Opinions without substance

I’ve always been told to make sure that I do my best to know the background before I comment complain about something (the weather is exempt). But with the introduction of Facebook we now have “amateur” specialists, who will “like”, “share” etc., anything which they think make any sence. Unfortunately it is not only the “amateur” specialists on Facebook which do this, also Journalists who write for previously recognized broadsheet papers have started to do this, which means that we cat opinions without substance.

I quite often (until I dis-friended them), got forwarded (shared) information about animal rights on Facebook, though being interesting, but the information in general terms came from fanatical people who only have one reason in publicizing this information; to tell other people what they SHOULD think, there is no room for creating ones own opinion, nor to criticize their opinion – it’s very much; either you’re with us, or you’re against us. Not saying that the people who shared the information with me where fanatically, but I sometimes think that taking what other people write is easier than to sit down and research the subject and then write something else – which can cause people to like or share things which they might not agree with when they are questioned about it. And it also makes me comment and question the shared material….

We have always, as far as I can understand, had fanatical people, the problem is that in todays society it is too easy to agree with them without actually having to understand what they talk about, and it is too easy for them to spread their “broadcast”.

Remember before you “like” or “share” contents that knowing what it’s about might teach you something, and maybe you’ll choose something else….

Klim D30 Armor ….

Bikers, are a stange group of people, we will happily spends large amount of money on things which other people tell us is the right stuff … I remember years ago, everyone had the buy Rukka (most still do), then and now it is Klim, both of them have been bought up by large corporations. And on the sideline one finds Stadler (the last of the big ones), then of the “B” like there are companies like RevIT, Alpinstarts, and so one. We are not discussing clothing for fast bikes, this is the “real” stuff for the traveler who wants to go and see the world.

Now as usual I’ve listened to the wrong people, and ended up with something which I should not have spend money on….

First back in February I decided to get an Klim Overland Jacket, as everyone rave about the price / quality, it did not fit me at all, and due to the wonderful customer service from where I got it from I could not return it (I was stupid enough to drive 35km with it on), which cost me 50% of the price – as funny enough no one else was interested in buying it … hummmm….

But as I really needed a new jacket, and my favorite; Stadler Tour was too expensive (+1100€), I decided to try with a Klim Latitude, which is a very nice jacket, which comes with the right amount of pockets, almost the right amount of ventilation (very few do – read; Stadler), and I was happy.

Now a few weeks back I was on my way to HUM Germany, and due to a brain fart I ended up face down on the asphalt sliding a few meters, which I would expect would not be a big problem. Ok, it did hurt like a bitch, but I was ok, my right leg took most of the impact, but my crap boots and trousers (BMW with good protection) left me with a black n’ blue leg, but otherwise ok.

The problem was (is) my right arm …. now back to a few facts;

- Klim only provide D3O Level 1 armor in their jackets (even Overland is only an upgrade, but still level 1).

- D30 is impact resistant
- D30 is NOT abrasive resistant

This means that if it hist something it will dispert the power of the impact, but when you slide over a surface it can fold up and not give any protection. That is a massive issue, as most of the problems comes from sliding ….

Our skin is made up of 5 layers, and my “small” spill where I landed with my arm underneath my body, the D3O albow proctetion folded up or slid away and did not provide any proction to my arm and the layer of skin which sits ontop of the muschle has lost the connecton to the muschle … this is reasonable painful… and according to my doctor who does diagnostics from the other side of the table this will eventually heal…. (do not get me started on Dutch Doctors – all of them)

But I have a used Stadler Jacket (which is too small) which comes with Level 2 back protection and hard shell shoulder and elbow protectors … so I could just move them across. Nop, no such luck, Klim’s pockets for protectors are too small.

So now I have a very nice jacket which looks like it should do, but it scares the living daylights out of wearing as there is practically no protection in it.

So what is it with a company like Klim, for me it looks like we’re all stupid enough to believe what they tell us – ie. they use the best possible proctors; they do not – they are the cheapest one can get from D3O, they have the best warranty; actually if the garment have been close to the ground at any speed they might refuse any warranty claims, lucky enough Gore-Text will help out. Most of their cloth fit like it was made for a cow, but we’re still happy to buy it, which I do not understand – we much be stupid.

