- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

My only real regret in conning Aerostich into sending me one of their motorcycle riding suits is that I don't get to keep it.
In so many ways, the Cordura nylon and Gore-Tex Roadcrafter suit Aerostich sent is a perfect tool for my day's commute.
It is lightweight, versatile, comfy and oh-so-reassuringly armored in all the right places.
Other companies make similar suits, for example Road Gear, which is based in Pueblo, Colo. And not having used the others, I cannot say whether they are as good or better.
But I can say the Aerostich is mighty fine.
The first clue I was dealing with something special came when the box from the plant in Duluth, Minn., arrived.
I picked it up and started complaining loudly that they had sent me the wrong thing. It just did not seem possible that the suit could be that light.
Well, it is.
The second clue, or clues, followed as my roommate and I kept finding new ways in which the suit was designed well.
Pockets everywhere, seven in all. Side zips allowing access to the pockets in your street pants, but covered with a thick flap to keep wind and rain out. Underarm and two-way back vent zippers to cool you off in the summer. Beefy zipper pulls that are a cinch to find with gloves. Adjustment tabs at the waist, wrist and ankles. A wide array of colors including high-visibility yellow. And an ultrasuede collar that makes the suit feel just plush.
The final clue came when I strolled out to my bike the other morning, found that it was cold enough that rain had frozen on the seat overnight, and rode to work anyway.
Wearing just street clothes and a light sweater under the Roadcrafter I found that I was cool, but not cold. And the thermometer was barely pushing 34 degrees.
It is possible to stay warm on all but the coldest of days while motorcycling, but the problem has always been the hassle.
Currently, to stay warm on a near-freezing day I must don on top of my usual street clothes a thick wool sweater, my leather jacket, a down vest, a scarf, a hood, leather chaps, winter gauntlets, and then a full-body rain suit.
The Roadcrafter makes almost all of that unnecessary and can be pulled on and zipped up in just 30 seconds.
All that said, there are some caveats.
First, the Roadcrafter is not a replacement for either a leather or Kevlar suit, so it cannot be used on the racetrack and therefore should not be used by people reaching racetrack speeds on the road.
The suit comes with elbow, shoulder and knee pads made of foam with a hard-plastic shell, but the suit material itself melts when scraped at high speeds down the road for any period of time.
Remember getting off at 100 mph means sliding across nearly 140 feet of pavement in just the first second.
The second caveat is something of a good news, bad news situation.
The good news is that that Aerostich Roadcrafter suit comes in a wide variety of sizes and can be altered with a number of modifications.
The bad news is that if I were to buy the basic $697 one-piece Roadcrafter, it would need at least $135 of those modifications.
Some of that is my grandfather's fault.
I grew into his gangly, tall-legged shadow, and no off-the-rack motorcycle suit fits me particularly well.
And some of those modifications are necessary because of my choice of motorcycle, a sport bike.
Riding my girlfriend's motorcycle, I sat fairly erect and found the suit to be fine, but on my sport bike, my legs are tucked up and my back is hunched over and the suit just didn't fit.
Aerostich is not sold in stores, but can be ordered on line, from www.Aerostich.com or by catalog.

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