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Cold Weather Motorcycle Clothing - Motorcycle Windproof Underwear

Windproof underwear for cold weather

Rukka and Biker's Comfort in Action Motorcycle Underwear

by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com

More:  wBW Reviews Home  |  Owner Comments (Below)


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 the ride.

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.

"...This stuff truly is amazing.  Thanks for the recommendation.  Truly ride changing gear."
(More feedback below)

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.

Windproof undershirt pullover and pants
Bikers Comfort in Action WindWear Windproof Pullover and Pants
The 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.  One peculiar 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.


Windproof socksBikers Comfort in Action WindWear Windproof Socks
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. 


Windproof gloves - motorcycle glove linersBikers Comfort in Action Glove Liners
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.  They supposedly 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.


Windproof neck warmerRukka RVP XX "Air System" Neck Warmer
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.


Kidney beltRukka Back Belt
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! 

Conclusion
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?

UPDATE on Adventure Motorcycle Gear (November 17, 2007) - We made a successful purchase from Adventure Motorcycle Gear with no problems.  See other comments below.  As a result of this experience, we're removing the caution. 

Note that this isn't any type of endorsement, we're just trying to figure out if they are still in business and delivering product.

Background
Many visitors have written to us over the past few years about problems with ordering from Adventure Motorcycle Gear.  Some of the issues are discussed in the comments section below.  We received so many complaints about the retailer that we added a note in December of 2006 recommending caution when purchasing from this retailer (see below).

Adventure Motorcycle Gear has since moved from Virginia to Arizona, but it's not clear to us whether the company is under the same management.

So as an experiment, we decided to place a small order with the retailer to see what happened.  All we can report is that the order process and delivery went smoothly.

On Sunday, November 11, 2007, we ordered a pair of Orina 118 waterproof winter gloves ($59.95; here's our review) and a "Bike Pit" neck and chest wind blocker ($36.95) for a total of $96.00 (reviews coming soon) .  Shipping charges of $7.35 were added, bringing the total to $104.25.

The order was placed online with a credit card (always recommended when ordering online; check with your card issuer and know your rights before you order anything from anyone).

An order confirmation was immediately sent and received, but it did not include a tracking link.  The package arrived mid-day on Friday, November 16, 2007 via UPS, which is an acceptable response and delivery time for a nearly coast-to-coast delivery.

Based on this experiment, we've removed the "caution" warning for Adventure Motorcycle Gear, but obviously it's not possible to evaluate every retail interaction.  See other customer comments below. 

NOTE:  All we're saying is that we tried an experiment to see 1) if the company was still in business and 2) if we could place an order and receive the products in a reasonable amount of time.  We have no idea if this is indicative of all transactions.  The result of this experiment was that we placed an order and it the products were delivered; you'll have to decide whether or not this is meaningful or not.

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wBW Review:  Biker's Comfort in Action & Rukka Windproof Underwear

Available From:  Adventure Motorcycle Gear Made in:  Rukka is made in Finland; Biker's Comfort in Action products are made in Spain
Suggested Retail Price:  Gloves $32.95; Socks $35.95; Pants $89.95; Pullover $149.95; Neck Warmer $39.00; Kidney Belt $35.00.
Review Date:  January 2004

Note:  For informational use only.  All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC - 2000-2011.  All rights reserved.  See the webBikeWorld® Site Info page.  NOTE:  Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions.  Always check before purchasing.  Read the Terms and Conditions!

Your Comments and Feedback

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Not all comments will be published (details).  Comments may be edited for clarity prior to publication.

From "D.S." (Nov. 30, 2007):  "Like many others, I read lots of good stuff about the Orina 118 cold weather gloves.  To my knowledge, Adventure Motorcycle Gear is the *only* U.S. distributor.

Then I came across a couple of your reviews which talked about "Adventure".  Most recently, it seems as though you're pretty much endorsing them once again.

Just wanted to give you a heads-up on my very recent experience with them.  I went to their website and noticed that the Orina 118 gloves are pretty much out-of-stock.  They only have a teensy weensy little size...and a medium size.  Everything else is gone.

I sent 2-emails to Adventure...asking when they plan to get more stock.  They never bothered to answer either email whatsoever. As a last resort, I decided to call them up on the phone.  I asked the same question; when will they be getting more sizes in stock?  The guy said that he didn't know.  I even repeated the question to him!  "So you actually have no idea whatsoever when you'll ever get any more of the gloves in stock?"

He just said "No"...with absolutely no effort to be helpful whatsoever.  (Meanwhile, their website still proudly proclaims that they Orina 118 gloves are "FINALLY IN STOCK")

I've got a very bad "vibe" about the place...and would "not" give them any of my business after all of this.  Just thought you might find this helpful."

Editor's Reply:  We're by no means "endorsing" them, just trying to relay the latest information which may help others make a purchasing decision.  We ordered two items, including the Orina gloves, with no problems; others may have a different experience.


From "W.C.":  "I placed an order on Nov. 1, 2007, for a Rukka wind stop hood.  I called them on the 1st to make sure it was in stock before I placed the order, they said it was.  I waited till Nov. 7 and called to get a tracking number and they said they had to order it from Finland, should be here next week!  Called the following week, they said should be here next week.  I am still waiting for it.  He said he has others in stock, not Rukka, but I really want to try the Rukka line."