Adventure-Spec Magadan Panniers (mk2)

As the market in my part of the world makes it difficult to actually have a look at products before I buy them I have to rely on the internet for information on what to buy – also what people tell me, but as we’re not all the same, I sometimes have to rely on people who might see things differently.

I have for year been using hard panniers (aluminium boxes), but due to getting a different bike (BMW g650 xChallange) it was advisable to switch to soft luggage – based on the broken bone theory, and also if an alu box is dent it’s leaking and it’s difficult to fix on the road…. I’m not sure I’m a strong believer of the first theory, the other one I know all about. After hitting a “small” rock in Bulgaria in 2012 I spend 6 hours getting my panniers waterproof again….

Then enter the soft luggage, there are a number of producers, and due the exploits of Walter Colbatch (who can nearly walk on water – or so I’ve been told), everyone rave about the Adventure-Spec Magadan Panniers (mk2), so after seeing them first hand (they look right way), I decided to just in with both my feet pointing downwards…. right…

What I discovered after getting them on the bike was:

  • they sag, meaning there isn’t much in them to keep the form (square), which is partly ok but …
  • they are closed with Velcro, and as we know there is an active and passive side to Velcro, on the panniers the active side is pointing outwards when they are open … bye, bye synthetic t-shirts….
  • Now I have a pair of Wolfmans Teton’s they are too small for use for much more than a long weekend, but they are so much easier to deal with, strap them to the bike, and they stay there

  • the Magadans, will require one vertical strap (possible), but definitely a horizontal strap to keep them in place
  • And at the price they charge for them, one start to wonder what one is actually paying for

  • I had a very low speed spill on asphalt a few weeks back, and even without having anything with sharp edges in the bags, the outer fabric is worn through in random places
  • Now they have an Cordura 500 outer shell (fabric), then a kevlar layer which is supposed to make them secure to be cut open with a knife (someone told me that this is not the case … can’t remember who, so I say that is a verified fact), and then an inner shell (fabric) of Cordura 500. Cordura 500 is very resistant, and should not wear through, but it did…

  • the inner bags are obnoxious, who ever came up with the idea… oh, well, the material is so thick that they will take up around 10% of the bags volume
  • Getting some Sea to Summit, or Ortlieb bags is the only option to fix this issue, but that is even more money on top of the extra straps, and with the initial price of +400€ this is starting to become a very expensive friendship

  • the over the seat straps are annoying to say the least
  • Velco, who ever came up with that idea… it rips very easily, that is one thing, the other one is that with that idea out goes the idea of using proper straps and buckles (someone might have a brilliant idea)

  • outside pockets are 2x for Touratech 2 liter fuel plastic canisters, and 2x 1.5 liter for whatever kind of bottle which is 1.5 liter or less
  • The pockets for the fuel bottles I can live with, but pockets for 1.5 liter bottles, that is just plain … (I’m not even going to say it out loud), I drink a lot of water, and it comes in 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 liter bottles, not I have to remember not to buy the 2 liter bottles again, which is silly. They could have thought that through a bit more….

  • did I mention the price
  • I bought them because I was convinced by other people that they were the right thing, after had them on the bike, I am just very annoyed that I ever bought them as they are very expensive and not very vell thought through.

    Due to this and other things, I am probably not going to use my xChallange on my upcoming vacation trip, I know that the Magadan’s will drive me insane and that will ruin part of my vacation.

    I am not saying anyone should not buy them, but be sure you know why you spend your money on.

    Lowland Sleeping bags….

    So, my sleeping bag reached the end of it’s life, and this time I decided to spend a bit of money to get a Down bag, and and I like space for my feed I was specifically looking for a blanket model.

    After some time I found and decided on a Lowland Ranger Lite, sizewise it was perfect 220cm long, and 80cm wide, and reasonable cheap.

    So I get the thing, 20 minutes before I’m about to leave for a long weekend in a tent, perfect.

    Later that day, I crawl into my new (very nice) sleeping bag, and it’s a bit tight…. like I lack a bite space around my shoulders, hummmm.

    When I get home I decide to messure it, and it comes to 71cm, not 80cm.

    Right, something is a bit strange, I contact the shop where I got it from, they are a bit taken aback, ok, I go there, and they have a look at, yes, very strange, and compare to other Lowland Sleeping Bags… non of them are 80cm wide.

