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Weo
12th November 2007, 11:46
Hey all, Weo here.

I just thought I'd write in with an extended review and opinions for my gear, in case anyone was looking at similar gear. I'm sure there is better gear out there fitting my requirements, but I like to try on gear before purchase, so much of the gear here was chosen simply because it was what was available at the time.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it's been in the low to high 40's (fahrenheit), and I've been re-evaluating my gear needs as the temperature goes down. I have been wearing the same gear during the summer, as some of it is multifunctional for the colder weather. Additionally, I have put the windshield on now that the temps are below 50, as most of my riding is on the highway.

For my situation, I was looking for one set of multi-season riding gear that wouldn't break the bank. I don't really tour any more, but put about 200-300 highway miles per week (not including around town trips). This often includes a weekly 180 mile round trip to visit parents or friends in IL or northern WI. As I've been troubleshooting a wobble/irregularities in the steering I've limited my traveling in the rain.

Helmet: Shoei TZ-R (pic not exact color scheme)
http://www.shoei-helmets.com/products/tzr/tzr_stratum_tc5.jpg

I purchased this Shoei because of the good experiences I had borrowing my friend's helmet (before I owned my own). Overall, I am happy with this helmet. As I've only worn one other helmet in my life, I don't really know what characteristics it has that are better or worse than others.

One problem that I have had with these FF helmets, is that I need to ride with the helmet cracked for decent airflow at slow speeds and to prevent fogging in cold weather. Since I wear glasses under my helmet, it's not a big deal. However, now that the temperature is in the 40's F, I REALLY need to keep it cracked to prevent fogging, which adds to wind and exhaust noise when touring on the highway for long stretches (not an issue if you wear ear plugs). Without the windshield I would have to close the helmet at highway speeds. From a few trips I did earlier, fogging can become an issue (I haven't applied any anti fog yet). This is a big issue for me, as my headlight isn't the brightest, and I often drive at night on the highway.

The only other issue which is my fault, is that I bought the helmet that felt firm in the showroom without factoring the "breaking in". Now, with long jaunts on the highway, I notice that it's a little loose. I should have bought one size smaller.

Jacket: Cortech GX Air Jacket
http://www.tourmaster.com/images/products/h_kq_silver.jpg

I bought this jacket earlier this summer. The material is a very thick threaded nylon weave, which is actually quite cool at speeds over 5mph, with a nice breathable t-shirt udnerneath. It is leather reinforced in the shoulders, back, elbows, and forearms, and has removable armor for those areas. It has a removable rain liner and a seperate insulated liner for colder weather.

Although I have my windshield on now, the jacket feels very warm riding the highway at 40 F. Although I prefer the feel of leather, this jacket met all of my requirements for an all-around jacket:

1. Comfort in hot, muggy weather
2. Affordability around $200 US (especially compared to buying multiple jackets)
3. Versatility
-rain doesn't harm the textile
-rainliner small enough to fold up in a ziplock bag
-can use insulation liner, rain liner, or both
-relatively visible design w/ reflective piping
4. Armor in areas I wanted (in addition to the shoulder and elbow/forearm, I wanted back protection and chest; no chest armor on jacket but debatably useful collar bone pads)

One issue which is common for me, is that I usually take a medium-tall. At 6 foot, 43 chest and 33 waist, with regular sizing, I get to choose between being able to fit a pillow under the stomach area (large), or go with a tight fitting chest (medium) and slightly shorter sleeves. With this medium, the chest is a little tight but OK, even with all the liners + a levi's long sleeve shirt.

The other issue, is that it's a little bulky for summer, and a little spartan (coverage wise) for winter... compromises in both directions. However, considering this is basically my only riding jacket for all year-round, for $200 I am more than happy.

Pants: Alpinestar Twin Leather Pant (I think the alpinestar website lists them now as Stella Cat Leather Pant)
http://www.motorcycle-superstore.com/ProductImages/300/632915883550246925g11704.jpg

I have to say that I LOVE THESE PANTS!!! Of course, part of it is that they actually fit my irregular body. I have no butt, 33 inseam, 33 waist. These pants fit like Levi's 505 jeans. They have heavy leather on the outside and nylon mesh on the inside, plus armor in the knees. Additionally, I think these pants look GREAT on or off the bike.

Some bonuses from wearing these pants: The leather REALLY grips the tank and air cleaner for evasive maneuvers. I didn't realize how much the jeans were slipping until I wore these leathers. Also, the kneepads + leather combine around the air cleaner so you don't even notice its there (I have the peanut tank).

