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Issue 24

August 2018





DO NOT attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scene, always wear protective safety gear and obey relevant and applicable provisions of road traffic regulations. The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected features and details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost. Accessories and apparel shown may not be available in every country.

Photo: R. Schedl


August 2018

nformation: These drawings contain information o Upshift. Any reproduction, or transmittal of this without expressed written consent is prohibited by partial or complete of the sord marks is prohibited ble to the full extent of the law. Issue 24

August 2018



Rejoice Brothers and Sisters!

Cover: Olivier de Vaulx Design Chris Glaspell


Photography Editor Simon Cudby


Contributing Writers Adam Booth Tim Burke Chad de Alva Julie de Vaulx Olivier de Vaulx Egle Gerulaityte Brandon Glanville Scot Harden


PMS 021

RGB: R255 B255 G2550

RGB: R255 B80

CMYK: C40 M30 Y30 K100

CMYK: N80 Y100



2018 Honda Africa horizontal on white Twin Adventure Sports

Contributing Photographers Tim Burke Chad de Alva Olivier de Vaulx Paul Stewart


Story Editor Stefanie Glaspell Business Development Brandon Glanville

Being a Woman Rider

BY Egle Gerulaityte

Want to advertise with us? Contact: Brandon Glanville

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Join us on Instagram at @upshift_online


Join us on Twitter at @upshift_online Join us on Facebook at


Caribou Targhee National Forest, IDAHO

23986 Aliso Creek Road P.O. Box 450 Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

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Upshift Magazine is published monthly by Upshift Online Inc. 2018. Reproduction of any material requires written consent from the publishers. All photos, editorial contributions and advertisements are accepted upon representation that they are original materials by the author and or advertiser. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the author and may not reflect the views and opinions of the editor, staff or advertisers of Upshift Online Inc. Advertisers assume full responsibility for the entire content and subject matter of their advertisements.


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Rejoice Brothers and Sisters! For Thou Art Abundantly Blessed!

2018 is a watershed year for adventure motorcycling. Never before have so many great motorcycles by so many different manufacturers been available all at one time for the adventure minded. And while the rest of the industry is stuck in the doldrums, the adventure motorcycle market is By Scot Harden

bursting at the seams with energy, optimism and

enthusiasm for a product category that until just a few years ago was widely overlooked. What was once the sole domain of the lone wolf, Aerostich clad BMW GS dude (yes that guy) is now a hyperactive marketplace for riders of all ages, gender and brand orientation. The west, BMW, KTM, Ducati and Triumph have revved up their product offerings while the east Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Honda, in particular, have hit back with serious efforts of their own. More importantly, the market is reaching out to entry-level riders with mid-size offerings (e.g., Honda 250 Rally and BMW 310GS) sure to attract a younger demographic. Throw in a robust aftermarket who are doing some amazing work drilling down on accessories that riders really want, and you have endless opportunities for customization and modification and the basis for creating some seriously demented machinery for two-wheeled fun and adventure. Last but not least the community that supports all this is growing as well. New events, get-togethers and rallies combined with new clubs, websites and blogs as well as technologies like GPS, HUD, communication systems, cameras and emergency location systems all are coming together to enhance the adventure experience like never before. So, yes Virginia, there’s never been a better time to be an adventure motorcycle enthusiast. And if that’s not enough, there’s Upshift. Born out of an unbridled passion for all things adventure, Upshift has been a breath of fresh air within the community. Its stunning photography and in-depth articles on equipment, events, personalities and destinations enhance the experience on a daily basis. In the process, Upshift is inspiring countless others to pursue their own adventure dream and another reason the segment will continue to grow for years to come. So congratulations Upshift! Thanks for two years of amazing content and advocacy and best wishes for a long and prosperous future. And all those in agreement said………Amen!

Please make no attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective clothing and observe the applicable provisions of the road traffic regulations! The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost. Appropriate for closed-course competition use only.

Photo: R. Kates

SUPERIOR STYLE AND SOUND Available exclusively through an authorized Husqvarna Motorcycles dealership, the FMF Factory 4.1 RCT Muffler exudes forward-thinking technology inside and out, to complement the premium performance of your Husqvarna motorcycle. Crafted from only aerospace-grade materials, more power and torque comes easy without additional weight or compromised style. Closed-course use only.





The mission is simple, if you want to share your adventures on “insta-adv” you’d better start following us! @upshift_online and use the hash tag #upshift_online on your photos






GEAR Large 9.5” x 6” $21.00

Medium 8” x 5” $17.00

Mini 6” x 4” $13.00

DMADATrailEssentialsPouch Keeping all the small items that come with us on a ride organized, protected and off the bottom of our panniers or tank bag is critical. Those small items can also be expensive and are critical to keeping things working properly. From batteries, cords, memory cards to that spare o-ring, bolt, spare lever or even your snacks- the DMADA Trail Essentials Pouches keep everything clean and where you left it. Available in 3 sizes in our exclusive charcoal gray with hi-viz orange liner and zipper pulls.







Upshift, August

1. Nikon D7500 Digital SLR Camera The D7500 is equipped with the same high-performance EXPEED 5 image-processing engine and Nikon DX-format CMOS sensor as Nikon’s flagship DX-format digital SLR camera, the D500, achieving superior image quality with very little noise throughout the broad ISO 100 to 51200 range of standard sensitivities. The D7500 offers a number of improvements over its predecessor, the D7200. A 180K-pixel RGB sensor, which increases the accuracy of automatically controlled functions such as AF, AE and auto white balance, has been adopted. What’s more, the D7500 delivers faster image processing and a larger memory buffer, which enable high-speed continuous capture of up to 50 shots per burst of around 8-fps (14-bit lossless compressed RAW) shooting. The D7500 is the perfect companion for active photo and video enthusiasts to chase decisive moments and unleash their passion and creative potential for shooting in any conditions. Designed with outstanding agility and operability in mind, the D7500 is equipped with a monitor that utilizes a touch screen and tilting mechanism. Starting at $1,149.95, body only. $1,449.95 with 18-140mm VR lens kit. $1,749.95 with 16-80mm VR lens kit. $1,779.95 with 18-300mm VR lens kit.

Upshift, August

2. FLY Racing Debuts 2019 Off-Road Gear FLY Racing is proud to unveil its most diverse and technically progressive off-road gear to date in Washougal, Washington. The F2 Carbon helmets are lighter than ever, with better airflow and a one-piece tri-composite carbon fiber shell and mouth guard. The F2 excels at impact technology without compromising a supremely comfortable fit. FLY Racing is continually working on improving gear lines with the latest in fabric technology. FLY Racing is continually working on improving gear lines with the latest in fabric technology which resulted in the completely revamped Evolution DST (Durable-Stretch Technology) race wear line. The low profile, multi-panel stretch construction is designed for maximum performance and a comfortable fit. FLY Racing designers re-examined the Lite Hydrogen race wear line and reduced the already lightweight design an additional 4.8 ounces, adding even more value to this incredibly comfortable, flexible, and dynamic line Easily view the full line, including newly developed boots, goggles, protection, casual wear, and Women’s Lite gear at


Upshift, August

3. Digital Tire Pressure Gauge 0-60 psi • High precision, accurate to +/- 0.6 psi • Precise digital readout to 0.1 psi • Continuous pressure reading, no need to reset when activating bleed valve • Four selectable scales (PSI, BAR, KG-CM2, kPa) • Large easy to read display with back light for low light applications • Billet aluminum trapezoid body • Billet aluminum air chuck provides tight, leak free seal to tire valve and is specially designed for reading air pressure

• High flow push button bleeder valve for precise pressure adjustment • 15 inch long high pressure hose with dual swivels and Motion Pro design air chuck • Heavy duty anti-shock protective rubber boot on gauge

y information: These drawings contain information • Battery powered (1000 tests) with battery strength indicator to Upshift. Any reproduction, or transmittal of this • Auto off to extend the battery n without expressed written consent is prohibited by life e partial or complete of the sord marks is prohibited • Batteries included (Qty. 2 AAA size) able to the full extent of the law.


