Monday, November 11, 2013

Aerostich Roadcrafter Review


A recent visit from a friend and fellow blogger had me extolling the many virtues and nitpicking pans of both my Aerostich suits. I suppose I should offer a review and blog post.

During the Spring of this year, a Team Oregon colleague generously lent me his faded red Roadcrafter suit to test. I wore it back and forth to work for just a wee bit longer than I should have since he had to ask for it back, sorry Pat... but thank you. 

The convenience of the step in, full length zippered, one piece suit had me hooked, I had to have one. No more hopping around on one leg while struggling to get my boot through the other pant leg, all while desperately doing my very best not to fall flat on my ass or go skipping forward for a 10 point, triple salchow into a face plant. No more zipping up my pant fly, or rather forgetting to zip up my pant fly. No longer having to cinch up my belt to keep my pants up, making sure everything is tucked in proper and no more juggling two or more articles of riding gear, unknowingly dragging a sleeve or collar of my jacket through puddles across the parking lot making sure not to drop my helmet and have it bounce and roll down the pavement under foot. 

I now understand why Aerostich commands such a premium. Unfortunately, when I turned my piggy bank upside down and gave it a shake, it was empty...  I'd have to wait.

This past summer we drove up to Portland to visit with Chris from Everyday Riding whom personally recommended the Roadcrafter Light. It's practically waterproof and much lighter than the Roadcrafter. 

Great! Now I was torn between the two, which one did I want? 

I saved my pennies and I eventually went with Chris' recommendation of the more Oregon rain and weather resistant Roadcrafter LightThe 'Light' fit great, felt comfortable and even vented well on warm summer days (as long as I was moving). But I wondered if it would be warm enough come winter, so I turned to ebay and found a slightly used, hi-vis yellow Roadcrafter and bought it just to be sure. 

Now I am able to compare both suits back to back.



Roadcrafter Light
Back to Back

Please note that the used Roadcrafter is a few years old so it may not have the same options available on the newer suits, therefore, I'll start with the Roadcrafter. I do appreciate the heft, it feels well built, durable, safe. The ballistics in the shoulders, elbows and knees are made of a heavy material and I believe would stand up to years of road grime and general abuse.
The Roadcrafter is lined so it can be warm in the summer sun, however the heavier fabric does create a loose weave which may be the reason for the liner, whether for wind protection or rain resistance. The loose weave does seem cooler during my early morning, low temperature, fall commute. The liner holds the armor pockets which does make the suit easier to slip on and off than the Light, however the bulk of the fabric does make the Roadcrafter fit a bit more snug for layering.
The zippers are big and operate easily, I understand that there was a zipper upgrade in 2011 to a more waterproof version so this particular suit does not have that upgrade. Regardless, with a Nik-Wax Tech-Wash and waterproofing I haven't had any issues with water penetrating the zippers on my short 22 mile commute, but an all day ride in the rain may prove otherwise.




The Roadcrafter is a great suit, I do really like it and highly recommend it, but more often than not, the suit I reach for every morning is the "Light".

The Light is, in a word, light. The fabric isn't as heavy but that is not to say I don't feel as safe, I am confident wearing the Light for commuting, freeway riding and bopping along the backroads. If I were to go for a more spirited or aggressive ride in the twisties, or a multiday offroad adventure ride I might opt for the added protection of Roadcrafter instead, but I rarely ride those extremes.

The Light has a tighter weave, heat taped seams and lacks the bulkiness of a liner. The suit itself is waterproof and doesn't require a liner. I have personally tested it in a thunderstorm and torrential downpour on our little Yamaha XT250 (without a windscreen) and Chris was right, not a drop got in. And the Light just seems to fit better, allowing me to layer underneath as much or as little as I like.


The unlined Light

However, without the liner the armor is exposed which does make entry to the suit a bit more difficult as it requires a bit of a 'jump' to get the left shoulder armor to sit atop my shoulder. It isn't much of a problem in the summer when I am not layering but to get it over a sweater and/or jacket takes some finesse. Maybe that is why they're called jumpsuits.


Here you can see how the shoulder armor hinders entry, I may need to add some additional Velcro.
A bit of a struggle, but not too bad.

The Light vents very well, the rear vent and armpit vents open fully without the mesh insert and liner of the Roadcrafter. I do mean fully open, you can pass your hand through the vents.

Another feature I like on the Light is the magnetic collar, Aerostich placed two rare earth magnets in the collar tabs and two more above the breast pockets. This allows the rider to have the collar open for further venting in the summer and keeps the collar at bay and out of your face while riding or off the bike and standing around chatting. However, if you're going to be off the the bike longer than ten minutes or so it is easy to slip out of the suit and drape it over a chair, your bike or wad it up in a corner somewhere.


Magnet in the collar

Magnets...  magnetting.
The only other concern I have with both suits is the zippers run down the inside of both legs where they meet a snap at the bottom.

