RoadRUNNER Digital Rider

A ‘Stich in Time

May 02, 2013 View Comments by

A 'Stich in TimeQuick, what’s been the greatest technological breakthrough in motorcycling of the last twenty-five years? You’ve got ten seconds … [cue Jeopardy theme song]…three…two…one… ok, time’s up, what’s your guess? Engine management? Tires? Brakes? GPS? Cup holders? You could probably build a strong argument for any of them (well, maybe not the last one), but I think there’s another area of motorcycling that is very much worthy of consideration—textile riding gear.

Back in the good ‘ole carbureted, bias plied, paper mapped, drum disk days, leather ruled. It was cool looking (and still is) but it wasn’t so nice in extreme heat. In the rain you’d have to put on a vinyl sheath that would start you sweating immediately. Over the last twenty-five years, textile gear has more or less supplanted leather as the material of choice for many riders, the Digital Rider included. Leather still rules on the racetrack, but the highways and byways are textile.

The blue/black two-piece Aerostich suit on the right wasn’t my first piece of textile gear, but I learned quickly of its stellar reputation and saved up my nickels. Sure it was expensive, but of all the gear jammed in my moto-closet, that Roadcrafter has seen more miles, more states, more bikes, more storms, and (unfortunately) more accidents than any other because it was easy to take on and off, highly functional, and very protective. It still works well, but after fifteen years, it’s time for a new Roadcrafter. I chose a one-piece this time, since I only separated the two-piece a handful of times its whole life. And I chose the light version as well, lured by its promise of waterproof zippers and improved warm weather performance. It’s good to see that the legendary fit and finish is still in place, and while it looks 99-percent identical there are minor tweaks throughout. A sub-pocket high in the chest is perfect for a phone or wallet, and helps keep bulky items away from the waist—important for sport riders or sport-tourers. The Velcro straps on the ankles are now angled for easier use. And the Hi-Viz yellow, oh the Hi-Viz yellow! It didn’t even exist fifteen years ago.

Fundamentally, it’s still a Roadcrafter; my old back protector swapped from the old to new in a snap, and it magically disappears when you put it on; no bunching, binding, or poorly positioned seams or zippers. With a heated jacket when it’s cold and a cooling vest when it’s warm, I should be good for another fifteen or so years.

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About the author

You know that little boy who stares at you, mouth agape, as you ride by? That was me, thirty-plus years ago. I merged two of my passions, motorcycles and photography, when I became a contributor to RoadRUNNER.