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MD Product Review: The Many Flavors of Aerostich

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City jacket

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.

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Tactical suit

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).

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Tactical jacket

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.

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Utility pants

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

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Gabe wearing his Tactical suit.

51 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    THE MANY UNCOMFORTABLE FLAVORS OF AEROSTICH

    I have friends that have the one piece Aerostich. I had one and the negatives are as follows:

    1. Very hot when temps and humidity get above 85 degrees, especially in slow or stop and go traffic. One can always spot the Aerostich riders at ride stops on days like this as the moment the side stands are down…….they are going through all types of gyrations getting their Aerostich once piece suits off!

    2. Aerostich suits are bulky and heavy…just finding a place for it once off the bike in hot/humid weather is a real challenge. They do serve as a somewhat uncomfortable pillow though.

    3. It is impossible to wear the one piece once off the bike and walking around in most hot/humid days of summer

    4. The Aerostich look is totally out of place in warm weather with their generic winter gear one piece styling one would see at a snowmobile shop or K Mart

    5. No effective vents or venting systems for hot/humid weather

    6. The Aerostich jackets have few competitive new/up to date technical rider features, yet cost far more in many cases. The styling is a slightly shorter knock off of the wax cotton gear from England of 75 years ago.

    Aerostich: No issues in spring/fall riding in cooler temperatures, but this type of riding only constitutes about 10% to 15% of the miles I ride and as far as rain my one piece was totally successful not accepting ever attempts to waterproof it……or have it even be water resistant.

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  2. Troy says:

    recently bought a high viz roadcrafter suit while visiting the factory in Duluth. over the course of a 6000 mile trip in temperatures from the upper 30′s to the mid 90′s, the suit was excellent. I almost always wear moisture wicking clothing underneath, it helps when its hot and also when it’s cold as it conducts the heat from my heated gear better than cotton. spent one full day in rain and fog and walked into my motel room completely dry except for damp hands. I have yet to find a good waterproof glove. (I ride a tenere, so I am largely exposed unlike a Goldwing…)
    somewhat unexpectedly, the suit is a conversation starter from riders and non-riders, never the case with my old black roadcrafter.

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  3. Joe says:

    Tried to buy one 2 months ago (Darien light) was told they could not waive $19.00 shipping charges , now Iam no longer interested in the product , maybe they have too much demand.

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  4. Jeremy in TX says:

    Slightly off topic, but does anyone here know of any independent crash testing (not your personal crash testing mind you :-) ) of various riding suits, or even just jackets? I’d be curious to know how various suits compare to one another. Something like the Motorcycle Consumer News article on helmets or the Sharpe tests would be great for protective riding apparel.

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  5. Tom R says:

    Being an ATGATT rider (All The Gear All The Time) even in summer, I occasionally get the “Aren’t you hot in that?” question from non-riders. I used to try to explain how not exposing skin to the sun and wind actually keeps one cooler and greatly diminishes the rate of dehydration, but I almost always got the confused tilted-head “RCA dog look” from them.

    I now instead just say “Well of course I’m hot. It’s 95 degrees out, and I am wearing this outfit”. They usually nod and move on. But when I get the same question from other riders (typically in jeans and a t-shirt) it is ME that tilts my head in amazement. I have done my share of falling down in 30 years of all kinds of riding, with some broken rids and a collarbone to show for it, but I have NEVER lost any skin…thanks to my motorcycling-specific riding gear.

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    • Mike says:

      You forgot to mention the rider distraction and safety issues that wearing multiple layer heavy winter too hot for summer motorcycle specific clothing creates.

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      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Or the danger you pose to other riders who could lose control while laughing uncontrollably at your ‘Stich!

        All joking aside, ATTGATT doesn’t mean you have to suffer. For the price of an Aerostich, one could buy two quality suits: a mesh suit for the hot weather, and another for cooler temps.

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  6. Ed Young says:

    I have an Aerostitch Darien Light jacket in hiviz with the microfleece inner liner. I am resonably comfortable from 25 degF to 95 (the highest temp I have ridden in) at high humidity, rain or shine. In hot weather the vents can be arranged so that the air blows up the sleeves and inflates the jacket with constantly new air. Much air escapes out the neck. I find this much more cooling than mesh which has a hot spot down the middle of the back and a hot neck line.

    The hiviz may not look Kewl, but 4 times I have seen cars start across an intersection in front of me only to stand on their brakes. I never experienced this with my red mesh or motoport suits, I ended up panic stopping or swerving instead. I don’t much care what I look like if I live to ride another day.

    Now if I could just find some comfortable all-weather pants. The black Darien Light pants get pretty hot above 70 degF.

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  7. LarryC says:

    I’ve looked at Aerostitch gear on numerous occasions, but never took the plunge. Pretty hard to justify the price. The (few) I’ve seen in person weren’t all that impressive.

