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The staff at Motorcycle Classics recently reviewed these five motorcycle riding suits for year-round motorcycle touring:
1. The Aerostich Roadcrafter is the original and still the standard when it comes to motorcycle riding suits. And for good reason; it’s built like a Mack truck and damn near indestructible. Available as a one-piece (shown) or two-piece motorcycle riding suit, the Roadcrafter is made of 500 Denier Gore-Tex outer fabric with 1050 Denier nylon and TF3 armor at the shoulders, elbows, forearms, knees and shins. Everything is held together with heavy-duty zippers and serious stitching.
I’ve got four years and thousands of miles on my one-piece Roadcrafter, and short of being a little dirty from roadspray, it’s actually better than new. The heavy-duty nylon takes time to break in, but it’s slowly getting close to what you might call “supple.” Some people run a new suit through the wash, but I decided just to wear it and see how it broke in. Although I have lots of options, it’s become my go-to riding outfit for motorcycle touring and commuting, especially when it’s below 85F. The underarm and back air vents keep things comfortable except when temps climb above 90F, yet it’s plenty warm on cool days; throw in a Kanetsu electric vest and you’ll stay warm all winter. It does leak a little bit, but only in the heaviest downpours, and then only after an hour or so.
Getting in and out is easy once you learn the dance; a neck-to-ankle zipper on one side combined with a crotch-to-ankle zipper on the other make it a snap. Anybody wanna race to the Canadian border? Available in many colors. Price: Starts at $847 (one-piece), $897 (two-piece). More info: www.aerostich.com — Richard Backus
2. The Joe Rocket Survivor Suit is the newest arrival to the one-piece motorcycle riding suit party. Made of Roc Tex 600 nylon, the suit features a removable spine pad (with a pocket for an optional C.E. spine protector), double layer Rock Tex 600 nylon at the shoulders, elbows and knees, and a removable, insulated full sleeve and pant leg liner for when it’s cold. When it’s not, pull out the liner, undo the main zipper, and zip up the FreeAir panel on the front. This mesh panel is cleverly integrated into the main zipper structure and allows you to ride with the front open to the wind, yet still safely secured. The rear of the suit features a reflective strip, along with a vent so air can pass from the front and out the back. It also features a SureFit custom adjustment system with 11 adjustment points for an optimum fit. In the few hundred miles we’ve put on the suit so far, we’re impressed with it’s build quality and snug cut, which makes the wearer look less like a spaceman than some other suits here (mainly Backus in his red Aero Roadcrafter). With it’s venting open, we’ve found it to be comfortable, even at 90F without a fairing. Our only complaint so far is that depending on your height and size, the top neck snap can be a little tight and rubs against your neck when fully closed. Available in charcoal color (shown). Price: $399.99. More info: www.joerocket.com — Landon Hall
3. I watched a street performer get out of a straight jacket once. It took some doing, but he did it. The first time I put on and took off a one-piece motorcycle riding suit, I must have looked like that street performer. But now that I’ve mastered the process, I think it’s crazy to not learn how to enter and exit this friend of the rider. The Tourmaster Centurion one-piece motorcycle suit is loaded with features and quality touches. Rain tight and warm as toast when it’s cool out, it’s also surprisingly comfortable even in 90F riding, with vents everywhere and a nifty collar anchor tab to help air flow.
Fully protected with seemingly bomb-proof textile material, it has armor in the knees, shoulders, elbows and back. Loads of features and zippered pockets everywhere make this a bargain in the one-piece marketplace. A very nice feature we haven’t seen in any other suit is a rain hood you can wear under your helmet, attached to the collar in its own zippered neck compartment. This keeps the rain from going down your neck and back. I tested this feature and its overall ability to keep you dry when the heavens opened and tried to wash me off my bike; I stayed dry as the proverbial bone. The leg cuff fasteners are very helpful for cinching the legs tight during rain, and the leg opening’s full-length zipper makes getting in and out of the suit easier than that street performer’s straight jacket. With a little practice you can jump in and out of this suit of armor with ease. Available in black/black and gun metal/silver. Price: $369.99. More info: www.tourmaster.com — Andy Sherman
4. The Aerostich Transit Suit is the latest evolution of the motorcycle touring suit. It’s a waterproof and breathable leather suit made of Gore-Tex Pro Shell Leather. According to Aerostich, the trick is the Transit’s hides contain a new solar-reflective pigment that helps the suit wear up to 30F cooler than traditional leather gear. During manufacturing, powerful water repellents are added to the hides in two stages. The jacket’s main zipper is an all new molded-tooth, waterproof-type, unlike those on the Roadcrafter. Millions of micro-vents across the surface of the leather ensure that the moisture on your skin will evaporate right through, even during high activity and even though the suit is fully zipped and closed. The jacket features five pockets, and the pants have two in the front. The cut is slightly trimmer than the Roadcrafter suit, but not as tight as a set of race leathers, which makes it perfect for wearing one good insulating layer underneath — like a pair of long underwear — when it’s cold out. Multiple consumer reviews swear this thing is completely waterproof, which has always been the Achilles heel of leather touring gear. Ain’t progress great? Price: $1,497. More info: www.aerostich.com
5. Though not sold as a suit, the Vanson Mark 2 Cobra motorcycle riding jacket and Highway 101 motorcycle riding pants make a great leather riding combo. The jacket’s Air Curtains inside the front chest panels zip down to let cooling air flow through when it’s hot. The jacket features double leather at the shoulders, elbow/forearm and waistband. Vents in the sleeves give extra airflow when needed, ditto for a pair of zippered vents in the back. There’s also an adjustable waistband inside the jacket so you can add clothing without compromising fit, and the jacket will accept Vanson Body Armor and the Vanson Streamliner thermal vest. It also features two open mesh lining pockets for whatever you need to carry. The Highway 101 overpants feature two front pockets, two snap-close rear pockets, brass hardware, belt loops, an adjustable waistband, hip-to-ankle zippers for easy entry, and a Velcro-secured lower leg wind flap. Soft armor knee protection is standard, and they are available in both competition-weight cowhide and medium-weight Firenze leather, as well as 1,000-denier Cordura nylon. Pants are unlined and designed to be worn over your jeans, so order the next size up from your jean size. Both take a bit to break in, but once they do they’re super comfortable and they wear like iron. Price: Mark 2 Cobra jacket starts at $599; Highway pants start at $459 (leather), $219 (Cordura). More info: www.vansonleathers.com