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.
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,