by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
More wBW Heated Motorcycle Clothing Reviews
It was a cold, crisp winter morning that brought the challenge. Actually, it sounded more like a dare.
Frank Cooper, who owns and manages Adventure Motorcycling Gear, offered it up:
"Dress like you normally would for cold-weather riding. Go out for a half-hour or so, then come back and go out again, just wearing these underneath."
He handed me a complete set of Bikers Comfort in Action long underpants, pullover, socks and glove liners, plus a Rukka neck warmer and kidney belt.
A subconscious chill went up and down my spine.
The weather report was calling for temperatures in the low 30's (F) the next day, which is way below my comfort level. I'm OK with, say, 45 degrees F and above; if it's between 40 and 45, I may go out if I really have the urge, but below 40, well, I'm a wimp.
It would be different if I had a big touring bike with a monster windscreen, but below 40 degrees on a naked bike is a bit much for someone of my vintage.
And it was hard to believe that what looked like a set
of black underwear was going to make me comfortable enough to enjoy
But Frank ran an experiment for me to help calm my fears. He picked up a can of compressed air, like you might use to blow dust off of a computer keyboard. He pointed the nozzle at my chest and let loose.
I immediately felt the air through the 3 layers of clothing I had on that morning.
But when I swapped all of my street clothes for the Bikers Comfort in Action pullover, he sprayed me again and...nothing! It's like magic! It's amazing how well this stuff really does block the wind.
I cringed when I saw the thermometer the next morning; it was in the teens and was only supposed to crawl into the low 30's by the afternoon. But the sun was out, the dare was set, so I had no choice but to give it a try.
I followed Frank's suggestion, first dressing in my maximum winter outfit, which amounts to about all I can possibly fit under my lined Cordura motorcycling jacket and pants.
Remember the snowsuit scene in the movie "A Christmas Story", when Ralphie's kid brother Randy is bundled up so tight he can't get up after he falls down in the snow? That's what I looked (and felt) like.
The problem with stuffing all that clothing underneath your jacket and overpants is that you can barely move.
I went out for the ride, but at those temperatures, and even with my full-max winter outfit on, I could still feel the cold air cutting right through. It sort of felt like the clothing was perforated, and that was exactly the point that Frank was trying to make.
So I came back in and stripped off my cotton waffle-knit long johns, my polar fleece sweaters and my Merino wool socks.
On went the Bikers Comfort in Action underwear, socks and glove liners and the Rukka neck warmer and kidney belt, and nothing else. Not even any cotton underwear!
I threw on the same Cordura overpants and riding jacket for sake of experimental consistency.
I went back out and immediately noticed the difference; the Bikers Comfort in Action gear completely blocked the wind and eliminated that chilly "perforated clothes" feeling that cut the earlier ride short.
Now I'm not claiming that this outfit is all you'd need to be successful in the Antarctic climate that got Shackleton. Because let's face it; riding a motorcycle in 30 degree weather means that you're definitely going to need some insulation.
These products are designed to stop the wind from coming through and provide some level of insulation next to your body, and the decrease in the wind chill factor that they provide can mean a big difference in comfort.
The manufacturer claims that these garments provide thermal protection 2.5 times higher than regular fabrics, and based on my experience after several winter rides, I'd say that this claim is just about right.
Wearing the underwear to block the wind and with some sensible insulating garments to keep in the warmth gives you the freedom to dress much more comfortably with fewer layers than you would otherwise.
For example, these products would work great under some heated clothing, and they would probably be all you'd need.
I personally think that there's a safety advantage when you're less bulky -- piling on layers of sweaters decreases your range of motion.
If you can't easily swing your head or body to see what's going on around you, there's a potential for trouble.
Range of motion and vision is especially important in the winter, when motorists may be even less likely than they normally are to be looking for motorcycles.
Anyway, I swung back by the house and threw on a polar fleece sweater and went back out. It was pretty amazing to be riding in weather of that temperature with so little bulk.
My hands and face got pretty cold and cut the ride short, but I think Frank proved his point.
dThe Bikers Comfort in Action and the Rukka products are both made from a windproof and breathable Gore Windstopper (Gore-WS) membrane, which is laminated between two fabric layers.
The inside layer is a very, very thin "Polar Fleece" type lining. It's made by DuPont and it's called "Thermastat" insulating fabric.
