Updated: Feb 15
Gear Recommendation and Review
By: Kayla Koeune
(Couple of Chopper Nerds in Adventure Gear)
We are no strangers to wearing jeans and a t-shirt, layering in leather, and when in-climate weather presents, pulling over to do the road side shuffle with a rain suit. This traditional Harley style of layering requires you to change in and out of flimsy rain suits and change clothes almost daily which consumes a massive amount of space. Also, let’s be realistic once your leather gets wet it stays wet. Especially if you find yourself in the rain for days. Not completely dissing leather, I mean it is great if your going around the block or even for out for a weekend, but if your planning to spend an extended trip with limited space leather gear is just plain impractical. It was the rough decision. Retiring leather meant do we would look like complete nerds rocking textile gear on Choppers. What was to win Function or Fashion.
We decided to take a note from the adventure riders to start exploring the benefits of Textile riding gear, but this is no small feat with the options being countless.
The biggest advantages to GORE-TEX® textile gear is the obvious breathability, vent zippers, abrasion protection, and the fact that it is waterproof. These features mean that you are pretty comfortable in any weather and there is no stopping to adjust your clothes for a 30 minute rain storm. Here’s where the big space advantages come in. Underneath our suits we both wear smart wool, which is only worn when we ride, and once the bikes are parked we change into our evening clothes. This means we carry almost no clothes with us and we have far more space for other road comforts. We have done month long trips carrying only a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt, and a few T-shirts each. Your clothes aren’t really getting dirty when you are only wearing them a few hours each night. The smart wool... being wool...means it holds up along time without smelling, all while wicking away your sweat. (There is another layer in there we often add in which is our Gerbing Heated clothing. Heated gear really takes the edge off cool mornings in the early spring, late fall, and even into the winter!)
Choosing the gear was the hardest part. We looked at 1 piece suits or two piece sets. We tried on all the brands from Alpine Star to Aerostich. We read countless reviews and inquired who had the most options for size customization. In the end Charlie and I ended up with 2 different systems from 2 different companies for different reasons.
(Cruising in the rain and fog of Olympics National Park in a Klim 2 Piece)
Although companies are coming around, finding riding gear for women that both fits and functions well is difficult. Many companies don’t make enough fit options so a person like me with narrow hips and a long inseam often find themselves in flood pants. When you finally find a brand that fits you are often left with 1 style option. After all my searching I ended up with a Klim 2 piece suit, which is made of GORE-TEX® weatherproof technology and high-tech armor coverage. It has a lot of vent locations, it has several straps that I can adjust so it is pretty form fitting and not bulky, the pant also has leather sewn in on the inside of the knees to ensure extra durability. They didn’t have a long inseam option in my size but one size up didn’t fit too loose, but I have to say the biggest fail is no pants pockets. The men’s option have cargo pockets on the pants, the women’s don’t. Some days it really drives me bonkers because I reach down to put something in a pant pocket and it just doesn’t exist. All in all I am very pleased with my Klim suit. I definitely fulfilled my functionality check mark while also fulfilling most of my fit wants. This 2 piece will set you back a little over 1k but it is worth the Money.
(Charlie Napping after a thousand mile day in his Aerostitch)
Charlies Pick is was an Aerostich 1 Piece. This thing you basically get to order to your body size, plenty of vents, as well as a plethora of pockets. Being a 1 piece means there wont be any water leaks from a waste line gap. The suit is made of mil-spec 500 Denier Cordura® GORE-TEX® outer fabric, ballistic nylon and a high pic Supernyl lining fabric, and once it is broken in it fits pretty cozy. Charlie has used this suit for over 100k miles and she is still kicking with only a minor zipper repair. The only down side is the annoyance that presents when nature calls. Also you don’t have a jacket option on a cool night after you get off the bike. We did have to make 1 alteration which was sewing leather on the exhaust side pant leg, as GORE-TEX® will melt. Especially on an exposed exhaust found on most choppers. All in all this amazing unicorn of a riding suit will set you back about 1300 Bucks but once again if you ride a lot it is worth all the beans. Aerostich also makes 2 piece suits that I highly recommend to look into.
If you are willing to retire your cool points on a chopper and make the switch you will find yourself extremely dry, comfortable, and protected when on those long haul trips. You’ll end up saving room when every inch counts, and you will stop less on the side of the road to change clothes, which means stopping only when you want take in the view or.. well... to answer the call of nature.