I've worn these on hot summer days. They actually shield your legs from engine heat. Grab a set of Underarmor heat gear leggings and you're good to go. Of course they aren't very cool, but combined with my free breathing jacket I had no heat issues while riding... I did however get overheated sitting in my friends backyard playing with the dog during the summer... course I had the boots on too...

Since the temp's been in the 40's F, I've used Underarmor cold gear underneath, and I am very comfortable on my highway jaunts. A little cold air can sneak in around the calves, but its not an issue for me, and I think its because my boots are mid-length, and I wear the jeans over them instead of tucked in.

Two issues: 1. I don't want my leathers getting soaked in long rides through rainy days, and I don't know how hot it would get with a rain overpant 2. The top button is not strong enough to hold, you must wear a belt.

Boots: Tourmaster Solution WP Road Boot
http://www.cortechperformance.com/images/products/h_lm_black.jpg

I previously used just about anything I was wearing on my bikes. After going down on my CBR in some Timberlands, I decided to get a boot with more protection. Additionally, I have arthritic ankles, so I needed something that I could walk in indefinitely. Some charateristics I was looking for:

1. Waterproof
2. Hard ankle protection
3. Hard shin protection
4. Decent flexibility when walking
5. No laces (or something to cover the laces while riding)
6. Decent comfort on the bike and off for extended periods
7. Reasonable price
8. Not too hot for the summer

With 2 modifications, this boot fit all of my requirements. Mod #1: Although the boot is easy to walk in, my ankle's benefitted immensely from birkenstock inserts (I can now walk all day in these). Mod #2: Smartwool socks. These boots are relatively warm in the summer. Their mid-height design + the addition of Smartwool hiking socks made these boots comfortable during hot days.

Now that temps are in the 40's F, I find that I need a warmer sock. Plain cotton socks (and even the smartwool hikers) tend to let my toes get a little cold after 30 minutes of riding on the highway.

All in all, as my primary year-round riding boots (sometimes I'll toss on the Timberlands), and for around $120 US, I am very happy.

Gloves: Cortech Scarab R.R. Glove
http://www.tourmaster.com/images/products/h_q1_black_black.jpg

I got used to wearing these gloves in the summer. The leather on the palm and bottom side of the fingers is such that you retain great sensitivity for control manipulation. A bonus I didn't realize, is that the leather grips the clutch and break levers better, which makes it feel like it requires less effort to manipulate. Besides the carbon pads on the top side, it has a carbon protective pad on the palm (an area which was burnt flat from my downing the CBR without gloves). Although most of the glove is leather, the fingertips have spandex like areas along the fingers, presumably to keep the fingers tight.

There are cooler gloves to wear in the summer, but I've been OK with these. Now that the weather is in the 40's F (they don't have any insulation), my hands start to go numb after 30 minutes on the highway. Although I was thinking of just getting a glove liner, one issue that popped up was that the right middle finger under the second knuckle seperated at the seam between the leather and nylon (along the finger, about 3/4 of an inch). I e-mailed Tourmaster/Cortech, and am awaiting their response. If this is covered under warranty I will get another pair in a heartbeat, and add the tourmaster winter gloves for the cold. If it isn't, I might look for alternatives. In all honesty, after a summer of wearing these gloves I really like using them, but if I can expect tears after 4 months of riding, I will go somewhere else.

Well, I'm no expert, but I hope these opinions might help somebody that's curious or looking into some of the gear I use.

bplinson
12th November 2007, 12:49
Great Review!

Bob F
12th November 2007, 16:07
You live in Wisconsin, which is colder than Pittsburgh.

I'm old school, low tech. My leather coat and pants are over 25 year old Brooks over a wool union suit. Always wear a 1/2 helmet over a baseball cap behind a windshield; below 30°F I'll use a wool ski cap under the 1/2 helmet. Heavy leather gloves and 2 pair of cotton socks down to 35°F and snowmobile gloves and felt pack boots when it's colder. This has always worked for me; the Star Wars Storm Trooper look is not for me.

grindbastard
12th November 2007, 16:42
Great review!

I'd like to see more posts like this of what people wear, why they like it, and how much it costs.

Terp84Alum
12th November 2007, 16:51
Thanks for the write up. I'm surprised by the issues with the Shoei. Didn't that thing cost like $500? Adjusting the vents don't help? Also, those gloves had to be killer in the summer. I may look at a pair for winter though. I have the Olympia jacket with the removable liner. Thanks again.

My jacket:
http://www.olympiamotosports.com/airglide/airglide_mj130p.jpg

XLFREAK
12th November 2007, 17:50
Thanks for the review.

Weo
12th November 2007, 20:45
Thanks for the comments. Here's some replies:

You live in Wisconsin, which is colder than Pittsburgh.