The outside layer is a stretchy fabric that feels very much
like a thin wetsuit material.
This combination is designed to create a warm, dry boundary layer next to the skin, while the Gore-WS textile allows perspiration to transpire through the membrane.
I've been critical of some Gore products in other webBikeWorld reviews, but this is the first one that I've used that actually seems to work as advertised, and doesn't leave me feeling like I just came out of a sauna.
In fact, I wore the pullover all day, indoors and out, just
to see how it performed, and I felt dry the entire time.
My only complaint is that wish the pullover fit a bit tighter; it's a size large, which should fit me perfectly (I take a size 44 men's jacket), but it seemed loose fitting, as you can see in the photo above.
I'm not sure if it is designed to be bulkier than the underpants, which are nice and stretchy and tight, or if the pullover is simply sized differently.
The product literature states that it's reversible, so perhaps it was designed to be a bit bigger to look presentable when wearing it in public.
The pullover feels comfortable and the thin fleece lining
feels nice and soft next to my skin.
The pullover has a double-flapped neck that closes with an internal zipper and snap buttons.
It also has some easy to use elastic cinch cords at the bottom to pull it tight against your hips to prevent air from leaking in, and elastic cuffs on each arm to keep the wind from blowing up the sleeves.
item to note is that the zipper pull is on the inside, next to your
skin, rather than outside, between the pullover and the flap.
The long underpants are made of the same material and they are very comfortable. The stretch fabric really works well for this application and even provides some support for tired muscles.
Both the pullover and the pants are cut specifically for motorcyclists so that they fit correctly when seated. There's an extra panel sewn into the knees that keeps them perfectly stretched when in a riding position.
The Bikers Comfort in Action ensemble in this review also included a pair of sox, made from the same Gore-WS material.
I really liked the socks, and I was surprised at how warm and dry they kept my feet.
Without getting into too much detail that I'm sure you don't want to hear, let me just say that my boots have a tendency to retain moisture, and damp feet and cold weather just don't mix.
I've had a problem for most of my life in trying to find a pair of winter boots of any type that would kept my feet warm and dry at the same time.
Before the Bikers Comfort in Action socks, my standard winter motorcycling footwear consisted of polypropylene liners under thick (really thick!) Merino wool socks.
That's supposedly the setup that hikers wear in the winter.
But that combination is uncomfortable, never seems to keep my feet warm or dry, and the two layers are so thick that I can barely get my Dainese boots on and zipped up.
The Gore product really works for me in this application and they're thinner than my wool socks alone.
The last piece of Bikers Comfort in Action gear were these glove liners.
I have to say that these really
didn't work for me; although they are very comfortable, they were just
too thick to fit under any of the several pairs of gloves that I own.
My favorite winter gloves are an old pair of Belstaff "Pro Toura" five-finger jobs that are comfortable and soft.
have some type of windproof liner in them, so perhaps a glove liner
is overkill for me.
I think the liners would work better if you purchased a pair of gloves a size or so bigger.
In fact, that may be the answer -- it's possible that you could purchase a less bulky glove and wear the liners underneath to solve the problem of cold hands.
It's important to keep the neck and head area warm and protected from the wind.
There's a lot
of blood circulating in this area, and for maximum comfort, this area
should be well protected.
The Rukka neck warmer is made from material that is identical to the fabric combination used in the Bikers Comfort in Action products.
The addition of a neck warmer to this outfit makes a nice difference in terms of warmth.
The neck warmer closes in the back with "hook and loop"
strips that are a bit fussy to close, but the extra layer really feels
good where it counts.
Rukka makes several models of neck warmer; this one is similar to a turtleneck, and comes way up over the chin. I also wear a silk Balaclava when it's cold, which is nice but doesn't really add that much warmth.
Adventure Motorcycle Gear carries a Rukka neck warmer with a built-in Balaclava, which would be ideal for winter riding.
Which brings us to the final piece of this winter riding outfit, the Rukka kidney belt. Many people who wear kidney belts swear by them, but for some reason I've never had the opportunity to try one.
Kidney belts first became popular with truck drivers and owners of vibrating V-twins to help provide support to this vital area.
Old-fashioned kidney belts were rather crude devices, made of thick
leather with belts and buckles to snug them up.
The Rukka kidney belt uses modern materials, is lightweight, and has plenty of elastic to make it feel comfortable.
