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Steve Claus

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About Steve Claus

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    Adventure Riding, Flying (Private Pilot), Offroad ('81 CJ-7)
  1. Steve Claus

    Moose Racing ADV1 Jacket and Pant

    Moose Racing ADV1 Jacket and Pants - http://www.mooseracing.com OVERVIEW It has been a blessing to have had the opportunity to test and abuse many different brands of riding gear over the years. Moose Racing has always developed quality products, so there was little chance I would be disappointed when I decided to spend a year putting their flagship “Adventure” setup to the test. The ADV1 jacket and pant tops their lineup, designed for the serious Touring / Adventure enthusiast. As you would expect, they come with a loaded spec sheet (though we've all seen overblown marketing of products that don't live up to the hype). So, as I do with every product I review: 1. Start with an open mind and 2. Have a plan of attack. Open mind, check! Plan of attack, check! To kick-off this year-long review I would be meeting-up with my best friend Bryan Bosch for a 12-hour adventure ride in the Pacific Northwest (see the full XL-ADV Ride Report), then spending fall and winter in the rain and snow of the Colorado Rockies, and finally wrapping-up in the spring and summer in the heat of Florida...a true multi-season, multi-region test of the Moose gear! FIRST IMPRESSION Moose has never let me down over the years, and the first impression of the ADV1 gear would be no different. Unpacking the box, I could just feel the “substantial” weight of the materials and integrated protection…this gear is HEAVY (XX lbs.)…but this is exactly what you want from gear that is going to protect you from bouncing down a gravel road or freeway. FITMENT I’m a big-boy…5’9 and 280lbs…yeah, I said big! One of the challenges I typically have when looking for gear is finding gear that will fit comfortably. I pleasantly surprised to see that the ADV1 jacket comes in sizes up to 4X and pant up to 48” waist. So, I followed the recommendation of the manufacturer on sizing, then (just to be safe) I bumped both up to the next larger size…perfect fit for my unique shape, so for anyone else, just stick with the Moose sizing chart and it will be spot-on. Then something amazing happened…this year was the year that started to get serious about some lifestyle changes, and as a result I lost 45 pounds, which is great, right? Not if you have a set of *AMAZING* riding gear that I’ll now be swimming in! Thankfully, the ADV1 pant has zip-off bib with suspenders and though I have way more room than need be, once on my bike I don’t even notice…thank you Moose! OVERALL PERFORMANCE This is one area where testing gets personal. No one wants to crash, and it usually sneaks-up on you and takes you by surprise. This week, that’s exactly what happened to me. Bryan and I were out on our new bikes (Bryan on his 2017 KTM 690 Enduro R and me on my 2017 Husqvarna 701 Enduro...check out the #DualSportDuo BLOG over on ThumperTalk), creeping up on 200 miles on the ODO, and then it happened. On a (very) hard-packed dirt road in a neighborhood under construction, I grabbed a handful of throttle and 74hp sent me on a long low-side, dragging my left knee on the ground for most of the crash. I hopped-up quick as to not allow Bryan time to capture the aftermath on his cell phone, then did the injury assessment. The ADV1 pant took the brunt of the impact, and due to the integrated D3O EVO Pro XT knee protectors and D3O EVO Pro XT hip protectors, I walked away completely unscathed...yes, the integrated protection works as advertised. Thank you (again) Moose! Now for the Florida heat...the jacket and pants are loaded with vertical vents that *actually* work! Just got home from a dualsport day trip in 85 degree heat with 65% humidity...yeah, it was hot and sticky when stopped, but anytime we were moving I didn't notice anything but the airflow through my gear. WHO ARE THEY DESIGNED FOR? The ADV1 jacket and pant takes all the best features from their entire gear lineup in creating their top-offering in the Touring / Adventure category. Top quality materials, lots of protection, flexible, waterproof...and not just on paper, but fully verifiable. How do I know? Because this year I’ve not only used this gear for riding, but this winter I put it to the ultimate test…snowboarding in the Colorado Rockies! Yes, you read it right…I used my adventure riding gear as snowboard gear. How did it perform? As you would expect any Moose product to perform…AMAZING! I was warm and dry all day, though I spent a lot of time sitting on my butt in the snow, and at one point I spent 45 minutes hunkering-down in the backcountry waiting for blizzard / whiteout to pass through. My Moose gear kept me warm and dry through a very scary situation. PROS Looks great Built-in protection that really works Venting that actually keeps you cool Waterproof zippers throughout Configurable (suspenders, gators, sleeves, liners, etc.) CONS Expensive (but worth every penny!) Heavy (due to built-in protection...but it's removable) SUMMARY I love this gear! I can't say enough about any one area because the ADV1 jacket and pant have continued to exceed all my expectations. I have now logged many hundreds of miles in varying weather conditions, hot, cold, wet, dry, and multiple crashes...the gear has stood up to everything I have thrown at them. All-in-all, Moose makes a great product and I would recommend them to anyone looking for great adventure gear!
  2. Steve Claus

