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Topic: Newb meets Roadcrafter  (Read 2372 times)

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RBEmerson
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« on: April 03, 2017, 11:06:50 pm »

NOTE: I changed my comments regarding Nikwax - the concluding comments are simply wrong. After some test washes, it's almost certain I used too little TX.Direct. I got the Techwash part right, but seriously "underdosed" with TX.Direct.


I bought a Roadcrafter on eBay, paying roughly half of the new R-3 (successor to the Roadcrafter). I verified, with Aerostich, the size I need and this suit is almost it. Aerostich said "46R" for 6', 44" under the arms, 190 lbs., average build, even though I specifically said I need a 34" inseam to cover my boots (32-33" works for normal street clothes). I bought a 46L.

The suit was, to be blunt, nasty. I expected some crud, splots, and one cuff covered with mystery smudge (seller was acting for a friend - neither said what the smudge was). It was much worse.

Removing the shoulder, elbow, and knee pads (darn, I thought there were hip pads - there aren't, according to a quick email exchange before buying the suit - my error) was not fun. They're held in by overlapping bits of suit liner.

I used OxyClean spray and a medium stiffness brush to attack the most obvious dirt, mystery splots, and the mystery smudge on the left cuff (the smudge showed signs of responding almost immediately - yea). The suit went into our front loading washing machine along with the approved amount of Persil liquid detergent (made by Henkel KgAA in Germany - my wife worked for them; we have a bit of skin in this one). Persil is truly a washday miracle. It's amazing what it'll clean up, and it does that without damaging, staining, or fading whatever is being cleaned. At the end of the cycle(warm water, medium spin), I rinsed and spun the suit to be sure all of the soap was gone.

The next phase was using Nikwax products to restore waterproofing. The first step is to clean the item - check that box. The next step is to wash the item with Nikwax Techwash. Check that box. The final step is to do another wash cycle, using a waterproofing agent Nikwax TX.Direct. Check that box (ADDED: not really - used nowhere near as much TX.Direct as I should have - my error). Finally, dry the suit with mild heat - I can't control the heat, but I can control the drum speed and drying time (don't ask me why Miele does it that way). The suit came out just damp enough to know it wasn't dry. Check that box. I let the suit air dry the rest of the way. Sprayed a little water on the now dry suit and... fail. The water soaked right in - no beading, no like water off a duck's back or like the stuff in the Nikwax video.  ADDED: Of course it failed - I didn't use enough TX.Direct.  Nuts

I had a can of Scotchgard handy. I hung the suit off a tall ladder and carefully sprayed top to bottom, left to right, inside pockets and out. I let the suit dry. I repeated the process. That's two coats of Scotchgard. That's one complete can of Scotchgard. It's supposed to start raining later tonight. Tomorrow I'll find out how well I did... (Adding Scotchguard was surprisingly ineffective - I held the can about 6" out and moved slowly over the surface, as per 3M's instructions. No room for dosing errors as with TX.Direct)

BTW, the suit is now very clean. I still have a couple of oil spots - meh, who doesn't? The dirty cuff looks like new. Yea. The color scheme is red with cobalt blue (Aerostich's name) shin, elbow, and shoulder panels. Not quite hi-viz yellow but red and blue together is a little eye-jarring. The faded parts are only lighter red, not pink. Whew! That's a relief.

Time to put the pads back in. It's a hateful job. It didn't help that I didn't know that Aerostich has a how-to PDF about the suit. The knee pads went where they should. I confused the shoulder and elbow pads (if you saw them side by side, you'd understand why). I found the PDF and undid my mistake. It's still a hateful job, but it's easier once it's been done a couple of times. And that's how this suit is. There's a learning curve, and it's not shallow and easy.

Aerostich suit owners go on about "it only takes 15 seconds to put it on, and 10 to take it off". I've seen videos that don't seem to be edited or sped up. NTL, at this point, IMNSHO, 15 sec./10 sec. is bullpucky. Or someone has much too much free time on their hands to spend it doing speed dressing drills...

The official routine is open the leg zipper (right leg) and main zipper (ends at the bottom of the left leg). Step my right foot through the open right leg. Wearing Aerostich Combat Light boots... the sole finds something to hang up on, leaving me balancing on one foot. After sitting down and swearing a bit, I got the right boot out of wherever it was hung up.

Next step, stuff my right arm into the right sleeve. Oh, don't forget to unzip the cuff zippers before doing this. Arm into the sleeve, drag the right side of the collar up so my shoulder is under the shoulder armor. Stuff my left arm into the left sleeve and get my left shoulder under the left armor. Aside from flailing around, looking for the arm hole, this is fairly simple.