    Probably the most versatile and comfortable riding gear I have is a two-piece, zip together BMW suit made in Bosnia. I agree with a previous poster that “all-purpose” gear usually means mediocre overall performance at most temperatures, but the BMW suit pretty much does it all with impressive efficiency. It fits great and works in all but the hottest and coldest conditions. I don’t ride in the coldest conditions…this is supposed to be fun! But it’s great in cool weather with Damark underwear. In really hot weather, I defer to perforated First-Gear, Fieldsheer, or Klim stuff. My Klim Dakar pants are the most comfortable riding pants I’ve ever owned, but a little short on protection for street riding.

    The drawbacks of the BMW gear are two-fold. First, like Aerostitch, it was horribly expensive. I was lucky to find mine on sale for less than half price. Secondly, it makes you look a little like an SS officer, not real stylish on a sport bike!

    Everything’s a trade off…

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  8. 2whl-hoop says:

    I’ve had a Roadcrafter two piece since 2008 and have, conservatively guessing, about 30k miles on the jacket and maybe half that on the pants. My only major complaint is the lack of venting in the pants. With the waterproof zippers currently available I wouldn’t think it would be too hard to put a couple vents on the thighs. I wash it once a year with Nik wax waterproofing and it has always kept me dry. Even in torrential downpours. I might look at the City jacket next year as a lighter weight jacket for running errands in.

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  9. joe b says:

    it would be nice to see Gabe, in his black suit, standing next to the bike, or a side view sitting on the bike, to show the suit, it is an article on the gear, right?

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  10. roadrash1 says:

    I’ve had my hi-vis yellow Roadcrafter for 5 or 6 years. One of my best purchases ever. It works great over my work clothes, and with heated gear under it, it’s comfortable in some really extreme conditions. I bought mine directly at the factory in Duluth. They do a great job of sizing you there, and I got a discount too!

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  11. DorsoDoug says:

    My experience – products that claim do all things, generally do no single thing well. Aerostitch undoubtedly paved the way for all that came thereafter. My current “all weather gear” consists of a mismatched Firstgear 3/4 jacket and over pants. The pants offer minimal crash protection. And the jacket although well armored would not be optimal in a get off bc of the loose fit. Having said that, I have ridden in the most torrential and windy rains of my life and honestly did not get a drop of rain even down my collar. Technology is good with sealed zippers and adequate ventilations. But I still keep a variety of other textile and leather products that I choose based on the weather and type of riding I plan to do. I don’t think there is a one size fits all. Yet

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  12. Jeremy in TX says:

    Nothing, and I mean nothing looks dorkier than a guy in a blue Aerostich one-piece. Well, maybe a gray/hi-viz looks dorkier. Tough call.

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  13. Gene says:

    I made the mistake of going to the Aerostich East Coast Experience in Arlington VA this past weekend. It was my first time seeing the suits in person and trying them on. I loved them! I totally want the one-piece experience for the cooler temperatures (70 and below). I wonder if I can sneak a purchase without telling my wife. LOL!

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  14. Vrooom says:

    I’m going to go against the grain a bit here. While I own a ‘stich suit, I don’t wear it often. I do wear some Roadcrafter pants through the winter, but find that generally speaking their gear is overpriced for what you get. My Spidi H2Out suit is dryer than my ‘stich, and cost less. The Roadcrafter pants are good for commuting, and waterproof for my 30 minute commute, but on a long wet ride I reach for other gear as I know I’ll be soaked at the crotch and upper legs (also known as Aerostich crotch). Aerostich advertises 10 seconds on and off with their suit, but it’s designed pretty much the same as all suits as far as exit and entry goes, which take me around 30 seconds to get into.

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  15. Bob says:

    I bought a Roadcrafter 1 piece back in 2002 and suffered wet spots everywhere the zipper went…neck to crotch to ankles. I thought I might not have been dilligent with sealing myself up, but after the 3rd time in a row getting soaked on the way to work, I immediately put it up for sale and took a $300 hit but happy to be rid of it.

    Aerostitch’s claim to fame has always been being able to get in or out of their suits in less than 30 seconds. The reason you can do this is because the zippers are loose and don’t keep out the water, even with a storm flap blocking most of it. Goretex is the best at keeping water at bay but Aerostitch’s design and choice of zippers negated any of it’s benefits.

    There are much better suits available than Aerostitch like Halvaarsons, Rukka and Staedler, for instance and they actually work without fault. Unfortunately Aero can do no wrong in some people’s eyes because of the cult status it has developed over the years, even if not deserved.

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    • Gabe says:

      OMG! You didn’t take the time to actually read the article, but you did take the time to bash a suit from 10 years ago!

