2012 Triumph Tiger 800 XC – Silky smooth, comfortable and sexy (with me on it especially 😉 ). Performs like a sports bike on the road, and flies over loose gravel, potholes, washboard and sand like a flying carpet. Wouldn’t be with anything else.
– Update May 2014 – I’ve fallen in love with this bike over the past year and 8 months, and I think it has been the perfect choice for me. As well as nice to do on a British bike (for me, being British), it has kept going through all weathers and terrains, and has proved reliable. The only problems I’ve had were a clogged Idle Stepper Motor in Australia (manage to temporarily fix it by cleaning it myself) and a burnt out clutch riding up a mountain in East Timor (I replaced it with a Surflex Clutch which has been fine ever since). Oh, and the gear shift lever snapped off at the case the day before my birthday (solved by drilling the broken bolt out).
– Update August 2014 – Still in love with this bike, and it still hasn’t let me down in a major way, although I did manage to burn the second clutch out in Kazakhstan (Charyn Canyon). Is it a weak clutch, my riding (can’t be! 😉 ), or normal for 70,000km on varying on/off road riding? In Kyrgyzstan I solved an overheating problem by replacing the faulty radiator cap with one from a Subaru car (rated at the same pressure, 1.1 bar), which has been fine ever since (in 40 degree C plus heat). Also had to clean the idle stepper motor again (I must get a cover for it) (you can reach it with WD40 and a long straw).
– Update November 2014 – Even after a major rebuild in Greece (after the effects of poor fuel in Uzbekistan) the Tiger carried me home safe and sound. Of course you can do anything on anything (given the time and patience), but I think the Tiger has been a superb bike, and I’d probably go with it again.
Stock Battlewings – Great on road and half decent off-road ability (completed the Tennessee part of the Trans-American Trail with them).
Heindenau K60’s – Perfect all-rounders (for me). I ride them at 36 psi on the road, 25 psi on gravel and 20 psi on deep sand. My record is 28,000 km on the front and 18,000 km on the rear. I love them!
TKC 80 – Used this rear for Mongolia, and it did the job nicely. Went riding across the Khongoryn Els sand dunes with it.
Anakee II’s – Upon reaching Europe (and mostly good roads), I decided it was again time to have some fun on the black stuff, and these were the best available at the time (in Greece). Good performance, although I prefer the Battlewings.
Triumph Panniers – Not sure if these will last the distance, but so far so good. At least they’ve proven to be waterproof, and pretty durable.
– Update May 2014 – They are not lasting very well (after 20 months on the road), but I don’t suppose it’s all their fault! One got bashed off when a cart ran into me in Java (it’s now held together by a bungee cord), and the other is held on with cable-ties after the locking mechanism broke. They have, however, remained waterproof.
– Update August 2014 – Got the holes covered over with tin plating in Ulanbaatar, which promptly crushed when I dropped it! Both panniers have dropped off at various points when 2 of the mounting bolts failed, and I had to use cable ties to temporarily hold them on. Had a frame made up in Almaty to bolt them on more permanently, which broke on one side on the Pamir Highway. I wouldn’t do a world trip with the standard panniers again, but I’m determined to get them both home!
– Update November 2014 – Well, I got them home after more welding in Aktau. Next time I’ll probably get some metal ones.
Centre Stand – Very useful for maintenance, especially chain cleaning/oiling & tire changes.
Sump Guard/Skid Plate – Essential if doing some off-roading.
Engine Bars – Essential, as above.
Radiator Guard – Essential, as above.
Heated Grips – Gives out about as much heat as a polar bear’s behind on ice (I think I have faulty wiring I’ve not managed to fix yet!).
– Update May 2014 – The ‘heated grips’ have never really warmed my hands, and I’m not sure if they’re just faulty or rubbish. It’s cold in Siberia!
Firstgear Kilimanjaro Jacket – Brilliant! Keeps me warm and dry in down to freezing (so far…). Venting system half decent as well in all but the hottest conditions.
– Update May 2014 – I still love this jacket, and it has continued to keep me warm in freezing snow, and not too hot in the tropics. I do have to wear a rain jacket over the top in heavy rain though.
– Update August 2014 – Too hot for Central Asia in the summer (106 degrees F / 41 degrees C so far). I’ve had to take the risk of gravel rash over heat stroke.
– Update November 2014 – Destroyed during my fall in Uzbekistan (front wheel puncture) and replaced with a simple leather jacket which did the job in conjunction with a Gortex rain jacket.
Firstgear TPG Escape Pants – Not as good as the jacket; warm, but they let in water after an hour or so of heavy rain.
– Update May 2014 – These pants have ripped down the crotch and I need a new pair! Stitched up by a friendly Mongolian.
– Update August 2014 – The pants have disintegrated around the crotch stitching and right leg (burnt and ripped). However, I don’t suppose they’ve done badly after 1 year 10 months, and I like the style. I’ve just ordered another pair to finish the trip.
– Update November 2014 – New pair also burnt at the right inside calf, so not all that heat resistant! I sent them back and got a refund.
Sidi Canyon Boots – Brilliant! Waterproof, warm & comfortable, even for walking around in casually. They look pretty cool too with jeans (or is that just me?)
– Update November 2014 – Finished the world tour in them and still great.
Hip Flask – Essential when driving through ‘dry counties’.
Seal Line Canyon Dry Bag – 55Ltr – Perfect size for all my camping gear, and no leaks so far.
– Update May 2014 – Sent this home when I left Australia as didn’t need my camping gear. Bought a new ‘Mont-Bell’ dry bag in Japan, which has been good so far.
– Update August 2014 – The Mont-Bell dry bag has holes in already and I have to cover it with plastic garbage bags. Have had to order another one to finish the trip.
Overboard Duffle – 60Ltr – Perfect for all my clothes/essentials, and again – waterproof thus far!
– Update May 2014 – Now has holes in so I need a new one.
Wolfman Tank Bag – Great tank bag with waterproof cover. Optional ruck-sack straps very useful for lugging it around and taking as hand-luggage on flights.
– Update November 2014 – Finished the world tour with it and still going strong.
Extra Fuel Containers – I bought an extra 20 litre container for the Gibb River Road, north Australia, and an extra 10 litre jerry-can for Siberia. Apart from that, no fuel issues. I didn’t need any extra fuel for Mongolia (Gobi and then Northern Route) or the Pamir Highway.