    Shoei Hornet X2

    OVERVIEW I've had the opportunity to test/abuse many different brands of helmets over the years, but they've all been in the Motocross/Enduro category. Shoei's Hornet X2 would be the first outside that category, fitting squarely in their "All-Road" category. FIRST IMPRESSION The helmet looks AWESOME! The Hornet X2 comes in 11 different color schemes, mine being Matte Deep Grey. As soon as I opened the box I was super impressed as it was packed with the expected items (helmet and helmet bag), but also included additional goodies such as Breath Guard (for reduced visor fogging), Chin Curtain (for reduced wind turbulence and thus reduced noise), and Pinloc EVO anti-fog Shield. While unpacking the box one thing jumped out at me: There's something "odd" about the shell that I couldn't put my finger on. So, I went to the garage to get one of my other helmets and then it was obvious...the Shoei's shell is much smaller than my other helmet...hmmmmm. I did a bit of research and it turns out, Shoei doesn't use a single shell size for all of their helmets, but actually has four different size shells. This allows for minimizing the overall size of the helmet, while maintaining the proper/required amount of EPS and comfort materials. FITMENT I followed the sizing chart on the Shoei website carefully and I was surprised that the recommended size was a medium (I pretty much have always worn a large). Putting on the Hornet X2 for the first time was not what I expected: 1. I had to fully undo the chinstrap...there was no way for me to get the helmet on with a "loose" strap due to the "small" opening 2. My ears folded over like a taco, which wouldn't normally be an issue, but since the shell is "small" I didn't have room to even get a finger in (next to my eye) to unfold the tops of my ears. So, I grabbed the chin-guard and vigorously rotated the helmet left-rig-up-down until my ears finally settled into the ear cavities. 3. The chin-guard felt much closer to my mouth than my other helmets, which gave me a moment of claustrophobia...probably just that I've not ever owned a "street" helmet before. So, I closed my eyes, took a deep-breath, and WOW! This helmet is BY-FAR the most comfortable first-fit helmet I've ever had on my head! OVERALL PERFORMANCE I met-up with my best friend Bryan Bosch for a 12-hour adventure ride in the Pacific Northwest (here's the official XL-ADV Ride Report), and this one ride put the helmet (and my head) to the test...new helmet, straight out of the box, on a 12-hour ride! How did it go? AMAZING! Now, the above strap and ongoing ear-taco issues still exist, but once the Shoei is on, it's amazing! Here are the things that are important to me: Wind Noise: Very little wind noise, regardless of speed or direction (granted, I did have the Chin Curtain installed and that thing *considerably* quiets the outside noises). The shape of the helmet is very sleek and aerodynamic, so there are few places for wind noise to be created. The one obvious place on any helmet is the visor. On the X2 the visor is high and narrow (for great visibility), fully-louvered (to allow air to flow through), but still substantial enough to function as a visor is intended. My KTM 990 Adventure doesn't have much of a windscreen so the aerodynamics of a helmet are important to me. I was pleasantly surprised at how little drag there is at speed (70mph+) on my head, which makes for reduced fatigue and neck pain at the end of the day. Ventilation: The X2 has lots of ventilation (4 in, 7 out) that *actually* works, and all can be operated with ADV gloves on. I noticed the difference within 5-10 minutes of all vents closed vs. open, which can make a big difference in the comfort and