(11/06/2003) - ..but you GOT to get one of these!
Over the years, I have had many types of jackets for motorcycling; various leather jackets, jean jackets, and textile jackets. All have their place, their good points and shortcomings.
Leather jackets feel good, block the wind and provide excellent abrasion protection. They do need to have a removable insulated liner though. Otherwise they get cold too quickly in cold weather, and they definitely are hot in summer.
Jean jackets are good in the really hot months. They provide sun protection, and when it is extremely hot, you can soak them with water and they will provide wonderful cooling until they are dry. That came home one summer when I was riding with a friend in Ohio. It was extremely hot (95) and muggy. My friend stripped down to a tank top but I soaked down my jean jacket and put it on. It was like air conditioning for about 50 minutes until it became dry, then it needed soaking again. My friend got dehydrated from the wind and sunburned from the sun. Lesson learned.
Textiles are generally good; many are Gore-Tex lined (stops the rain, wind and cold) and have armor for protection. However many tend to be hot as they have poor ventilation. There also are specialty textiles made just for hot weather, but they lose their versatility. The best combination I have found for all around use is the Aerostitch Roadcrafter.
Two Wheelers Can't Miss It
Bright colors make us easy to see, and highly reflective areas on front and back make it difficult NOT to see us in low light My first introduction to Aerostitch came from my friend, Al Camp. Al had worn one for many years before I finally made the plunge and bought one for myself. Al would ride into the cycle shop where I work, wearing his Roadcrafter suit, and declare; "Lou, you have to get one of these!" My first reactions to that were, "Al, have you seen the price?" But the more I watched him ride, quite often in poor weather (read rain/cold), the more intrigued I became.
Finally, one late fall day Al rode in on an old Honda 750, his fun bike. No faring, no windshield, only an Aerostitch suit and a sweater. On this day it was only in the high 30ís. I remarked to Al he should be cold and his reply was ďonly my handsĒ. As he sat down, the conversation turned to Michigan riding. The trouble with early spring or late fall rides here is the temperature swings. It may be in the high 60ís during the day, but the early morning temperatures may only be in the 30ís. Same for the evenings, you darn well better be home when the sun goes down! Enter the Roadcrafter.
This is a one-piece style suit, and is Gore-Tex lined. I have found it comfortable from about 40 degrees and up. Because it is Gore-Tex lined, it stops the wind and itís heat-robbing ability. Itís comfortable with a sweater or sweatshirt in the higher 40ís and when you add an electric vest, you can ride into the mid 30ís. What about hot days? I find my suit comfortable up into the 80ís. When it gets hot, you can open the vents.
These suits have a big vent under the arms and also one across the back. When you open the sleeves and let the air flow up your arms and across your back, it works extremely well. I have actually had to close it up a little on a warm evening when the venting cooled me more than I wanted.
So, what about that price I mentioned earlier? A Roadcrafter suit is not cheap. After all, quality costs. I have had my suit
now for over 12 years and it works as well today as it did when I purchased it. Al convinced me about the cost this way.
Think about it, on these early spring and late fall days we were talking about you have to bring a lot of gear. Most mornings
demand long underwear and a heavy leather jacket, and sometimes even a snowmobile type winter jacket. An electric vest is
great, but at least you need is a big, bulky, insulated vest or under-jacket. You also need chaps. And you will need a lighter
jacket for when it warms up during the day. And donít forget the ever-present rain suit!
It Goes EVERYWHERE
It was comfortable all the way from the valley floor to the top of a snowy mountain! After 12 seasons of riding it still looks good and works great. Ron Napier is wearing a Joe Rocket suit and wishes he had an Aerostitch.
Al pointed out that all these things can easily run $1,000 to $1,200, and you are trying to carry it all with you! At a price of around $700, the Aerostitch makes a lot of sense. You have one piece of riding gear, and a sweatshirt in your tank bag! This is the ultimate set-up for a long weekend in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where the weather may do anything! Other features include, a million pockets (well, ok seven pockets.) Padding in the knees (perfect for getting down to check the tire pressure), elbows and shoulders. It also has Scotchlite reflective panels. And the easiest on and off system ever devised. Even with my bum knee, I can get the suit on in less than ten seconds, and off in about five.
I also have to say that Aerostitchís customer service is first rate. I found that over the years, my suit had shrunk some around my middle (could it have been the pie?). I sent it back and asked them to add a wedge to give me more tummy room (try that with a leather jacket!). That they did, and repaired some worn velcro and had it back to me in just a few days.
Does it have drawbacks? Well, the Gore-Tex makes the suit waterproof, but in a real downpour some water can leak past the front zipper. But I also have to say that I have ridden in the rain all day and not been wet.
Does it sound like I am enthusiastic about my suit? You bet! And every other Aerostitch owner that I have ever met feels the same way. Thinking of upgrading your riding system? Give them a call, you will never regret it! You can check them out by clicking the ad on this website. And no, this was not a paid endorsement. I just love my suit! As Al said so many years ago, "You gotta get one of these!"