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  #1  
Old 7 Dec 2010
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500/kms a day in Africa, what to wear?

In January 2012 I will be riding from Tanger in Marocco, to Bamako in Mali, covering an average of 500 - 600 kms a day for two weeks straight... on classic Vespa scooters, which translate into veeeeery long days.

I would very much like some advice as on what to wear on this trip. Comfort is absolutely key (chaffing, heat, etc).

My last Africa-trip on Vespas went from Cape Town to Nairobi and was covered in three weeks. That time I wore Draggin Jeans, a cordura jacket and light weight hiking boots. I ended up dropping all the pads in the pants as they were very uncomfortable and cumbersome. I also found the pants quite hot. However, they did double up as street wear and I did not have to change clothing upon arrival or pack more clothes than absolutely necessary.

On this trip however, I am a bit uncertain. I feel that the Draggin jeans option provide poor protection - but quite good comfort.

I am looking for an alternative that gives both good comfort and good protection. What would you wear?

-Footwear
-Jacket
-Pants
-Protective gear
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  #2  
Old 7 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post
on classic Vespa scooters...veeeeery long days.
If you want to do 500kms per day on scooters through Africa, then you are the king of understatements. You will be riding yourself to an early grave.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post
What would you wear?
-Footwear
-Jacket
-Pants
-Protective gear
It doesn't really matter what you wear because you'll be dead (tired) in a week. Take plenty of water.

Why not slow down and enjoy the trip. Sounds like you need some air flow gear or Ixon summer gear or something like rev'it dakar jackets. Will you be going fast enough to get good air flow to help cool you down?

If not some people recommend in hot climates merino wool with soaked in water next to the skin. I say, look at what the locals wear, they live in the climate so are arguably the best prepared for it.
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Old 8 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboCharger View Post
If you want to do 500kms per day on scooters through Africa, then you are the king of understatements. You will be riding yourself to an early grave.



It doesn't really matter what you wear because you'll be dead (tired) in a week. Take plenty of water.

Why not slow down and enjoy the trip. Sounds like you need some air flow gear or Ixon summer gear or something like rev'it dakar jackets. Will you be going fast enough to get good air flow to help cool you down?

If not some people recommend in hot climates merino wool with soaked in water next to the skin. I say, look at what the locals wear, they live in the climate so are arguably the best prepared for it.
The reason I will be going so fast is that two friends and myself will participate in the Budapest to Bamako rally, a 9000 km race in 16 days or so. You can read more about our adventure here: Bamako by Vespa

As for being dead tired - of this I am very aware , and this is part of the physical and mental challenge that I am seeking. There are far many more enjoyable and practical ways to do this trip... But because of the dangers tied to mental and physical exhaustion, I think it is important to invest some time in trying to find ways to increase both comfort and protection.

As for cooling - the Vespa scooter has a leg shield that takes off much of the wind to the legs. Also, being a Vespa, the speeds will be slow with the need to stop to refuel every second hour or so - so not much cooling from the wind.
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Old 8 Dec 2010
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airflow or ixon mesh gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post
The reason I will be going so fast is that two friends and myself will participate in the Budapest to Bamako rally, a 9000 km race in 16 days or so. You can read more about our adventure here: Bamako by Vespa

As for being dead tired - of this I am very aware , and this is part of the physical and mental challenge that I am seeking. There are far many more enjoyable and practical ways to do this trip... But because of the dangers tied to mental and physical exhaustion, I think it is important to invest some time in trying to find ways to increase both comfort and protection.

As for cooling - the Vespa scooter has a leg shield that takes off much of the wind to the legs. Also, being a Vespa, the speeds will be slow with the need to stop to refuel every second hour or so - so not much cooling from the wind.

Is that your Vespa and side car in your avatar? Nice ride, shame to trash it on a race through Africa...

Anyway, given wind flow is an issue and stop-start nature of your travel you probably would want full mesh gear with minimal body armor that will give you protection from sun and any falls but won't keep the heat and sweat near your body. I think that even Draggin Jeans would be too hot.

Try searching for airflow it's a US brand I think.

Sounds like a great race.
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  #5  
Old 8 Dec 2010
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The German company Held do some well ventilated clothes that I've been looking at. We're doing a similar trip in Nov 2011.......but not on Vespas!

I've had a couple over the years but now prefer something with slightly larger wheels and more hp

Back to the Held clothing......the most ventilated jacket appears to be the Tropic but it still has elbow, back and shoulder protection the trousers that go with it are the Sakai which have mesh panels in the thigh and zip off legs but again have protection.
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  #6  
Old 8 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboCharger View Post
Is that your Vespa and side car in your avatar? Nice ride, shame to trash it on a race through Africa...

Anyway, given wind flow is an issue and stop-start nature of your travel you probably would want full mesh gear with minimal body armor that will give you protection from sun and any falls but won't keep the heat and sweat near your body. I think that even Draggin Jeans would be too hot.

Try searching for airflow it's a US brand I think.

Sounds like a great race.

That's my scoot, but it is not the one I will trash in Africa. For this I will be using a Vespa PX 200 EFL topped up with a flight crate and plenty of jerry cans.

