Heading out into the middle of nowhere is one of the best things you can do on a bike. It also exposes you to extreme weather and, often, extreme danger. This is the gear Dainese’s made to handle both.
I first wore this gear on AltRider’s Taste of Dakar. That eant a day out to Nevada on the highway, two days off-road in the desert, then a day on the highway back to LA. Temperatures ranged from the low 40s during the last few miles of the nighttime ride out there to mid-90s in the desert during the day. I’ve since worn these items, together and separately, around Southern California, exposing them to some wet weather and non-ADV bikes in the process.
AGV AX-8 Dual Evo Tour Helmet ($450)
Already our absolute favorite dual-sport/ADV helmet, the AX-8 Dual range is this year expanded with this new Tour model. That model incorporates new graphics and thicker internal padding.
We’re big fans of the AX-8 both for its edgy looks, extreme light weight, peerless vision and affordable price. The base model starts at just $400 and they all weigh just 1,400 grams for a size medium. Compare that to the 1,642 gram, $730, Snell-standard Arai XD4 and I think it’s apparent why we strongly prefer the ECE-rated AGV.
One of the big problems with this helmet, though, is in its padding. Previously, that’s been very thin, meaning the AX-8 must absolutely fit you perfectly, down to the last millimeter, to be comfortable. Now, with a little thicker padding, it should expand the range of heads its applicable to. Still, we’d try before buying.
The rest of the AX-8’s benefits remain. It absolutely will not fog under any conditions, ventilates extremely well, is stable even at very high speeds on the road and peripheral vision through that visor is also astoundingly good. We’re also fans of this new graphic.
Dainese Teren Two-Piece ($1,000)
Ever wondered why Dainese products carry such a premium? Two reasons: 1) nothing fits as well as a Dainese and 2) the level of innovation and clever thought that’s gone into everything they make is nearly ridiculous.
Even with both the waterproof (D-Dry, not Gore-Tex) and insulating liners removed, it kept me warm on the way to Nevada then, with the ventilation flaps opened, kept me cool in the hot desert sun. The latter was helped by the Teren’s light colors. Maybe it’s just me, but I find the grey and blue to be strikingly handsome.
That’s aided by the fit, which is slim and form fitting. Most ADV gear is baggy and inflates in the wind. The Teren jacket is equipped with adjustment straps on the biceps, neck and waist, allowing you to really dial in the fit. Cinched tight, this is one textile suit that doesn’t flap in the wind whatsoever.
Everywhere you look, clever features abound. Thumb loops hold the sleeves in place; clear pockets in the forearms are great for stashing ID, cash and other readily-needed items; elastic mesh pockets on the lower sides are perfect for carrying water bottles and there’s a large, flat tool pocket over your butt.
When you unzip, un-velcro and un-button (they’re serious about the flaps staying in place) the ventilation flaps, they aren’t just left to flap around in the wind, but button securely into the open position.
The pants are probably the nicest fitting motorcycle trousers I’ve ever owned. No bagginess in the ass and they’re form-fitting through the thigh and calf. That helps hold the GP armor securely in place. The integrated/removable suspenders are unnecessary, but do add some extra security and don’t impact comfort.
I’ve now worn this suit on everything from a superbike to a cruiser and its never failed to be completely comfortable and to work in any riding position.
Dainese Carroarmato Gore-Tex Boots ($370)
Unlike other Dainese dirt boots, these make use of a sole from a third party company. And those Skywalk soles do a great job both of gripping pegs and evenly distributing pressure throughout your foot. These are the first dirt-focused boots I’ve worn that were all-day comfy from the first time wearing them.
Italian for “tank,” the Carroarmatos incorporate strong impact protection in the toes, heel, both sides of the ankle and in the shins. Lock down the aluminum buckles and your feet are held in extremely securely. There’s also enough play in the Velcro fastening at the top of the boot to open them up and wear them over pants and cinch them down and wear them under.
The internal gaiter extends to the very top of the boot, meaning they’re completely waterproof all the way up. You can and I have stood in ankle deep water while remaining completely dry.
The protection of a serious dirt boot, the comfort and weather protection of a touring boot, all in a fairly affordable, understated, clever package. These are my new go-tos anytime there’s distance, dirt or wet weather involved.