Motoport Ultra II Air Mesh vs.
the Aerostich Roadcrafter Review
by Pete A. for webBikeWorld.com
When it comes to protective clothing, the truth is I donít care what you wear: Aerostich, Motoport, Joe Rocket or you name it.
Spend as much money on buying the very best gear you can afford.
When I returned to riding a few years ago I became very interested in trying to identify the best protective clothing available.
The usual first choice for many riders is leather, but leather didn't enter into my decision making because I thought that leather clothing wouldn't keep me cool enough in warmer weather.
Leather also has a certain image that just wasn't me.
So with leather no longer under consideration, I began my investigation, which turned out to be very educational and interesting.
Being a big believer in the saying "you get what you pay for" (if you are lucky), I began to work my way through the protective apparel offering of various manufacturers (the usual suspects).
I wasn't comfortable with what I found, so I kept moving up the food chain of price and hopefully, quality.
One product stood out because it was frequently referenced by other riders as being THE ultimate in protective riding gear. That product was the Aerostich Roadcrafter one-piece suit, so I went to their web site and read everything I could find about their products. I ended up buying a Roadcrafter suit in the "Hi-Viz" lime color -- expensive and worth it, in my opinion.
However, there was a problem. Whenever the temperature rose above 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) or so, at slow speeds or stop and go traffic, the heat build up was excessive and made wearing the suit extremely uncomfortable.
I figured that there had to be another way -- another product that would minimize the heat problem, so even though I had over 800+ bucks invested in my 'Stich, I resolved that I would look for something that would be more comfortable to wear in what I consider to be normal riding temperatures and conditions.
A group of us were scheduled to ride up to the Americade rally together and I figured there would be a plethora of vendors whose products could be evaluated.
And what was this "Mesh" protective clothing that I had heard of, yet knew nothing about? Americade seemed like the right place to start if heat and riding comfort was a factor.
My education began in earnest on the way up to Americade when a good friend accidentally let the arm from his ďPoly Titanium Mesh SomethingĒ hang too close to a muffler. In a nutshell, the arm of jacket pretty much melted to nothing. I was speechless.
One of the guys riding with us is a Doctor and as we were looking over the remains of melted arm on the jacket, he said "and you should see what happens when they melt on to you or in to you from the friction caused when the poly material comes in contact with the road during a get off". Doc finished his comment by saying something along the lines of "itís not fun trying to extract this melted plastic from a road rash wound"
Hmmm...it might not be fun for him but I'm sure it's even less fun for the guy you're pulling it out of..." I thought. This episode really got me to thinking about materials for riding gear.
So I stopped by just about every vendor I found at Americade and looked at their mesh products -- and there were quite a few. The bottom line is that in every case, the products these folks were selling was a "poly" something. And where I come from, "poly" means plastic and plastic melts. The Doc's comments certainly left an impression with me...
There was the one that boldly proclaimed that their product was made from "Poly-Titanium" mesh. Note: when a manufacturer refers to "Poly", it usually means Polyurethane, and it melts if it gets hot enough.
Now this is the good part: Almost all of these garments are imported, so their material content must be listed. So all you need to do is read the label because the contents must be disclosed. You need to know what your protective clothing is actually made of as compared to a manufacturers marketing buzzword.
When I got home from Americade I went back to the web and poured through a lot of manufacturers' hot air and dead ends, and everything was poly this or that. There was the one that boldly said their product was ďPoly-TitaniumĒ mesh
Note: There is no chemical substance known as "Poly-Titanium", at least that I'm aware of.
One day while surfing the web, I happened across a small protective clothing manufacturer called Motoport and discovered that they sold garments made from Kevlar.
"Hmmmm... Kevlar -- bulletproof vests -- let's give this a look......."
After what I think was a good amount of "due diligence", I bought one of their Ultra II Air Mesh Kevlar 3/4-length jackets, along with a pair of their pants and liners for each, so now I am the proud owner of both the Aerostich Roadcrafter one-piece and the Motoport Ultra II Air Mesh Kevlar outfits.
Most riders do not have the luxury of having both of these high-end products for comparison -- and they are, in fact, actually quite different.
So I thought it might be helpful to offer up a side-by-side comparison of the products and give you the benefit of my investigation of quality protective motorcycle clothing.
Owning both products has also given me the opportunity to exchange a number of emails with other riders concerning protective clothing
I thought it might be helpful if I reproduced some of that Q&A here, taken from various email exchanges and online discussion groups where I've answered questions about what I have learned about top end riding gear.
The bottom line is this: there is a big difference between these two top-of-the-line products.
