Leather is cool. After blowing my savings on my first motorcycle, I maxed out my credit card on a bad black leather jacket. Then a few months later at a flea market in Berlin I paid a Turkish guy 100 deutschmarks for some ’80s-era racing leathers with the name “Juergen” stenciled across the back. Covered in cowhide, I thought I was the man. (Everyone else held a slightly lower opinion!)
In addition to style, leather’s abrasion resistance is second to none (racers don’t wear textile). It also blocks wind, but leather doesn’t breathe unless riddled with breezy perforations. Although leather can be treated to repel water, a good soaking can be problematic. Wearing those old-school leathers on a one-day, 750-mile ride from Philadelphia to Atlanta, I got caught in a tropical storm. My leathers became waterlogged and I became miserable.
Fully appreciating the merits and limitations of leather, that crafty, bespectacled guy over at Aerostich, Andy Goldfine, developed the Transit two-piece motorcycle suit. Start with Gore-Tex Pro Shell leather, top-grain 1.2mm cowhide permanently joined to a seam-sealed, breathable, waterproof inner membrane. During tanning, add a permanent water repellent so the leather won’t absorb moisture. Use a jacket main zipper of a molded-tooth waterproof design. Cover the suit with micro-perforations that allow moisture to escape but keep the wind at bay. Voilà!
Having addressed water-resistance and breathing, Aerostich went a step further to make the black-only Transit climatically cool. Pro Shell leather contains a proprietary solar-reflective pigment that stays up to 30 degrees cooler than other black leather while also improving aging resistance. Sort of like sunblock mixed with Botox. I can fully attest to the Transit being waterproof, having ridden in several torrential downpours for more than an hour without any seepage. As for the heat reflectivity, the cool temperatures that prevailed during my winter/early spring test limited my ability to evaluate the one-third-cooler claim.
As with most of Aerostich’s apparel, the Transit has a utilitarian design. The jacket has a very plain cut, with fabric stretch panels extending from the armpit to inner forearm. The boot-cut jean-style pants also have fabric and leather stretch panels to improve comfort while sitting on the bike. The pants have two deep zippered pockets in front, and the jacket has two handwarmer pockets, two interior pockets and a chest pocket. Zippers at the jacket cuffs and from the side of the midthigh down to the ankle improve fit and ease of getting in and out. A zipper along the lower back connects the jacket to the pants. I really appreciate the belt loops on the pants, but if you plan to wear them over jeans, buy a larger size. The Transit is lined with athletic mesh, but no thermal lining is included—if it is cool, add your own layers. There are reflective panels on the lower leg and across the back, the latter over a zippered vent. Lightweight, molded, removable TF armor is located at the elbows, shoulders, knees and back. This high-tech stuff is pliable during normal use, but hardens upon impact for better energy absorption.
The Transit may be the only riding gear you’ll ever need. Made to make you look and feel cool, it keeps the water out but lets heat and sweat escape. This is high-quality gear that will look and feel better the longer you wear it. At $797 for the jacket (sizes 38-52) and $697 for the pants (sizes 30-44), that quality doesn’t come cheap. Even Aerostich wishes it wasn’t so expensive, but you get what you pay for.
For more information: Aerostich / RiderWearHouse Catalog, 8 S. 18th Avenue W., Duluth, Minnesota, 55806; (800) 222-1994; aerostich.com