Aerostich has been around for more than 30 years and is definitely an innovator. Back in 1986, I tested its two-piece Roadcrafter suit, which was a very forward-thinking design made of Gore-Tex and Cordura nylon that is still being made. Recently, the company has gone retro-innovation with a Falstaff two-piece riding suit made of waxed cotton.
Waxed cotton, or cotton impregnated with paraffin-based wax, is water-resistant and moderately breathable. Back in 1924, some bright light in England figured out that this material would make excellent clothing for motorcyclists, calling his company Belstaff. And Falstaff is a nice play on words, especially since Sir John Falstaff is an amusing character in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV.
In the 1970s, man-made fibers began to take over the world of motorcycle clothing, and waxed cotton receded into the background—still used, but not popular. Now Aerostich has given the notion new life and style. The jacket is the traditional three-quarter length, having a full zip up the front with a wind/rain flap protecting the zipper. The flap’s closure uses hook-and-loop, a recognition of modern times. What I really like is the suede-lined collar, which is both a fold-down for warm days, and a stand-up with a tab to close it tight on cold/wet days. The jacket’s lining is soft, thick cotton, with two large inside pockets.
The waist can be cinched using hook-and-loop on each side, and the arms can be tightened with the same system. Down low on the front are two zippered pockets, with waterproof zips having grippable Yankezz pulls. Those Yankezz (say that slowly) are a typical Aerostich touch; Andy Goldfine road tests all his products and knows how nice it is to be able to get into a pocket easily. Large breast pockets are good for maps, and behind the pockets are handwarmer openings.
If the day is hot, zippered vents are found under each arm, and a long zip across the back serves a dual purpose, venting and opening onto a large pocket that is over a foot square. Down on the wrists are both zippers to open the cuffs wide and hook-and-loop tabs to close them tightly.
The pants have full zippers on both legs, so you don’t even have to sit down to get them on. The cuffs can be tightened to keep them close to your boots. The waist size comes as ordered from the factory, and minor adjustments can be made using snaps. The belt is Aerostich’s own money belt, just in case you find yourself in a dodgy neighborhood. The three pockets in the pants have hook-and-loop closures, which are convenient to use but will probably leak on a wet ride. Speaking of wet, I used the expression “water-resistant” rather than “waterproof” above. In a light rain, I found the suit kept me perfectly dry, but after spending a couple of hours out in a December frog-strangler, I found that I was 98 percent dry but water had seeped through the seat of the pants. I’ll carry a pair of lightweight rain pants next time I’m headed into seriously bad weather.
Protection? Of course. There is armor in the shoulders, elbows and knees, using Aerostich’s Viscoelastic TF3 removable pads. The suit offers perfectly adequate protection for the sensible street rider, but is not intended for racetrack use. A separate TF3 back pad is available as an accessory. Lots of reflective Scotchlite makes you visible at night.
I do like the Falstaff; it is comfortable and looks great. And, as a nostalgist at heart, I like the old-fashioned notion of waxed cotton…which does require some rewaxing every couple of years. Aerostich sells a “Reproofing Cream” for this purpose. The suit comes in black or brown (I mixed the two), with jackets S-XXL, pants 32-44 waist, regular or long. Not inexpensive, as the jacket runs $447, pants, $457. But with occasional maintenance these should last you a long, long time.
For more information:
Visit Aerostich at 18 South 18th Ave. West, Duluth, Minnesota 55806; aerostich.com or call (800) 222-1994
(This Gearlab product review was published in the March 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)