Recently Alpinestars USA hosted its inaugural adventure tour in Big Bear Lake, California. The tour is an opportunity to showcase the Italian gear manufacturer’s ever expanding streetbike and off-road motorcycle gear lines. Astars pulled out the big guns for this event inviting some of its top off-road racers, including Ricky Brabec and Toby Price, to join in on the fun.
The event was held at The Outpost lodge in Big Bear. It’s the brainchild of Jolene Van Vugt, a world-famous stuntwoman. It’s a new business endeavor where she started offering a pleasing cabinlike experience.
During the event we operated a 2023 Honda CRF450RL. This is a street-legal production dual sport from American Honda, featuring the real deal 450R Unicam engine. It’s worth noting that when this bike originally debuted, for the 2019 model year, it was known as the CRF450L. In 2021 Honda modified the nomenclature so powersport enthusiasts would better understand the lineage of this vehicle. Watch our official video in the 2021 Honda CRF450RL MC Commute Review.
Alpinestars showed off a mix of new and old wares, including its wonderful Alpinestars S-M10 helmet. This helmet came out a few years ago and we love how light it is and how much ventilation it offers. You would be amazed how much air flows through this helmet. It fits well too. It’s easily in our top three off-road motorcycle helmets.
Joining us at the event was Gabriele Mazzarolo, president of Alpinestars. He’s the only CEO of a major powersports company that we’ve ridden a variety of disciplines with. From trackdays on superbikes to off-road rides on ADVs, Mr. Mazzarolo is up for it and is one of the more die-hard motorcyclists we’ve met. It’s neat to witness someone who walks the walk. And it shows in the products; It really does make a difference.
At the event, media lead Heath Cofran, talked about the new touring-friendly AMT-10R jacket and pant saying: “It’s incredibly versatile…but what differentiates this from any other kind of jacket on the market is we use our Drystar XF material so it has waterproofness on the outside, and doesn’t need an inside liner. So this morning everyone rode out, it was about 58 to 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) full kit just as is. As the temperature warms up you can remove this outer cowl jacket.
“This whole top cowl piece comes off and here you have matrix material,” he continues to describe. “Incredibly breathable, incredibly abrasion resistant. And then you have Ride Knit, which we use in a lot of our other products.
“We use them in a lot of our footwear, a lot of sport jackets, even some leather suits. Andthen we have here this really supple soft, high-end leather that’s also being used on the jacket, one for impact protection, but also style. So you’re adding this Drystar XF material which is a really soft and supple material that’s not hard and crispy like some materials can be. There’s also a hydration pack on the backside that you could put in tubes running through. We have all kinds of flexibility as far as materials go, abrasion resistance goes, you have your hydration export here. These are tubes that come out when this cowl. You can see some of the hydration pack goes in here. The tubes come out down the front. So those who don’t want to wear a backpack you don’t have to wear one with the hydration inside. Versatility, comfort, with premium materials. This really is what this system AMT-10R is all about.”
We didn’t get a chance to ride in the AMT-10R two-piece touring suit. Instead we spent most of our time in the more enduro and off-road-ready Venture XT jacket and pant. The Venture XT pant comes in two versions, one designed to be worn inside the boot and one outside. We wore the former.
Hopping on our 2023 CRF450RL, we found the inseam on these pants a little short so it’s tricky to swing a leg over a tall bike the CRF. Joining us on our ride are a couple of Dakar racing champions in the form of Ricky Brabec and Toby Price. How cool is that, that we get to ride with Dakar off-road race champions? And we’re doing it on our CRF450RL.
The Venture XT touring gear is essentially a hybrid between touring and enduro gear. The pant costs $250 and this jacket is $300. But the cool thing about this pant, first off, is we love an “in boot” pant when riding dirt bikes. There’s less fabric to mess around with and when riding single-track, twigs and just objects can get caught on your pant—it’s just a sleeker setup.
We are pairing it with Alpinestars industry-leading Supervented Tech 10 boots. Words can’t describe how awesome these boots are. This Tech 10 version is easily one of the best footwear Alpinestars makes and it’s a product that has no competition. This off-road boot is at the pinnacle of motorcycle off-road motorcycle boot technology. The boots offer remarkable fit, just like a well-fitting glove. They are a tad hard to get my feet into because that’s how precisely they fit.
These boots offer serious protection that keeps tootsies, ankles, and lower extremities very safe and secure. Obviously the bottom of the sole is extremely grippy against the footpegs, which is nice, and the crème de la crème is the integrated ventilation throughout so feet are comfortable and not super sweaty. Obviously if we were riding in the rain, or if we were riding in cold, muddy conditions, this boot would probably not be ideal, but for any other conditions where it’s not freezing cold, it’s not that muddy, this footwear is ideal.