• Two year limited warranty • MSRP: $99.99 •





graphics $149 | solids $139 REPLACEMENT


The 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000. Set coordinates for the unknown. For journeys that go beyond the GPS, you need an adventure bike that does more. One with advanced 3-mode traction control that lets you adjust to any riding surface imaginable. A first-in-its-class three-axis, five-direction Inertial Measurement Unit that feeds data to the new Motion Track ABS and Combined Braking System for predictable, optimal braking, even while cornering. And a powerful, fuel-injected 1000cc 90-degree V-Twin engine that takes you from coastal highways to rutted-and-rocky trails. The high-tech, high-mile V-Strom 1000: plan for the unexpected. *As low as 1.99% APR financing for 36 months on new and unregistered Qualifying Model is available through Sheffield Financial, a Division of Branch Banking and Trust Company. Member FDIC. Program minimum amount financed is $1,500; Maximum Amount Financed $50,000. Not all buyers will qualify. Approval, and any rates and terms provided, are based on credit worthiness. Other financing offers are available. $28.64 per $1,000 financed monthly payments required over a 36-month term at a 1.99% rate. Example: On a purchase where the Amount Financed is $7,500, your Down Payment is $0 with 36 monthly payments of $214.79 each. Interest Rate is 1.99% [ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE is 1.99%]. Financing promotions void where prohibited. See your local Suzuki dealer for details. Offer subject to change without notice. **Select models will receive a Customer Cash amount of $2,200, $2,000, $1,700, $1500, $1250, $1200, $1000, $750, $500, $300, $250, or $200 which is non-transferable. Visit www. to see which select models qualify for customer cash. Excludes promotional financing. Only valid in continental United States, excluding HI. Offer effective from a participating authorized Suzuki dealer between 6/1/18 and 8/31/18. Traction Control cannot prevent loss of traction due to excessive speed when the rider enters a turn and/or applies the brakes. Neither can it prevent the front wheel from losing grip. ABS is not designed to shorten the braking distance. Please always ride at a safe speed for road and weather conditions, including while cornering. Suzuki, the “S” logo, and Suzuki model and product names are Suzuki Trademarks or ®. © 2018 Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.

Four V-Strom models. Infinite journeys. See the full lineup at

Wide Open

Caribou Targhee National Forest, Idaho

Photo: Chad de Alva


Wide Open

Torres Del Paine - Patagonia, Chile

Photo: Tim Burke


Wide Open

Gold Point, Nevada

Photo: Olivier de Vaulx


Be Smart About Your Adventure

New Roadsmart III sizes for adventure bikes.


TRAI LSMART ©2018 Dunlop Motorcycle Tires.


Wide Open

Hesperia, California

Photo: Olivier de Vaulx


Wide Open

Mojave, California

Photo: Simon Cudby


Wide Open

Cleveland National Forest, California

Photo: Olivier de Vaulx


Wide Open

Torres Del Paine - Patagonia, Chile

Photo: Tim Burke





Motorex Cross Po

Ester-based engin performance for y

ower 4T is a fully synthetic PAO and

ne oil, the ultimate in quality and your peace of mind.

2018 HONDA AFRICA TWIN-ADVENTURE SPORTS Since our introduction to the 2018 Africa Twin Adventure Sports CRF1000L2 (say that five times fast) in Prescott Arizona, we have been thoroughly enjoying the process of getting to know this new model. The styling is absolutely brilliant and it is a delight just to stare at this machine from a distance. We have been testing the DCT model, but if going automatic is not your preference, they sell the Adventure Sports with a regular transmission, complete with a clutch and a foot shifter for the traditionalist. The 2018 Africa Twins While the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports (CRF1000L2) is a new model for 2018, you can still buy the standard Africa Twin (CRF1000L). Both the Africa Twin Adventure Sports and the standard Africa Twin received a healthy list of updates to the engine, electronics, and rider interface. Gone is the old school throttle cable; both models now use ride-by-wire. Honda has stepped into the modern world of transmitting the rider’s right hand movements to the engine via electricity. This would have been a perfect opportunity to add cruise control. Maybe next year? Both the Adventure Sports and the standard Africa Twin get updated dashboards and new rider modes. The Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) now features seven levels, not counting “Off” as one of those settings. That is a lot considering last year the Africa Twin only had three options for the HSTC. There are now also three levels of power delivery and three levels of engine braking. The number of modes almost seems endless between power modes, braking modes and torque control modes. A new 5.1 pound lighter lithium-ion battery replaces the old heavy lead acid and is brilliant. Off course wider footpegs on the Africa Twin(s) are a step in the right direction (pun intended).



2018 HONDA AFRICA TWIN-ADVENTURE SPORTS Both 2018 models keep the 998cc SOHC eight-valve parallel-twin engine, which is updated with a new airbox, now featuring a 20mm longer funnel length. The muffler goes from a three chamber to a two chamber to improve midrange response and sound quality. The engine’s balancer-shaft weights have been lightened by 10.6 ounces to improve the character of power delivery. According to Honda, curb weight for the Adventure Sports is 533 pounds (556 pounds for the DCT we tested), while the standard model weighs in at 507 pounds (529 pounds for the DCT). Adventure Sports Now that we’ve cleared the air about the upgrades across the board for 2018, here are the features that separate the 2018 Adventure Sports from the “normal” 2018 Africa Twin. The most visual change is the larger fuel tank. The Adventure Sports now holds 6.37 gallons of fuel, an increase of 1.4 gallons. A larger fairing with a 80mm taller screen for better wind protection is another visual separation. Not so obvious to the naked eye is the suspension upgrades. The suspension travel has been increased by nearly an inch at both ends. The 45mm Showa fork travel has increased .9 inches and now has 8.9 inches of travel. Out back, a similarly revised Showa shock delivers 9.4 inches of travel, up .8 inches. Thanks to longer travel suspension, the ground clearance has increased to 10.6 inches (from 9.8 inches). The Adventure Sports can now boast that it has the most travel in its class. Let’s not forget that the Adventure Sports also comes standard with heated grips (five different heat settings) and a 12-volt accessory socket. The changes and upgrades to the 2018 Adventure Sports are all wonderful and great, but that didn’t stop us from making a few changes of our own. We love the retro look and the gold wheels really set off the overall feel of the bike. There was nothing wrong with the gold wheels except that we had a set of Dubya wheels with Shinko Adventure tires ready to bolt up. To really enjoy the Adventure Sports off the pavement, we had to ditch the stock tires. The Shinko Adventure tires vastly improve traction away from the smooth pavement and out in the dirt world. A burly set of crash bars and a stout skid plate from Outback Motortek help protect the new AF model and they did a great job as designed, protecting the Adventure Sports after a few mishaps that had the bike on its side. The crash bars handled the brunt of the falls and showed some signs of carnage, but the bike was unscathed. Dropping some pounds and adding a healthy note to the exhaust was the Yoshimura RS4 muffler. If you want to look cool and sound wicked, this muffler is the ticket. We also added a Trail Tech Voyager Pro navigation system. One great feature of the Voyager Pro is that the buddy system allows you to track where your friends are on the trail, meaning you don’t always have to stay within eyesight.

