It’s for the yobs on too-tall bikes, the snobs that won’t wave, the nobs with jobs too stuffy for this kid. It’s for the pretend ’round-the-worlders, the growing-much-too-olders, the gray-haired and self-unaware dorks of motorcycling. The Aerostich Roadcrafter isn’t for me.
I thought. I was wrong. It happens.
I want leather and the sucking flattery of shapely-armored designer cuts wrapping me in MotoGP cosplay, I thought. I gave it a shot. The intoxicating scent of leather loses its appeal when soggy wet. Ditto the joy of riding.
And even my relatively loose-fitting leather clobber took too long to fit, delayed my daily departure, and presented enough excuse for me to lazily avoid small trips on the bike–to accept the hassle of gearing up I needed a real good reason to ride.
After three years of living the snug-hugging dream of motorcycling in leather, the Aerostich Roadcrafter gradually made sense. Good in the rain and quick to dress up and down. That is precisely what I need. Now after a year with my ‘Stich, the suit still suits me perfectly.
Aerostich’s most damning issue is the fact they’re based in Duluth, Minnesota. Anyone not residing in or visiting Duluth must order online and hope the enormous one-piece fits properly according to measurements made by customers, not tailors. I used a tape measure wrapped ’round my vital metrics–chest, waist and inseam–and stabbed the dark with an online order. The Roadcrafter suit fit like a glove. But Cordura doesn’t stretch and a glove-like Roadcrafter is not ideal. Specifically, my man parts suffered when I leant forward in the suit, my forward-bent shoulders tugged the one-piece upward and into the boys of under. I gave the suit a week before ringing up Aerostich HQ for advice. Send back the gently-worn too-small suit and they’d start building another, one size bigger.
Two weeks later, “my ‘Stich” arrived. The improved fit didn’t solve my comfort completely because it couldn’t possibly have–I’d never before worn a one-piece and there’s a degree of comfort that can’t be sewed but must be learned. Bluntly, I felt awkward in the suit. It took a month of loosening up and settling in before I felt my old self on the bike. Love didn’t dawn in an instant, but I knew what was good for me. The Roadcrafter would be good. It really is.
Overstating the convenience of the Aerostich Roadcrafter is impossible. In twenty seconds, I’m suited, neck-to-ankle, in skin-saving abrasion resistance. In about half that time I’m disrobed. (Times verified by stopwatch and wife.) The Roadcrafter effortlessly fits over boots and whatever attire matches my destination, be it work, weekend brunch with friends or a Haight Street bar. The suit slips off and rolls into a neat wad that can be cable-locked to the bike if wildly-urinating homeless aren’t a common public concern where stopped. In San Francisco, I tend to take the suit with me rather than leave it behind, though the convenient option for abandonment allows comfortable foot travel off of the bike when visiting friendlier, less human-wastey cities.
Still, San Francisco is the perfect climate for the Roadcrafter. Despite appearances, the suit isn’t particularly warm riding. In fact, it breathes better than the leather stuff I wore before, as long as the bike is rolling. Walking on foot in 90-degree weather will conjure an unhappy sweat, but crack open the underarm vents and leave unzipped the upper chest of the suit and it’s quite cheery inside when cutting through the air at speed. For cold weather, there’s plenty of room for layers under the waterproof Goretex. I can hardly remember what it’s like to worry about rain. Shove my jean legs into my boots, don the ‘Stich and no downpour can make me miserable. I’ve braved SF freeway rush hour through sliding, splashing four-lane puddles of fallen sky and come out dry at the other end. The Roadcrafter is notorious for letting in wet at the crotch but I’ve hardly noticed.
Not that I’m oblivious to all faults with the suit. Chief among my complaints is this: Not one of the Roadcrafter’s myriad pockets is accessible while sitting and with gloved hands. The main front pockets fold at the lap while seated, rendering the contents inaccessible. A small breast pocket is good for a wallet and iPhone but seals shut with just a bit of hook-and-loop (Velcro) and a modest flap that I don’t fully trust in the rain. Considering how gloriously practical the suit is, the Roadcrafter’s pockets disappoint.
And I worry that the liberal use of hook-and-loop will cause the suit to wear prematurely. The stuff seals various pockets as well as a long flap that covers the World’s Longest Zip running from the neck of the suit down to the left ankle. I’ve employed the Roadcrafter nearly every day for a year and the fuzzy loops still hook strongly, though the aforementioned breast pocket flap is worn such that the hook-and-loop bond has weakened. Snaps instead of Velcro might improve the durability of the suit against daily use, though adding dear seconds to the dress-up-and-down time. Either way, I’ll find room to complain.
But not much, because that about ends my negative marks of the Roadcrafter suit. The thing is fantastic and, even at nearly $900, a bargain. My favorite feature? The “Made in U.S.A.” tag on the back. The suit is pure American, from the saggy butt to the under-engineered and over-built construction that’s a hallmark of American durability and quality. My ‘Stich has lived through 10,000 road miles so far and with a good washing could look nearly new (save for a small bit on the right leg scalded by the exposed section of my DR’s exhaust). Aerostich has a reputation for long-lasting suits with lifespans expressed in decades rather than years. One year in, my Roadcrafter certainly looks ready for another ten. If I crash sometime between now and then, the folks in Duluth offer repairs and the kind of support exclusive to small, local-ish business. Need the arms shortened an inch, or a Canadian flag sewn into the breast? Aerostich will do it for a nominal fee. (The nominal fees add up significantly if multiple alterations are required. Prep the pocketbook. Get the right fit.)
As a matter of opinion, I find the Roadcrafter rather handsome. In silver-on-gray, it’s nearly militaristic, air force-like austere. Three cute girls once asked me if I’d come from the moon, which might be poking fun but they also asked to come with me. Sure, there exist cooler ways to dress. But more practical gear for the daily-rider lifestyle? I find it hard to imagine anything tops the Aerostich Roadcrafter. Then again, I’ve been wrong before.