    The end of the story is that they will take it back, and I’ll get a Yeti instead.

    In the mean time I contacted Lowland Tends, am more or less told (when I ask why the specifications does not add up) to go somewhere else, and they cannot be bother about false marketing.

    Now, I liked the Lowland sleeping bag, it was nice, but there are limits, they know that their specifications does not add up, but continue to use these specifications. And when one ask why, one is told to bleep off.

    I suggest to stop buying from them….

    2013 was Another trip to Balkan….

    So another came around the corner, and yet another vacation to enjoy and look forward to…. (and yes, I’m a bit late writing this – been preoccupied with other more interesting things) …

    So due to things outside my influence the bank account was not as filled as it was supposed to, and I had to change my route a bit, but it wasn’t that much ….

    Big change was that due to being a nice guy, and being told off by the nice people who pay my salary I had to leave one month later than planned (FFS), but then well, shit happens.

    One early August morning (more precise 10. Aug. 2013) I left home for a few weeks of seeing interesting things.

    This years big adventure would be to follow the Carpathian mountains from Poland into Ukraine then via Moldova into Romania … the rest was more up to wishful thinking, and hope, and a prayer to the gods that I would break any bones, or catch something really nasty – hey, the world is a dangerous place…..

    I think this is the most dangerous thing I saw the who 5 weeks …

    Oh, he was a mean customer, but more about that later :-D

    First stop was somewhere in Harz (Germany, where I found a nice camping, actually it’s nice enough for me to think about going back, which is why I will not share it’s location with anyone), next was a really nice place just south of Görlitz and 300 meters from the Polish border, nice filled with flies … and as discovered Ants .. just an advice never ever get Ants into your helmet, you will live to regret it, and you will regret it, f… painful…

    I had a pleasant evening, talk to and old lady who turned out to be a survivor of the Dresden bombings, and grew up in the East (Germany). She had some interesting comments on our current society, most of them I agree with; we are unfortunately more interested in our self than we are in how people around us are … sad.

    Next was Poland… hummm, interesting place, both in a pleasant surprise, and what adjectives comes up when one drive through it, most of the words are not of the positive kind. I stopped at some point to get a picture of an old tower, and roughly 5 seconds I was yelled at.. I was not allowed to part there, and was mostly told to piss off ….

    The tower was kind of nice, but it didn’t really make me look at that place with positive eyes…

    I decided that Auschwitz, probably wasn’t too bad a place to visit, history and all that. And I’ve reached a conclusion; really bad people make good people do bad things… as for the rest, read history and learn from it, as it will repeat itself.

    There is a Hotel / Camping close by, where I meet a young Dutchman, who had been stuck for 3 days with a broken bike, talked a bit to him, but not much help could be offered….

    Then to the High Tatras (Polish side), which is a tourist trap, and for further reference should be avoided.

    At that point I had enough of Poland and decided (well my GPS decided to act up, and I didn’t really know where I was, and my map did not line up with my thought process), so I ended up driving a bit in Slovakia – which is pleasant ;)

    Now having endured so much just to see some mountains, I finally got to the Carpathian Mountains in Poland, hummmm, hummmm. What can I say; cloud cover …. nice roads though. Found a cabin for the night, and continued to Ukraine…. Next year though….

    More to follow…. (photos as usual)

    Balkan 2012 – part 1

    2012 have until now been an interesting year, in April/May I was on my way to Morocco on my newly aquired steed, which decided that it didn’t want to go any further when I got to Burgos, Spain, so having 1 extra week of vacation to use on my summer vacation I decided to run off for 5 weeks during July/August. Yes, I know this is the warmest period, and yes I (now) know that it’s damn hot… but I like it that way… the laides wear less cloth;-)

    As I got my bottom firmly planted for too long at Motocamp Bulgaria in 2011 I decided that I had to revisit, and see the rest of the countries in the Balkans.

    Everyone who know me, know that long term planning is a (as we say in Danish) a small village in Russia, so the only thing I more or less planned was which countries, and a few things I wanted to see, until further notice the route would be: The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Germany, and The Netherlands – I did mention that my planning skills really are not that great, and the final route was slightly off… but for once not much.

    Also something I have gotten used to; the first couple of days it always rains – not I have not gotten used to it, I’m just trying to be a grown up, not with much success.