2018 HONDA AFRICA TWIN-ADVENTURE SPORTS Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) Honda’s advanced automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) delivers consistent, rapid, seamless gear changes and very quickly becomes second nature to use. It utilizes two clutches—one for startup and first, third, and fifth gears, the other for second, fourth, and sixth, with the main shaft for one clutch located inside that of the other. Each clutch is independently controlled by its own electro-hydraulic circuit. When a gear change occurs, the system pre-selects the target gear through the clutch not currently in use. The first clutch is then electronically disengaged as the second clutch simultaneously engages. As the twin clutches transfer drive from one gear to the next with minimal interruption to rear-wheel drive, gearchange shock and pitching of the machine are minimized, resulting in shifts that are not only smooth, but direct. Buttons and Choices, Choices and Buttons The following might get confusing or seem like electronic overkill, but after a few hours and some serious experimenting, the 2018 Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT model offers cool electronic options to control every aspect of the bikes’ handling. In a nutshell, DCT means automatic. In automatic drive mode, the Adventure Sports is like driving your most basic four door sedan. It doesn’t do much exciting but it gets you where you want to go. Turn the key, start the engine, push the D button for automatic drive and turn the throttle. The Adventure Sport goes, does the shifting for you and it is the least exciting setting of all the possible options. Automatic drive mode is also pretty damn relaxing when cruising through town or rolling down the road taking in the scenery. The automatic drive mode is brainless and wonderful all at the same time. When you want a little more excitement, simply push a button on the right side of the handlebars for S mode. Automatic Sport mode offers three levels of sportier riding, as the ECU lets the engine rev a little higher before shifting up. It also downshifts sooner on de-acelaration for extra engine braking. In either Drive or Sport mode, immediate manual intervention occurs by simply selecting up or down on the shift triggers on the left side of the handlebar. After an appropriate interval (depending on throttle angle, vehicle speed, and gear position), the DCT seamlessly reverts back to automatic mode. Buried in all the fancy electronics of the DCT system, there is even an incline detection, adapting the gear-shift pattern depending on the grade of an incline. There is also the option of full manual shift mode, which doesn’t allow the computer to take over and lets the rider bang through the gears as if it were a regular transmission via the handlebar triggers.

2018 HONDA AFRICA TWIN-ADVENTURE SPORTS But wait, there’s more! The Africa Twin(s) have four individual riding modes and an expanded Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) system. The use of throttle-by-wire (TBW) expands the choices available to the rider to manage engine output, feel, and rear-wheel traction. The 2017 Africa Twin had three levels of HSTC, plus OFF. The 2018 system features seven levels—from Level 1, for aggressive riding off-road, to Level 7, for maximum sense of security on slippery, wet tarmac. Thankfully it is still possible to turn HSTC completely off. There are also three levels of power and engine braking available. If this all seems like a convoluted mess, it all makes better sense when you start riding the bike and feeling what the settings do. Honda offers four quick ride mode choices to ease the stress: TOUR mode uses the lowest Power (1), medium Engine Braking (2), and high HSTC (6). URBAN mode uses mid-level Power (2) and Engine Braking (2), and high HSTC (6). GRAVEL mode allows maximum Power (3) and Engine Braking (1), with high HSTC (6). The fourth mode, USER, allows the rider to set and save preferred combination of power, engine braking, and HSTC levels. I preferred the USER mode the most, setting the power to (1) Engine Braking to (3) and HSTC to (0) when the terrain was at all slippery. If there was good traction, pumping the Power up to (3) provided more excitement. What is nice about the USER mode is that the info is saved even when you turn the bike off and remove the key. The HSTC will not stay at (0) if you turn the ignition off, but can be set back to (0) while riding. Also, turning off the ABS to the rear wheel will not stay on if the ignition is turned off so you will have to turn off the ABS every time you start the bike with the key. There is a lot going on in the electronics department and it takes a lot of fiddling with buttons to figure out how to navigate through modes and settings. Some options can be changed while riding and some have to wait until the bike is at a complete stop. Every rider is going to have a different preference and while the amount of options seems like overkill, hopefully there is a combo to suit every rider that might enjoy the Africa Twin. Let Her Rip Swinging a leg over the Adventure Sports is a little bit more difficult if you are already height challenged by adventure bikes. Everything is taller on the Adventure Sports model thanks to the improved suspension. The seat height is 1.2 inches taller than a standard model and has a high and low setting. 35.4 inches is the low setting and 36.2 is the tall setting. The standard low setting is 33.5 five inches and 34.3 inches on the high setting. The handlebar position is also 1.3 inches higher than the standard version. I personally ran the seat on the lowest setting and the Adventure Sports feels quite a bit taller than the standard Africa Twin. The seat isn’t the only factor to blame. The larger and more bulky fuel tank adds to the bigger feel. On the standard Africa twin I could touch the tips of both feet to the ground. On the Adventure Sports I have to one leg it, which is perfectly fine when the ground is level and the bike is straight up and down. I’ve spent countless hours on 1090s and 1290s and the Adventure Sports feels just as big. There is a group of taller riders who will bark about how seat height doesn’t matter but there is a large contingent of adventure riders that struggle to touch the ground with confidence on these big machines. It’s a give and take world. To get the most travel in the class you have to give up the ability to reach the ground with ease.

2018 HONDA AFRICA TWIN-ADVENTURE SPORTS Moving past seat heights, the new throttle-by-wire is buttery smooth and very responsive. There is a consistency to TBW that you can’t get with a traditional throttle cable. Casual riding on the freeway or crawling through town is the only time I use the automatic drive mode on the Adventure Sports and even that upshifts too quickly for my taste. S1, S2, and S3 offer more excitement and fun, with S3 being the most sporty. After an hour of trying every combo, the only time I used the auto feature of the DCT was in S3 mode. It is simply impressive how well timed the upshifts and downshifts are controlled by the computer. The system even auto-blips on downshifts, keeping the rpms right where you need them. The bonus to auto-blip is that it sounds like an F1 racer when coming into corners hard under braking. Even when using full manual mode it auto-blips on down shifts when riding aggressively. A key to riding aggressively in the dirt on the Adventure Sports is to turn off the rear ABS. You can’t turn off the front ABS and there is not an off-road choice for how aggressive the ABS works. It would be nice to have a little less aggressive setting for riders who are comfortable getting more bite from the front wheel. The bottom line is that the front ABS works well and it will keep most riders front tucking and washing out the front end, even if it has some riders wishing it wouldn’t kick in so early. Having the ability to lock up the rear wheel in the dirt is the key to changing direction and getting the Adventure Sports through the turns with any speed. Thanks to the improved suspension and lots of it, the bike responds to dirt bike like input. Brake sliding the rear into corners is predictable and controllable. A couple of times I forgot to turn off the rear ABS and came into a corner fairly hot, expecting to be able to get the bike pitched out, redirected and slowed down, only to fall victim to the pitfall of full ABS. The bike didn’t slow down as fast I needed and it wouldn’t let me get the rear to pitch out, leading me in a semi straight line and on the outside of the turn. I didn’t wash out or fall, but I also didn’t make the corner. Luckily there was plenty of run out. The lesson here is to make sure all your preferred settings are on when rolling out. I won’t deny it, I grumbled a little every time I came to a stop and struggled with feeling confident in my footing. I smiled every time the terrain got rough or I left the ground thanks to the improved suspension. I was still able to bottom out the suspension, but it was way less of a hit when it did bottom and it took more to get it all the way through the travel. I found myself looking for terrain that allowed the Adventure Sports to leave the ground. The fear of clanking the suspension against the stops is now replaced with the fear of getting a flat due to the increased speeds and confidence though nasty terrain. It is very easy to get caught up in the ability of the handling and charge at objects faster than before. The new dashboard is easier to read, although still not great to interpret when standing and blitzing down a two-track road. I played with the G switch, but again, I always fell back to my full manual setting when the terrain became more technical. The G switch reduces the amount of clutch slip during gear changes, a feature Honda feels improves performance in loose terrain.

