In the middle of the Great COVID Meltdown of 2020, I had a good long think about sustainability, and how it related to motorcycle gear.
I wasn’t thinking about the origin of materials used, exactly. Whether my jacket/pants are made of synthetics, leather, or natural fibres, it’s inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Instead, I was thinking about the cycle of buying riding gear that wears its zippers out or loses its waterproofing quickly (or even worse, comes leaky from the factory!). I wondered: If I had to buy a motorcycle jacket or pants to last me through foul-weather riding for years, what would I get?
What about waxed cotton? Formerly the gear of choice for basically every rider that wasn’t wearing leather, waxed cotton has made a comeback in recent years as a stylistic choice for, errrrr, riders of the hip persuasion. Definitely not me—I’m too fat to look good in a Belstaff, alas.
However, there’s another take on this formula. Duluth-based Aerostich has waxed cotton options in its line of uber-practical riding gear. Would this be the solution that would last the apocalypse? The good people sent me their two-piece Cousin Jeremy suit to find out.
The Cousin Jeremy suit is the same cut as Aerositch’s Roadcrafter Classic, a suit that’s inspired volumes of journo reviews over the years. However, instead of synthetic construction, with waterproofing courtesy of Gore-Tex, the Cousin Jeremy is made of 10-ounce waxed cotton, imported from the UK.
Does waxed cotton have the same crash resistance as Aerostich’s synthetic suits? No, but the company says it does fare much better than you’d expect. Aerostich also doubles up the Cousin Jeremy’s fabric in the seat, knees, elbows and shoulders, upping the safety.
There’s a 280-degree zipper in the back of the suit, zipping the jacket to the pants, another important safety feature if you come off the bike. There’s soft, flexible TF3 armour in the knees, shoulders and elbows; owners can upgrade to TF6 armour, and also spring for a back protector (I didn’t).
The padding in this suit seems oversized. I suspect that’s Aerostich’s way of compensating for the lessened road rash resistance of waxed cotton. However, every ‘Stich owner knows that the company loooooovvves big padding.
Aerostich’s suits are well-known for on-the-road practicality, and although the Cousin Jeremy is designed for people with a bent towards contemporary style, it’s just as functional as the standard Roadcrafter classic. The jacket comes with seven exterior pockets, including handwarmer pockets on the front (a feature some manufacturers omit, for some reason?), a pass-through glove pocket on the left-hand side of the chest, and a document/toll change pocket on the left arm. There’s also an internal pocket for your wallet, etc.
The pants come with two standard hip pockets, as well as pass-through zippers that let you access your jeans pockets, if you’re wearing pants underneath. There are hook-and-loop patches on the left thigh for a map pocket (the jacket has similar patches on the left arm), and another pocket on the right thigh.
For the most part, the pockets are spacious and fairly waterproof, with the exception of the open-to-the-elements glove storage. This kit is made for the person who needs on-the-road utility.
Other notes: Just like the Roadcrafter suits, the Cousin Jeremy has a tall, snap-down micro-fibre collar for comfort. There are two big pit vents in the jacket, protected by waterproof zippers, and an exhaust vent in back, protected by waterproof two-way zipper and a rain flap. The pants have typical Aerostich hook-and-loop adjustability at the cuffs.
There are no reflectors on the Cousin Jeremy, unlike Aerostich’s Falstaff (its other waxed cotton offering). You can order it in black or tan, or a combination of those two colours. I ordered mine in black, and came to regret that, somewhat (more on that later, too!).
How did it work?
Aerostich had to custom-cut the suit to fit my circus-freak elongated torso, and short legs. It showed up at the end of July, the hottest period of the summer, just in time for my only motorcycle trip of the year (thanks for nothing, COVID!).
It was a bit of a tough beginning. The Cousin Jeremy is at its best in cooler weather, and in early August, it didn’t take me long to overheat in the black jacket/pants combo while pushing through an overgrown skidder road. It’s heavy material, with limited airflow at low speeds. It is not made for slow-speed woods riding.
On open roads at speed, it was much better, and as the season went on and temperatures dropped, I was very happy with the Cousin Jeremy as my go-to suit. I wore it through December with help from a heated vest, and found it insulated fairly well even at the freezing point.