Here are some of the questions I've been asked:
"I've been really mulling over the 'Stich vs. Motoport thing. You've been the first I've heard that have had both. Had a few questions for you:
How is the armor? I've heard the 'Stich armor is excellent; have heard the Motoport armor is not as good and doesn't stay in place as well - may be a fitting issue? I've heard some horrendous things about ordering/customer service/receiving the correct order, etc., at Motoport. Any comments based on your experience?
How are the pants to (put on and take off)? I commute almost every day and the 2-piece Roadcrafter was attractive because of the ease of on/off. Don't want to fight with the gear that I use daily
Do you have the mesh or the regular Kevlar? Not sure which one to purchase. I've heard their Kevlar breathes extremely well, but may want the Kevlar mesh due to the Georgia humidity?
I heard the jacket is very bulky? While I do want protective gear, I don't want to feel too restricted - part of good gear, in my opinion, is comfort and wear ability. Any way you could post some pics of your gear?
Sorry for all the questions, but again, I've been debating this choice for months and would like to purchase in the next 1-2 months. Thanks for any info."
And my usual responses:
"Those are valid questions, some of which I can answer. First, I don't think I can post a photo - merely because I am something of a Techno-Dork. Photos of both products are on their respective web sites and are representative. I will try to dig up some photos of me in my 'Stich and the Kevlar Mesh.
My Aerostich one-piece is the lime yellow with black marks on shoulder and knees. My Motoport is black pants and 3/4 jacket and is their Ultra II Air Mesh Kevlar. I might have the sequence of words naming their product wrong, but you get the drift. It is their top-of-the-line product, the Ultra II Air Mesh Kevlar, two pieces, pants and 3/4 jacket.
Keep this in mind: between Aerostich and Motoport Ultra II you are talking about the very top of the line in protective gear. Some very experienced riders will tell you X is the best, others will swear that Y is by far superior, some will say they will only wear brand Z, while some will say "What, Me Worry?" and wear a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops. Only you can decide and you will need to come to your own conclusions.
Roadcrafter (garments) are more (common) than Motoport gear but that does not make one or the other conclusively better. But there are fine points of differentiation.
Aerostich clothing is more common and widely used, while Motoport is a small company and their products are not as common. In fact, their marketing leaves a lot to be desired, but not their product.
I believe that with all protective gear, as a general rule, you get what you pay for. Don't skimp with your protective gear. I often say: What does a skin graft cost?? You get the picture.
I bought the Aerostich first because I was convinced I was buying the best. I bought (the) Motoport Ultra II Air Mesh Kevlar because I felt it was equally high quality and being mesh, met my year around riding needs.
The thing that pushed me over the edge was the Kevlar material. It is something completely different and to the best of my knowledge no other company produces a Kevlar riding pant or 3/4-length jacket. Some manufacturers say they use Kevlar thread, but so what? What about the rest of the garment?? That is, to borrow a phrase, "where the rubber meets the road".
Although I had the Aerostich and I was very proud to wear it, I got so hot that it took the joy out of riding, and that is what drove me to investigate alternatives.
After what I believe was a very in-depth study of all the products out there (you name it, I looked at it), I stumbled across the Motoport Ultra II Air Mesh Kevlar by accident while surfing the internet for information about protective clothing. I examined every vendor of protective clothing I could find at Americade and other rallies, and at every motorcycle store I went to
The BMW of NY dealer carries Revi't! clothing and some Italian gear that is extremely high quality. webBikeWorld.com has (many reviews of Rev'it! Clothing) that is very highly rated (and I bought a pair of Rev'it! gloves and they are top quality.
In regard to the Aerostich, (people have said to me) "That looks as if it is really hot....is it?" to which I say "quite so". In warmer weather I would wear a T-shirt and shorts under the 'Stich, and when I took it off I would be soaking wet and very over heated.
I assure you, the sight of me getting out of a one piece Aerostich suit in a T-shirt, shorts and motorcycle boots and totally drenched in sweat was......"a look" all its own. With the Motoport Ultra II I am never too warm, even on a hot day in low or no speedÖ..why? Itís the mesh, it really works
I think itís safe to say that with the Motoport, I look like a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) and thatís OK with me. Interestingly, I have had several women approach me and say: "Hey, nice motorcycle pants". (So right there your decision should be easy, eh. <G>).
The products are quite different in this department. The Aerostich has something akin to football shoulder pads and the shin guards an ice hockey goalie would wear. Their suit has external reinforcement patches over the shoulders, forearms, seat, and lower legs, plus a choice of different armor pads inside (Aerostich charges extra for hip and back armor).
They use something called a "viscoelastic" foam which is soft and pliable for comfort, but supposedly instantly becomes firmer during a sudden impact. To me it feels bulky and rigid but so what...you do feel protected.