2018 HONDA AFRICA TWIN-ADVENTURE SPORTS The Bottom Line So you will have to decide if you need your 2018 Africa Twin to have more fuel capacity, more ground clearance and longer travel suspension or if the already awesome standard Africa Twin suits your needs. Personally, I’d spring for the Adventure Sports model. The cost would be more than a couple grand to upgrade the suspension, get a bigger fuel tank and install heated grips to the standard Africa Twin. It would be nice to see Honda offer a cruise control option in 2019, especially since it is throttle by wire now and it is much easier to manage a cruise control system, especially on the DCT model. The 2018 standard Africa Twin is still an excellent machine, and improved by the addition of throttle by wire, more choices in engine settings, a new instrument panel and off course upgraded footpegs. For the serious adventure person, there is a notable difference between Africa Twin and the Africa Twin Adventure Sports. The new Adventure Sports is now officially ready to do serious battle in the long-range off-road category. I like the DCT Africa Twin models, but coming from a long off-road dirt bike background, I gravitate towards the non DCT version. This is because it is lighter and I use the manual shift mode on the DCT most of the time anyway. With my extra cash I’d buy some good crash bars (I’m short and adventure bikes tip over), good tires and spend the rest on gasoline and snacks. Check out our video review on Youtube. Special thanks to American Honda, Dubya USA, Shinko Tires USA, Yoshimura R&D, Trail Tech, Outback Motortek.



CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports: White/Blue/Red

CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT: $15,699

CRF1000L Africa Twin: Matte Black Metallic; Red/Black/White

CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports: $14,999 CRF1000L Africa Twin DCT: $14,199 CRF1000L Africa Twin: $13,499

I‘ve been riding motorcycles for five years now. A fairly short period of time, yet so much has changed. I went from a small Chinese 150cc to a Suzuki DR650. I learned a thing or two about hill climbs, sand and rocks. I finally started enjoying riding offroad like never before. I’ve had some great training and some ridiculous dismounts. There were exhilarating moments of learning to stand up on the pegs and intense self-doubt; pure joy of completing a New Mexico BDR and a feeling of doom on the Trans Labrador Highway, when my faithful DR unexpectedly went from a Mighty Demon of Gravel to useless dead weight. There have been countless border crossings and a sea voyage, fried clutch plates and sheer happiness of being on the road.

Words: Egle Gerulaityte Photos: Paul Stewart

But there‘s one thing that remained constant throughout those five years: slightly raised eyebrows whenever I removed my helmet. A loud or an unspoken “Oh?“ whenever it transpired that my humble silhouette on the bike was, indeed, a female one. This happened so often in so many different countries that I‘d just tuned it out, took it as a normal phenomenon, much like questions about my helmet (“how do you put it on?“) or inquiries about my journey. The thing is, women ride bikes for precisely the same reasons men do. We love them the same: we ride for the thrill, the freedom, the exhilaration of being on the open road. On a motorcycle, we‘re not “women“, we‘re not girlfriends, mothers, sisters – we are riders first and foremost.

And sure, I may appear less competitive - but that‘s only because my biggest competition is myself. I don‘t call my bike “a Capture weapon“, I call it Lucy, short for Lucifer, because it can be capricious. I get excited when a new challenge – a steeper hill, a rocky mountain pass – presents itself, but I won‘t ride to race. Well, unless it‘s an actual race. I‘ve no doubt some women will ride to compete. Some will adorn themselves with pink floral patterns and bling. Neither of those things clash. There‘s a whole intricate, amazing spectrum, and wherever you land on it is perfectly fine. Still, being a woman rider means my female-ness will come up in conversations once in a while. At times, I‘ll be reminded of it in motorcycle events where suddenly, the fact that I‘m a woman and not my recent ride will become the focus. At times, I‘ll be reminded of it when male riders curiously concentrate on the proportions of my chest rather than my bike. I‘m reminded of it when men gasp, “You ride?!”, in the West, and when men refuse to acknowledge my existence in the developing regions of the world where women still don’t enjoy an equal status. I’m also reminded of it when people are instantly friendly because as a woman, I’m not perceived as a threat. Or when complete strangers suddenly decide to adopt me and show me around simply because as a woman, I’m a rare guest. Or when, in the developing countries, I’m permitted to see both worlds: I am invited to sit and talk with the men, to help shoe a horse and drink a beer, but I’m also allowed into the women’s kitchens and inner court yards, where grandmothers share family recipes and ancient knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs. Being a woman rider has awesome advantages along with some dismal disadvantages, but that, I suspect, can be said about being a male rider, too. The maintenance of a perfect adventure beard alone would have me considering a Prius. And sure, it’s obvious we all still have a long way to go: sexism needs to disappear from the motorcycling community, pronto. There needs to be more women in the top positions in the motorcycling industry. More women in motorcycle marketing, sales, racing… just more women. But it all starts with women riding bikes. So let’s ride.

there’s no app for this.

Photo by Mark Newton, Death Valley

Find us on or on in the ‘Vendors’ forum.


 

PART 3 Well, there I was, back on the road and southbound towards the bottom…again. After my MMA cage-match fight with a Toyota Hilux, deep in the mountains of Peru, my motorcycle looked like a demolition derby contestant. Long story short (long version in the May 2018 issue of Upshift Online), a head-on collision with a Toyota pickup truck required 2 forks, a new radiator, a new tire, and a repaired rim to continue this journey. I was on my way though; chasing down a childhood dream of riding a motorbike to the very bottom of South America. With a smashed-in front end, the motorcycle was leaving Peru with few more battle wounds than it entered with. To be honest, the scratches, dings, and dents that the motorcycle suffered didn’t bother me. Instead, the hardest part of the crash to deal with, from a sentimental standpoint-of-view, was coping with the notion that I “missed out” on certain aspects of Peru. My time here was cut short and I, along with many other moto-travelers, agree that Peru is one of the best places on earth to ride. I didn’t get to see everything in the country that I had check-listed. The way that I look at it though, it’s motivation to return. I had visited Machu Pichu and was southbound towards the Chilean border, Using my phone, I zoomed way out on GoogleMaps to get the big picture of the travels that lay beyond the horizon. Roughly measuring distances with my fingernail, comparing it to the distance that I’ve already traveled, I realized just how big this next chapter was. Massive countries lay ahead and, linearly, I was not even halfway to the goal: Ushuaia, Argentina. I crossed into Chile at the coastal town of Arica. The plan was to weave my way south, crossing back and forth between Chile and Argentina to the capital city of Santiago. What lay between was 1,500 miles of some of the harshest, most inhospitable terrain on planet earth: The Atacama Desert. Its mighty vastness is obvious from the start, but it’s not until after the city of Arica that its emptiness and its desolation strike you.


Desolation is a funny feeling, especially traveling solo. It’s a nervous excitement. It’s knowing that if something undesirable happens, you’re on your own. You must rely on your own resources. And I love it. No place drives this feeling home like the Atacama. Hundreds of miles pass here without signs of other human life. With each small crest of a hill, the 2 lane road continues to disappear into the distant horizon. With each mile that passes by, this desert serves as a reminder of how insignificant we are on this planet. There are sections of this land which haven’t experienced precipitation in over 400 years. Scientists from around the globe have long considered the Atacama desert to most closely resemble Mars than any other place on our planet. As such, research related to the feasibility of life on Mars is often conducted here. A quintessential photo-stop for any overland traveler in these parts is “Mano del Desierto,” a concrete sculpture protruding out of the desert. For me, this hand, which I’ve seen in so many photos, represented what South America was. In the grand scheme of the journey, this sculpture is pretty anticlimactic, but to me, it meant that I had attained a dream. I arrived.

The best part of this lawless land though occurs where the desert meets the ocean. Massive, thousand-foot tall sand dunes descend all the way to the crashing waves below. I’ve never traveled along such a coastline, where simply, the sheer remoteness of it all played such a major role in its beauty. Three days went by as I listened to the constant hum of my engine as I motored across the Atacama. The port city of La Serena, more or less, marks the southern reaches of the Atacama, where vegetation finally grows and a sea breeze brings moist ocean air inland. As the second oldest city in the nation, it is where Chilean wine country begins and vineyards cling onto steep mountainsides. To the east of La Serena, Ruta 41 climbs up into the Andes mountain range on South America’s 3rd highest mountain pass, and interestingly, the world’s 2nd highest international border crossing. Paso Agua Negra is a motorcycle-road Hall of Famer; one of the best roads in the world, in my opinion. I know, I know, it’s a big statement, but there’s just something about this pass that will move you. On the ascent up Agua Negra, the pavement ends at around the 6,000 ft (1800m) elevation mark, but the roller coaster continues to climb, into the South American heavens, all the way to 15,700 feet (4800m). At the summit, if you’re still able to breathe, you reach the international border between Chile and Argentina. The road turns into Ruta 150 and you begin the long switchbacked descent into the eastern foothills of the Andes. The official border checkpoint, or “Aduana,” still lies 30 miles (50km) ahead. Over the next 2 months, as I continuously bounced back and forth across the borders of these two southern-most countries, I got very good at filling out the redundant paperwork required with each crossing.