      Read the story and you’ll see the suits are redesigned with better, tighter-tolerance RiRi zippers.With those tighter zippers (which work just as well as the old ones, especially with a little Teflon lubricant) I can get in or out of my helemt, gloves and suit in under 30 seconds. I can put the suit on easily in 15.

      Rukka suits are $2000, and not as convenient to wear. And can you even buy those other brands in the USA?

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      • Bob says:

        Actually, I did read the whole article and aside from the new zipper, what else actually changed? Nothing. Same design as it was 20 years ago.

        Second, people today are still washing-in Nikwax and similar products as a way to keep their Aerostitches waterproof, and likely at the expense of breathability. For years, I’ve laughed at everyone for doing this as it shows that the suit isn’t as great as they think it is if you have to do this in order to stay dry.

        8 years on my Rukka SRO Anatomic and I’ve NEVER had to wash it with any kind of waterproofing agent and it has NEVER allowed one drop inside in the hurricane force fall weather we often get on the Texas caost, not to mention the 130,000 miles all over the rest of North America’s wet regions on a naked bike. An hour long So-Cal shower is hardly running a suit through the ringer.

        Convenience? Getting the suit on in 15 seconds means nothing to someone who will spend 12+ hours on the bike in crappy weather. I’d rather be dry than worry about taking an extra 3 minutes to seal myself up properly.

        And yes, you can buy those other brands in the USA. Been able to for 25 years that I’m aware of. I know several people with all of them. Can’t recall them ever saying they needed to wash in any waterproofing either . ;)

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      • Bob says:

        BTW, I only felt the need to balance out the “we’re fans of Aerostich products” to keep the review from being too positively one-sided. Satisfaction is about 50/50 amongst owners and previous owners on http://advrider.com/

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        • Mike says:

          Please do not confuse Gabe or all those that have buy what they perceive to be the latest and greatest and accept by doing this they have defend it against a single negative comment or the comments of many……nomatter how many!!!!!

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      • Joe Bogusheimer says:

        Good point. It’s very difficult to find anyplace in North America where you can find a good selection of really high-end riding gear, to get a feel for fit, finish, styling, etc. I guess another strength for Aerostich is that they can/will customize the fit of the suit to you. I probably wouldn’t mind spending over $1,000 for a good suit, if I was convinced it would actually do everything I want it to (warm in cool weather, cool in warm weather, dry in heavy rain, etc), but without knowing that for sure beforehand, it’s a big gamble. So I’ll keep riding with my lesser-quality gear.

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  16. Gronde says:

    I saw this same costume on the 1950′s classic. “War of thr Worlds”. It can be very effective armor while fighting aliens.

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  17. Michael H says:

    I don’t own an Aero, although I rode up to the factory in Duluth to try them on. I don’t see how they can be comfortable in hot weather. Heck, I get uncomfortable in summer riding while wearing a mesh jacket, and the Aero’s don’t vent anywhere near as well. How do you guys tolerate the heat?

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    • Hair says:

      You might benefit from reading; Against the Wind by Ron Ayres. Mister Ayres is a many time Iron Butt rally winner. This book documents one of his rides. In his book he talks of the benefits of having the outer layer of the Darien jacket on as he rode though the desert. He used the jacket to keep his skin covered and protected from windburn and the sun. While at the seem time opening the vents to allow for some air movement. I have ridden many times in +100 degree heat using Ron’s suggestions. Sure it’s hot even damn hot. But in the end it’s the best way that I have found to get through the heat of the day.

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      • Hot Dog says:

        I have a Roadcrafter jacket and you’re correct that opening the vents will allow for air movement. I’ve found that if the sleeves are unzipped and hands positioned on the bars to allow air up them, the unzipped arm pits and back vent will push air through so fast that you’ll look like the Michelin Man. On the other hand though, in slow or stop and go traffic, I’m one roasted wienie(Hot Dog?). I’ve ridden in prairie down pours and not gotten wet at all. I like the support the factory supplies in case of some abrasion or alteration (due to the 50 pounds I’m going to loose in the last 20 years).

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    • bikerrandy says:

      Neither do I. Have a Duratrak(made in Israel) 3/4 jacket that is by far the best hot weather real abrasion protection I’ve ever seen. It has zipper vents all the way up the arms, shoulders, back vent. I’ve ridden in 120F heat comfortably with this jacket.
      For rain protection I have a $30 1 piece rain suit, which I hardly ever need. As far as cold riding, never have needed an electric vest to keep warm. Do use electic gloves. If I told you what I paid for this jacket(closeout) you wouldn’t believe me. Had it for 6 years.

