Thursday, August 19, 2010

A New 'Stich and a New Revelation.

My new 'Stich arrived. More technically, a two piece Aerostich Roadcrafter. It was delivered three weeks after I ordered it. Which is good for me but no so good for Aerostich, I fear. When I ordered the last one over a decade ago the lead time was 12 weeks. My hope is that the situation is due to increased efficiency instead of lower business volume. Unfortunately, I fear that the economy has hit them, too.

I've rediscovered a couple of things in the process and learned some new things, as well. You might find some of this interesting.

One thing that really impressed me is the card that came with the suit. Here it is.



These people literally put their name behind their work. That's pride in your craft. None of this Inspector 12 crap. Real people, real names. My new Roadcrafter shows quality throughout. I thank Karen, Wendy, Luke, John, and Janet for their efforts on my behalf though I was but a nameless customer halfway across the country. Thanks, too, to those in other departments that had a hand in all this.

Speaking of quality, some changes have been made since I ordered the last one. Here's an excerpt from Andy's e-mail. In case anyone has been living under a rock and doesn't know the God of Motorcycle Gear, Andy Goldfine is the head honcho at Aerostich and Rider Wearhouse. There's a link to them on the right of the blog.

"I'm glad your old Roadcrafter gave you such good service, and that you will be replacing it with another one. I appreciate your business. You will notice a few small changes and updates in your new Roadcrafter, including better impact armor, stronger reflective material, water and wind proof zippers in all vent and pocket locations, and belt loops in the 2pc pants...and some other things. I hope your new suit will provide similar long service."

Not sure what Andy meant by "........and some other things", but I'm hoping that part of it is a material that is more resistant to shrinking! Which brings us to one of the reasons I replaced the suit in the first place.

By my reckoning the old Roadcrafter has seen a little over two hundred thousand miles of riding with me. The collar has worn into a series of little cloth rolls. The hook and loop on the right side of the pants no longer holds the flap over the pocket. The right pant leg zipper wants to creep up as the bottom snap is broken. I sent the suit back to Aerostich five years ago for a bit of refurbishing including new armor pads but I'm wearing some of it out again.

Mind you, the suit is still perfectly serviceable. These are really minor things. It's amazing how durable these suits are. I will probably send the old one back for another refurbish and keep it for a spare. So, you ask, if the old suit is still so serviceable, why did you replace it? A very good question.

A big reason is the fit thing. I'm pretty sure it's not my fault. I think that countless hours of hot summer sun and cold winter rain have caused the suit to shrink. Although Andy will vigorously shake his head and deny that could happen. He'll probably say that I am no longer the same shape as I was 11 years ago. Ouch! Ok, maybe there is a tiny bit of truth in that. I'd rather blame it on a poor buying decision. Let me explain.

Here's what the book that comes with the Roadcrafter has to say about the matter:

"Finally, remember that a looser, baggier fit will always be more comfortable and versatile than a tighter fit. Your suit was designed to fit like the coveralls that mechanics and painters often wear, not like racing leathers. ( If you like your suit's function but dislike its appearance, try to avoid mirrors, plate glass windows, etc. )"

First, let's get one thing clear. The pants I ordered this time are exactly the same waist size as I ordered 11 years ago and they fit fine. It's the jacket that was the concern. Last time I ordered a size 42 jacket. I wanted the sleek fit. My chest was larger than my stomach. I was working out a lot. It all worked out just great. Then two things happened.

I took a desk job for the first time in my life. Sometime during that three and a half years gravity also got stronger. Due to a much longer commute my gym time suffered. My large, muscular chest and sleek stomach started to sort of blend together. Ok, to be brutally honest they somehow switched places. The jacket still fit okay due to strong zippers, but there wasn't much room for extra insulation under it. Sure, I boast about being a tough guy and not using an electric vest and so on during the winter. Hey, what choice do you have when that stuff won't fit under your jacket?

Thankfully, I have been away from the desk job for a while. So what's my excuse, now? Let's just say it's been a long winter. I plan to go back to the gym, let's see, any day now.

Once I worked with a guy who used to remark about the gruesome faces runners would be displaying. He said it looked like fun. Dripping with sarcasm, of course. His statement is that the only time he'd run would be from sheer terror. I used to enjoy running. That's a lead-in to my next post, by the way. Please take note.