Attention wine lovers: Once in the eastern foothills of the Andes, you enter Malbec wine capital of the world. The Mendoza Province is home to thousands of wineries, most offering tours and tastings. Days… even weeks…can be spent here bouncing among vineyards on either guided or unguided tours. One popular activity is the rental of mountain bikes to ride among the vineyards. One of the most economically important roads in South America passes between Mendoza, Argentina and Santiago, Chile: Paso Internacional Los Libertadores. The road provides year-round access between Chile and Argentina; even through the Andes’ brutal and severe winters. It passes right underneath the famous peak of Aconcagua, the highest peak outside of Asia and the highest in the Southern Hemisphere. At 22,837 ft (6961m) the completely glaciated summit towers above the rest of the already-mesmerizing mountain terrain. Once in Santiago, traffic reminds you that you’re in a typical big city. But as in any big city, there comes convenience. Lira Street, seemingly dedicated to motorcycle parts and apparel, is where I went to get tires, brake pads, oil and a filter that knew I’d need within the next 2,000 miles. My aluminum luggage cases, Givi Outback Trekker panniers, had already been to the gates of hell and back, having been slid on, dropped, smashed, and crushed on both sides numerous times. The collision in Peru however (and a Toyota pickup being parked on top of them) was the final straw. While I was more than happy to pound the panniers back into a cube-like shape, with a mallet, for the 15th time, Givi, a company dedicated to supporting its customer base and riding community, generously replaced the panniers for me at ProCircuit in Santiago. I owe a debt of gratitude to these guys for getting me on my way with new waterproof panniers.

Patagonia – Gosh, just hearing it still gives me goosebumps. Patagonia has held a mythical place in my mind since childhood. It has always represented earth’s beauty in its rawest form. It is pure, clean, and not completely ravaged by humans…yet. Some of the most calendar-worthy photos originate from the lands and lakes between the jagged peaks of Patagonia. I had my motorcycle pointed straight for it. As I rolled down the highway, in perfect South American Autumn weather, Bob Seger pumped through my headset. Eying the massive, towering peaks to the east of my location, I thought back on the movie, “Alive,” where a Uruguayan soccer team’s airplane crashed in this same vicinity. The team had to fight for survival in the midst of winter. Until you see these mountains, it’s hard to describe the respect that they command. I rolled into the coastal city of Puerto Montt around dinner time. It was the last major urban-center for the foreseeable future, with 1,200 km of Chile’s famous “Carretera Austral” ahead. The Austral meanders through the most desolate and remote regions of Patagonia. You can actually read a detailed article entirely dedicated to this road in Upshift Online Issue 17, where Christophe Noel tackles it on a trusty KLR650.


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Before making the week-long commitment to start down this road of remoteness, there is a small island off the coast that is worthy of exploration. I joined up with fellow American riders, Griffin Daly and Carson Samuel and we headed out to Isla de Chiloe. For me, having ridden Ireland just 6 months prior, this island brought back vivid déjà vu. Narrow dirt roads meander across gentle, bright green rolling hills. Stone walls separate farm property and along the coast, fishermen shacks balance above placid harbor-waters on stilts. This small island seems to be a complete separation from everything “Latin America” that existed just before the 25-minute ferry ride. Desolate beaches on the island’s west coast are easy to come by and the night skies of the Southern Hemisphere never disappoint.

The next day was a “Go” for the Austral. With many ferry crossings and many multi-hundred mile stretches of “no services,” we were ready for the adventure that lay ahead. The first night and subsequently the following day, on the Austral proved to be an adventure in itself. It was late afternoon when we landed on a stretch of road only accessible by vessel. At only 12 km long with no services, its only inhabitant was a beekeeper who doubled as an airport manager at the backcountry airstrip nestled between towering snowcapped peaks. Giving into exploration temptation, we checked out the small dead-end road to the airport that required a river crossing. After about 25 minutes, we headed to the other end of the road to catch the ferry that we assumed ran regularly. Well, imagine our surprise when we learned that our little detour caused us to miss the day’s last ferry! The next ferry wasn’t scheduled until 3pm the next day. This is rural Patagonia: convenience is a privilege here! Trapped, and with no other option but to seek shelter from the cold, damp, coastal weather, we set back for the airport. We sought permission from the beekeeper…urgh… airstrip manager and set up camp in the open-air aircraft hanger. We had enough pasta to cook on a portable stove for dinner, but without a campfire (or beer), we were in for a long night. The next day came ’round and wish I could say, “Up with the rising Patagonian sun,” as it just sounds nice, but the fact is the weather was horrendous. The river had risen considerably with overnight rains, making the crossing back to the main road even more treacherous. Within 10 minutes of leaving camp, we were at the deserted ferry terminal… with 7.5 hours to kill. Griffin used the time to adjust his chain. I swapped rear brake pads and Carson smashed in some new front wheel bearings. Well, it didn’t take long for these 3 motorcyclers to start whining about hunger and what we perceived as imminent death-from-starvation that was rapidly approaching if we didn’t eat in the next 30 minutes. Ok, slight exaggeration there…but you know how it is a night after camping!

After unsuccessfully casting off the ferryboat ramp for salmon with a cheap rod, we ended up collecting a bucketful of fresh Patagonian mussels. We dropped the mussels in boiling seawater for about 3-minutes until they split open. With leftover cloves of garlic, 1 onion, and some olive oil remaining in the panniers of the motorcycles, we stir-fried up some fresh seafood! The hot, “gourmet� meal actually came out pretty good and was a morale boost in the cold weather while we waited, unwillingly delayed.

The miles that followed carried us through pristine wilderness to the city of Chaitén, Chile. For the previous 4 months, Chaitén was the “go no further” point, if traveling south. In between Chaitén, and just north of the small village of Santa Lucia, a massive landslide devastated the region. The devastation was silencing. There wasn’t much we said to each other after we rolled through the military checkpoint that controls traffic through this affected area. Usually, when there is a landslide, a small hillside gives out. This time, both sides of an ENTIRE valley slid almost 3 whole kilometers down river. The damage was so great that it took months for construction crews to get just a rudimentary dirt path carved through the mud. For this reason, this stretch of the Austral had not been navigable until just a few days prior. Though “open for traffic,” the destruction remained obvious and Mother Nature reminds you that she’s always in charge. Through weather of all sorts; sometimes perfect, sometimes downright miserable, eventually, the Austral brings you briefly through civilization in the city of Coyhaique. As quickly as the city approaches, it fades in the rearview mirror. Every morning on the Austral seems to get colder, as winter in Patagonia was approaching and making no effort at hiding the fact. Ultimately, the Austral dead-ends in the Chilean fishing village of O’Higgins, but we elected to cross the Andes into Argentina through the newly designated, Parque Patagonia. The route is far from smooth and will shake any loose fillings out of your teeth (or loose bolts from your bike) but eventually dumps you on the east side of the Andes on the mostly paved Argentina Ruta 40.