The main zipper has two sliders. They should be somewhere near the top of the main zipper (the details one misses...). Slide the top slider to the top of the zipper and hold it there with my right hand. Find the bottom slider and jam it up against the top slider, making them one big slider. There's a secret grip - top slider pull tab between thumb and the side of the index finger, the bottom slider's pull tab between the index and second (or "stink") finger and slide my hand upwards to keep the sliders together and at the top of the zipper. And here is where life gets angry.

The top of the zipper on the top of the left side of the main zipper... it ends somewhat lower than I expect (I'm thinking close to my throat - Aerostich disagrees). With the sliders in the secret right hand grip that (really) must not be forgotten or the bottom slider with start sliding down the zipper. OK, with the sliders together "all" that happens is to put the sliders over the long thingie that all zippers have and pull the thingie up to the (upper) end of the upper slider. Much, much easier said than done while wearing the suit. There is, yet again, a secret move. Do not tug the zipper away from my chest or the zipper will never go together - DAHIK. Instead, keep the two zipper halves close to my chest, hold the left zipper still with my left hand and fumble the sliders onto the top of the left zipper while maintaining the secret slider grip (or the bottom zipper, etc., etc.). Do not rely on looking down - my glasses won't help and I can't see anything that close without them. Sooner or later the sliders go on and the bottom slider moves as it should, closing the main zipper.

Slide the main zipper all the way down to my left ankle, getting my street pants out of the way and laying the inside weather/water flap out so it's under the zipper. While I'm bending over, do the same thing for the right zipper. At this point the main zipper is fully closed, and so is the right leg. Putting the suit on is complete. 15 seconds to do all that? Maybe if I practice for a few years.

Climbing out of the suit is faster. Undo the cuff zippers, bend over and unzip the right leg, while I'm down there, start the bottom slider of the main zipper up, going until the top and bottom sliders slide of the left zipper thingie. Get my arm out of the left sleeve. Get my right arm out of the right sleeve. And them try to get that same damn right boot through the top of the right leg. Yes, this part is faster.

So what's not to like? For whatever reason, it's time to climb out of the suit while standing in a dusty parking lot/driveway. Those pads will be coming out sooner than later, cleaning up all the dirt that accumulates over a few months of riding. Or you're standing in a now muddy gravel driveway or wet parking lot and the suit has to come off and/or go on. Neat and tidy this won't be. And, of course that same right boat will have its load of wet, mud, dirt, or whatever (hope you don't find dog, goose, cow or other landmines with that right boot!).

The suit's on. What to expect? There's an outer shell, with some pockets (mostly wide and deep), including the left sleeve pocket for toll tickets, etc. There's also a non-pocket that's a wide strip of shell material sewn top and bottom. It useful for stuffing in glasses when taking off or putting on a helmet, or stuffing gloves into, stuff like that. Interior pockets are an optional extra that go on existing loop material for hook&loop strips. The collar is lined with something that feels pretty good and doesn't dig in. There's one strap to hold the collar shut - more hook and loop stuff with a lot of room for adjustment. There's a loop on the same side as the base of the strap; fold the strap back in itself and slide the strap end under the loop to keep it from flapping - v. cool idea!

The inside... There's a black nylon-ish liner over everything. It does not come out, it's sewn in. And that's all there is. There's no insulated liner or anything else that comes with some gear. It's BYOL - bring your own liner. The suit should be waterproof - as in no rain suit needed. No need for a rain liner. Any insulated stuff you bring has to hang off of you, not the suit - no clever zippers, etc. Which sounds worse than it is. The suit is really meant for riders with some degree of experience and common sense. This is not a suit for someone just learning to ride. OK, onward... there are vents under the armpits and across the back to let breezes blow through the suit. And, of course, you can drop the main zipper. How well that works in a Philadelphia summer remains to be discovered. How about cold weather? I have a heated jacket liner. I can get a flannel shirt under that. Heavy Duluth Trading "Firehose" pants and long john bottoms are about all that will fit without binding (bad for circulation which is bad for staying warm). Aerostich said a 46 (one size up) would allow room for layering. If I didn't have a 46L tab in the suit, I'd say it was a 44. IMHO, the suit's undersized. I should have looked for a 48L. For the record, this isn't beer gut getting in the way, this is "tight everywhere".

