Here at MD, we’re fans of Aerostich products—as are most of the motojournalists we know. That’s because the baggy, well-made suits are fantastically practical, comfortable and packed with safety, comfort and convenience features that make them as close to the ideal all-around riding garment as you’ll find. You can read Willy Ivin’s full review from some years ago for full product details, but the heavy-duty Roadcrafter suit (available in one or two-piece versions) is the company’s flagship product, designed for year-round, high-speed travel. It’s built from tough 500-Denier Gore-Tex Cordura nylon, with an extra layer of 1050-Denier “ballistic” (so-called not because it’s bullet proof, but because it’s used as the outer shell for bullet-proof vests) nylon over the impact areas—knees, shoulders and elbows. Aerostich’s ‘TF3′ armor (pieces of memory foam bonded to harder materiel) comes in the elbows, shoulders and knees to provide some impact protection (good impact protection, from my own personal experience crashing in these suits) to supplement the excellent abrasion-resisting properties of the Cordura.
Maybe you’re okay with the standard Roadcrafter ($967), but what if you want to get “tactical?” That word is, of course rife with military meaning, but it can also refer to, according to Merriam-Webster, something “made or carried out with only a limited or immediate end in view,” or even to describe being “adroit in planning or maneuvering to accomplish a purpose.” The Roadcrafter Tactical ($937 for the one-piece, $547 for the jacket, $507 for the pants), then, deletes the additional ballistic fabric from the shoulders, knees and elbows, saving weight (and $30 off the pricetag) and offering a bit more freedom of movement, plus you get a simpler, cleaner aesthetic that may please minimalists. Perfect for a more specific mission, like lower-speed intercity commuting, or perhaps rain-riding on a low-powered dualsport.
Rain riding? What about “Aerostich Crotch,” the condition where water pools in your lap and soaks through, making it look like you wet your pants (prompting questions like, “Exciting ride to work this morning, Bob?”). The Tactical, like all the Roadcrafter suits made since last year, now uses a water-resistant RiRi zipper and is fully seam-taped to keep you dry. I can tell you that I haven’t tested my new Tactical in the rain, as it hasn’t yet rained much, but I did have excellent results riding up to an hour in the new Roadcrafter Light suit (Dirck has one too) in rainy conditions.
If your mission favors lighter-weight gear, but you still want the security of extra material at the impact points, you can opt for the Roadcrafter City (two-piece only, $557 for the jacket, $517 for the pants). It uses the lighter 200-Denier Gore-Tex, with 500-Denier panels in the impact zones. The 200-Denier fabric doesn’t mean the City is only 40 percent as protective as the Tactical or standard Roadcrafter—fabric doesn’t work like that. “Denier” refers to thread weight, not tightness of weave or thickness of the finished fabric, which means abrasion resistance isn’t necessarily predicted by that number. Aerostich tells us the 200-Denier offers about two-thirds the abrasion resistance of the 500 (and the company actually tests this under controlled conditions).
I was excited to get my new Roadcrafter Tactical. I had spent a couple of years in the Roadcrafter Light, which is a really nice item—light, affordable (it’s imported, which keeps the price down to $767), waterproof, plenty warm (if you layer underneath) and set up with several new features that keep the Roadcrafter brand on the cutting edge of practical riding apparel. There’s a carabiner-like clip for keys or even your helmet (if you need your hands free but want to carry your helmet), Velcro attachment points for optional raincovers for your boots, optional chest and hip armor, an optional chest-heating pad, new pockets for your cellphone and wallet, and many other new touches. What it didn’t offer was the Supernyl liner of the other Roadcrafters, which makes donning and doffing the suit much easier, as well as a little more comfortable to wear. The pads are held by small pouches Velcro-ed directly to the suit’s shell, and though they are easy to adjust, also seemed to get in the way when I was putting the suit on or taking it off. Also, I ordered my suit when I was…larger…and wanted something that wasn’t comically baggy. Maybe in a svelte, slimming black.
The Tactical looks good on me, no? It’s a little more tailored than the Darien and Roadcrafter Light, and it broke in very quickly—one advantage of textile. Of course, that was my second suit—the first size I tried was way too long in the torso, so I switched to a 40 short (I’m 5-foot-6-inches and have a 30-inch inseam). Custom sizes, features and alterations (including things like extra pockets, and alterations to make the suit fit better with sportbike riding positions), are available for all the suits except the Roadcrafter Light.
We all have a favorite leather jacket, but wearing it with jeans is a big comprimise when it comes to impact and abrasion protection. The Aerostich Utility Pants ($247) have the chops to become your go-to riding pants. They’re durable, waterproof and washable, made from 500-Denier Cordura Nylon bonded to Gore-Tex to be sure they’re waterproof (anything Gore-Tex labeled must be warranted to be waterproof forever). They have Velcro-equipped pockets so your stuff doesn’t fall out, and have armor in the knees (and provisions for hip armor, too). Like Aerostich suits, they have adjustable cuffs so they’ll fit into boots. Unlike the Roadcrafter trousers, they have belt loops and a low-rise jean cut, key for casual comfort—they fit just like your favorite pair of jeans.
I’ve been testing a pair, and it’s a good, sturdy, comfortable garment that would be just right if you want to pack light and bring just one pair of pants for everything. I’ve found them comfortable, warm and fit as expected, designed to wear over your actual jeans, or commando-style over nothing but your usual pair of “unusual” undergarments.
They don’t have leg zippers like other Aero-products, but since they’re so comfy, you can just remove the Velcro-ed armor pouches and wear them like regular pants at your destination. My only complaint is they’re slippery on the seat, but that can be good if you have a more active riding style or if you want to go really fast on the slides at your local playground.
Since they’re black, they look okay with everything, though nobody will ever call a pair of baggy black pants “sexy”. I haven’t had a chance to wear them out, but 500-Denier Cordura pretty much lasts forever—after all, the fabric was designed for tire cording. You can choose black or gray, depending on whether your mood is bleak or just gloomy.
Also available is a 200-Denier version, the Light Weight Utility Pants (also $247). We haven’t tested the Light, but we’d expect them to be really light (the standard Pants only weigh 2.5 pounds with armor, 1.5 more than your average pair of blue jeans), as well as cool and comfortable when it’s hotter. Plus, you can also get them in a fetching shade of tan, in addition to gray and black, if you think you can stand the excitement. Call 800/222-1994 or go to Aerostich’s website to order. At least get the catalog—it’s some of the best bathroom reading on the planet.
Gabe Ets-Hokin is the Editor of City Bike Magazine, and a frequent contributor to MotorcycleDaily.com
Gabe wearing his Tactical suit.