    As always a bit of panic takes care of all normality, but for strange reasons due to being at the German HUM (Horizon Unlimited Travel Meeting) in July I more or less had my foot on everything, new paniers had been ordere well in advance (one try with softluggage and I was back to using the alu things), so early’ish one saturday in July I set off on a “small” trip around the Balkans….

    Continue …

    Balkan 2012 – part 2

    This year I’ve decided that I’m not going to do this whole thing day by day, as I know that I’ll be tired of writing it before I’m done, and you (hopeful reader) will think it’s boring, and stop reading (shame on you).

    Germany

    I actually did promise Martin that I’d stop in Heidelberg to say ‘Hallo’, but the weather was really crap, and the only thing I could think of was to get as far as possible (I did fell bad about not keeping a promised to a good friend – shame on me).

    Got as far as Nuremberg, found a hotel, which was not really cheap nor expensive, but they had internet, warm shower, so an early evening (I keep saying that, but it’s not true), and with a bit of luck I could get on the road early next day.

    Well the day started fine’ish, and I decided to see Zeppelin Field. I alway have an odd feeling when I see that guy with the mustage in the old B/W movies from the 1930s screaming at people from that place, and have promised my self that I would go and have a look when I had a chance to do so.

    Strange what people do… “really bad people, make good people do bad things” (don’t know who said it – might be me) – more about that later.

    So as the weather was still “slightly” crap, I decided to get on the road, and do some closer to warmer weather – 2 weeks later I was dreaming about rain….

    Austria

    So I got out of Germany and into Austria, not being all that happy with the weather. I found a place to get something to eat, or at that point a place to get warmed up and get some human fuel. Which was somewhere in the Neighbourhood of Linz. I’m not a great fan of Austria, maybe it’s me who is so used to Germans, that the culture difference is something I can’t get over (and they even speak a kind of German). But from here on all roads where to be main roads or smaller, no motorway until I got back to Austria some weeks later.

    So small roads, with the occasion oil spill in the rain, just what is needed to keep the heart beating at a high rate. The nature was nice, didn’t notice much of it as I was busy keeping the bike on the road.

    Finally got to Baden (only one Baden not two), found a B&B (cheapest I could find), which probably would have been fancy a generation ago, but was kind of run down. After a nice hot show I succeeded in finding a Curry place, where I got one of the best curries I’ve had in a long time.

    Next day I continued, and ran in to the welcoming and helpful locals. I stopped at a gasstop to get a vignette for Hungary (couldn’t remember if I needed on – better to be save than sorry), and was told I had to get it at the border (in a kind of go away tone). Right…. what border, just an old stone bridge over a stream and a sign, that was it – well if they didn’t want my money then so be it.

    Hungary

    Right, last time I was in Hungary was in 2011, where it came from Slovakia and on to Romania, as fast as possible…. This time I would spend slightly longer. I didn’t really have any interest in seeing Budapest (one can always fly in and have a quick look), and had been told that next to least borring thing to see was Lake Balaton (right….), and all roads in Hungary are small and not very good (well in my humble opinion). Ok, ok, I was not really there to enjoy the motorways, I was there to see the country and if that included under par roads, so be it.

    When one live in the congested North Europe, there are a few things one hardly see; I was driving on this tiny road next to some fields, and on the other side there was some woodlands which was fenced off. On on of the pools a hawk (Rough-legged Buzzard) was sitting, looking for something to catch, a few hundred meters further along on a stone in the field there was another one – that made my day… awesome sight…

    Lake Balaton, the North of it look to be a turist trap, and the South side a mix of small villages and quiet campings – I would still not recommend anyone going there.

    So the whole plan, was to get down to the Donau at Mohács, and then follow it as close as possible, the whole way to Romania (plans are there to be change).

    The whole way through Hungary it was dry and hot, and then suddenly it turned green and lush, it’s always interesting to see what a river can to do it surroundings.

    What can one say about the Southern part of Hungary, well it’s flat as a pancake…. not much going on.

    Got to the Serbian border, tiniest border crossing. On the Hungarian side I was asked where I was going… “Serbia, Romania ….” (I’m not brave enough to say Berlin), on the Serbian side the occupants where sitting in a couple of plastic chairs. I was asked something in Serbian… “Sorry I do not speak Serbian” … was waved through…

    Continue …

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