I'm old school, low tech. My leather coat and pants are over 25 year old Brooks over a wool union suit. Always wear a 1/2 helmet over a baseball cap behind a windshield; below 30°F I'll use a wool ski cap under the 1/2 helmet. Heavy leather gloves and 2 pair of cotton socks down to 35°F and snowmobile gloves and felt pack boots when it's colder. This has always worked for me; the Star Wars Storm Trooper look is not for me.

I also have a 15 year old motorcycle leather jacket that I often wear, but the quality of leather is questionable. I used to put a hoody underneath, mechanic + ski gloves, sweatpants + army pants, and 2 pairs of socks under my cowboy boots for below freezing. After going down (50 mph on the CBR; hot weather), I decided to get "proper" riding gear. I couldn't afford leathers with the characteristics I was looking for and for hot and cold weather, and the jacket doesn't look that much different on me than when I wear the leather (it looks a lot different in a catalog than on the person). I might not go down again, and if I do it might not be the same way, but I know that the 2 "riding gear" peices I was wearing prevented injuries to those areas (FF helmet -> chin bounce; heavy leather hiking boots -> toe leather severely ground down), and the injuries I did get (hip -> skinned to the bone, elbows -> skinned and bruised, chest -> bruising, hands -> palms burnt, knees -> skinned and bruised) would have all been prevented if I was wearing the gear I am wearing now (I was wearing jeans, no gloves, and a cloth army jacket).

Thanks for the write up. I'm surprised by the issues with the Shoei. Didn't that thing cost like $500? Adjusting the vents don't help? Also, those gloves had to be killer in the summer. I may look at a pair for winter though. I have the Olympia jacket with the removable liner. Thanks again.

My jacket:
http://www.olympiamotosports.com/airglide/airglide_mj130p.jpg

I'm not really complaining about the Shoei. Unfortunately, I don't have experience with any other brand to compare. I've always worn the FF helmets with the visor cracked, even in a blizzard, so its nothing new for me. I'm used to not wearing helmets, and if all I have to do is crack the visor to be comfortable I think thats a good thing. If I wore contacts while riding it would be more of an issue (highway wind, debris, etc. with the visor cracked). With the visor cracked, I have no issues with heat, resistance to breathing, or fogging.

In the heat, the pants are the biggest issue, followed by the boots, but its not that bad considering, especially with a free breathing jacket and socks. The biggest annoyance with the gloves is the time it takes to put on. Well worth the added grip and protection IMO.

nodak
17th December 2007, 01:59
u might want to consider draggin jeans for the hot summer,i have chaps but when it gets really hot who wants em?as for the helmet thing thanks as the only helmet i own is for my sleds and they will never see the light of day in the summer!

Weo
5th May 2008, 03:27
Update:

As I mentioned in the first post, I e-mailed Tourmaster's customer support about the seam seperation in the gloves finger. They basically said that they don't normally handle these issues, but still suggested that I send in the gloves for a new pair. I could have tried going to the store I purchased them at, but wasn't sure if they would take back 3 month old gloves. Either way, the TourMaster customer support lady was very courteous and helpful.

It took a month or two, but the new gloves came. Funny thing is, since it was getting warmer out I went ahead and bought a 2nd pair which arrived the same day as the replacements.

So... here I am with a perfectly fine replacement set and a new set. But here's the kicker, the pair I just bought already had a broken seam (upon inspection when I opened the package).

I can't have gear that only lasts one season. So I returned the new gloves, kept the replacement gloves, and am shopping for another full gauntlet warm weather set for long highway treks (currently looking at Alpinestar).

I have to say that I am satisfied with the response I got from Tourmaster/Cortech. I am also very satisfied with their jacket and boots. However, I can no longer recommend their gloves because of the seam/sewing issues. I recently bought and wore a nice Tourmaster Winter Elite glove set for riding in the 40-50 degree temps this year, but I've already found an imperfection in one finger seam. I don't know if it was there when I got them, but I've only been wearing them for about 2 months. Pretty decent gloves, BTW, but WTH is up with the defective sewing?

Weo
5th May 2008, 03:37
Thanks for the write up. I'm surprised by the issues with the Shoei. Didn't that thing cost like $500? Adjusting the vents don't help?...

I recently ordered a breathguard for the Shoei. Its getting pretty warm out here, so I might not be able to see how much it helps on the fogging. If the temp gets low enough at night I'll post an update review.

It also might be worth noting that the TZ-R is towards the low end of their FF helmet line. Although reviews on the whole are good, Web Bike World readers have posted some issues with fogging with this particular model compared to other Shoei's. Additionally, some Motorcycle Superstore reviewers suggested getting the breathguard with this model.