Once on Ruta 40, the finish line: the bottom of the continent seemed to get closer with each day. You can’t rush this last stretch though because this is where Patagonia’s most iconic gems lie: El Chalten, El Calafate, and Torres del Paine. It was in El Calafate that I celebrated the world’s best holiday (St. Patrick’s Day) with 3 other moto-overlanders. There’s something really special, a unique bond, that like-minded travelers share with each other when so far from home. There is no shortage of bars offering quality craft beer or huge burgers in this outdoors-loving town. The famous Moreno Glacier, which drops barn-sized chunks of ice into the icy lake below, lies just 20 miles west of the city and is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Patagonia is expensive though and you can expect to pay close to USA/European prices on everything from lodging to food here. It was a cold morning and we were ready to push off again to the south when Carson’s BMW 1150GS made a crunching metallic sound. The starter motor’s Bendix gear was toast. 15 trips to every mechanic in the area proved to us that getting parts in these regions would be impossible. For the next 4 days, as we worked our way to the bottom, every single time the motorcycle was shut off, it was a team effort to bump start this beast of a motorcycle. Now let me explain: You don’t just roll forward a GS, pop the clutch and let her rumble to life like a dirtbike. No. It requires either a big hill, a tow, or 3 grown men pushing to 10mph and popping the clutch in 3rd…or preferably, all three combined.

That’s not all. The engine’s compression is enough to lock up the rear wheel so one “pusher” must transition from running behind the motorcycle to jumping up (and forward) …onto the luggage on the rear rack and hanging on for dear life while the bike careens down a hill and struggles to sputter to life. I promise you, it was the most ridiculous motorcycle bob-sled team humankind has ever seen. Tierra del Fuego… Man, I had been saying it in my head, over and over for years already and I made it. “Land of Fire” is the direct translation of the name of this island but it’s hard to comprehend when you’re battling chilly, 85 mph winds. Nothing about this place relates to fire or warmth, it seems. The name stems from Portuguese explorers hundreds of years ago that first observed massive bonfires, lining the shore, ignited by the indigenous people as a method to stay warm. Tierra del Fuego (in fact, Patagonia as a whole) is rumored to be windy. It’s one of the first subjects that comes up about this region. “The wind will blow you off the road,” they tell you. “Ok, yeah… I get it,” I thought. My odometer said I had driven 52,000 miles already in the past 1.5 years alone and I had driven in wind before… “I got this,” I thought. Well, Patagonian wind across the bare plains of Tierra del Fuego is wind on a totally different level. It’s one of the windiest places on earth. The wind is so strong that trees grow twisted and crooked, sculpted by relentless gusting. The gale-force crosswinds have a way of somehow chiseling their way through every layer of motorcycle gear. Each time a truck passes, even if just for a second, it blocks the wind and causes the bike to swerve. Hours and hours of these conditions are grueling. The reward lies at the southern edge of the continent, near where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.

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It took a 12 hour day battling the elements to crest the stunning Martial Mountains of Tierra del Fuego and begin the descent towards the sea where the small city of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina rests. Two massive wooden pillars engraved with the town’s name mark the arrival: I made it. I freakin’ made it! Ushuaia is a gem; It really is. I hate to sound cliché, but most travelers who have made it this far have put “blood, sweat, and tears” into getting here. Having been to Nordkapp, Norway and Dead Horse (Prudhoe Bay), Alaska, I can say, without a doubt, that neither of those places offer the sense of accomplishment at the level that Ushuaia does. One of the most surprising aspects of this little town is the negative reputation – the lack of support and encouragement if you will – that it receives from other overlanders. Across social media, time and time again, I’ve seen overlanders stating, “Don’t waste your time with Ushuaia…The wind and weather aren’t worth it!” All I want to say about that is that I want to encourage all riders, no matter your style, to follow your instincts and chase your dreams. Listen to advice from people who have first-hand experiences. Listen carefully and objectively to 2nd-hand advice. Use all advice to make educated and informed decisions about how you want to live your dream. As the old adage goes, “Ride your ride”

I’m not here to argue with those who believe that the challenges associated with completing the journey to Ushuaia are worth it or not. That’s their belief and I encourage them to travel as they best see fit. What I will say though is that, for me, the feeling of accomplishment of making it to “the bottom” was the high of a lifetime. Twelve months and 48,000 miles had passed underneath my wheels and I made it to a geographical point that I had my heart set on since childhood. I spent 5 days, celebrating happiness, accomplishment, and the beauty of life – trading stories and tales of the “journey” with overlanders from around the earth in this small fishing village at “fin del mundo.” Five days of enjoyment! From here, there is nothing left to do but make a giant metaphorical U-turn. I am northbound to Brazil. Stay tuned.


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WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: CHAD DE ALVA Last year on a whim, four friends and I signed up for Klim’s Cow Tag Event. Getting to ride the trail system that Klim tests their gear on while searching for cow tags (exactly what you’re thinking – the tags used to mark a cow’s ear) in order to win raffle prizes and help raise money for trail advocacy was an easy sell for us. The 2017 Cow Tag exceeded all of our expectations – the trail system was outstanding and the whole experience was so good that we knew that we had to come back for the 2018 event and spend more time riding. Over the course of a year, one good idea led to another, and soon plans were made to bring an even bigger crew up to Idaho for the week leading up to the 2018 event to help Klim get ready for this year’s Cow Tag Event.

Klim hosts the Cow Tag event in the Caribou Targhee National Forest, and I can’t begin to tell you how massive this trail system is. Hundreds of miles of trail are laced all over this wonderful collection of contour lines and there are trails in this system to put a smile on every rider’s face. From rocky ridge lines with exposure and no-fall zones, to fast and flowy single track and double track where every corner is bermed to perfection. Your dream trail is here, and this trail system can be ridden for days without riding the same thing twice. So needless to say, our crew had our work cut out for us in that we needed to clear quite a bit of trail in time for the event. The only way we were going to be able to make sure that all of the trails were open in time for the event was to divide and conquer. So we split up into small groups with a couple of chainsaws each and started attacking separate parts of the trail system. Each group had a small top-handled arborist saw and a larger rear-handled saw that we were all very thankful to have when we ran into downed trees with trunk diameters that were more than twice the length of the bar of our top handled saws. We cleared everything ranging from small aspens that were quickly dispatched to monster pine trees that decided the best place to fall over was down the trail we were trying to clear. It may sound like hard work, but as one of our guys put it, “I don’t think you can have more fun than getting to ride killer trails and use chainsaws at the same time!”

Riding with an extra 20 pounds of chainsaw kit on your back has a big impact on your riding ability, which is why I was really thankful to have a prototype luggage system from Mosko Moto with me. It turns out the upcoming Reckless 10 carries a top handled saw like a champ, and not having all of that weight on your back is a huge help when you’re riding and clearing trails for 14 hours a day. The Reckless 10 can carry an arborist saw, fuel and bar oil, and all of your tools and PPE, meaning that your backpack can weigh what it normally would for an all-day ride. Carrying chainsaws on a dirt bike is something that I’m continually playing with, and Mosko Moto’s Reckless 10 did a great job packing my saw kit through dozens of miles of hard technical single track. After a couple of long days spent packing saws around, we finally had all of the trails cleared which meant it was now time to focus on hanging the cow tags that folks would seek out during the event. Again, we split in to small teams and got to enjoy the fruits of our labor with packs that were now much lighter absent all of our cutting kit. With rainstorms moving through the area daily, conditions ranged from slick and muddy to hero dirt perfection, which made for some truly world-class riding on trails that we had spent the last few days getting to know in many places footstep by footstep. Our days would start by planning out epic rides where we could get to every spot that a cow tag needed to be hung, and then the rest of the ridiculously long Idaho day was spent riding to hang those tags. We logged hundreds of miles on amazing trails, and spent the moments we were stopped trying to figure how this was actually called “work” because we were having too much fun.