This time I ordered the jacket a couple of sizes larger. It does feel a bit baggy. However, I will reserve judgement until much colder weather hits. In the meantime I've gotten quite good at avoiding my reflection so all is well.

I have come face to face with something I had forgotten about. A new Roadcrafter takes some time to break in. In other words, this super tough material is stiff! Picture trying to hug somebody in a suit of armor. The material density causes problems with proprioception. Go look it up. What? Just because we're motorcyclists we shouldn't have an intelligent vocabulary?

Getting on and off the bike is somewhat pathetic but totally funny. As long as you're watching and not the one getting on the bike, that is. My brain gives the signal to my leg telling it to bend a certain amount. The leg gets the signal and tries to obey. The suit stiffness allows about 85 percent compliance. Oh well. Eventually the Roadcrafter will get broken in. I'm confident it won't take too long.

There was a certain mental revelation in the process, as well. Take a look at the photo below.



It should be obvious which one is the new one. The new jacket is bright! Let's quickly comment on the Hi-Viz thing while we're here.

There are those who swear by bright colors and those who say that bright colors aren't all that effective. That discussion could take up a whole post by itself. I'm a professional rider. Between my own experiences and studies like the Hurt Report ( where it stated that in only 5 percent of the motorcycle accidents they studied was the rider wearing a conspicuous color ) I believe that bright colors make a positive contribution to rider safety. I also firmly believe that many riders make the mistake of thinking of conspicuity as a magic bullet. Like anything else, bright colors are only one tool in a tool box that should be well stocked otherwise.

Besides, the Hi-Viz and black sort of became a trademark of senior instructors in our training program. Which brings me to the last point.

I fnd myself sort of embarrassed to be wearing such an obviously new riding suit. Oh, I'm proud to be wearing such an item as a 'Stich. That's not the issue. I find I've become overly attached to the romantic image of a rider in a well worn riding suit of any sort. Kind of like the old Western theme of the dusty cowboy walking through the swinging doors. He may look a bit scruffy but you know he's seen it all and you shouldn't lightly mess with him.

That's an apt analogy. Like I 've told you all, I grew up a cowboy. Grandpa had me riding a horse before I could walk. We did the rodeo thing followed later by horseshows. I grew up around horses and real cowboys. Grandpa called me "Dude", never Dan. Back then it wasn't just another expression for a guy. It referred to a sort of apprentice cowboy. That's what I feel like in this brand new Roadcrafter.

I always thought I was a pretty secure guy. Now I somehow feel like I've lost a bit of credibility. It took me several days to work up the nerve to even wear the new suit. I want my image back.

That revelation really struck me. Maybe I should lighten up a little on some of those riders I've been inwardly giving a bad time. You know what I'm talking about. Those who wear certain things to present a given image. Dang. This honest self-examination thing can be a bugger sometimes. You never know what you're going to discover!

Stay tuned. The next post will be about an experience I had running. I'll leave you wondering what in the world that has to do with riding a motorcycle well.

Miles and smiles,

Dan

26 comments:

bobskoot said...

Irondad:

Now you're going to look like that poseur DUDE with the image problem of looking like a tough biker type.

go find a dirt pile or pool of mud and roll around in it to get the 'Stich dirty. Now that your outfit is two sizes larger you can go to more All You Can Eat restaurants and PIG out.

You might as well go ahead and order those Hi-Viz Irridescent Yellow Crocs you've been eyeing to complete your outfit

I have a virtually new Olympia Hi-Viz Orange riding jacket I am afraid to wear as it would be too easy to pick me out of a line up

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

cpa3485 said...

Congrats on the new suit. I have looked at those and thought the price was maybe a but high for me, but in this case it sure sounds like you get what you pay for, at least in consideration out of the use you have gotten out of yours.
And that 5% for hi viz?. To me that is just another notch up the safety ladder. A notch here and another notch there, and pretty soon you have made a significant effect in protecting yourself. (I think I may have learned that from you)

Jimbo
Premeditated Scootin'

Dave said...

The best one I heard of and I am leaning that way my self is.

I am in shape round is a shape isn’t it ; ) : )



aka Old F

Dave said...

Oh for got to add you should look at it this way.

Your one of the few who wore out a set of Roadcrafters as appose to some who had to replace due to a crash.

Now that saying some thing


Old F

Lucky said...

It's OK to have shiny new duds as long as your boots are worn looking. That way, everyone can tell you've been around, and just have shiny new duds.

Dean W said...

