Back in the day, if you wanted to go touring, you bought a waxed cotton riding suit. It was amazingly protective and waterproof, as long as it was kept waxed. One manufacturer boasted the only way you could get wet wearing one was to ride into a lake.
If it was cold, you layered a heavy sweater under the suit, and if it was hot, you wet down a T-shirt, wrung it out and put the suit on over it. The major downside was that waxed cotton is almost impossible to keep clean, and leaves dark smudges on upholstery.
The few hardy women tourers of the classic era often wore waxed cotton suits, too. Nothing came in women’s sizes back in the day, and the waxed cotton suits were loose enough to fit, more or less.
Fast forward 40 years, and we have the Tourmaster Transition 2 Jacket and Venture Pants, an updated version of that waxed cotton suit. Like its predecessor, it is waterproof. Unlike its predecessor, it is made of easy to clean and non-marking Carbolex abrasion and tear resistant polyester. Also unlike its predecessor, it comes in WOMEN’S SIZES. Although women now own 12.6 percent of all bikes, Certain Manufacturers Still Don’t Get It. Clearly, Tourmaster does.
The Tourmaster Transition/Venture suit has numerous features. In fact, one of the minor problems with the suit is that it has so many features it should really come with an instruction manual.
I spent two weeks riding from my home in Oakland, Calif., to the AMA Women’s Conference in Keystone, Colo., and back, and a second, short tour in northern Idaho and British Columbia, which gave me plenty of time to figure out the suit. I did cool mornings in the Colorado and Idaho mountains and hot afternoons in the high desert of Northern Nevada and eastern Oregon. I even got rained on for 50 miles in Canada.
To start with, both jacket and pants have zip out linings and CE approved armor in strategic places. There’s even a small back protector. Phoslite reflective material helps you be seen on the road. There are all sorts of pockets, a real necessity when traveling. A couple of the pockets on the jacket were even big enough to fit the soft hydration bottle I took along in case the thermometer broke 100, which it never did.
The two pieces zip together in back, and I was able to zip them together while wearing them. The pants zip up the sides, making it possible to put them on over boots. The zippers are produced via a new process that is supposed to make them waterproof, and none leaked during that miserable 50 mile stretch of wet, cold road. All external zippers have velcro-secured flaps over them.
The most ingenious part of this outfit is the ventilation system. A zipper runs down each shoulder, exposing the mesh lining. Snaps adjust the amount of mesh that shows. The back has three zippers. The velcro-backed flaps that cover the zippers can fold back on themselves, secured with more velcro. All these flaps, snaps and velcro allow you to infinitely adjust the amount of venting. You can also snap the jacket sleeves around your waist when you are off the bike.
The Tourmaster is well made. It’s comfortable when riding long days, although it feels heavy when off the bike. You can throw it in the washing machine, cold setting, although most people will probably just hose it off. The neck started feeling a little scratchy halfway across Nevada, and I started wearing a bandanna when it was too hot for a turtleneck. The jacket fits well, although the women’s pants come small. You need to go up a size for best fit.
All seams held in the rain except for the pants crotch seam, which leaked. This was embarrassing. A tube of tent seam sealer should fix that problem.
Although the Transition suit is complicated, it simplifies life on the road. You don’t have to pack rain gear or bulky sweaters – the liners pack down small. Most of the zippers can be worked with gloves on. Although fooling with vents is NOT advisable while screaming though twisties, I could adjust my ambient temperature in less than a minute at the side of the road. Putting in or removing liners took more time, and I found it was less trouble to put on a light sweater before taking off on a mountain morning.
Many of us are interested in classic bikes because we find value in simplicity. The waxed cotton riding suit continues to be popular because it is functional, simple and looks cool. The Tourmaster is equally functional and cool looking. You can simply ignore all the features, and continue to wet down a T-shirt when it gets hot and wear a heavy sweater when it gets cold.
owever, with the Tourmaster, you can sit down on your friends’ furniture, confident that they will invite you back.
The Transition jacket lists for $189.99 and is available in women’s XS to XL, men’s XS to 4XL and Talls MT-3XLT. The Venture pants list for $136.99 and are available in women’s XS to L and Tall sizes and men’s XS to 4XL sizes. Transition jackets are available in a variety of colors including high-visibility yellow, Venture pants are available in black only. Go to www.tourmaster.com for more details and to find a dealer near you.
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