I'm also thinking something with a mesh, and maybe a fleece windstopper underneath on the cold stretches. I bet the Atlas mountains at 07:30 in the morning in the mid of January can be a bit cold? Also, would you recomend strap on body armour or built-in into the pants and jacket? I'm worried that the strap on armour would end up chaffing or become very uncomfortable after spending 12 hours a day in the saddle, for two weeks straight...

Further still, if the outside temperature exceeds the body temperature, then excessive ventilation may be counterproductive as the evaporation of sweat cools the body, and the wind would work much like a hair blower - pounding the body with heat while removing all cooling capabilities of sweat by blowing away the cooling vapor sweat that the body produces. How hot is Western Sahara in January for instance??? How about a gel cooling vest dipped in water - how do they hold up to a regular t-shirt drenched in water?

Also, what about footwear? I was hoping to bring something that could double as street wear.
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  #7  
Old 8 Dec 2010
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Hi,

I crossed Africa with normal clothes: Jeans, TShirt, Warm Shirt and a normal Jacket which no protector stuff so i could wear it while im sleeping in the cold atlas mountains as well. When it was raining i was wearing a plastic garbage bag underneath.

As you have said in the other thread

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...ont-need-54186

one realy don't need much stuff to travel...but if you have a vehicle, you need experience and tools to repair it anywhere. For example i had two broken bearings while traveling around africa:

Riding the rough west coast through Africa

I found it hard to make 500km a day. On some days i did not even make 50 km in 10 hours "riding".

If you really have done Capetown to Nairobi within 3 Weeks it must have been a nightmare. I think Capetown to Nairobi is the nicest and easiest trip you can do in Africa, but i think you need at least 3 Weeks to experience nice country's like Malawi on the way....

In Mauretania you will find only very view Petrol stations but a lot of potholes if you dont go through senegal with all the corrupt officials. In Mali the roads are better but still you will lose a lot of time at the borders.

Have fun, Tobi
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  #8  
Old 8 Dec 2010
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Hi Wheelie

You probably won't be facing much in the way of warmth let alone heat until you're south of the Atlas mountains. On my last trip I had overnight ice on the bike in southern Spain, single figure temperatures and rain in northern Morocco and it just about hit 20c at Agadir. The further south you go it'll slowly get warmer - high 20's by Nouhadibou, maybe 30c at Nouakchott. If you're camping it can drop down to about 10c overnight in the Western Sahara. The road hugs the coast so the sea stops it getting really hot or really cold.

It's when you head inland the temps will rise - it was pushing 40c at 8.00am when I was in Kayes.

I started off with a full face helmet and a winter jacket, dumped one and lost the other in Mauritania and finished the trip wearing a fleece jacket over a T shirt and an open face helmet. About right for the conditions but not much use if I fell off. Below the waist I used MX jeans and boots. The boots saved me from a broken ankle when the bike fell on top of me in sand and from a dog attack. Hot but not uncomfortably so.

I don't think you'll have much problem with covering 500km / day until you get to the Mauri border. After that things could slow up a bit.
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  #9  
Old 8 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post
Further still, if the outside temperature exceeds the body temperature, then excessive ventilation may be counterproductive as the evaporation of sweat cools the body, and the wind would work much like a hair blower - pounding the body with heat while removing all cooling capabilities of sweat by blowing away the cooling vapor sweat that the body produces. How hot is Western Sahara in January for instance??? How about a gel cooling vest dipped in water - how do they hold up to a regular t-shirt drenched in water?
You're misunderstanding the way sweat cools. Evaporation is what carries heat away. No evaporation, no heat loss. A breeze on a wet surface (sweat-soaked clothing or skin) will cool until the sweat is gone....then, if over body temperature it'll start heating you up. So if you're trying to cool off the idea is to stay wet and ventilated. Those cooling vests and scarves do work better than drenched t-shirts only because they hold more water--a *lot* more water.

But.....a lot of your trip won't be that hot, really. In the Atlas you'll probably be freezing, and January's not too hot in the Sahel either. In Morocco there might be rain (and snow in the mountains). I think you'll want to devote at least as much attention to staying warm as to staying cool. I've worn full touring gear with motocross boots in Morocco and not felt out of place, and I've been cold in the Sahel during harmattan winds and murk.

Hope that helps.

Mark
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Old 9 Dec 2010
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Tobi, I like your style - jeans, t-shirt and broken bearings. I also broke my steering bearing the last time (the only part I did not bring). I machined a new part and used a bicycle as a donor. As for t-shirt though, riding 12 hours a day, day after day, can quickly lead to the type of exhaustion that causes accidents. I would be asking for it if I didn't take precautions on this one, padding my body with cordura and pads.

I must say though, Cape Town to Nairobi in three weeks was a joy. Got up early and rode 300 to 350 kms a day without too many problems. Roads were mostly good, and I could keep a nice cruising speeds. I don't think I could have done it much quicker on a beefy motorcycle. But add another 200km/s to that a day, with some poor roads every now and then, I will quickly find myself riding in the dark... with a far greater need to think about safety.