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    • Shane says:

      What’s wrong with being hot? Seriously, when did Americans become afraid of sweating? If comfort were my top priority I wouldn’t be riding a motorcycle. Even in the scorching heat I wear my gear and I’m glad that I did when I got t-boned. It is strange to me that it is more likely to be another motorcyclist who asks my ‘Aren’t you hot in that’ than a non rider. I’d rather sweat than bleed any day.

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      • bikerrandy says:

        When it’s really hot and your on a MC in it, there’s a thing called dehydration, at least out West. It can kill you if you don’t drink water or? during it. I have a water bag I sip on as needed in such conditions. Otherwise I’d have to pull over and wait ’till night time to ride again, if I had any strength left to do it.

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        • shane says:

          Respectfully, I don’t buy your argument. Most riders in the US (I can’t really speak for other countries although I did just have a lovely 2 1/2 weeks riding in europe) simply don’t ride long enough stints to get to the point of dehydration. One would have to ride for literally hours without having had enough fluid before the ride to get to that point. I know very few riders who ever ride for hours at a time without stopping.

          I’ve ridden through the hottest of conditions (Death Valley in August, lots of riding in the southwest) and never considered wearing inappropriate gear. I will grant that I’m more athletic than most and have a great tolerance for heat, but I sweat like a cop in a donut factory and lose a lot of fluid.

          I’m truly not attacking you or your argument, just befuddled about our obsession with not sweating in the US. It seems like the AC in every building is set to ‘meat locker’.

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  18. Tom says:

    I think these suits remind me of the Nissan – Subaru commercial… We forgot style…. Sorry but the emperor’s new clothes are ugly.

    I applaud Andy and his design but gee wiz. How am I going to look on my new KTM 1290 SuperDuke wearing that? ;-)

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    • Tim says:

      Maybe so, but when motorcycling it is better to feel good than to look good.

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    • Gabe says:

      You’ll look like a motorcyclist–someone who values practicality and good engineering over fashion.

      • Mike says:

        Why dont you get back to everyone about the abrasion resistance of 1000 denier Cordura vs the 500 and 200 denier Cordura?

        Contact Dupont and ask for Cordura techinal product line help area

        I did this a few yeas ago when eval a new riding suit and was told that Dupont does not recommend 200 or 500 denier Cordura used by Aero for motorcycle apparel.

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    • Mike says:

      You will not be the single exception……you are going to look terrible on any bike wearing an Aerostich……….start there

      The reality is about 90% of the miles most of us ride are in heat and/or humidity ……not rain or cold weather, so why ride in slightly numbed down Aero multi layer winter design for all these miles?

      What is needed in my view is a safe and comfortable hot weather suit for the 90% of the time we ride on good days when it is warm that has a state of the art rain suit design that packs small and includes a liner to use as needed that will work for the remaining 10% time we ride

      You ride below temps of 50 degrees and/or snow, sleet or rain ….that is a second riding outfit

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  19. Hot Dog says:

    When you get your first ‘Stitch’, you’ll wonder why in the hell you waited so long to get one.

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  20. slimlids says:

    I just bought their AD1 pants. Two days later, I skidded them, me and my Africa Twin down the road on my way to work. It was as good of a lowside as you could ask for, but I am not too impressed with the AD1′s performance. They got pretty banged up. There is two types of material on these pants and the thinner stuff evaporated in the crash. The thicker stuff got worn down pretty well too. They look pretty bad just after one little crash. I thought Aerostich stuff would have crashed better. Me and the Africa Twin are way more crash proof than these pants. The bike actually looked better post crash. I look about the same.

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  21. Ken says:

    I have a 7 year old Roadcrafter and was on a road trip with 4 guys in various brands of riding jackets and pants. We had to get home on sunday in July 95 degrees with thunderstorms. I just zipped up the closed the neck area when it rained and zipped it open 5 inches when it stopped. The other guys stopped, dug out rain gear and spent 5 minutes putting it on,and when the rain stopped had to stop again to remove it because it was so hot. After 4 such rotations I just waved good by and booked home.
    When you add the cost of the dry gear and wet gear, plus winter gear they own my $1000 Roadcrafter is about the same and I ride anytime!

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  22. RRocket says:

    I used to like (and own) Aerostich until I tried Rev’It gear.

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  23. John says:

    “Now with Range Rover protection”

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  24. allworld says:

    I too am a fan of Aerostich products. I opt for the their Transit Suit, made of Gortex Proshell Leather, it wasn’t cheap but it is a fantastic suit. It’s Gortex fused with leather and yes it is waterproof. I rode from Scranton, PA to Boston, MA in nonstop pouring rain on the interstates and stayed dry with exception of some seepage around my neck. One of the great things about this suit is not having to pack rain gear when I set out, there’s no separate lining to put in or take out and it fits very well. In colder weather I use thermals, but at some point will go to heated gear. I would recommend this suit to everyone.

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