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ADV ProductsADV Bike AccessoriesOverland Expo West: A Gathering of Knobby-Mounted Machines

Overland Expo West: A Gathering of Knobby-Mounted Machines

 A first hand look at what went down at the 2018 Overland Expo West.

Published on 05.29.2018


 
Freedom is the root of the solace-seeking adventurer. To be self-sufficient, to go anywhere, any time, to cross rugged, untamed lands is the heart of overlanding. That is what the Overland Expo West is all about. It is the intersection of many different industries and passions with the goal of displaying everything a wheeled traveler could possibly want.

Fort Tuthill County Park in Flagstaff, Arizona has been the rally point for the Overland Expo West for the last couple years. More than 14,000 people descended on the Expo during the weekend of May 18th. On site, there was ample dispersed motorcycle camping and the weather was extremely cooperative with sunny, warm days and cool, clear nights. There were even showers, but they were overland style. Nemo Equipment supplied their Helio Pressure Showers for campers to clean off. They pack down small enough to fit comfortably in a pannier and had us rethinking how stinky we are when we get home after a week of riding and camping without showers.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure vs. Ducati Multistrad 1260 at the Overland Expo West 2018
We rode to the Overland Expo on these beasts taking the long way and spent the next few days putting the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S and Ducati Multistrada 1260 S through their paces. Keep an eye out for our review and comparo coming soon!

We took the long, very long, way to Overland Expo West from Southern California because it was the perfect opportunity to put a good chunk of miles on our 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S and 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S test bikes (reviews and comparo in the works). We planned two days to get there heading first to the Kern River to enjoy some ridiculously fun twisty roads and a serene night of camping on the river. The second day of riding had us exploring the Sequoias, riding through the Domeland Wilderness, then dropping out of the mountains to the heat of desert floor out to Arizona.

Honda CRF250L Rally being hoisted at Overland Expo West 2018
The Expo had an area for practicing hoisting your bike across rivers and ravines with ropes, for those that take ‘off-road’ travel to the extreme.

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For Adventure bike riders, there is a good selection of endemic companies showcasing the latest luggage, gear, lights, bikes, training and travel companies, and more. But what is also cool about the Overland Expo West is seeing all the cutting edge camping gear, cooking tools, travel accessories and other overland goodies that can easily fit into an adventure rider’s panniers. We borrow heavily from the backpacking/hiking industry because their needs are typically the same as ours – products that put a priority on packing as small as possible, that are lightweight, and have a good amount of versatility.

Taking a break from the Overland Expo West, there is some great riding very close by. It isn’t very far to beautiful Sedona and just a little farther than that is the Grand Canyon. We took some time to ride out to Sunset Crater and take in the volcanic majesty of the black sand dunes and craggy lava fields. We also had a chance to ride a Rally Raid BMW G310GS Adventure. We are the first North American Publication to ride the bike off-road with this kit and you’ll see a review very soon.

Overland Expo BMW G310GS
Rolling out of the Overland Expo and getting ready to take the Rally Raid G310GS out on some real dirt for its first off-road shakedown.

The main attraction is the acres of vendors on display, but there are also classes, clinics, and competitions to keep even the most OCD people entertained. There was a slow race judged by BMW Ambassador Shawn Thomas and 250 motorcyclists attended the ADV Explore Motorcycle Party on Saturday night. Off-road training was provided by D.A.R.T. (Dragoo Adventure Rider Training) through a custom built ADV riding track with off-camber turns, rock gardens, deep ruts, and short, steep climbs.

Sharing their experience and wisdom, the Expo featured famous speakers to inspire and educate attendees. One such adventurer was Elspeth Beard, the first British Woman to ride a motorcycle around the world back in 1982. There was also a chance to sit down for a talk with legendary motorcycle traveler, Ted Simon, who rode twice around the world and inspired thousands with his books.

Motorcycle tent
Lone Rider offers a big tent for you and your bike or you can opt for the minimalist solo tent.
Overland Expo West New Product spotted
This is a prototype of Mosko Moto’s new jacket. It has lots of venting and super-fabric for abrasion but no armor.
KTM 1290 Super Adventure S riding to Overland Expo West
While our goal was to find as many twisty asphalt roads between Los Angeles and Flagstaff, we also took some time to explore a few dirt roads.

For the less adventurous or the tired-out-from-riding-all-day, each night there is a film festival curated by the event organizers to showcase high quality, mostly unseen films from around the world about four-wheel and two-wheel world travelers. We saw multiple well-made, unique films from Europe that would be hard to stumble upon yourself. And of course there is the Happy Hour, with wide variety of adult beverages to make those riding stories even more dramatic.

We look forward to next year’s Overland Expo and if things keep going down the same path, it will be even bigger and better than ever.

Author: Sean Klinger

With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs. 

Author: Sean Klinger
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