For years, more then I care to admit, I was that guy out riding around in jeans and a leather jacket regardless of the weather conditions. When it rained I would pull over and put on some rain gear. When it stopped raining I would pull over and take it off…then, inevitably, it would rain again and I would repeat the entire process. Not only was this incredibly annoying but also relatively pointless considering that most of the rain gear out there is borderline useless. When it was cold I would shiver, when it was hot I would ditch the leather jacket, ride in a t-shirt and end up dehydrated, wind burnt and with blistering sun burns, a mistake I’m sure I will pay for in my later years. Nothing about this arrangement made sense, and I knew it, but I admit that, at the time, I felt the need to fit the stereotypical Harley rider image. It wasn’t until one fateful summer, 5 years or so back, that I reached my limit and said enough is enough. That particular summer I decided I was going to ride all of the lower 48 states over the course of 5 months. What resulted was a 35,000 mile zig zagging journey through every rainstorm the United States had to offer. I battled storms on the east coast, rain on the plains and finally, moisture of epic proportions on the Oregon coast. It was that moment, right there on the Oregon coast, on the verge of hypothermia that I said “screw this, I need some proper riding gear”. I had been watching adventure bike riders all day traveling the same road, I would see them at the gas stations and at diners and they all seemed perfectly content. I, on the other hand, was water logged and miserable. I started paying closer attention to what they were wearing and quickly realized that textile gear seemed to be the ticket. Not a stitch of leather on these guys. At the time of course I didn’t recognize any of the brand labels, nor could remember the names of what they were wearing by the time I got home, so the research began. I actually started my research with “why don’t Harley riders wear textile gear”, not one logical reason was presented so I quickly decided that it must be for fashion and tradition reasons alone, neither of which I could give two poops about at the moment.
Try searching “motorcycle gear” on the internet, it will reveal an overwhelming number of companies peddling their wears all touting mostly the same thing. Protective, waterproof, breathable and so on. Some will will even go as far as to include “fashionable” into their description for those concerned about their appearance. There will come a time in your riding career, as it did in mine, when you have to make a critical decision about what is more important, looking cool, hip and edgy or being properly prepared for the task at hand. It is in my experience that accomplishing both simultaneously is nearly impossible which means that I now reside in the camp of wearing what works, not what looks fashionable. I have no aspirations of being on the cover of GQ magazine or a hip motorcycle magazine so safety and comfort are my main concern. Sure, there are plenty of companies selling great looking gear that will keep you safe in the event of a crash, but it will leak like a sieve in a rain storm. There are companies selling gear that will keep you dry in a rain storm but will shred like cheddar cheese in a crash. This leaves the question of, what do wear if you want to be protected both from the elements and in the event of an unfortunate accident? My answer to this question, 100% of the time, is Aerostich.
After countless hours of research I found this Minnesota based company and quickly learned that they were at the top of their game when it came to functional riding gear. Im not going to say that they are the only company offering quality equipment, but when it came to fitting my personal needs and wants they fit the bill. I was looking for a time proven product. A product that full time world travelers were using with success. A product that was designed for no other reason then to keep a rider safe and dry. I had also decided that a one piece suit was something I was interested in, a decision I was a bit on the fence about but a direction I’m happy I went. I ultimately decided to give the Aerostich R-3 Stealth a try. The R-3 Stealth is there fully blacked out, gore-tex, windproof, waterproof onesie. The moment I climbed into the suit I felt as if I was embarking on a grand adventure, and when I took my first ride in it I felt more comfortable then ever before. When I hit my first rain storm in it I nearly pulled over and jumped for joy as it was the first time I had ever been dry when the roads were wet. And the best part? I didn’t have to stop to put on rain gear. I saw the storm ahead, rode straight into it and came out the other side as dry and comfortable as I had started without even a flinch on the throttle. Thats pure magic right there and one of the top selling points for me. They sell it as a suit you can put over the top of your street clothes but I opt to simply wear Smart Wool long underwear under it. This makes me feel like I’m riding around in the worlds most protective pair of pajamas. Also, with this arrangement, there are no uncomfortable pressure points from a belt or jeans. It's just cozy. On a cold day I find that a heated liner, which Aerostich also offers, does wonders! I now find myself comfortable on days as cold as 20 degrees, and that’s on a bike with no fairings or windshield. Still need some more convincing? Here ya go. The suit is made of 1000D abrasion resistant fabric, two layers of it where it matters. It is lined entirely in Gore-tex, seem taped so it doesn’t leak at the stitching, has waterproof zippers, a million sizes and custom options, when you call to order or have questions a friendly human will answer the phone and to top it all off….American made! A couple more things worth noting that I hadn’t thought about upon purchase: I found myself packing less because I essentially wear the same thing on the bike everyday which means my off bike clothes never really get dirty, also no rain gear to pack. You don’t get as filthy when making those roadside repairs and the plentiful pockets are a nice place to stash those small tools you find yourself needing frequently. And a downside, because there always is one: Yes, it can get pretty warm when sitting in traffic on a hot day but my counter argument is that you’d be hot no matter what. Once you get moving its not any more hot then wearing a t-shirt. Honestly, that’s about the only negative I can come up with and even that is debatable. So there ya go, that’s what I’ve got for you. Do your own research on the topic or take my advice, the choice is yours. Either way I would definitely start by visiting aerostich.com to view there full list of offerings.