Funny, I saw Dan today, and hadn't seen this post yet- the new duds stood out. Wish I'd read the post, I'd like to see those belt loops on the pants; I've been threatening to do that on my own for a long time. (That, or graft a full-length zipper onto a pair of Darien pants.)

As for color choice, guess I'm not senior enough- I bought my last RoadCrafter in grey with hi-viz patches. Stays cleaner looking that way, although the patches aren't as visible as I'd wished they were.

Charlie6 said...

nice riding gear there Irondad....almost as good as my Cycleport stuff...almost. : )

Bobskoot is right though, now you'll look like a noobie....

May you never have occasion to test it's crash-worthiness!

dom

Redleg's Rides

Richard Machida said...

Nice new duds! I've heard a lot about those but until I can ride year around, it's hard to justify replacing my First Gear stuff. Well, maybe the overpants. They're worn out after only three years. Don't think I'll get those again. The material is pretty thin. While traveling around this summer, I noticed that the hi-viz didn't really increase rider visibility for bikes approaching but if I was following them, definitely more visible.

Looking forward to your post on running. I tried it last winter and injured my knee.

Richard My blog

Bryce said...

OK. Eleven years ago Dan you probably had at least one or two chilfren still at home and you were not doing a blog. You were a tad different physically and mentally.

You also have admitted over time your chest has fallen down to where your tummy is located. That's OK too, we all go to waste with age.

Your Aerostich was probably a larger than life monetary investment then as well. Did you purchase a similar product for your wife at the time? Eh?

Then, it was money well spent. Ditto today as well.

Sort of a Stich in time saves your butt over time. Pun intended.

I have a good friend who has helped me over a feww bumps in my life, as much as I have helped her. She is on her third Stich in 16 years and with age has found the two piece far more practical. She like you wore the suit until i slowly fell apart.

The Stich does as advertised however as with so many things, Goldfine's company doesn't make product for giants. That's fine; normal sizing with up to two inches in difference is doable. Beyond that, not.
My sleeve length is 39 inches, standard not.

Maybe you'll be more of a stand out in the crowd with the replacement product. Perhaps you should've had your nickname in retroreflective letter on the back? Wear the suit knowning you've done well by your purchse.

Forest Hoag said...

NIce write up! I have been lusting after a Stich suit for years, but until the college loans are paid up I'll have to stick to my Frogg Toggs. Talk about avoiding mirrors and plate glass windows. So.. are you selling your old suit? Seriously, I wear a 42. Just asking.

Steve Williams said...

I have looked many times at the Roadcrafter suits online and in the spiffy catalogs that appear in my mailbox. Your new, hi-viz jacket looks great and I agree with the color being a nice additional tool in the safety toolbox.

Just dropped my First Gear jacket off at the tailor for a new main zipper. It has not shrunk so any new Aerostich gear is still a ways off. I did order a new Motofizz medium bag from them though. So I will be assured of receiving the catalog for a couple more years.

Orin said...

I'm afraid I fall on the skeptical side of the Hy-Viz yellow debate.

Back when I was working in downtown Seattle and riding my Vespa ET4 to work, I wore a Hy-Viz yellow construction vest while I rode.

One day, traffic was crawling. There was a guy in a Toyota Corolla on my left. We made eye contact. He smiled at me. And drove into me. Even though he knew I was there.

Luckily, I remained upright (banging on the Corolla's hood certainly got his attention), and the only damage was a dark-green mark I was able to rub out. But once I got home, I put the Hy-Viz vest away. To this day, I've never worn anything that color.

I've found a much better way to make your presence known in such situations is to use the horn. I'm not shy about that...

__Orin
Scootin' Old Skool

Mike said...

Now I'll be lookin' for the FJR commander with the new Roadcrafter!

I briefly talked with Ken @ Rilea yesterday. All is well!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Irondad (Dan):

Congratulations on purchasing a quality piece of gear that should give you another decade of ridng pleasure, and for buying from a manufacturer whose primary inventory is made in the United States. The job you save may some day be your own.

Nothing is more exciting than opening a box that has just been delivered — to find another piece of equipment guaranteed to extend your riding pleasure. I am so looking forward to the day when the beef is gone from my ass and I can wear a "real" riding suit too.

Good luck with the new suit. I hope hyou never have to text what it will or will not endure sliding along the ground.

Fonbdest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Conchscooter said...

