Operation Visibility rolls on to part two with my choice of new riding gear.
I have had new winter riding apparel on my shopping list for some time now. Last few years I have slowly moved away from having one basic riding outfit and trying to adjust it up or down for the seasons like many riders here do to having a selection of garments.
Good gear is just so cheap now. The dealerships here still mark things up a lot but go online and you can buy from a number of retailers for much less and eBay or USA bulk retailers offer items up to half price again. Brand name summer jackets can be had for $50 from New Enough and winter ones not much more than double that.
I have retired my leather jacket, I managed reasonable success in winter with this by layering clothing underneath it. I found this had its limits however as you would become like the Michelin Man and still not hold out the cold if riding the southern states or the west. On my Moto-GP tour I was often cold and that was not just a jacket issue as my jeans and boots were also unsuitable for those temperatures.
And so I have chosen a two piece outfit from Alpinestars made up of their 7-10 WP textile jacket and ST 5 Drystar textile pants. Alpinestars were not my first choice after the sizing mismatch incident I had with their shoes however after writing my hi-vis article I revisited the items I had been considering from other manufacturers and then started looking all over again.
I did not want a full day glow jacket, I tried on one and decided I was not ready to go to the full safety worker type look despite knowing that offers the best visibility. Looking at other riders coming towards me on recent rides I found their upper body to be the only part of the jacket visible to me on first glance along with their helmets. So I decided to aim for a jacket that had the upper sections in a hi-vis colour scheme.
The jacket and pants needed to be able to be zipped together to eliminate drafts and the pants to have full length removable liner and both to be 100% waterproof for touring and include armor. All this meant a surprisingly small final list of which the Alpinestars had the best reviews.
I followed advice in reviews that their gear is all a full size smaller than labeled and that proved correct (maybe explains the shoe problem – but why not just change their labels to reflect the actual sizing and avoid the confusion…?) No issues with build or fit. Jacket has no vents which I was at first aiming for but the jackets with vents all seem to allow water in and not being summer jackets don’t actually vent well anyway. The pants have a full winter inner liner and besides being waterproof like the jacket has additional true waterproof pockets something that I wanted for touring on a wet day.
On the road.
I tested the jacket by leaving home with just a t-shirt underneath and put my vest in the pannier to see just how well the jacket works zipped to the pants. Quite well as it turns out, there is a tiny sneaky bit of cold air that occasionally gets past the inner storm flap but not enough to make me stop and put the vest on that morning, you would need to add another layer on a real cold morning for sure. I am surprised that the zipper is not a water and wind proof item, every review says 100% dry in rain so I guess the storm flap works well however fitting a regular zipper strikes me as a poor choice. The jacket has the usual armor to the elbows, shoulders and a light back protector which I might swap out to a more substantial one from another jacket.
The pants are seriously warm. The combination of being windproof and fully lined obviously makes them warm however being long enough to cover my boots also brings a new level of warmth to my winter riding. They have comfortable soft knee armor and like any knee armor this makes the pants ride up your legs when on the bike however they start out a bit longer which assists in allowing them to still cover my boots unlike my other riding pants. I was thinking a set of elastic stirrups would be handy for helping hold pants with knee armor over boots in winter… or even other times. I might buy a set and report back on this idea.
The jacket can allow air in via unzipping the front a bit and unclipping the cuffs to expand and let air flow up your arms, generally speaking it can deal with a winter day warming however the pants have no ability to flow air and are less versatile, that said these are both winter only items here.
To sum up they were not expensive and I think will easy do the job for upcoming cold weather touring I am planning.