I've ridden exactly once with the suit. The temperature was 50-ish. A flannel shirt over a t-shirt was a touch on the thin side, behind a low windscreen. Duluth Trading pants (and tighty whiteys if you must know) worked behind a partial leg fairing. In short, don't expect much more than a windbreak from the suit. I still haven't gotten the collar dialed in; there was a little more cool breeze than I expected. The saddle on my bike tends towards the slick side. Ditto for the bottom of the suit. This isn't quite "pigs on ice" but it's slicker than I hoped for.

So... where does this all go? The suit looks bullet-proof. It has no insulation, just a liner to keep the seams from being a pain. There are shoulder, elbow, and knee pads. There are no hip pads (optional extra!) or back pad (also optional extra - why??). There are exterior pockets. There are a lot of loop material strips for adding various pockets inside and out (optional extra). Aerostich will repair and replace stuff (zippers, seams, etc.) and make alterations (raise kneepads, for example - the suit has no built-in adjustments). It's not inexpensive. Don't take the suit to your local dry cleaner/seamstress. Sealing seams, etc. is its own art - let Aerostich do it right. If it sounds like $1200+ for basically a pair of rugged coveralls, that wouldn't be too far off. But... this stuff does seem to be seriously rugged, it has some very useful features, and properly cared for, it'll keep you in better shape than anything else I've worn so far. Is it worth $1200? I bought a used suit. Not because it was to keep peace in the house, but because I can't talk me into dropping 1.2K for a high-end Carhartt  coverall. There is a distinct "well, yeah, I ride where ya gotta have a Roadcrafter or R-3 to survive" factor.  Rolleyes

Am I glad I bought it? Yes/no. I don't know how it's going to work during the summer, and I don't know how it's going to work next winter. In between looks promising, on the strength of one ride.   The size is off enough to make me doubt the online sizing wizard I consulted. Getting into this thing will probably get easier after a couple of (I hope) months. Getting out isn't too hard. But this suit is gonna get cruddy every time I get in and out of it unless I'm inside on a clean-ish floor. Given the suit's track record, this suit should last me for a very long time. Which is what I want.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 10:23:46 pm by RBEmerson » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2017, 11:27:39 pm »

I'm...speechless. Shrug
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 03:21:47 am »

The ten second thing will come with a little bit of practice.   Lol

As for cool temps, I find the suit a lot less warm than others seem to do. I've done rides when it never got above freezing all day, and believe me-layering up was necessary.
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2017, 05:14:17 am »

Why would you take it off while standing in mud? Headscratch

That reminds me of that Dr. / patient conversation;

Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this.

Doctor: Don't do that  Bigsmile
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2017, 08:49:34 am »

From all that, I gather you're not sure if you like it or not?  Headscratch
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2017, 12:20:21 pm »

Mud... One reason for buying the Roadcrafter is: I go somewhere that I don't want to have gear on when I walk in the door (or whatever) and I don't want to fight to get out of or into gear. The parking lot, driveway, whatever, is dirty, dusty, muddy, etc. But I have to stand there to get out or in of the suit. All things being equal, I'll let road dirt pile up without deliberately adding to it. "I wouldn't do it, doc, if I could avoid it."

Like it or not? That's about the present situation. The plus side is it's a one-piece (always been partial to that), it's certainly easier (even with all the contortions I mentioned) to climb into and out of relative to my present collection of Olympia and TourMaster gear.

One minus is mostly my fault - believing Aerostich's "a 46 will get it done". There have been two Aerostich Pop-up events, one in DC and one near NYC, that I hoped I could get to expressly to check sizing. Life happens and I couldn't get to either. If one popped up in my backyard, it'd be too late. Life happens...

The Classic's collar (no idea about the R-3 collar) seems to be anything but even water resistant. Like the zipper, I guess it's a learned skill. Why back and hip padding are optional extras mystifies me. Kinda like making some helmet padding an optional extra.  Headscratch

I guess the idea's to hit a price point - $1.2K sells better than $1.5K?  Shrug I have a feeling a PI lawyer could make something of "my client, with his broken hip, believed the suit was adequately padded as delivered"... (see the comments from an orthopedic surgeon in the hip pad reviews).  Headscratch

I included "Newb" in the title to indicate where the reviewer (me) is in the learning curve. At some point I'll probably say WTF was I whinging about. But right now... not so enchanted.
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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2017, 12:51:12 pm »

It reminds me of why I don't wash mine very often.  Lol

Aerostich could do better with the pads, use the thinner CE approved pads or something.
The problem I see in the pads they use is that they're bulky. It's a problem when packing the suit in a suitcase or your topcase.

As for back protection, some prefer no pads while others like to wear body armor.




