Monday, October 27, 2008

The Biker's Batsuit?

I've been scouring the Internet of late, looking for some possible replacement options for my well worn riding suit. Seems there's lots of new stuff available - and some of its rather high-tech. Both Rukka and BMW have come out with new abrasion resistant materials that have a bit of stretch built-in which should make riding gear a little less stiff, and Aerostich is no longer the only one-piece touring option available.

Rukka, those innovative Fins, have the "SRO-Anatomic" suit which touts itself as "the latest know-how in the areas of safety and comfort. Breathable, waterproof, stretching, ergonomic, reflecting, thermal regulating, durable, machine washable"... not to mention damn expensive! Over $2,000 for the jacket alone. For that price, it should be self-cleaning, have built-in airbags, and maybe a few other nifty 007-type gadgets. The look of the suit is questionable - in my eyes, at least. Black Cordura with red stitching and Aramid blend in strategic areas truly does give it a "Batsuit" look. By the way, SRO stands for Smart Rider's Outfit, which should give the owner a nice feeling of superiority (at that price, there's got to be a few perks, right?).

BMW have long been known for trying to do things a little differently than others. Sometimes the results were good, like the Hossack inspired Duo-Lever front end; and other times not so great, like the vague feeling servo-brakes. Their newest suits seem, at least on paper, to be good. The ComfortShell jacket and pants include the newly developped "c_change" membrane, which was developed through a partnership between BMW Motorrad and Swiss textile specialist Schoeller. According to the brochure, "the pore size of [the c_change membrane] adapts to the ambient temperature to thus control the breathing capability of the clothing as necessary." Translation: when its hot outside, you're cool; when its cool outside, you're hot. I've seen these suits up close at the local Beemer dealer and I've got to admit, they sure look nice. How nice? You could almost walk into a restaurant with the jacket on without tipping off the other patrons that you just rode in on a motorcycle. Again, it isn't cheap at about $700 for the jacket and $500 for the pants, but if this suit actually lives up to the hype it might be worth it.

Much has been written in MC forums all over the net about Olypia Motosports' Phantom one-piece riding suit. Many have pondered if this would finally be a worthy competitor (or replacement) to the much beloved Aerostich Roadcrafter. At about half the price, many were probably hoping it would be as-good-as the 'Stich. So what's the verdict? Depends on who you ask. Many Phantom owners love their suits, and are proud to point out that their crotch is still dry after riding in the rain - a longstanding problem with the Roadcrafter. However, for people who commute on their bikes, the Phantom still can't match the Roadcrafter's speed for putting it on or tearing it off. Guess its a bit of a toss-up, but if you're looking for a one-piece and don't have money to burn, the Phantom is definitely worth checking out.

Rev'it has also come out with a one-piece suit, which looks oddly similar in design to some of BMW's riding suits (albeit, two-piece). This suit looks like an evolution of the Roadcrafter. Although the 'Stich may have a certain utilitarian appeal, it's looks aren't really up to par with other offerings out there. That's where Rev'it's Infinity suit really shines. Without going over the top like the SRO Anatomic, the Infinity is still utilitarian in nature with plenty of pockets and velcro galore, but it also looks good with a two-tone colour scheme in neutral grey and off-white. It's also got that long zipper for easy in-and-out even when wearing boots, so it might actually be a contender to the 'Stich in that regard. One issue though, it ain't cheap! At about $1,100, it'll cost you $300 more for the extra bells and whistles of the Infinity compared to a Roadcrafter.

Anyhow, today's a beautiful day but they're saying we could be getting snow before then end of the week. I need to get out and ride. There'll be plenty of time to consider which suit to buy during the long winter months.


Charlie6 said...

Another option is the kevlar gear from Motoport aka cycleport, I've crash-tested their Air Mesh Ultra II stuff and it works as advertised.

Motoport website

Their website is not the best, but its getting better. The stuff is custom-fitted to your measurements so its best to talk to Wayne when putting the order in.

Not cheap but not as expensive as the Rukka stuff. Might be worth a look. After my low-side on I-70 at over 40mph, the suit barely shows any damage.

the crash

Review of the Gear

I've no connection to motoport except as a satisfied customer.

irondad said...

A very timely post. Rain's coming!

Derek said...

I've been thinking about upgrading to a one-piece. I've got an old First Gear two-piece that's looking a little worse for wear. Thanks for the options.

Lucky said...

charlie6 - Thanks for the suggestion. I'd read about Motoport's gear before from other satisfied customers. Their "Ultra Trek" one piece suit seems interesting, albeit bulky looking. I guess the thing that turned me off about Motoport is their awful website. I mean, if their gear is really as good as some owners have stated, then why does their website seem like an afterthought?

Anyhow, glad you and Maria both survived the crash. I've added your blog to my list!

irondad - Actually, rain's here! No worries though, as long as it doesn't freeze I'm still ridin'.

derek - I'm still on the fence regarding the one-piece/two-piece thing. I've had both, but I think a one-piece is only advantageous when it can be quickly put-on and taken off. For that, it appears that the Roadcrafter is still the king.

irondad said...

I opted for the two piece Roadcrafter. I bought the bib attachment for the pants. That allows me to wear the pants with any jacket.