Opinion: Travelling light

Poor Costa. He flew to Bahrain last week to ride the new Ducati Panigale V4 and everything conspired against him. His checked bag didn’t make the connecting flight from London, and so he didn’t have any of his gear to wear on the track. Everything was in that bag: leathers, helmet, gloves, boots, undersuit, back protector, the works. He had to borrow everything to be able to ride the next day.

But you’re looking at the photos of Costa hurtling around the track and feeling no sympathy, because he looks great in that factory kit, right? Except the one-piece leather suit was a size too small and Costa could barely breathe. And it was perforated to allow ventilation from the hot desert air, and the temperature in Bahrain was around 10 degrees, the coldest it’s been in three years. And despite an average of 98 per cent sun during the day in January, it was pouring rain.

Sure, he looks good, but he can’t breathe. And if he soils those leathers, he’s bought them.

Still, Costa’s a pro and he got the job done for a terrific review of the bike, and when he went to the airport to fly home, his bag was waiting for him there, ready to be checked for Montreal.

It wasn’t really a surprise for his bag not to make it through, because this is the third time it’s happened to Costa when visiting the Middle East, and the third time he’s had to borrow gear there to ride. These trips are always quick in-and-outs to save on hotel bills (and work time), so most automotive journalists only ever use carry-on bags, but track riding demands bulky leathers that need a dedicated bag and there’s no way around it.

If there’s no track riding at an event, a motorcycle journo can usually get away with taking most of his or her gear into the aircraft cabin: the helmet goes into carry-on luggage with gloves and other stuff inside, while the heavy leather or textile jacket and bulky boots can be worn on-board. The jacket can go into an overhead bin (if there’s space), but the boots usually stay on. Most motorcycle event travel is Economy class, so the flights are rarely comfortable.

I’ve moaned in the past about the rigours of such travel. There was the time we all got soaked in Greece, which you can see in the cover photo, and when I misplaced my passport and thought I’d have to spend the rest of my life in Munich. There was the time when we all got delayed on the return home and didn’t get back until the middle of the night. And there was the time that Dean just about died on the run through the terminal in Spain, rushing to make the connection.

Mark’s flight to Toronto backs away from the gate in Atlanta, without Mark, who was two minutes too late after running from the other terminal.

We’re not complaining. It’s all part of the job and yes, that job does have its perks, such as on the infamous Kawasaki press launch in Arizona. Air travel means we can get to where the motorcycles are, and if they happen to be in warm, sunny places, so much the better. It’s the same for anyone – get on a plane and go find a place to rent or cajole a motorcycle. You can be there tomorrow. Just be prepared for all your gear to be someplace else.


  1. Maybe this is just a outrageous thought but perhaps nanotechnology needs to step it up in the motorcycle apparel industry. I love my leather collection but for racing and professional riders perhaps a synthetic material like leather but with more abrasion resistance and much thinner. Instead of bulky armour refillable air or water bladders that can be drained prior to packing. Boots with soles split lengthwise so as to fold in and allow them to be flattened. Roll it all into a compression sack the size of a small sleeping bag. Can’t do much for the helmet unless you choose to wear it during your flight.

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