The thing about wearing traditional moto pants is they don’t have any pockets. Not so with the Venture XT pant. We’re the type of person who has lots of gadgets. So this setup works well for us.
We wore a size 32 pant, which is a little snug around our waist. Our waist is more of a 34–35 with the amount of pizza we eat (lol), but we value the slim fitting of a 32 pant. A 32 pant is slimmer around the legs. If we wore a 34 pant, it would fit us better in the waist, but it’d be too baggy in the thighs and calves because of our chicken legs (lol). So that’s the reason we chose a 32 pant.
The Venture XT jacket is really neat too because it’s got a ton of ventilation. The arms are fully zippered so you can have good ventilation in your torso area. The main zipper has this neat twofold system. So you can either have the front zipper in a vented position with the secondary zipper, or you can have it zippered up with the fully closed vent system with the primary zipper.
It’s really interesting and just simple engineering that’s very functional.
If you’re someone who runs real hot and you’d rather be cold than hot, then you can ditch the jacket. Beneath the jacket we’re wearing the Astars Racer-type jersey. We like these jerseys because it fits a little bit looser than the premium Supertech model. It’s also a little less expensive. We paired it with Alpinestars moto gloves. These are standard-issue moto gloves but they fit really nice and I’m a big advocate of all gear, all the time.
A few best practices during off-road rides: Stand up over treacherous terrain and use your legs as suspension to absorb the bumps. It’s also wise to keep your elbows up and out. With this stance you have more control of the bike and are in a position of greater strength. If you have your elbows low, you don’t have leverage to control the vehicle if you hit some big bump or something crazy happens.
Dual sport riding is so fun because you can go places that normally you wouldn’t be able to get to. It allows you to get out and see the wonders of Mother Nature, and that’s what life’s all about; it’s exploration and seeing what’s out there.
It’s kind of crazy. We were talking to Toby Price right up there with this license plate-equipped KTM Rally bike. One evening by the fire he told us he narrowly missed out on this year’s Dakar win by some 40 seconds. How crazy is that? That they race for so many days and go across so many miles, and you end up losing the race by 40 seconds. That’s pretty wild.
It’s worth noting that our firmly sprung 2023 CRF450RL is all stock except for the fitment of Dunlop Geomax EN91 enduro type tires. These tires replaced the OE-fitted IRCs. The IRCs are decent all-round tires especially for street use, but these EN91s have added bite. The knobs are more aggressive and a welcome improvement for this kind of riding.
Although Honda improved the fuel and ignition timing in an effort to reduce the tendency for the 450 engine to stall at low rpm, it can still flame out, especially if engine idle is set too low. A quick fix on the trail (when riding with a group that won’t stop) is to pull the yellow cold-start knob (usually used to elevate engine rpm during cold starts). Or if you have time, turn the yellow knob counterclockwise.
Well, folks, that was a fun 30-some mile adventure bike loop in Alpinestars Venture XT gear. We really like this gear. It is super comfortable and vents pretty well. We wouldn’t normally wear this enduro-type jacket. But it’s nice having pockets. It’s nice to be able to bring all your stuff.
After our ride on the 450RL we swung a leg over a Ducati DesertX (read and watch our reviews during the 2023 Ducati DesertX First Ride Review). And the Venture XT gear seamlessly transitions from dual sport to ADV streetbike. Obviously this riding gear doesn’t have the abrasion protection of leather, but the freedom of movement and the heavy-duty foot protection we have with our super-vented Tech 10 are excellent for off-road use.
To be fair, the super-vented Tech 10 is overkill for fire road rides, but it shows the versatility of Alpinestars premium products and how you can operate many different types of vehicles with the same gear and still be comfortable.
Adventure-touring bikes are so neat because they’re very similar to dual sports but you can bring more stuff with you, and you can go farther, and they’re way more comfortable for a long haul, and yet, you’d be surprised how capable these things are and they’re even getting more capable every year with all the major Japanese and European brands really spending a lot of resources to make these things more, just more capable on and off road.
This wraps up Alpinestars’ inaugural 2023 adventure tour. We had a lot of fun and got to ride some great trails up in Big Bear Lake. The Venture XT gear made our day trip even better with its off-road ethos, copious ventilation, and pockets. It’s a really nice jacket and pant for someone who likes to ride off-road but wants to tackle a bit of touring too.