Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Emperor's New Clothes

I've been considering getting a new riding this year. Not that there's anything terribly wrong with my current suit; I just feel like trying something different. What I'm wearing now is a two-piece textile touring suit made by Rhyno. When I got back into motorcycling a few years ago, money was tight - but I didn't want to go "sans-suit", so I settled on this one which was cheap but functional. It's Cordura with a removable insulated lining and pads (non-CE). Being a budget suit, however, it does have a few limitations:

  • Colour. Its black. Completely black. Not exactly the best thing to be wearing when you're trying to be conspicuous. It also turns into a wearable sauna when mid-summer sun shines down on me.
  • Bulky. Like wearing a full-body diaper. This thing give me a good idea of what the Michelin Man must feel like.
  • Hard to get into. The pants only have 6-inch ankle zippers, which means boot-on entry is out of the question. Seriously, I've known nuns that were easier than this.
  • Venting. Two smallish chest vents, two armpit vents, and one non-functional back vent. See the "wearable sauna" comment above.

This past winter, I've spent some time researching the various options available out there and I think I'd rather have a one-piece suit; although I can understand why this doesn't work for many other riders. If you're the type that will regularly wear a jacket, but "get by" fine with jeans - then a one-piece is probably not the best thing for you. Personally, I never ride without both the pants and jacket (ATGATT), so one piece rather than two simplifies things for me. Another bonus is that most one-piece suits are easier and quicker to put on than comparable two-piece suits.

So what are my options out there? Here's a few that I've been checking out:

  • Aerostich Roadcrafter: Ah yes, the grandaddy of serious touring suits. Back in 1983 Andy Goldfine decided that there had to be something better out there for touring and commuting motorcyclists. When he didn't find anything, he decided to make it himself. The rest, as they say, is IronButt history. Many touring and long distance motorcyclists wouldn't be caught dead without their trusty (and sometimes crusty) RoadCrafter suit. Go to Beemerville or the Honda Hoot and it shouldn't be too hard to spot a few of these in the crowd (in a variety of not-so-fashionable colours). So what's wrong with the 'Stich - basically, it looks very 1983! That's to say, it isn't the most fashionable suit out there. It's also a tad on the expensive side at about $750USD. I also wonder if Andy might be resting a little too much on his CE-Padded laurels? Maybe it's time somebody challenged the RoadCrafter... Guess what: somebody did!
  • Rev'It Infinity: Although it isn't out in stores yet, this one-piece textile is oh-so-nice, and it bears a striking resemblance to some of BMW's suits (albeit, two-piece). I like the colour which is a light grey/grey combo. It should reflect more heat than it absorbs. I also like the assorment of pockets and the new Schoeller-Dynatec material in lieu of the popular Cordura. This new, abrasion resistant material has some cool qualities like stain resistance, and it breathes without letting in moisture (yeah, I know that sounds like a diaper commercial). There's a whole bunch of technological marvels in this suit; but to get the latest and greatest doesn't come cheap, and you'll have to cough up about $1,100USD to get into one of these... OUCH!
  • Olympia Phantom: OK, these guys seem to have gotten it right, and judging by some of the initial reviews that have been coming in, this suit just might give the venerable RoadCrafter a run for it's money. Available in a high-conspicuity neon yellow, or a boring pewter, this Cordura one-piece with removable lining may be just the ticket for me. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the price is a very reasonable $450USD?

My biggest beef with Olympia is that the nearest Canadian dealer is in Oshawa, some 1,500kms away... But then again, that sounds like a fun weekend trip!


Silver Needs a Bath

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. OK - it's not really all that bad; but amongst die-hard chrome worshippers, it could be considered a cardinal sin to leave a healthy coat of road grime and dust on a motorcycle. Guess it's a good thing that I'm not big on chrome, eh?

I'll usually give Silver a decent bath twice or maybe three times a year (i.e. when taken out of hibernation, mid-season, and before returning to hibernation). Other than that, cleaning is usually limited to removing the bugs from the shield and headlight lenses. This year marks the first time that I've taken it out of hibernation without so much as a quick wipe. I figure it was clean enough and besides, I had a serious need for some saddle time and nothing short of being physically incapacitated was going to delay my appointment with two-wheels and the open road.

Thanks to all the rain we've gotten lately, Silver now looks like a chocolate bar. Lotsa mud, baby! I don't really mind the "rugged" look, but I'm worried that the crud might make it's way into places where it shouldn't be hanging around. So I've decided to clean it. For those of you who actually care, here's my cleaning regiment:

  1. Rinse. Get as much of the crud as possible to rinse away with a steady stream of water.
  2. Lather. Foam-up the panels and fairing, along with seat and cases.
  3. Rinse (again). Make sure no soap residue stays on the bike - it can eat away at the paint.
  4. De-grease. This is for really cruddy areas like the rear swingarm. My bike's got a chain-oiler, so lots of the stuff tends to fling onto the swingarm, inside the rear fender, and on the rear wheel rim. I use the "Green" cleaner, spray plenty on, wait a few minutes, then use a wheel brush to get to the hard-to-reach areas.
  5. Rinse (one last time).
  6. Final buffing. This is more for upkeep than for looks. I usually buff the seat with some beeswax (it's leather, and the wax helps keep it waterproof). I'll also spray some BoeShield on most of the exposed metal parts (ex. aluminium swingarm) to prevent crud from sticking and prevent rust or tarnish.

That's it. It may sound like a lot of work, but I usually get it done in 30 to 45 minutes. Oh, and one last step: get out there and ride it!


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

On The Road Again...

OK, so I haven't posted much here in the past few weeks - but I've got a good excuse... really! I'VE BEEN OUT RIDING!!! It seems that spring is finally here, boys and girls. Mama Nature got the memo I sent her regarding the less-than-seasonal temps that we'd been getting, and she decided to take action. Last weekend had record temps in the mid-20's, which was a very welcomed change.

However, this weekend the weather was overcast with occasional showers and - ack - snow! Yup, you heard it right, we got some of the white stuff over the weekend. But to keep things real, it wasn't more than half-an-inch and pretty much melted away as soon as it hit the pavement. In other words, not enough to cancel a ride.

Tried out a few backroads I'd never seen before and got a little lost for a while... but isn't that half the fun?

Keep rolling with respect,