Dakar: Repsol - The knight's armour

Dakar 2005: The knight's armour Warmth or comfort, safety or ease? These are some of the questions that the riders of the most famous raid of the world may usually ask themselves. For Isidre Esteve, rider of the Repsol KTM Team and...

Dakar 2005: The knight's armour

Warmth or comfort, safety or ease? These are some of the questions that the riders of the most famous raid of the world may usually ask themselves. For Isidre Esteve, rider of the Repsol KTM Team and firm candidate for the fight of the final victory this season, the answer to all those questions coincides with that of most of his rivals: comfort and ease but with a high dose of safety. A crash without the necessary protections and without having the equipment in place may instantly finish the rider's participation in the Dakar and send him straight back home. Therefore it is not only important that the complements keep you safe, they also have to be put on and fixed correctly.

Riders usually follow a liturgy every time they get dressed to get on the bike, be it during the test in the previous months of the race or at each of the African stages. This liturgy starts with the underwear, a riding short with little seams in the inside to avoid abrasions during the over-600-kilometres long stages. In such a demanding race as the Dakar, where you have hardly any time to recover and rest, an abrasion may become an annoying wound if it isn't treated right. So the most comfortable piece are the mentioned seamless riding shorts. Next come the good old thick and knee-high socks, where the transpiration plays an important role. Their thickness is necessary to avoid abrasion with the inside of the boots and to protect the feet against cold in the morning, because it gets very cold at night in Africa, especially in the desert and the riders often start liaisons before dawn. To complete the underwear, Isidre puts on an insulating long-sleeved shirt that will protect him against seem abrasions on his chest, back or shoulders.

After this first shirt he puts on a second one to protect the first and to serve as a support for the structure carrying the upper protections made of a special, treated plastic, highly crash-resistant. Thanks to these protections, which are correctly conditioned in the inside to let the rider feel comfortable, the rider improves the defence of his upper extremities to avoid possible injuries in case of a crash. But not only the upper protection is necessary; we cannot forget that a stone thrown by another rider or a strong hit on the knee can cause serious problems, so both knees are also protected with plastic and carbon structures offering resistance in case of a crash, always considering the rider's comfort.

After the underwear is in its place, the liturgy continues and it's time for colours. First a long-sleeved shirt with the Repsol colours over the upper protections, followed by the riding trousers, made of Kevlar and nylon, and fitted with elastic bands to make the adaptation to the rider's legs easier. Next comes the jacket, made of Kevlar and nylon as well, with countless pockets, fasteners and zips to open small air inlets that will provide the rider's torso with air during the hot days in the desert. In a side pocket of the right arm, there is a small pocket to keep the hand compass and earplugs.

Once the uniform is on, it is time for the boots and the remaining complements. The boots, the most heavy element, weighing more than three kilograms, must provide safety and comfort, but at the same time enough touch to be able to brake and change gears knowing what he's doing. A mixture of leather, special plastic, Kevlar and padded in the inside for perfect comfort, the boots are a key element of every rider's outfit, because the feet suffer a lot during so many hours, shut away, at high temperatures due to the proximity of the engine and constantly changing gears. A little, insignificant foot wound can become a real agony for the rider.

The cap used by the rider during interviews and when he is exposed to sunshine while he is not on the bike, the scarf, the helmet - made of carbon fibre -, the goggles, the gloves and the camelback -a little backpack to carry two litres of water to drink during the journey - complete the rider's outfit. A total of 11.603 kilos make up the set of complements used by the rider. Added to his own weight, 72 Kg., Isidre Esteve ends-up weighing 83.603 Kg., when he's completely equipped.

Rider 72,253 gr.
Riding shorts 140 gr.
Socks 95 gr.
Vest 90 gr.
Thermal shirt 210 gr.
Shirt 210 gr.
Carbon fibre knee guards 1,870 gr.
Upper protection 1,390 gr.
Trousers 850 gr.
Jacket 1,360 gr.
Boots 3,370 gr.
Helmet 1,330 gr.
Gloves 100 gr.
Scarf 60 gr.
Goggles 100 gr.
Red Bull cap 80 gr.
Camelback 300 gr.
Compass 30 gr.
Earplugs 18 gr.


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Series Dakar