Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Aerostich Roadcrafter One-Piece Suit

Back in late May, I placed an order for a Roadcrafter one-piece riding suit from Aerostich. I chose a size 42 regular and had them rotate the sleeves forward to accommodate a sport-bike riding position. My custom-made suit came via FedEx yesterday and I took my first ride while wearing it.

First impressions matter, but I've learned that may not always be the case in riding apparel that needs to be broken in before they're comfortable. Fortunately, my Roadcrafter fit me perfectly on Mile One. As with most specialized gear, it can feel a little awkward when you're standing upright. It doesn't get into its groove until you assume the position specific to the activity. You wouldn't walk through a grocery store wearing scuba gear and expect it to fit right, but as soon as you get into the water everything would fall into place, so to speak.

Despite being a full-size suit, my Roadcrafter is surprisingly light. I expected it to weigh quite a lot, especially considering how much heavy-duty Cordura nylon and hardware goes into its construction. It is fully lined with a thin nylon material to prevent chaffing, and the protective pads in the shoulders, elbows and knees are discrete and barely noticeable.

Getting into the suit is counterintuitive, but the friendly folks at Aerostich include a 'donning' guide that makes it a snap. You hold up your suit and step into it right foot first, followed by your right arm. Then you insert your left arm into the sleeve. The unusual part is you engage the full-body zipper up by your throat and then zip it down rather than at the ankle and zipping up. Once I did it a few times, I could get into the suit in less than 15 seconds.

I threw my leg over the saddle of my 2012 GSX-R750 and rolled out of the driveway. Before departure, I opened both armpit vents and the vent across my back. The temperature outside was around 80 degrees so I anticipated being rather warm in the thick nylon suit. Surprisingly, I wasn't any warmer than I am in my AGVSport leathers and noticed the Roadcrafter actually had a bit more upper-body ventilation. Most of this was from airflow down the back of the collar and across the center of my back. There are no vents on the legs, however, which may be an issue on especially hot rides.

Once I was on my bike, the suit felt like it disappeared. There were no hot spots or areas where the suit rubbed on a joint or limb. There was plenty of airflow from the open collar. It felt lightweight, too. I was immediately impressed.

I rode through Estacada up the Clackamas River Highway 224 to Ripplebrook Ranger Station and back again. During that ride I got sideways a few times and tested out how the suit felt at higher speeds. It was stable and comfortable, with no flapping or other detractions.

By the time I got home, my new Roadcrafter one-piece suit felt like an old friend. I look forward to many thousands of miles wearing it on my Gixxer.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ride to Maryhill Museum Art Festival

I had plans to go fishing last Saturday, but those plans fell through so I decided to take a ride on Shoot to Thrill instead. But where to go? I remembered my very artistic and talented sister was one of the exhibitors at the Maryhill Museum Arts Festival, near the junction of SR14 and Highway 97 in Washington, overlooking the majestic Columbia River.

The weather was perfect for a ride, too. The sun was shining, there wasn't a lot of wind, and it wasn't going to be uncomfortably hot.

It didn't take long before I was up and over Government Camp and veering off onto Highway 35 northbound. I took NF44 east past Camp Baldwin and began to smell the smoke from a wildfire. I couldn't see where it was coming from until I went through the small town of Dufur and got onto Highway 197 north. Just as I was descending into The Dalles, I could see the source of the smoke from a wildfire on the southwest side of town.

I stopped at the Chevron for a snack and struck up a conversation with Dylan, one of the attendants, while he was taking his break. We talked about bikes, cops, and a few other topics before I got back on the bike and crossed the Columbia. I got onto SR14 and headed 17 miles east to the Maryhill Museum.

Several exhibitor tents were set up on the lawns in front of the museum. Most sold artwork or crafts, including my sister, Tami ( My arrival was a total surprise, she had no idea I was coming. Although we tried to talk, she had numerous customers so my visit was mostly symbolic.

I headed back to The Dalles where I filled up my gas tank (and said hi to Dylan once again), then headed south on 197 back into Oregon. This time, instead of heading back home on NF44 through Dufur, I kept going south to Tygh Valley where I headed west toward Wamic. There were lawn mower races going on at the Pub-N-Grub and I slowed down as I rode past the dusty event.

Soon I was zipping past Rock Creek Reservoir and getting sideways on the wonderful road between Wamic and Highway 35. Before long I was up and over Government Camp once again and back home in plenty of time for dinner.

Here is the route I took there and back.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, GSX-R750!

My 2012 GSX-R750, Shoot to Thrill, turned 1 year old on Sunday. I celebrated with a ride to Detroit that took me through a thundershower that lasted 20 minutes. The rain drops -- as Forrest Gump would call 'Big 'ol fat rain!' -- were so big they hurt when they struck my arms through my riding leathers. During the twisty part, I took it real slow to maintain traction. Once I got up over the pass and hit the long straights I made fast time.

A few miles before reaching Ripplebrook on my way home, the rain had stopped and I had dry pavement. Two nights before there had been severe thunderstorms in the area and there was a lot of tree debris on the road. I even saw banks of hail on the side of the road in the shade that looked like snowbanks. Amazing!

In the year I've owned my Gixxer, I've put 7,000 miles on it. This is atypical for a sport bike, but consider that during that same year I also put 7,000 miles on my Suzuki V-Strom! That's a lot of saddle time.

At this point, if someone asked if I liked the GSX-R750 or the V-Strom better, I'd give them a big smile and say, "Yes!"