And backofbeyond... 40C for someone living in Norway is Extreme!

Mark - I think I understand the sweat bit, I just lack the mental capacity to make myself understood sometimes :P It is ofcourse entirely as you say. And as for cold, I experienced zub zero temperatures in South Africa (Prince Albert to be precise) at 08:00 in the morning, and scorching heat in the afternoon - like having ones feet in the freezer and ones head in the stove - not a comfortable average when wearing the same clothing the whole day.

But Mark, for my purposes, would you bux MX-boots or something else?
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Old 9 Dec 2010
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Me, I'd not take a little scooter on a long trip. Given the scooter I'd probably opt for hiking boots rather than m/c boots. But I'll repeat that I don't think the heat is going to be too bad, really.

The prevalence of foot and lower leg injuries among riders is clear--you dab a foot for balance and it twists or gets stuck, you drop the machine on your leg, etc. I don't really know how that translates to scooters, but I bet it's not that different. The happiest I've been in about a hundred thousand miles (160k km) about my boots was when I dropped my loaded 650 on my right leg at no more than 10 mph on a remote road in southern Chile. The bike bounced off my boot and left me a bit stiff for a few days. Absent the boot: broken leg, more than likely.

That single incident made the other 99,000 miles of heavy, sweaty, stanky boot-wear worthwhile.....to me. Your mileage may et cetera.

enjoy,

Mark

Last edited by markharf; 9 Dec 2010 at 23:43.
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Old 9 Dec 2010
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https://www.bike-design.com/article.php?id=664

easy does it!

enjoy the trip, stay cool!

Willem
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Old 11 Dec 2010
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post
As for t-shirt though, riding 12 hours a day, day after day, can quickly lead to the type of exhaustion that causes accidents.
I would say "proper" Motorcycle cloths with all the protection stuff will have exactly this effect that you get exhausted. They are to hot, to uncomfortable and to big if you dont wear then. The other problem is you cant sleep in them if its cold because the protection stuff is to uncomfortable and last but not least you look to rich if you go to africa with more then jeans and a old jacket so people beg at you insted of being friendly.
Anyway I needet long sleeve Shirts and cheap working gloves in Mali and Mauretania otherwise i would have get sunburned even i used sunlution. I userd the waterpumps along the road to get my clothes wet to cool me down. When i reached Marocco i had snow in Atlas...

Have fun, Tobi
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Old 20 Jan 2011
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Hmmm,

The risk of hurting ones feet from getting a scooter dropped on it is not as great as on a motorcycle, and I am not so concerned about this. Nor do I think there is much risk from getting my feet run over by other vehicles. But, if I eat dirt or pavement, it would be nice to not get my flesh torn off my feet or get too badly bruised. I'm thinking working boots with hard leather, like Caterpillar or Sketchers, or maybe some softer lighter army boots or Dr. Martens. What do you think?

As for jacket I am starting to think a regular Cordura Jacket with removable protectors. It might be a bit uncomfortable riding in cordura, but the risk of taking a digger is quite large on this one - 10 inch wheels, poorly distributed weight, useless shockabsorbers, useless breaks, useless handling, poor grip, and very long and exhausting days. Bruises is one thing, but loss of flesh is entirely different, especially in a situation like this where there would be a high risk of infection.

As for Pants, I really have no clue at all. This is where I am at the biggest loss. I started thinking Cordura here as well due to the protection from road rash, and the option to wear pads if I could bear it. I've used zip-off Draggin Jeans cargo pants before, and lately I've been thinking I'd go for this option again. They are comfortable to wear and walk around in, but the pads are useless and extremely uncomfortable. Also, they are quite hot due to the kevlar lining in the seat, thigh, knee and upper leg. This material resembles the look and feel of a towel, and makes you really sweaty. Also, pockets are useless. But in terms of comfort, I really don't know what will be best? Cordura will offer better protection. Do you guys think there will be a significant trade-off in comfort? What about protection? If I don't have to do much of a trade-off in terms of comfort, I'm thinking Cordura. I won't be doing any ball dancing on this trip and will not require casual wear.

I guess a strap-on back protector would end up in the luggage rather quickly?

Choice of helmet, I'm thinking a flip front full face with sun glass that can be flipped up/down. Used this the last time, and I was very satisfied.

As for gloves, I've got a pair of light weight summer gloves from Dainese with a really snug fit that I really love. They don't offer much protection from the sun in the wrist area though... Is this a problem you think?

Underneath, I will without question use a button down synthetic shirt that allows me to regulate body temperature efficiently. Synthetic t-shirt, and synthetic undies with long legs and few seems (tight fit that don't bunch up). Synthetic hiking socks. I think this outperforms any other option, and they dry quickly after a hand wash. In addition, a warm layer for the legs and torso - i.e. a fleece jacket and tight long johns and a thicker pair of socks. I remember sub zero C mornings in Africa, and I am very glad I had this with me in addition to a pair of all season gloves.

Going the street wear route is out of the question. I don't want a digger to keep me from getting to Bamako within the Rally time limits.

Please keep the discussion rolling.
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