Stop me if I already told you about the time I found myself rolling down the fast lane of the 405 North at LAX. Bumper, road, sky, bumper, road … When I stopped rolling, the lady in the car who’d managed to outbrake me, thank God, ran to me saucer-eyed and asked if I was okay. Er, let me check. Yes. Yes, I seem to be fine, thanks. In fact, not only did I escape without any scrapes or bruises, I wasn’t even sore the next day. I was wearing an Aerostich Roadcrafter suit.
The suit didn’t fare too bad, either, but after a few years its red had faded to a kind of hot-house tomato orange, so Andy Goldfine at Aerostich sent me a new black one. Must’ve been about ’97 or ’98. I’ve been wearing it ever since on all motorcycle jaunts where function is more important than fashion – the latter of which only occur when there’s a photo shoot involved.
The old black suit has lost a couple of zipper pulls over the years, a problem easily remedied with a junk-drawer key ring or zip-tie. Otherwise, she’s roadworthy as ever, which is to say this is the most genius motorcycle riding onesie ever conceived by man, especially for those of us who ride here in the Southwest, where you ride through most showers in an hour or two. But the new R-3 now claims to be completely rainproof as well.
What makes the Roadcrafter genius is how easy it is to slip on and off over whatever clothing you need to present yourself in, be it tuxedo, board shorts or bikini. You step into the right leg hole and zip that leg closed from crotch to ankle. Then zip the main nylon YKK zipper from collar to left ankle. You’re in.
The new R-3, (Roadcrafter 3rd generation) is constructed from the same American-made military-spec 500-denier Cordura Gore-Tex fabric as before (Aerostich says it’s the only civilian manufacturer to offer this tough fabric), with 1000d abrasion-resistant nylon layers covering the elbow/shoulder/knee areas.
Those impact areas are backstopped by big, thick TF3 armor closed-cell foam pads, which are the next best thing to crashing into a spilled load of memory foam. Aerostich’s latest TF3 is pretty fantastic stuff; it’s resistance increases the harder it’s struck, but it remains compliant and flexible even in cold weather, as your body heat brings it up to temperature.
Unlike my old Roadcrafter, the R-3 is unlined, and that means the armor that used to be tucked inside pockets now clings to the inside of the suit with Velcro, which makes the pads not only more adjustable for position, but much easier to remove – which may mean your suit will get laundered more than a couple times per decade (it’s machine washable).
The absence of a liner, Aerostich says, also makes the R-3 vent better and run much cooler. To that end, rare-earth magnets have been added to hold the collar open; spent bodily gasses still exit via excellent underarm vents and the big main flap under the reflective strip across the back. (Those strips on the back and lower legs really do show up at night.) When it’s hot, rolling along in damp shorts and t-shirt under your Aerostich is about as cool as it gets. (The one downside of no-more-liner is you can’t pack the big back pocket with ice in the R-3.)
The lack of liner also lets you see the amount of work that goes into these suits. All the seams are waterproof-taped inside, which, combined with new waterproof zippers, are supposed to make the R-3 watertight even in extended Biblical deluges, which wasn’t the case with the previous design.
If you believe form should follow function, you’ll love the dashing figure you cut in the R-3. The plethora of pockets remains, and the hip zippers still let you dig stuff out of your pants pockets. The fleece collar still treats your neck nice, the Velcro-adjustable cuffs and ankles still let you seal air out or usher it in.
On a two-week tour in late May to Nebraska via Arkansas and Missouri aboard a Victory Cross Country Tour with really good wind protection, the suit kept me comfy from 35 degrees in the Colorado Rockies, to 102 crossing the Mojave later the same day, with the only adjustments being removal of an Under Armour hoodie and unzipping and opening the suit’s vents when it got hot. (In the cold, things wouldn’t have been so pleasant without the bike’s heated seat and grips.)
As advertised, I am happy to vouch that the new suit proved to be watertight as a frog’s rectum through two days of pretty heavy Arkansas downpour – more waterproof than the Victory, in fact.
The best part remains the same: It takes only about 15 seconds to get in or out of the thing when you want to stop and stretch and eat or swim or whatever. The best just got better. Why isn’t Andy Goldfine in the AMA Hall of Fame?