid abrasion protection did very well, performing exactly as it said it would do – which makes us proud and keeps you safe.
The History of our Great British Motorcycle Jeans
So for our first blog post we thought we would give a little history behind Hood and Kyrano. Future posts will include our pick of the best biker news and tips, so stay tuned.
With origins producing denim over 50 years ago, our company has come a long way. We set out work in Norfolk in England as a small family company with big ambitions. Our origins come from our owner’s father Chris, who once worked for Lee Cooper before helping to set up Falmer jeans in the 1950s. In the 1960s he started Motown Jeans single handedly, based out of Essex.
Chris and Julie met here and set up their own company in 1994, first designing high street styles but the future was shaped when they were approached by a Motocross team to design their kit. This work provided them with information about the materials involved and planted the seeds for their own design which was released in 2000. This resulted in the popular K7 jean among a number of others to follow.
This K7 Jean was one of the first para-aramid reinforced motorcycle jeans in the world, which was and still is manufactured in the UK - something we are steadfastly proud about.
We take pride in our British roots and the quality products we produce reflect everything you would expect from a British company. Our jeans are made from the very best materials and offer all the protection you need from motorbike clothing, yet at competitive rates. This has seen us richly rewarded with the support of our customers, even in the current challenging economy. Including Kyrano UK, we are left with two brands competing at the very forefront of the motorcycle jean market in the UK.
We know 2012 will be a bumper year for both the original Hood woven para-aramid jeans with its optional Knox Hip and Knee armour as well as ourKyrano-UK range of soft knitted para-aramid abrasion protection with its D3O T5 Hip and Knee armour fitted as standard.
These are both top class products and offer the best of protection from two great armour suppliers. We released the Kyrano UK range last summer, in 2011 and it has proved to be a very well-liked choice among our customers. Following this we’ve responded with new ringspun denim flat rivets and a newly designed Hood Jeans stud. The two brands offer more choice in the field of UK motorbike clothing andwith this in mind we’re interested to see how 2012 will develop. We hope it will continue in the vein of 2011, with our products right at the top, among biker’s favourites in the UK.
We’re excited and so should you be, so here’s to 2012!