I'm planning another Iron Butt and part of that planning means looking through the Aerostitch catalogue.
The high visibility thing is soemthing you should address for the sake of new riders who do seem to treat it as a magic bullet. And while you are on the subject put the bike on the stand, put the camera on the timer and take a picture of ytour hig viz through the fairing.
If you arwe worried about looking inexperienced because you are wearing enw riding clothes you are decidedly more concerned with your image than you think you are.
Ride a tachless Bonneville to know the meaning of not giving a damn.

irondad said...

Bobskoot,

You've given me a great idea. I will now become a food photographer and critic. I will also wear the 'Stich while sampling all the goodies. The sloppier the food the better.

Jimbo,

It only hurts for a little while. Then you get years of enjoyment and service. I had no hesistation at all about buying one again.

Dave,

I'm starting to like you more all the time!

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Lucky,

Should I wear my boots as gloves so people notice them sooner?

Dean,

Thanks for the warning about the belt loops. I'll now understand the stare! Remind me at the LC meeting Wednesday. I'm planning to ride up.

Charlie6,

You and everyone included. May we never see the bottom of our bikes where they aren't supposed to be!

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Richard,

You must be saner than me. I don't know how I would deal with not being able to ride half the year. Snowmobiles, maybe?

Bryce,

Katie has a 'Stich, as well. Hmm, Irondad in retroreflective letters? Very interesting.

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Forest,

There is an old time instructor here who lives in Frog Toggs.

Send me an e-mail at intrepidcommuter@comcast.net

We'll talk.

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Steve,

I have a First Gear jacket, too. The 'Stich seems to work better for practical things like pockets. Is this the same jacket of yours that has the bright yellow and black?

Orin,

Are you totally against Hi Viz or simply smart enough to know that there are no magic bullets?

Mike,

Glad you're still kicking. Thanks for commenting. Did you know Ken has been there over thirty years?

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Jack,

Thanks so much for the cheery comment! Congratulations on your weight loss victories so far. May it all work out as you hope it too.

Conchscooter,

Two good suggestions. Probably right on the third count. Is saying you don't give a damn just an excuse for being too lazy and cheap to buy a tach? Just checking, because I like it.

Take care,

Dan

Sojourner rides said...

That's a nice looking suit. If you ever get to Duluth it is worth visiting the wearhouse. When they learn that you're from out of town, they roll out the carpet and you leave there with gifts! It's a great place to hang out and poke around to look at all the neat stuff they have. Nice post.

yamyambiker.com said...

Hi Dan,

Really good blog! First time I've commented after a few years of reading.

I like the fact that you can buy such a thing as a decade long set of motorcycle gear. I like that you are having to buy a new set due to the old ones being worn out. but I have to admit to you, that I find all of the aerostitch stuff borderline ugly. Its not so much the colour, but the cut and shape of it.

I don't want to offend anyone here, but I think the concept of wearing something baggy as opposed to something that's snug fitting is wrong too.

Please allow me to elaborate. Here in Scotland it's pretty cold and I used to always think I needed layers in order to stay remotely warm on the bike. I used to go by the idea of, bigger jacket means you can get more underneath it without ending up like an overfilled sausage. However I found that due to the sheer size of the jacket, if there was ever a nicer day, the jacket would inflate due to the lack of stuff padding it out. If it was warm but wet, the jacket would end up pooling water on all the folds created due to the lack of stuff underneath it. I also found it quite restricting trying to wrestle all these layers around.


For the past 2 years I've been wearing some Wolf Titanium textiles, designed by folks in the UK. The jacket is short in length and is designed with minimum bulk in mind. It has an Outlast layer, a heat regulation fabric developed through Nasa if I remember correctly, which regulates your body temperature, storing heat within the fabric when it's hot weather, and then gradually releasing it back when it begins to get cooler. This means you can wear a thin t-shirt underneath your jacket most of the year instead of bulking it up with layers.

The concept of this gear is reduced bulk but still remain warm through clever materials. It kinda works but you find that an extra t-shirt or thermal base layer adds more heat on without adding on bulk. It also means that you are like a fish through water when it's wet, the tight fitting jacket offering a smooth surface for the rain to bounce off of, rather than pool and seep through.

The really clever thing about this design is how it is really nicely snug, yet still easily manoeuvrable in.