The day of the event was finally upon us, and with it came a couple hundred riders who had come out for an epic day of riding and raising money to keep places like this open to motorcycles. Energy was high in the parking lot as groups of riders made plans to hit favorite trails, or came up with routes that would take them to the most cow tags possible. More tags visited meant more raffle tickets to win a trailer load of awesome gear donated to the event from dozens of industry companies who realize the importance of trail advocacy events like this. Each year new companies come out to get involved with the Cow Tag. This year Alta Motors was in attendance offering demo rides on their new Redshift line of electric motorcycles. While everyone was out riding for Cow Tags during the event, I had the opportunity to take the Alta rep out for a quick trail ride. The Alta Redshift MXR that I got to ride to the top of Black canyon was unlike any other motorcycle I’ve ever ridden. The Redshift bikes have so much finite throttle control that you can put power down with so much more precision than any bike that burns dinosaurs and air.


don’t for a second think that the Redshift is a docile bike that can’t hang – whack the throttle open and the bike will instantly light up the rear tire no matter what you’re doing. That’s the cool part about electric motors – you get peak torque everywhere, and Alta Motors has harnessed that fact to redefine Maximum Warp. Riding the Alta Redshift MXR was the perfect way to mark my final ride of the trip, and I found myself back at the parking lot all too soon. Yet, this gave me a moment to stop and think about the big picture and what the Klim Cow Tag means for the motorcycle industry.

The bottom line is that if you enjoy riding on the trails that you utilize, you need to support, or better yet, get involved with an organization that’s working to ensure your access to our nation’s trails. If we as riders don’t get involved, we’re only going to lose access to our favorite riding places. Klim’s Cow Tag event makes raising money for trail advocacy so much fun. You pay an entry fee, show up for the event, ride killer trails all day, and spend your evening feasting on free BBQ and winning great prizes from companies who all realize the value of trail advocacy. All said and done, the 2018 Cow Tag raised over $10,000 for trail advocacy, which will go directly to organizations who are fighting for our access to trails like Riders Unite and the Blue Ribbon Coalition.

If you

can make one trip next year to go someplace new and ride, put the Cow Tag on your calendar. Riding for trail advocacy has never been more fun. For information on Riders Unite or Blue Ribbon Coalition click Here.


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Alpinestars Supertech S-M10 Helmet A Fresh Breeze Revealed at the beginning of the Supercross season, the new Alpinestars Supertech S-M10 helmet was finally presented to the press mid-July in California. Upshift had already tried it before the launch, during an epic enduro ride. Here’s what we thought about this top of the line Italian helmet: Omnipresent in SX and MX paddocks with its Tech 10 boots, leader in MotoGP with its airbags, Alpinestars was just one product away from being able to protect riders from head to toe. After 5 years of research and development, the new Supertech S-M10 helmet is ready to help the brand to fill this gap. But even with the best technologies, isn’t it too late for Alpinestars to launch such an ambitious product in an already saturated market? The only way to answer the question was to try it. That’s why, 24h before the official launch, we met Ricardo, the owner of 3Bros Racing in Costa Mesa, with a pair of brand new S-M10 helmets provided by Alpinestars for a long and hardcore enduro ride. Ricardo knows the best spots to ride in the desert and would make sure that our riding session was hard enough to test the helmet in all conditions. Custom Fit After unloading the pickup truck in Hesperia, with temperatures approaching 105°F, we’re already sweating hard. Putting the helmet on for the first time, we’re surprised by the light weight and even more by the fact that the foam pads fit perfectly. No pressure spot, no movements, not too many surfaces in contact with the skin, it feels like a custom fit. But it quickly gets better. As soon as we start the ride, quickly climbing toward the edges of the mountains, the vents start blowing some cool air in our wet hair. The flow is really strong and the temperature is dropping down in the helmet. This heavy ventilation doesn’t quite match a good A/C but still works better than what we are used to. Moreover, this layer of cold air between the skull and the EPS makes the helmet feel even lighter. It’s like riding with a rigid cap, a very pleasant sensation. In the big sandy whoops or within the rocky sections of some big climbs, our bikes are jumping like wild horses in rodeos. The S-M10 stays stable in all situations, a probable benefit of having 4 different molds depending on the size of the helmet.

Crash Test Some drops of rain are killing the dust and the traction gets better every minute. We all open the throttle and enjoy the grip, up to the moment when one member of our little group goes over the bar in a treacherous corner. As if on purpose, he lands on the ground head first. But by the time we stop to help him, he stands up and picks up his bike. Pissed off by his own mistake but not feeling any effect of the big impact, he can thank the MIPS and the multi-density EPS divided in 4 sections. A little scratch on the paint is the only damage suffered after the crash. The visor, which is supposed to disconnect from the gutter shell in case of a crash, is still there. The system is designed for high speed impacts and it won’t go off each time you touch a branch. Adjustable After a few hours of riding in the hills, the storms surround us and the rain starts to pour. Is it really California? Anyway, we change paths and go further down in the canyons, trading our single tracks for trials like sections in big slippery rocks. Our average speed drops dangerously low and, as we try to find our way in this rocky maze, we put our goggles on the back of our helmet. Later, when the track opens a bit, putting

Alpinestars Supertech S-M10 Helmet them back in position slightly changes the balance of the helmet. It’s no big deal, as you can quickly adjust the inner pad, thanks to the A-Head system. Using micro clips, you can change the position of the inner pad and modify the height and angle of the S-M10. After this fine adjustment, it never moved again. Despite almost 8 hours of riding, Ricardo is not even tired. For us, it’s a different story and we’re glad to finally remove our gear. After all the sweating in the rocks, the first thoughts are about cleaning the foam: no worries, they’re pretty easy to remove, thanks to the ERS system. Taking out all the inner pads, we notice the sticker indicating that the optional Eject system can be added to the helmet. We discovered only later that the chin bar offers the possibility to adapt a hydration system, an option we would have gladly used today! Launched at Milestone MX park Arrived a bit late on the market, the S-M10 is nonetheless a mature product: Perfect fit, light weight, excellent ventilation, modern design, it’s close to perfection if you don’t mind the price. At $649, the Supertech won’t appeal to every customer. But the quality and the protection are in par, if not beyond, the most famous brands. As soon as pro riders will have to renew their helmet contracts, there’s no doubt that the S-M10 will start to make a name for itself. Ryan Villopoto and Broc Tickle, who are already riding with this Alpinestars high tech product, won’t be the only ones for long. MSRP: $649.00 S-M10 Meta, $579.95 S-M10 Solid Shell: multi-composite combination including one high density carbon outer layer, one Unidirectional carbon composite layer, one Aramid fiber layer. Molds are specific to each size Liner: EPS in four sections with different density Cheek Pads: anti-bacterial, removable Upper Pad: The Alpinestars A-Head system allows adjustments in height and angle Visor: Visor release system allows reconnection from the helmet in case of big impact Chin Bar: Polypropylene with lateral absorption property, profile raised to clear the collarbone, inner pads, Safety Features: ERS (Emergency Rescue System) for cheek pads and Eject system (optional) MIPS: Re-direct the energy before causing significant acceleration stress to the brain, helps to reduce risks of concussion. Ventilation: Airflow provided by vent in front and back, while the visor is forcing the airflow to these vents

Alpinestars Supertech SM-10

Hydration: Pre-installed canals allows a tube to be incorporated on either side of the shell. Chin-Strap: Over sized strap and double D-ring Accessories: Padded bag and spare visor Weight: M size: 1370g (USA) / 1260g (Europe) Sizes: S, M, L, XL Certifications: DOT and ECE Colors: Black Matte Carbon, Glossy White, Anthracite/Grey/ Orange, Black/Grey/Yellow Flo, Black, Aqua, Orange Flo

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A N T I G R A V I T Y M I C R O - S T A R T X P -1 0 Portable jump starters are not a new concept. The tremendously compact size and power now available with modern battery technology is pretty amazing though. What used to be the size of a briefcase and came with a shoulder strap now is the size of a standard building brick or smaller. We recently got our hands on the XP-10 from Antigravity Batteries. This is the larger jump starter in their lineup and not necessarily just for motorcycle use. We wanted the larger capacity to give us the ability to jumpstart up to a V8 when needed. The XP-10 comes in a zippered carrying case which is designed to keep the battery pack and all of the accessory cables and charger organized and protected. In the case comes mini jumper clamps, home charger, car charger, universal 4 into 1 USB cable for most phones and small devices, and a laptop charger adapter that fits most laptops. It’s great for keeping everything where you need it in the garage or in a vehicle. We leave the case behind when taking the XP-10 in our panniers and just take the standard charger and jumper clamps. We are usually carrying charger cables for our specific devices anyhow, so no need for the included ones. We have had the XP-10 for about 8 months now and we have been very happy with it. Especially for what we do, the flexibility and capacity is amazing. With its two USB outputs and a 12v output, we use it as a portable power station more than anything. Charging phones and camera batteries on the move is great. When we have to trailer bikes to a shoot for logistical reasons, having it for back up has saved us a lot of time. Showing up with a dead battery on a bike happens when you rotate through as many bikes as we do. We have had it handy to assist our automotive friends as well. I have jumped a friend’s Duramax diesel last winter, my brother’s GTI and the neighbor’s F-150. It didn’t even flinch.

