Finland has some of the most extreme climate in the world. Even Helsinki in the very south has nearly six months a year when temperatures stay around freezing, while Lapland in the north has frequent summer days above 30 degrees. That’s Celsius.
It’s no wonder then that Rukka motorcycle clothing, which is designed in Finland, can handle extremes of temperature. It does not rain all that much in Finland, so it is a little more difficult to explain why Rukka riding suits are also rainproof, but there you go. Every metaphor eventually runs out of steam. It is undoubtedly true, however, that they are not just dry the way most other riding suits are dry because of their zip-in waterproof liner. Instead, here is their simple idea: Rukka’s Shield-R suit, which is what I have been wearing, is dry from the outside in. No waterproof liner required. Let’s see how they do that.
It is quite simple. Rukka just makes the suit out of one hundred percent breathable, wind- and waterproof Gore-Tex Pro 3-layer with Armacor, a seriously abrasion-resistant material constructed from 700-denier Cordura and Kevlar; every fourth thread is Kevlar, woven like tartan. The materials are the most up-to-date available for this kind of use. They are then laminated to abrasion- and tear-resistant Cordura shell fabric. Together, the materials leave the suit breathable and rainproof.
Hem, sleeves and leg bottoms are adjustable with velcro tightening, zippers and waterproof Gore-Tex inner cuffs and there is a soft neoprene collar. The suit has breathable protectors which meet the requisite CE standards. A variety of sizes is available, although sadly the suit is only made in a men’s cut.
Rukka’s AirCushion System on the inside of the pants’ seat reduces condensation, acts as a climate buffer and makes long rides more comfortable. Meanwhile, on the outside, Keprotec Antiglide stops your backside from sliding over the seat. There are ventilation openings on the chest, sides, sleeves and the back of the jacket and on the front and back of the thighs.
The pants have a connecting zipper for the jacket, an adjustable belt with press button closure and braces. I have never thought of myself as the belt-and-braces type, but I will happily make an exception in this case. The braces mean that I do not have to cinch the belt up quite so tight over the dad-bod. The pants add two waterproof pockets to the jacket’s four and both have stretch panels and heat/abrasion resistant leather patches.
So far so good. Now, how do you feel about new technology? Like most people, I am impressed by the advances I read about. Unfortunately, they often prove to be impractical and never see application. When I first read about Outlast while it was being developed for NASA, I thought it sounded ideal for motorcycle clothing. But it also seemed a bit too weird to ever make it to the marketplace.
Rukka not only saw the potential, but applied it. Outlast utilizes phase change materials that absorb, store and release heat for optimal thermal comfort. The materials are “microencapsulated” into, er, micro capsules and protected in a polymer shell forming a fabric that is sewn into Rukka’s clothing next to the skin. As the skin gets hot, the heat is absorbed. As it cools, that heat is released. “Outlast technology will proactively manage heat while controlling the production of moisture before it begins,” says Rukka.
Does Outlast work? It is a little hard to tell because I have not been able to ride much (thank you, COVID), but I think so. And NASA wouldn’t use it if it didn’t.
All of this makes the suit thoroughly comfortable, safe… and heavy. For my 180cm, 95kg body the suit weighs 7.5kg. That’s still not the heaviest riding suit I have worn, but it’s getting up there. On the other hand, it is especially comfortable; it feels as if it had been fitted to me and stays that way when I sit on different bikes. I have tried it on a Royal Enfield Interceptor, my BMW F 750 GS and my Kawasaki Turbo, in other words both sitting upright and leaning forward, and it, er, suits me fine either way.
A basic test of motorcycle clothing is, how does it perform if you’re just walking around, or sitting on a café chair? Because this suit fits well, with the help of the various stretch panels on the sides, upper back and arms, it is almost as comfortable as ordinary, everyday clothing. There is no sense of being trapped in stiff textiles.
This Rukka suit has impressed me, as you can probably tell. It is outstandingly well-made, and if you take care of it I would expect it to last indefinitely. In quality, appearance, comfort and… dare I say it, elegance the Rukka Shield-R suit seems well out in front of the field. It is also expensive. Is it the best motorcycle suit on the market? I will report back in a few months after a thorough test.
(Photos Peter Dasko, Rukka)