By Olaf Wolff[This Roadgear Tierra del Fuego Motorcycle Overpants Review was originally published in the December 2007 issue of Rider magazine]
Tierra del Fuego--rolls RIGHT off the tongue? Well, maybe not so much, but it is a catchy, whimsical name for motorcycle riding pants or overpants, depending upon how you wear them. The TDFs are named for the group of islands off the southern tip of South America, the treacherous Cape Horn. Tierra del Fuego is Spanish for “Land of Fire,” all things indicating that these pants have a flair for the adventurous.
The first thing I noticed about the TDF pants was how small a box they were delivered in. That they pack and fold this well is a big plus. If you’ve ever tried to fold regular armored riding pants into your luggage or saddlebags, you know what I mean. Although they’re light and don’t take up much space, they nevertheless provide a substantial amount of protection and confidence.
The TDF pants are made of a lightweight DuPont Cordura Plus outer shell. Cordura Plus drapes more like a comfortable pair of denim jeans than nylon riding pants, but it’s exceptionally resistant to punctures and tears, 14 times tougher than denim in fact, and dries considerably faster, too. The pants are lined with a state-of-the-art Reissa membrane with heat-taped seams. The Reissa textile is completely waterproof, yet it’s fully breathable, meaning you won’t get nearly as clammy as in some other waterproof riding pants.
The knee areas of the pants are protected by ballistic-reinforced material and CE-approved armor inserts that are easily removable. There are also two front jean-style pockets, a change pocket and one hook-and-loop closure rear pocket made of ballistic material. For enhanced visibility there are reflective vertical patches located on the base of each leg made of Dynatec material. The highly reflective material is positioned as a part of the leg opening adjustment which enables the bottoms to be cinched tight around boots.
These $189.90 pants are designed to do double duty and can be worn in place of jeans or over jeans, and it’s as overpants that they provide the greatest value and versatility. As overpants, though, be aware to buy them a size larger in the waist than you usually wear.
On my first ride I wore shorts underneath the pants and then rode inland from the cool coast to where the temperatures were in the triple digits. The Reissa membrane breathes reasonably well in those temps, but the real saving grace was the leg zippers. The zippers work from either end, from the hip down and/or from the ankles up, providing as much ventilation as you’re shamelessly willing to expose yourself. In cooler weather, with the TDF in overpant mode, the choices are abundant–anything underneath from sweatpants to pajamas works well.
The only real problem I have with these pants is with the inseam options. Waist sizes run 28-46 in normal increments, but the lengths offered are 30, 33 and 36 inches. I’m a 34, so I jump up to the 36, since longer is always better than dork-short, and at 36 inches they’re just too long. Too dang bad, as the pants really do fit more like a familiar pair of jeans then a bulky pair of motorcycle gear, and I’d wear them as such if they didn’t drag when I walked. But, then again, it’s easy enough to give them a slight fold and go.
For more information contact Roadgear, 206 West Elgin Drive, Pueblo West, Colorado 81007; (800) 854-4327; www.roadgear.com