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!



Giest said...

My vote is for the Olympia. WebBikeWorld hasn't steered me wrong yet and I was looking at that suit as well for long distance runs. Have to say though, the yellow is a little too obvious for me. ;)

Lucky said...

Thanks giest - but I must say that the neon yellow does have some measurable advantages... fashion just isn't one of them ;)

If you're interested, there's a great study that was lead by Susan Wells, an epidemiologist in New Zealand, regarding motorcycle conspicuity and it's relevant effects on crash related injuries. You can find the study online here:


irondad said...

I went for the Roadcrafter. The few senior instructors all settled on the Hi-Viz with black. More of the crew have joined us over the years.

Mine is a two piece. I bought the suspender type piece for the pants. My reasoning was that I could wear the pants with several different jackets. That plan has worked really well for me.

For whatever it's worth.

Biker Betty said...

I just got new summer gear, myself. I'm not sure I'd like a one piece suit, especially in the summer. With the new summer gear I am definitely visible and heads turn.

I have learned you get what you pay for. I would be so torn between the first suit and the last one. The last one is best for the budget, but what have they compromised to bring it down by half the cost? I'd have to look into that first, but the cost of the other two does seem ridiculous high.

Giest said...

You still around out there or are you just riding too much to write? ;)