I found that the Rukka kidney belt serves a dual purpose. Its main function is to provide support for the lower back, which helps endurance and comfort. I've used it with leaned-over and upright riding positions, and it works for both.
Unlike the old leather kidney belts of the past, Rukka's belt is designed to keep the vital kidney area warm.
I've experimented riding with and without this kidney belt in the cold weather, and there's a noticeable difference with it on.
It's thin enough that it can be worn under most any riding pant. It's kind of weird -- once you ride with one, you feel naked without it!
The Rukka kidney belt has some stretch panels on the sides that allow you to snug it up to whatever level of support you'd like.
It's secured by "hook and loop" fastener across the front, and is very easy to put on or remove.
All of the Rukka products I've ever seen have about the highest levels of quality you'll find in motorcycling apparel, and the neck warmer and kidney belt are no exception.
If you ever get a chance to see a Rukka garment up close, check out the stitching - it literally rivals the tailoring on the most expensive Italian custom suits!
Now I guess you could argue that these products are a bit expensive, but if you're serious about riding when the weather turns nasty, they can really make a difference.
For example, they work great under an outfit like the Tourmaster GX jacket and pants, and greatly extend the range of temperatures in which you can feel comfortable.
But the best part is that you don't have to put them away when the weather turns warmer.
All of these products will work great on a cool spring morning or a damp summer night.
In fact, I'm planning on using them all year 'round to maintain lightweight comfort in any weather. Why not take advantage of all that modern technology has to offer?
|wBW Review: Biker's Comfort in Action & Rukka Windproof Underwear|
|Manufacturer: Rukka and Biker's Comfort in Action (Website?)||List Price (2004): Gloves $32.95; Socks $35.95; Pants $89.95; Pullover $149.95; Neck Warmer $39.00; Kidney Belt $35.00.|
|Colors: Black||Made In: Rukka: China.|
|Sizes: XXS to 4XL.||Review Date: January 2004|
Note: Item provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.
Also From "H.S.": "... I have found Biker-Land in Germany. I have emailed them a few times with very fast replies, by fast I mean in hours. I placed my order and I got an email that stated the order will be shipped the same day.
With a 5 day delivery via air mail "even with the shipping cost still a very good price"! This may be the answer to getting Rukka here in the US. I only wish I could get it here...."
"I bought a Shakal jacket. The total out the door price was 410 Euro which is $545.00. That is about $120.00 less than us dealers. But if it doesn't fit $50 shipping both ways to get another size. So it a break even deal it doesn't fit. They have a very good sizing chart at that site."
From "J.W." "Received the Bikers Comfort products, all except the pants but still this product is way under advertised for cold weather wear. Could not believe how nice it was not to get cold feet as (I'm) riding and zero cold air down the chest and with my insulated leather jacket unzipped.
Took a trip up to the gold country over the weekend; it was in the 60's Friday when I left so I geared up for nightfall as it was 5 (degrees) when I left. Rode for about two hours to get to where my wife was at a horse show (and) stayed there until midnight, then went on into the foothills above Jackson, CA.
The elevation ranges between 1000-2000 feet, clear skies and getting a nice breeze of the Sierra Nevadas (still covered with snow).
Air temp dropped to just below 40 at night, no sun and with the high elevation and dampness of the California winter/spring it was a perfect ride. Never got a chill riding at midnight for just over an hour to a motel.
This product needs to be the liner for all jackets and pants/chaps -- there would be more bikes out a lot longer if everyone finds out about them. Again it's well worth the expense to be very comfortable when riding..."
From "B.M." : "Just took my first ride with the Windstopper Biker's Comfort in Action shirt, and balaclava. I was going 80 on the highway with my jacket open in 30 degrees to test it out. I could not feel any of the cold wind coming through.
This stuff truly is amazing. Thanks for the recommendation. Truly ride changing gear."
From "Mr. S.": "I purchased a Rukka neck warmer last month and could not be happier. It is the most comfortable and functional product of its kind that I have ever seen!
Most are bulky and difficult to fit with a full face helmet, not the Rukka. I have the model that fits over the nose, it is vented well and has perforations over the mouth area to prevent fogging as well.
It is so thin and lightweight that it can easily be folded down below the chin if you do not want full coverage. The best WINDPROOF product that is out there!"