Snap at the inner leg cuff.

These snaps have a tendency to rub on bike parts, which is fine on an 8 year old,  50K mile Tiger....


Paint rub on cover plate.

However, one must be diligent when borrowing someone else's bike not to scratch the bodywork.



Overall, both suits are very well built. The Roadcrafter is made at the Aerostich factory in Minnesota and can be custom altered to suit your build, size and fulfill all of your desires, as well it can be ordered in an array of colors including contrasting color thread. Whereas the Light is made in Vietnam, limited to standard sizes, colors and cannot be custom altered.

A one piece suit offers the convenience and practicality of quick on and off over your street clothes, but unlike a two piece you do have to hang it, store it or wad it up in a corner as you cannot drape it over the back of a chair in the coffee shop.

I've considered selling the Roadcrafter, but just like I was in acquiring both suits, now I'm torn with letting one go. I think I need to do some more testing, riding, testing and riding. This may take awhile.

___________________________

Bottom line: If you ride in the rain and want a cooler suit in the summer heat, go toward the Light. Otherwise, if you want the added protection of a heavier fabric or require a custom fit and alteration and prefer made in the USA, the Roadcrafter is the way to go.

Either way, you're not going to go wrong with an Aerostich.



18 comments:

  1. Good review Sir. I like the idea of the rare earth magnets at the collar to keep it from hitting the helmet....may have to copy that. I'll be sticking with my Cycleport, now Motoport Kevlar Mesh gear for now. It too was pricey but I do like the convenience of it being two piece so one can doff the jacket but retain the pants for when working on the bike by the side of the road, the armor in the knee pads comes in handy then to cushion my old knees.

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    1. Thank you Dom, the magnets work great and I too considered adapting some to my other gear. The one piece suit is difficult to stash and doesn't lend itself well to roadside repairs as a two piece would. However, the armor does remove easily and with a bit of duct tape could be fashioned as knee pads.

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  2. Nice review and comparison. I'm still thinking the "Light" and especially like the easy in/out. But still thinking… (I'm told that me thinking is dangerous)

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    1. The convenience of getting in and out was the tipping point for me. I prefer the Light simply for the weatherproof and ability to layer underneath.

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  3. excellent info!! shopping and taking this all into consideration, so its much appreciated!

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    1. It is nice to see that Aerostich finally added women's fitted suits this year, although not in the "Light" :(
      http://www.aerostich.com/suits/one-piece-suits/women-s-roadcrafter-one-piece-suit.html

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  4. Interesting review. I use a similar suit made by Spada (in a low price bracket and without the long leg zip) and it sounds like the " RC Lite" model would be 1000% better!

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    1. The Aerostich gear is much heavier than typical motorcycle rain gear, however the price of admission is equally heavy. I find it is well worth it and I won't have to buy gear for several years, (or get to either).

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  5. Troubadour:

    Nice review. I think I would like to see a LIGHT in person first. I'm not sure anyone has those up here. Those rare earth magnets are a good idea to stop collar flapping.

    I wonder how the Light would be in 100°F temps. My jacket converts to full mesh and I carry a rain jacket to put over top, but we had high humidity last summer across the Mid states

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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    1. You're welcome to check out mine and I can give you an in depth personal review and answer questions, (this goes for anyone else nearby). The suit isn't too bad over 90ºF as long as you're moving and not stuck in traffic, but in extreme heat I do switch to my mesh gear and evaporative vest.

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  6. Hmmm, replying to comment mid-morning. Unusual...

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    1. On staycation, Brandy's boss took the week off, therefore Brandy has the week off so I took the week off.
      It is nice to finally work for a company that encourages employees to take time off.

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    2. Cool, enjoy!

      I thought that maybe you ventured into the black hole known as the "smartphone"...

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    3. Me? A smartphone zombie? Ha, very funny!
      You'd have to drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

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  7. Ooh, good review! I had-- and extensively used-- a RC for a year. It was just too hot for daily riding so I sold it. I agree with other fans that it's Da Bomb, with regard to safe, comfortable riding.

    Will definitely look at the Lite version.

    Thanks for the review!

    Dan

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  8. I aspire to a roadcrafter so now you have me pondering!

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  9. Nice! I've needed to 're-gear' for two years now as I took off 50lbs and need to get better fitting clothes. Your review is timely.
    I think you should continue testing...ride, ride, ride! :)

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  10. Riding wardrobe accumulated over the years includes old road crafter and two piece Darien, two piece Darien light and just added Roadcrafter light one piece. For ease and comfort of commuring use the darien light has been my choice through most of riding season. The darien light pants also work well with mesh jackets from other companies in brutal heat. But the new roadcrafter light is now gettimg more use. Just wish the velcro mounting system for the pads worked as well as the old road crafter and darien. the new mounting system encourages catching pads on clothing.

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