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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2017, 02:13:55 pm »


Am I glad I bought it? Yes/no.


TL;DR  Bigsmile
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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2017, 10:56:17 pm »




TL;DR  Bigsmile

Used it. Like it more. Nikwax fail. Scotchguard fail. Try 303 next. Cord port where??? Mmm K?  Wink

ADD: User idiot. Nikwax not fail.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 10:25:10 pm by RBEmerson » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2017, 10:04:59 pm »

The suit and I are getting better acquainted. I started a ride in the 40's and finished around 70. Stopping to take of a layer was far easier than with my Oly jackets.  Bigok

The collar is still not staying closed on occasion. The flaps behind the zippers have, I fear, taken a set from an owner who just zipped up instead of keeping the flaps flat. Sigh...

15 second dons, and 10 second doffs... in someone's fevered dreams, or they're not wearing the Combat boots. My biggest problem, once the suit's off, is stuffing it into a pannier. I still haven't figured out the needed origami to keep the bulk to a minimum.

Is there a port for the power cord for my heated gear??
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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2017, 05:40:13 pm »


It reminds me of why I don't wash mine very often.  Lol

Aerostich could do better with the pads, use the thinner CE approved pads or something.
The problem I see in the pads they use is that they're bulky. It's a problem when packing the suit in a suitcase or your topcase.

As for back protection, some prefer no pads while others like to wear body armor.



I also had a 2 pc. Roadcrafter.  I hated putting it on as a 1 pc.  I got the bib converter and that was better.  But then I sold the pants and bought Darien pants.  I like them much more.  But I often wear just the jacket.  I just got a Darien jacket (great deal).  I really like it when it's cold.  The liner is great.  But take out the liner and it's not comfortable.  The difference is that light liner in the Roadcrafter.  It's what makes it for me.  I was thinking about buying more Roadcrafter pants (stealth this time) and try it again.  But decided to get an Adventure Mesh jacket to wear when it's warmer.  Roadcrafter jacket in great shape for sale!
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2017, 07:56:38 pm »




I also had a 2 pc. Roadcrafter.  I hated putting it on as a 1 pc.  I got the bib converter and that was better.  But then I sold the pants and bought Darien pants.  I like them much more.  But I often wear just the jacket.  I just got a Darien jacket (great deal).  I really like it when it's cold.  The liner is great.  But take out the liner and it's not comfortable.  The difference is that light liner in the Roadcrafter.  It's what makes it for me.  I was thinking about buying more Roadcrafter pants (stealth this time) and try it again.  But decided to get an Adventure Mesh jacket to wear when it's warmer.  Roadcrafter jacket in great shape for sale!


Same here. Roadcrafter top plus Aerostich Utility pants.
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« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2017, 08:02:15 am »

 Shrug When I take mine off, I sure don't zip all the zippers back up.  No point in it!  It goes into a Givi 36l bag with room to spare.  Fold the arms into the center of the torso, fold in half lengthwise, then in half top to bottom. Cram it into the bag and lock.

My Gerbings wires run out the left side hip zipper which is zipped back up after getting the wires out.  I added Velcro to the portable controller and attach it to my left suit leg Velcro pad.

Oh, no Combat boots, but Sidi B2s here.  It gets easier, trust me.   Bigok
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 08:08:29 am by sleazy rider » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2017, 11:58:35 am »

Just fold the arms in, fold the legs up, then roll it up.  You can stuff it in a tube like a tent or use 2-3 straps.
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« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2017, 10:33:15 pm »


 Shrug When I take mine off, I sure don't zip all the zippers back up.  No point in it!  It goes into a Givi 36l bag with room to spare.  Fold the arms into the center of the torso, fold in half lengthwise, then in half top to bottom. Cram it into the bag and lock.
Got no Givi.  Bigsmile I came up with a bit of suit origami that works well with stock padding (shoulder, elbow, knee - as from Aerostich). I'll put a video up on YouTube in the next couple of days.

Quote
My Gerbings wires run out the left side hip zipper which is zipped back up after getting the wires out.  I added Velcro to the portable controller and attach it to my left suit leg Velcro pad.
Wow!!! That's worth the price of admission right there. Too bad I didn't think of that.

Quote
Oh, no Combat boots, but Sidi B2s here.  It gets easier, trust me.   Bigok
I like my Combat Light boots. And things seem to be improving. But who'd expect a one-piece suit to be so complicated?  Headscratch
« Last Edit: April 08, 2017, 06:48:39 pm by RBEmerson » Logged

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