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Apparel Pro: Adventure Gear

Thumb’s up in Marrakech knowing my riding friend Cristi Farrell was this rental operator’s first motorcycle rental to a woman rider.
Thumb’s up in Marrakech knowing my riding friend Cristi Farrell was this rental operator’s first motorcycle rental to a woman rider.

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]opularized by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in their Long Way Down and Long Way Around videos, adventure riding has only grown since the iconic due traipsed both directions around the globe. ADV-everything has become big business if gauged by the meteoric rise of brands like Klim, Mosko Moto and Rawhyde Adventures. Cycle World magazine now holds an annual event, the Adventure Rally Series, and Adventure Motorcycle magazine (ADVmoto) offers an entire magazine’s worth of ADV-dedicated content every issue.

Riding large displacement motorcycles in difficult off-road terrain isn’t just for the big boys. Women have been drawn to motorcycling in this manner for many years as well, myself included. The trend among adventure riding females has been noted by ADV accessory giant Touratech USA, and they’ve just developed a women’s program called SheADV. The self-proclaimed mission of SheADV is to be a resource that promotes and supports women in motorcycle touring.

Adventure rider Cristi Farrell spent two weeks riding and circumnavigating Morocco last year, from the coast to the desert to Atlas. Weather conditions were variable, from light rain in the beginning of the trip along the western coastline bordering the Atlantic Ocean to warming up as she rode east through the Draa Valley deeper into the Sahara. In other words, typical challenges adventure riders face in picking the right motorcycle apparel. Farrell’s triad of must-haves in an adventure suit? Fit, complete weatherproofing (not just water resistance) and ventilation.

“Given a broad range of climates such as wind, rain and variable temperatures, the challenge was finding one suit that could accommodate everything…with the right fit,” said Farrell. “The right fit is key; knowing which manufacturer(s) make gear that fits your body type. If you’re swimming around in loose gear, how can you be sure the armor will be where it needs to be to protect you?” Ventilation is an important factor in adventure riding gear as well because not all rainy days are cold ones.

Make sure your adventure customers (male or female) try the apparel while seated on a motorcycle. A jacket that fits right while seated upright on a dual sport bike will be different (or even inappropriate) on a forward-reaching sportbike. One aspect of fit that can be easily overcome is short jacket arms. Gauntlet gloves can cure this problem if the rest of the fit is perfect (this is the case for me in one of my suits). A shorter torso cannot be fixed, however. If a jacket rides up when sliding on the pavement, the rider could be left unprotected in sensitive areas.

When selling adventure apparel it’s important that dealer personnel know the technical aspects of the jackets your shop stocks so they can make a good match to the environment(s) that your customer will be experiencing. If there’s one outstanding thing about adventure riders, we definitely give our gear a workout – often in extremes of environments. There’s nothing worse than having an epic apparel fail on an epic adventure. It’s great for the ride reports, but heck on the rider’s relationship with the dealer.

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