They’re a rarity, but one-piece motorcycle touring suits are still a thing. Of course, one-piece leather suits are common at the track, but one-piece leather suits designed for touring are rarely seen, possibly because many motorcyclists are worried they’d be mistaken for a Marianne Faithfull impersonator, or maybe The Gimp from Pulp Fiction. And can you blame them?
That means if you want a one-piece suit for long-distance riding, you’re probably going to end up with a textile suit. Andy Goldfine pretty much invented the one-piece riding suit when he founded Aerostich in the 1980s, and several other makers are in the market now. So, what are they all about?
Why pick a one-piece textile suit?
- Ease of use While one-piece suits are often panned as being difficult to put on, that’s not always the case. Aerostich made its name by offering suits that were quick and easy to put on, so commuting motorcyclists could simply throw the suit over their everyday clothes, ride to work, then doff the suit upon arrival, changing from Superman into Clark Kent.
- Protection from the elements While a jacket-pants combo can keep out rain while you’re riding, there’s always the potential for water to leak in around the waist of the jacket, if it rides up. A waterproof one-piece suit eliminates that possibility. It also keeps out fog, and cold air drafts in chilly temps.
- Crash protection Textile riding suits may not fend off road rash as well as leather, but they still do a pretty good job—good enough that some roadracing tracks will allow them for certain events. One problem with jacket-pants combos is that sometimes in a crash, the pants and jacket separate and the rider can end up with road rash in the gap between the two. That doesn’t happen with a one-piece suit. As well, the one-piece suit means your entire body is always covered and protected, even on days when you might otherwise be tempted to ride with only a jacket.
Why not use a one-piece textile suit??
- Cost While there are lots of low-priced jackets and pants on the market, there aren’t many low-priced textile one-piece suits. This is mostly due to supply and demand.
- Wearability Textile suits are very good at keeping bad weather at bay while spending long hours in the saddle. They’re not necessarily as good at the types of riding that require a lot of movement on the bike—say, ripping through the woods on an enduro bike. Now, there are plenty of adventure riders who will pipe up and say they wear their one-piece in the tightest of trails and they like it just fine, but as a general rule, there’s gear that’s better designed for those purposes.
- Expensive repair/replacement Some companies offer comprehensive repair options for their one-piece riding suits. Have a minor off and put a hole in the leg of your suit, and they’ll fix it for a reasonable fee, so you don’t have to replace the whole suit. However, some companies don’t have such generous customer service options, which means if you tear part of the suit apart, you’ve got to replace the whole thing. That’s much more expensive than replacing only a jacket or riding pants.
- Styling This is subjective, but for the most part, one-piece riding suits are not known for rogueish good looks. Wearers have been visually compared to such figures as the Michelin Man, or Buzz Lightyear. One-piece suits require baggy crotches to fit comfortably, so generally speaking, you’re not styling when you’re wearing a onesie.
What are your options?
A few companies have dropped their one-piece suit lines in recent years, but there are still several options on the market. Here are a few of the prominent manufacturers:
Aerostich Aerostich basically pioneered this market, and is still the top player in the game, at least in North America. Aerostich currently sells four one-piece suits: the R3, the R3 Light, the Roadcrafter and the Cousin Jeremy, which is made of waxed cotton. Otherwise, all of Aerostich’s suits are made from Gore-Tex nylon fabric, with waterproof zippers, lots of strategically-located pockets, and they come with many, many options for customization. You can get several off-the-rack options for fit, including women’s sizes, along with different optional pockets. While most people order Aerostich suits over the phone or from their catalog or website, the company also occasionally runs pop-up retail events in cities across the USA.
Klim Klim has just introduced a one-piece touring suit, the Hardanger. It’s expensive ($1,299 US) and doesn’t have the same options for customization as the hand-made suits here, but it’s definitely easier to get one from an online retailer and send it back if you don’t like it, or even try one on at a local dealership.
BMW It’s rare to see a CoverAll suit in the wild, and they may not be in production anymore; it’s hard to find anyone who knows anything about them. They are still listed as available through some catalogs, though. They’re a little light on features when compared to the competition, and venting isn’t great. It’s more of a rain suit than a protective suit.
Joe Rocket Joe Rocket is best known for flashy street bike gear, but does have a one-piece in the lineup, the Survivor suit. It might be the most affordable one-piece on the market, at $399 US. It’s supposed to be waterproof. While the suit itself is supposed to be very adjustable for comfort, it isn’t available in as many different sizing configurations as others. It comes with an insulated full liner.
Teiz The founders of Teiz (pronounced “Taze”) sold their motorcycles to start a motorcycle gear company in 2008. They gather components from all over the world and have the suits assembled in Pakistan. Their emphasis is on quality and customer service; you can buy off-the-rack gear from them, or custom-fit. Check out their lineup of one-piece suits at their website (they have other gear as well).
Motoport Motoport gear isn’t common, but it’s some of the best on the market, with lots of attention to detail and careful selection of materials. It’s also very expensive; the Ultra Tek Stretch Suit sells for $1,529 US, and that’s before ordering custom sizing or other features. However, the company’s specialty is making gear for motorcycle patrolmen, so you know it’s going to be high quality and comfortable.