However, I wasn’t able to test the Cousin Jeremy’s waterproofing properly, as we had drought conditions locally in 2020. On the few occasions it did rain, I was tied up with work and unable to put many miles on the bike.
I finally got the chance to do some all-day slogging in sloshy conditions this spring, riding Atlantic Canada through rain and showers and wind—perfect conditions for testing the gear. To my immense happiness, the Cousin Jeremy proved watertight after months of use on-road and offroad. One of my riding buddies was very impressed with the jacket when I pulled it off at a stop, and the exterior glove pocket dumped water all over the road. You know your jacket is waterproof when it can hold that much liquid with none seeping inside.
Unlike the Gen 2 Transit design I tested several years ago, the Cousin Jeremy also had no issues with rain coming in the collar.
Aerostich recommends re-treating the jacket with a waterproofing formula occasionally. Almost a year into ownership, I see no signs of reduced waterproofing. If that does happen, I suspect it’s much more convenient to re-proof this jacket than it is to repair damaged Gore-Tex. Long-term, the only area that I see as potentially problematic are the zipper on the inside of the pants legs. These allow you to don and doff the pants quickly, even if you’re wearing boots, but I suspect they will be the area that’s first to leak.
All this concern about waterproofing might seem silly to some, but if you live in an area where you could face hard, cold rain throughout an entire multi-day trip, you’ll appreciate the gear’s ability to shed water. Hypothermia is a real danger faced by motorcyclists in northeastern North America where I live, and I’ve seen the results of riding in cold, soggy clothes. Your reflexes slow down, and then bad things can happen. Having a waterproof jacket you can rely on is very important if you’re serious about all-weather riding.
As usual, the jacket and pants have Aerostich’s top-shelf build quality. No zipper or stitching has let go, and since this suit uses high-end components, I doubt I’ll have any issues in the near future. I don’t think most people realize just how big a deal it is, to use high-end zippers, and I commend Aerostich for its choice here. I’ve had three or four adventure jackets that were otherwise excellent, but eventually pitched due to crappy zippers that wouldn’t stay together.
As time goes by, the black waxed cotton has taken on a grungy finish, which is to be expected with this material. While it’s part of the schtick, I do wish I’d gone with brown material—it would hide grime better. No worries, it still looks good, just in a weather-beaten way.
The jacket has broken in very nicely. Aerostich suits have a reputation for long break-in periods, but it only took a few weeks for the Cousin Jeremy jacket to fit just as well as any leather jacket I’ve owned—maybe better. It’s already more comfortable than the R3 Light suit that I’ve owned for a few years.
One major advantage the two-piece design has over Aerostich’s one-piece suit (the Cousin Jeremy also comes in a one-piece cut): It’s much easier to use a public washroom stall.
Changes I’d make
Aerostich jackets have simple venting, but it works OK as long as you’re moving. However, their pants could use some improvement here. Many manufacturers offer vents with waterproof zippers on their riding pants, and I think this would be a good improvement on these pants. I’d also consider going the same route as the Aerostich Utility Pants and deleting the zipper inside the legs. Personally, I’d prefer better venting instead.
Is it for you?
So—is this a suit you need?
As always, the question with Aerostich is cost effectiveness. Aerostich gear is not cheap, but it is designed to meet certain performance parameters under regular usage over a long lifespan. It’s made to work well, for a long time.
Pricing for the Cousin Jeremy starts at $627 for the pants, $700 for the jacket (US funds). That’s a lot of money for many riders, myself included. However, if you’re riding regularly, and you put a priority on durability and function, I feel it is worth it.
However, its value still depends on your needs. If I lived in a hot, dry environment like Las Vegas, or I needed a suit for aggressive dual sport riding, I’d look elsewhere. This is a commuter or touring suit, primarily, made for practicality. During my commuter days, this is exactly the type of all-weather suit I needed in Atlantic Canada, where it’s often cold and damp. Good gear could extend my riding season a month longer at each end, or more, and if I wore the suit for six years, that’d add up to a whole extra 12 months of riding. For that reason alone, I think I would buy this jacket if I was still a daily commuter. I would consider the pants carefully as well.
The fact that you can treat this jacket multiple times to keep its long-term waterproof makes it all the more appealing. That’s the sort of sustainability I talked about at the start of the article, a feature that not many reviews talk about.
Disclaimer: Aerostich sent us a Cousin Jeremy suit for review.