duration of your ride. Shield Fogging: One *really* cool item is the Pinloc EVO anti-fog Shield. I initially thought this was a gimmick, but it *really* works *very* well. I like to ride with my visor up, but when down I had zero-fog issues (I tried it with and without the Pinloc EVO, and compared with my old helmet back-to-back...no comparison...it works really well)...add the Breath Guard and there's no chance for shield fogging. Earbuds (for music): This is where the Shoei falls short for me. The narrow shell and minimal gaps in the the tight-fitting upper and lower cheek pads make it impossible for me to keep a set of earbuds in while putting on the the helmet. I've tried everything, including installing the cheek pads after the helmet is on...still no luck. So I went one step further and installed a SENA Communications System with in-helmet speakers and mic, but the speakers only made my ear-taco problem even worse. So, still no music option in the Shoei for me. Safety: In all the research I've done it looks like most helmet manufacturers are meeting the same certifications and that there's not a lot of innovation in the safety space (with the exception of 6D and their ODS technology). Shoei claims "Active Safety Technology though Lightweight, High-Strength Materials" but in comparing the weight of the X2 to a comparable, yet much less expensive ($150) offering, the X2 is actually about 20 grams heaver. *HOWEVER* there are a few notable item of safety that Shoei has: · Advanced Integrated Matrix: This is a fancy way of saying that the smart kids at Shoei are using multiple layers of materials in the construction of the shell that will absorb the impact forces when you hit the ground, and thus reducing the shock to your melon. It's tough for anyone other than a Materials Scientist (of which I am not) to say that this actually works, but it sounds legit to me and I'm sure a reputable company like Shoei isn't going to hang their reputation on junk-science. · Emergency Quick Release System: This allow emergency workers to remove your cheek pads and helmet with reduced chance of moving your head and neck. This is totally legit, and I've seen it in action (though, it was a football helmet and not a motorcycle helmet). I've coached youth football for a long time. The new technology in football helmets (I think) is leading in the helmet design in general. I've seen Paramedics remove both traditional helmets and ones equipped with a quick-release system...night and day difference in the amount of movement in the head and neck. Shoei gets extra points for this! PROS · Small shell size reduces outer size · Minimal drag reducing wind noise and fatigue at speed · Great ventilation · No shield fogging · Emergency Quick Release System · Easily removable inner-system for washing/cleaning · Still made in Japan CONS · Putting on the helmet is hard on my ears · I can't figure out how to get music while I ride · A little hard on the wallet compared to similar offerings Bottom-line I like the Shoei Hornet X2 a lot. It took me a bit to get acclimated to the the "smaller" shell, but after only one day of riding it feels great. It's well known that Shoei is a "premium" brand, but there are good reasons why. They are innovating and investing in areas that the other manufacturers aren't, multiple shell sizes being the prominent one. Is the Hornet X2 for everyone? YES! However, not everyone can, or will, spring for the premium-brand due to the premium price-tag. However, in the unlikely event you need the helmet to do its job, the Emergency Quick Release System may mean the difference between you walking (and therefore riding) again. More @ http://www.shoei-hel.../hornet-x2.html
  3. Steve Claus

    TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex Boots

    http://ridetcxboots.com/ TCX Touring Adventure X-Desert Gore-Tex OVERVIEW It has been a blessing to have the opportunity to test/abuse many different brands of boots over the years, but they've all been in the Motocross/Enduro category. The TCX Touring Adventure X-Desert Gore-Tex would be the first outside that category, fitting squarely in the Touring / Adventure category. These boots top the range of TCX's Touring / Adventure line-up and come with a loaded spec sheet (though we've all seen overblown marketing of products that don't live up to the hype). So, as I do with every product I review: 1. Start with an open mind and 2. Have a plan of attack. Open mind, check! Plan of attack, check! I would be meeting-up with my best friend Bryan Bosch for a 12-hour adventure ride in the Pacific Northwest (XL-ADV Ride Report), so this would one ride would put the boots (and my feet) to the test...new boots, straight out of the box, on a 12-hour ride! FIRST IMPRESSION They look like a thick-toe'd, wanna-be-motocross boot, but missing some buckles. A quick inspection yields full-grain leather for the full height of the boot, a fully sewn/glued/sealed sole, protection top-to-bottom, and put together with a great attention to detail. Strange, but not horrible looking. Smelled of leather as soon as I cracked the box (I love that). Ok, still have an open mind. FITMENT I followed the recommendation of the manufacturer on sizing and it was spot-on with a standard riding sock. They were a little stiff right out of the box, but not noticeable on the bike vs. on the ground. Also a little narrow across the wide-spot on my foot (I do have a little wider than standard foot), but the toe-box is roomy. There is one place where these boots really stood out for me personally. I have really-really thick calves (19") and new boots typically require me to order longer top-buckle-straps from the manufacturer. Not in this case, as the TCX top-buckle-strap had plenty of adjustment and length, even leaving me a bit of to spare. OVERALL PERFORMANCE Off the bike they initially felt a bit stiff and bulky, but that completely went away as soon as we started riding. Not more than an hour into the trip and our first stop, I hopped off the bike and forgot I was wearing new boots, right out of the box...amazing comfort and quick break-in time! Great grip on the pegs and much more flex in the ankle than a motocross boot made for very comfortable, all-day riding. I clipped a few hidden stumps with my toe..no damage or injury. We stopped for lunch and they were very easy to get off and back on. Are they waterproof? Yes they are! I was standing in 10" of quick-moving, cold, mountain run-off, for a good 15 minutes (yes, the people behind me in the pic were most certainly wondering if I had lost my mind)...and no leaks!!! The Gore-Tex membrane, coupled with the internal gator and elastic cuff kept my feet completely dry. Actually, my feet didn't get cold either...double win! 10" of cold, running water were no match for the X-Desert waterproof design WHO ARE THEY DESIGNED FOR? The TCX X-Desert takes all the best features from street and motocross boots in creating their top-offering in the Touring / Adventure category. Top quality materials, lots of protection, flexible, waterproof...and not just on paper, but fully verifiable. So, does this make the TCX X-Desert the perfect do-it-all boot? Can I toss my many pairs of boots for just this one pair? No, I don't think so, and here's why. TCX is *NOT* a marketing company, but is one of the few, truly boot-only design and manufacturing companies left. Their approach is to fully / deeply understand the needs of a particular application and then design a product to meet those needs; their diverse product line supports that. For example, though they may have incorporated the look and protection of a full-on motocross boot, they've designed-in flex specifically for the Touring / Adventure rider that enables extremely high comfort for long-day / multi-day rides. So, who are they good for? I believe they are perfect for the Adventure rider that has transitioned from street or dirt and wants to explore the backcountry via dirt roads, trails, or desert. These boots are perfect for on or off-road and great in adverse weather conditions. They will keep you warm and dry on multi-day trips, will give you ample traction, and will allow you to ride and walk in comfort. SUMMARY I like the TCX Touring Adventure X-Desert Gore-Tex boots a lot. I'm still trying to get acclimated the tall toe-box, which makes shifting challenging at times, but I plan to raise my shift-lever a notch and will report back. If I can't say enough about any one area, it's certainly comfort. After only one day of riding they have fully formed to my feet and feel really good. Hot, cold, wet, dry...these boots stood up to everything I have thrown at them. All-in-all, TCX makes a great product and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a great adventure boot! For me, as an off-road guy, will I toss my motocross/enduro boots for these? No, but they will certainly be my go-to boots anytime I ride my KTM 990 Adventure. *However* now that I've had the pleasure of experiencing my first pair TCX boots, my existing moto/enduro boots should be worried as I'm sure there will soon be a pair of TCX Comp EVO Michelin boots on my product review list, and if they perform anything like the X-desert, I could easily be an exclusive TCX house!
  4. Steve Claus

    TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex Boots

    1 review

    > Full-Grain Leather > Gore-Tex > Shift Pad > PU Shin Plate > PU Heel Plate > Suede Heat Guard > Aluminium Cam-Loc Buckles > Anatomic Replaceable Footbed > Internal Gator > Elastic Cuff > Workboot-style Sole
  5. Steve Claus

    RANT…. Who hates the wave?

    +1 for the wave...for now... Could be that I've been a Jeep owner for many years, and until recently it was a "club" of folks that understood the same pain...the pain and cost of owning a CJ/YJ/TJ. Now that we have more of the 4-door JK crowd, using their offroad vehicles as space-limited, convertible, grocery-getters on the road...they don't get it, and most likely never will. Here's my 1981 CJ-7: (Doesn't my wife look happy?)
  6. Steve Claus

    Pac NW Run: Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood National Forest

    What an AMAZING adventure! Bryan Bosch and I have been best friends since 1979 and have done a lot of riding together over the years....and the rides just keep getting better! The hardest part of this trip was saying goodbye and then making the 20 hour drive back to Colorado, knowing it would be a while before Bryan and I would get to do it again. So, what did I take away from this trip? It doesn't matter how long it's been between rides with Bryan, it only takes us a few minutes to get back in our tandem-groove. Something about logging many thousands of miles, riding side-by-side in the woods with the same person, just doesn't exist with others I ride with. Love and miss ya Bry! Being a KTM990 Adventure pilot, I didn't like the BMW GS800...before I rode it! I'm not sure why. Maybe because I always had my heart set on the GSA1200 and my Financial Advisor (wife) wouldn't allocate funds? Maybe I'm a KTM-snob? Regardless, after a full day on the BMW I think this is a very cool bike! I still prefer my KTM, but had I purchased the mid-sized BMW before the KTM I'd be perfectly content. I'm not sure how Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman jumped on their adventure bikes and rode 20,000 miles in The Long Way Round, because MY ASS HURT after only 250 miles! I guess I need some additional long-distance seat-time before setting out on longer trips. They say that it's not the bike, but the rider...which I completely agree with...but the gear on the rider makes all the difference in being able to ride comfortably for long distances. I can't thank the guys at Shoei, TCX, Moose Racing, and Sena enough for hooking me up, and making this ride as comfortable as possible. I will be publishing reviews shortly for these amazing products, so stay tuned! So, to sum it all up...I drove 20 hours each way, to spend an epic 12 hours with my best friend, doing what we love most...and I'd turn around tomorrow and do it all again!
  7. Steve Claus

    Hello from Northern Colorado!

    Thanks Erik! I'm certainly interested in connecting up for a ride, and the Southern Utah event sounds like fun. Haven't done any of the COBDR on a bike yet, but have rolled some of the sections in my old CJ.
  8. Steve Claus

    KTM 990 Adventure (2011)

    1 comment

    Just got it...good so far, but much more to come!
  9. Steve Claus

    KTM 990 Adventure 2011

    Just got it...good so far, but much more to come!
  10. Steve Claus

    Hello from Northern Colorado!

    XL-ADV'ers! I'm glad to have finally made the jump to ADV. @Bryan Bosch and I grew up together, and have been best friends for 30+ years. We've logged many thousands of miles on single-cylinder thumpers over the years (motocross, enduro, supermoto), but one ride on his Triumph 800XC in Florida last year and I was hooked. I just purchased a 2011 KTM 990 ADV with a little over 5k miles on it. Came with crash-bars, Flatland skidplate, and CJ pegs. I'm looking forward to logging many miles here in the Colorado Rockies, including 2-up with my wife on the back. I'll be posting ride reports, videos, and pics, so stay tuned!