It’s 7 am on a fall morning. The sun is not quite up and a front is blowing through, spitting a few drops of rain as it goes. You have gathered what you need for work in a messenger bag. One foot into the right leg of your Aerostich Roadcrafter suit, pull the suit around, zip the left leg, zip the right leg, jacket on and zipped, messenger bag over the shoulder and you are walking out to the garage, pulling on your helmet as you go.
It’s 7:05 am and you are riding to work, warm, dry and comfortable.
Classic bikes have always been accompanied by classic motorcycle riding gear, and the Roadcrafter is a true classic. For the last 25 years, THE sign of the hardcore commuter or long distance traveler has been an Aerostich fabric suit, preferably faded with age and sporting grease stains on the knees. The Aerostich catalog features photographs of Roadcrafter-wearing riders waving hello from the Yukon Territory, Cape Town, South Africa, and all points in between.
Margie Siegal wearing the new Aerostich Roadcrafter suit, now sized for women. Photo courtesy Michael Lichter
Andy Goldfine started selling the Roadcrafter in 1983. “I had some ‘Aerostich’ letterhead printed, opened a checking account in the same name, and rented some space to start working in. Why is because I personally wanted: A) self-employment and B) a type of riding coverall for commuting to a regular job in street clothing that did not exist.” He started a Roadcrafter factory in Minnesota, and there it has stayed while most other motorcycle gear manufacturers have moved production to Asia.
The Roadcrafter has been updated over the years, but the basic idea hasn’t changed much, although two-piece suits have been available for some time and there are now two lighter-weight versions, one made (horrors!) overseas. The suit is shaped like a mechanic’s coverall. There are zippers in both legs. The right leg zipper stops about hip level, and the left-leg zipper opens the suit all the way up.
The basic material is heavy Cordua nylon, with a Goretex breathable/waterproof membrane. Ballistic cloth over the shoulders, knees and elbows and pads in strategic locations add extra protection.
A lot of Velcros were killed to make this suit. It has Velcro-adjustable wrists and pant cuffs, Velcro-closing pocket flaps and Velcro storm flaps over the zippers. The pants pockets are deep enough to stow your gloves in, and feature zippers that allow you to get to your street pants or skirt pockets. (Yes Virginia, you can wear an Aerostich over a wide skirt) Aerostich offers a wide variety of accessories, from back protectors to knee sliders.
Even a Vincent Black Shadow has its quirks, and so does the Roadcrafter. The venting isn’t the best in hot, humid weather. The zippers leak in a steady rain (the two lightweight versions boast waterproof zippers). And, up to last August, Aerostich suits only came in men’s sizes.
The catalog used to claim that the existing sizing would fit most women. Aerostich suits did fit the tall and the skinny, but not the short and the better endowed. Andy Goldfine would never explain why he didn’t make women’s suits. Women riders and passengers muttered, complained and yelled. It didn’t work.
At the beginning of 2012, the Aerostich catalog announced women’s sizes for several of its product lines. Aerostich had bought a robotic cutting machine, which reduced costs enough to allow the small company to produce a women’s line. The setup got a little behind, but as of Fall of this year, Aerostich is making women’s Roadcrafter suits, one- and two-piece. They aren’t fashion forwards, just warm and cozy – like wearing your favorite blanky. Roadcrafter suits are made true to size, and if you are one size on top and another on bottom, Aerostich will sell you a two-piece that matches your measurements.
An Aerostich will significantly extend your riding season, and all the reflective tape will increase your night riding confidence. The speed with which you can get it on encourages you to ride more often. Whether or not this is the suit for you depends on how hot and muggy your riding area is and whether you are going to get enough use out of it to justify the made-in-USA price, currently $897. This isn’t the right garment for the occasional Sunday afternoon rider. But, if you are a year-round rider, do a lot of long distance travel, or commute to work in all sorts of weather, buy an Aerostich.