From "E.P.":  "Not long ago I got the idea that I wanted a better pair of cold-weather motorcycle gloves (my Road Gear Fire-Red Euro-Tec gloves just weren't cutting it below 50 degrees), and I read so much good stuff about the Orina 118s that I ordered two pair, one for me and one as a birthday present for my brother. 

The same day they arrived, he told me he had bought himself a new pair of cold weather gloves. I emailed Adventure MC Gear to see if I could return a pair.  I got a reply from Frank who said go ahead and send them back.  I did, and not long after got a copy of the credit card refund back in the mail.  So they're OK by me, too.  I'll do business with them in the future."


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 "H.S.":  "First thanks for all great articles!  I have bought a few items you reviewed.  All without regret.

Adventure Moto Gear shipped me an order on 11-02-06 and was billed same.  Then on 12-17-06 I get billed the second time same amount $96.35.  The same order arrives 12-24-06.   When I call Frank he said write refused on package and to take it (to the Post Office).  I did this on 12-26-06.

So I call Frank 1-19-07 he told my he had second shipment and will refund $96.35 to my credit card.  This has not been the case.  I have emailed and called.  Last email could not be delivered.   HelmetHead Cycle Gear no longer has Rukka on their web site.  I am only writing this so nobody else gets STUCK!"


From "K.R.":  "Thanks for the great webBikeWorld.com web site.  I know that many bikers like me value it very much for deciding what to buy and pointers to where to buy it.

Thanks in particular for your review of Rukka products, in which you warned about Rukka's USA Agent, "Adventure Motorcycle Gear".  I have more news about problems with them, that you may want to add to your user comments on that page:

Because of the warnings on your site such as from "H.S", I was glad to find "HelmetHead Cycle Gear" listed (at the Rukka website) as a Rukka dealer.  I placed an order, thinking I was avoiding the evidently questionable Adventure Motorcycle Gear, but it turns out the item is drop shipped by Adventure Motorcycle Gear -- which sent the wrong product!

Here is part of the very prompt response I got from Peter Harris of HelmetHead: "Adventure Motorcycle Gear is our distributor.  He drop ships for us for (supposedly faster service).  I have forwarded your email to him so he can get this straightened out.  Sorry for the inconvenience. Please let me know if you don't get some satisfaction soon."

The Rukka.com page lists HelmetHead and two other companies in the USA, but under the heading "Agent" lists Adventure Motorcycle Gear.  So it seems likely you will be getting (or failing to get) your Rukka product from AMG regardless of which company you do business with.

HelmetHead Cycle Gear so far seems to be another innocent victim in this but I am disappointed that they are simply referring me to AMG to resolve the mistake.  I got back from holiday today and left a phone message with AMG's voice mail -- it doesn't sound promising.

And, if you didn't already know: it seems Adventure Motorcycle Gear" _has_ now pulled the plug on their website: "adventuremotogear.com expired on 12/23/2006 and is pending renewal or deletion.".

I hope for HelmetHead's sake that they haven't recently paid AMG for unshipped or mis-shipped orders, because it is HelmetHead that charged my credit card so in the end they will lose out on that money if AMG doesn't come through for me.

I'll follow up in a few days to let you know how this turns out."

Editor's Reply:  Note that since Adventure Moto Gear was the U.S. distributor, any of the local retailers would have to use them to obtain the products.  When the distributor goes down, so does the retail network.  Unfortunately, you got caught up in this mess.  You'd think Adventure Moto Gear and Rukka would have notified the retail network to no longer accept orders....  How about it Rukka, let's get on the ball!  You're losing out on one of the most important motorcycle markets in the world!


K.R.'s Follow-up of January 7, 2007:  We received this email today from "K.R.":  "Hi Rick, here's an update on my experience with my Rukka product order placed with HelmetHead Cycle Gear web site, shipped by distributor Adventure Motorcycle Gear.  At the end of last week's episode, AMG's domain name had not been renewed and I had notified them by voice mail that they had sent me the wrong product...

On (January 6, 2007), I was pleasantly surprised to receive a priority mail package from AMG -- this time, the correct Rukka product!  I say surprised because I wasn't contacted by AMG in any way.  And the Adventuremotogear.com web site is (back) up -- it may well have been only an oversight that the domain name registration was not renewed before its 23-DEC expiration date.  It has since been renewed for another two year period.

I've heard enough about unanswered emails that I can't at this point say I endorse AMG, but I do want to say they promptly made things right for me after being notified of a mistake.  So if anyone is owed a product or refund by them, they may want to phone them again."


From "M.":  "I bought some things from him.  He only shipped half of them said the rest was on backorder. been 2 months and still didn't get the rest so I tried to contact him again.  His email keeps getting kicked back to me and his phone is not working either and his fax does not pick up either.  I think he may be out of business.  His website is still up though.  Just wanted to let you know so maybe nobody else will try and buy from him if he is out of business.  Unless he is just having some technical difficulties right now, I don't know I just figured I would give you a heads up on his business."


From "H.S." (Note: Edited for clarity):  "The good man at Adventure Motorcycle Gear has a 12 cylinder Jaguar with only 1 cylinder firing.  His voice mail is full and he does NOT answer email... Poor way to run a company!!!!!!!!!!! ... Rukka needs someone else to care for their brand in the U.S.A."


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 from Frank at the Motorcycle Expo in Indy 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!"


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