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The XP-10 comes in at 18oz (without cables) and measures 9”x 3”x 1.25”″(229x76x32mm). It’s not super tiny, but it’s very compact considering the job it does. Our XP-10 has seen a lot of miles up and down the Western US and has become a relied upon tool. We’ve had similar units come and go from other brands and Antigravity Batteries did a great job for the weight and price. They also make some smaller units for those really pushing the limits of packing light but want a little back up. We were a little disappointed in the laptop charging adapter as it won’t work on our Apple laptops but maybe it will come in handy someday. We would also ask that they add a little length to the jumper clamp wires and the clamps themselves feel a little cheap. But they are lightweight and compact so it’s hard to ding them for that. All in all, we need a couple more of these in our quiver. MSRP: $199.00


Words: Julie de Vaulx Photos: Olivier de Vaulx

STARTING THE ADVENTURE - PART 2 In Upshift Issue 21 Andrew Glaspell told his story of riding the Honda CRF250L Rally for the first time through the Oregon coast. In Part 2 of “Starting the Adventure” young Julie de Vaulx shares her passion to ride the trails with her photographer dad Olivier de Vaulx. It’s 5am. Everyone is enjoying a blissful sleep, while my dad and I are giving our neighbors yet another reason to think that we are out of our mind. Why would we be loading his Honda XR 650L and my Honda CRF250 Rally into a trailer so early in the morning? We just want to enjoy a great day of riding in the Southern Californian desert before the heat makes any physical activity unbearable. All riders know that when you gotta ride, you gotta ride!

Like most young riders, I originally started riding dirt bikes thanks to my father, who has always been my inspiration to ride and better myself. So it was no surprise when he rode the Great Continental Divide that I, too, wanted part of this adventure. Across the United States from the Mexican to the Canadian border, this excruciating 2800 mile ride looks like a dream to any rider, young and less young alike. The following year, getting my motorcycle license became one of my top priorities, as it should be for any serious rider. License in hand, it was time to find the perfect bike. Teenagers are well-known for awkward growth bursts, where muscles and bones don’t grow at the same speed. Thus, finding a bike that fits is a true challenge, especially a street legal one at that. Since I am rather tall for my age, it was originally thought that I could ride the XR 650. I took it to the trails once, and quickly realized that it would not be possible; it was far too heavy, powerful, and tall for me! Thankfully, the Honda CRF 250 Rally finds to be the perfect fit for teenage riders, or anyone looking for an easy bike, while the fairing gives it a decent amount of Dakar spirit. Fully equipped with headlights, a dashboard displaying speed, RPMs and gas level, an electric start but no kick, indicators and mirrors, this bike truly calls for adventure. Being a young female rider, the dealer was baffled that I was looking for such a big bike. Coming from a 230 CRF, the Rally was definitely a step up in height and weight, but a much safer choice than Dad’s 650.



We arrived at the parking lot, geared up, and it was game time! Feeling like a child on Christmas morning, I started the Rally and thanks to the injection, I dove right into the trail without needing to warm up the engine forever. A few yards in, and already the Honda gets a couple thumbs up, from the comfortable seat to the wide handlebar. Standing or seated, the racing position comes naturally, without feeling strained or needing to think about it. With the first corner came the first surprise: the fairing and the dashboard are fixed to the frame and are not moving with the handlebar. For someone coming from a CRF 230, this seemingly unmoving front-end was a shock, and gave me the illusion that the Rally does not turn! Quickly, I got used to it and I came upon the realization that what I took for a heavy, powerful, and hard-to-handle monster was really none of the above. It felt very light in the corners, making it easy to play with. It was a nice surprise, since in the parking lot it felt a lot heavier. The ride continued, the gears passed smoothly and the clutch was easy. It was all going like a dream, until coming to the first climb, and I realized that there was virtually no bottom end power. I attacked the climb, all ready to go, I turned the throttle and then‌nothing. Once the bike reached 7000rpm, I could finally feel the power kicking in as the Rally climbed. The engine power curve is divided in two sections, the bottom-end with little to no torque, and then a higher-end with a lot more torque and energy. While there is really no middle range, there was a soft transition between these two phases, preventing the Rally from speeding out of control like a 2 stroke would. The lack of torque was really only an issue when attacking sudden climbs or when trying to speed out of corners. But it turns out to be a great teacher for those looking to smooth out their riding and keep their momentum in twirling sections. It’s not even a problem for those more interested in long-distance travels. Indeed, the engine was extremely quiet and soft; it was not a rare sight on this ride to see squirrels and other wildlife, usually hidden.


Once at the top, Dad stopped to explain to me some of the less glamorous but equally important challenges of the Continental Divide: navigation. We each had a GPS and he showed me how to use it correctly. But the real challenge came when I had to find our spot on a paper map. Like virtually all teenagers, I grew up with the Internet and Google Maps, so using a paper map is not my strong suit. Thankfully, it’s not as tricky as it sounds. When looking for an overview of the area, a map is actually much easier to use than a GPS. On the Continental Divide, it would be all new territory, thus knowing the basics of navigation seemed crucial for a successful trip. We kept riding, and the second half of the ride brought along more rocky sections. The Rally’s suspension was so smooth that I practically glided over the bumps. The traction on the trail was usually okay, but with the Rally I did not lose control a single time, and it handled amazingly. Doubtful that my riding improved so fast in such a short amount of time, I attributed this success to the Showa elements. The CRF 250 Rally can also come with ABS, but thankfully this one did not, enabling it to brake correctly in the dirt and not slide out of control. The Honda practically anticipated my next move, making it really easy to forget its height, and to some extent, weight: it truly is the perfect bike for an intermediate rider seeking improvements, or long-distance challenges, all in comfort. The more miles I take in the more I see myself sharing the road with my dad all the way to Canada. The training is far from over, and there are still aspects of such an adventure that I need to understand and master before leaving, as any cautious rider should. For instance, I still need to train with the bags on the side of the bike, to feel the weight difference. More importantly, I need to work on my endurance and skills. Less strong people like me need to compensate with more technique, and I definitely need to improve on that aspect, though the Divide does not seem to present itself with a lot of challenging parts but rather fast fire roads. However, being able to go very fast without the minimum experience to control the bike does not seem very safe, does it?



Endurance is the other important part, with the Continental Divide averaging daily rides of over 200 miles, which is way more than what I usually do. This means that if I want to be able to do all of this in the near future, I need to step up my game. With the Rally, it feels as though anyone can accomplish such an adventure, since it is so easy to ride and makes almost anyone feel comfortable. Riding on the easy going Honda was an eye opening experience. Riding on small OHV areas seems pointless. Now all I dream about is to discover new open spaces that are not always accessible to cars or pedestrians. It’s all about pushing boundaries, whether it be discovering a new place, or going above and beyond what you thought you were capable. Being a young female rider makes it harder though more rewarding. And who knows, soon enough I may be riding the same bikes that my father rides and I might just beat him! (But shhh, that’s a secret)!

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Upshift Issue 24