Anyway, I just wanted to comment that you Americans don't have to get some really big bright jackets to get comfortable warm riding experiences. You can get some really nice cuts but excellent warm and cold weather fabrics for a lot less banger as well. $499 for a jacket! Blimey. Even if our UK gear is cheaper and wears out quicker, you can renew your gear every few years for the price of one setup from Aerostitch.

Hope I don't offend, I come in peace!

All the best,


Gordon
(YamYamBiker)

yamyambiker.com said...

Hi Dan,

Really good blog! First time I've commented after a few years of reading.

I like the fact that you can buy such a thing as a decade long set of motorcycle gear. I like that you are having to buy a new set due to the old ones being worn out. but I have to admit to you, that I find all of the aerostitch stuff borderline ugly. Its not so much the colour, but the cut and shape of it.

I don't want to offend anyone here, but I think the concept of wearing something baggy as opposed to something that's snug fitting is wrong too.

Please allow me to elaborate. Here in Scotland it's pretty cold and I used to always think I needed layers in order to stay remotely warm on the bike. I used to go by the idea of, bigger jacket means you can get more underneath it without ending up like an overfilled sausage. However I found that due to the sheer size of the jacket, if there was ever a nicer day, the jacket would inflate due to the lack of stuff padding it out. If it was warm but wet, the jacket would end up pooling water on all the folds created due to the lack of stuff underneath it. I also found it quite restricting trying to wrestle all these layers around.


For the past 2 years I've been wearing some Wolf Titanium textiles, designed by folks in the UK. The jacket is short in length and is designed with minimum bulk in mind. It has an Outlast layer, a heat regulation fabric developed through Nasa if I remember correctly, which regulates your body temperature, storing heat within the fabric when it's hot weather, and then gradually releasing it back when it begins to get cooler. This means you can wear a thin t-shirt underneath your jacket most of the year instead of bulking it up with layers.

The concept of this gear is reduced bulk but still remain warm through clever materials. It kinda works but you find that an extra t-shirt or thermal base layer adds more heat on without adding on bulk. It also means that you are like a fish through water when it's wet, the tight fitting jacket offering a smooth surface for the rain to bounce off of, rather than pool and seep through.

The really clever thing about this design is how it is really nicely snug, yet still easily manoeuvrable in.

Anyway, I just wanted to comment that you Americans don't have to get some really big bright jackets to get comfortable warm riding experiences. You can get some really nice cuts but excellent warm and cold weather fabrics for a lot less banger as well. $499 for a jacket! Blimey. Even if our UK gear is cheaper and wears out quicker, you can renew your gear every few years for the price of one setup from Aerostitch.

Hope I don't offend, I come in peace!

All the best,


Gordon
(YamYamBiker)

yamyambiker.com said...

Hi Dan,

Really good blog! First time I've commented after a few years of reading.

I find all of the aerostitch stuff borderline ugly. Its not so much the colour, but the cut and shape of it.

I don't want to offend anyone here, but I think the concept of wearing something baggy as opposed to something that's snug fitting is wrong too.

For the past 2 years I've been wearing some Wolf Titanium textiles, designed by folks in the UK. The jacket is short in length and is designed with minimum bulk in mind. It has an Outlast layer, a heat regulation fabric developed through Nasa if I remember correctly, which regulates your body temperature, storing heat within the fabric when it's hot weather, and then gradually releasing it back when it begins to get cooler. This means you can wear a thin t-shirt underneath your jacket most of the year instead of bulking it up with layers.

The concept of this gear is reduced bulk but still remain warm through clever materials. It kinda works but you find that an extra t-shirt or thermal base layer adds more heat on without adding on bulk. It also means that you are like a fish through water when it's wet, the tight fitting jacket offering a smooth surface for the rain to bounce off of, rather than pool and seep through.

The really clever thing about this design is how it is really nicely snug, yet still easily manoeuvrable in.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that you Americans don't have to get some really big bright jackets to get comfortable warm riding experiences. You can get some really nice cuts but excellent warm and cold weather fabrics for a lot less banger as well. $499 for a jacket! Blimey. Even if our UK gear is cheaper and wears out quicker, you can renew your gear every few years for the price of one setup from Aerostitch.

Hope I don't offend, I come in peace!

All the best,


Gordon
(YamYamBiker)

yamyambiker.com said...

I've had a brain fart with the comments. It said it was too long to post initially but now I've got 3 bloomin comments up all teh same.

Please forgive my inability to push "publish" correctly.


Yours Aye

YamYam