The Motoport armor feels lighter and has a different structure; I would say a little more flexible, but still firm, and once again, you do feel very protected. For what itís worth, their armor has a European quality endorsement and in the long run that may be worth something.
The Motoport product is called "Tri-armor" and it uses a laminated 3-layer sandwich of stiff outer foam, soft plastic shield, and soft ďmemoryĒ foam inside and is constructed very differently from the Aerostich. Worth noting, there seems to be more areas of your body actually covered by armor in the Motoport product as compared to the Aerostich product.
Motoport has photos that show how their armor is positioned on a body. There is a difference between the total amount of area protected by armor as compared to the Roadcrafter.
Another point of difference: Motoport suits are approved by the international racing organizations for rider wear. Aerostich is not. This means something -- what, I am not sure, but it means something and appears to grant Motoport a higher level of endorsement and protection, because in those circles, money is not an issue.
Cost of materials to manufacture the products has got to play a factor. I read somewhere that 500 Denier Cordura costs about $3.50 per yard, but lets be fair and double that number to $7 per yard. Mesh Kevlar is $52.00 per yard and the stretch Kevlar is $72.00 per yard. This may be the main reason Aerostich doesn't use Kevlar.
Just imagine how cheap it must be to use the so-called protective "Poly" products that are in the $145 dollar jackets!
In terms of weight, the armor on the Roadcrafter probably weighs more. Is that good? Not necessarily. If I had good vs. good side by side and one was physically lighter in weight, I would go with the lighter one.
I assure you, I feel safer in both, but I feel more comfortable in all around weather changes in the Motoport as compared to the Aerostich Roadcrafter, because the Roadcrafter does not breathe (period) and the 500 Denier Gore-Tex and Cordura (fabric) seems stiff. And gee, isnít Cordura a plastic in one form or another?? I think so.
Actually, the Kevlar mesh is pretty stiff also. Helpful hint: An easy way to loosen up both of these excellent products is to go to a Laundromat and throw them into a big dryer with no heat and let the machine tumble the goods. What comes out will be a little more broken in and slightly more flexible.
If anything, I feel the armor on the Motoport stays in place better than the Aerostich. It may be possible that the Motoport armor is more technologically advanced than Aerostich. Having both, I would bet that it is. Interestingly, after being worn a few times the Motoport armor tends to mold to your shape and I like that. The suit becomes a custom fit, "your suit" so to speak.
Aerostich customer service is very, very good. I too have heard mixed reviews about Motoport's customer service, but I think it comes down to the luck of the draw. As far as I'm concerned, I couldn't have been treated better by both Motoport and Aerostich; I am sure they each have their "moments".
My take on Motoport is that it is a rather small operation and comes replete with all the problems of a small company. I don't think you should worry about customer service; it is the product you want to focus on.
After wearing the Motoport pants for several months they developed a defect in a zipper. I called them, they said "So...send it to us". I sent the pants next day air, Motoport repaired it the day they got it, and sent it back next day air. Can't beat that.
Unless you are lucky and they happen to have your size on hand, you need to give each of them time to build your suit. This is especially true of Motoport. Every Ultra II Air Mesh Kevlar garment is custom-made-to-measure for the rider.
I got lucky because when I called and asked how long it would be for a suit, and gave them my measurements, the (customer service representative) said that I might be fortunate. The Portland Police Department had just cancelled an order for one of their motorcycle officers who would no longer be riding bikes and his size was close to an exact match for mine. Apparently Motoport supplies Kevlar mesh riding gear to more than a few police departments.
I have Oxtar boots and I had to remove the boots to get my left leg into the Aerostich. I do not have to remove the boots to put the pants on with the Motoport. Nice feature!
Although I found getting into the Aerostich Roadcrafter to be awkward at first, I got used to it with a little practice and you would also. The one piece suit is a bit stiff and takes (some time) to loosen up. That trick with the dryer is helpful
The Motoport is a two-piece outfit, so the jacket is nothing to put on, and the pants are pretty much the same two zipper procedure as the Aerostich but easier, because they are pants and not a one piece jump suit. After a bit of wearing they both loosen up a bit.
If you are going to use this gear every day, you must consider the seasonal changes in the temperature. With the Motoport Kevlar mesh you are going to be comfortable in the heat of summer because it really is mesh and there is lots of air flow. When it gets cooler, say in the 40ís you might put a liner in, and you would be comfortable.
I have the liners for their jacket and pant. Liners are extra cost and I think represent a good value because it turns the mesh into an all season riding garment. I was not comfortable wearing the Roadcrafter, in anything over 75 degrees (Fahrenheit). If I was moving slow, and if the temp is above 80 (Fahrenheit), I was not at all comfortable, period. If it is cooler than 70 (Fahrenheit), you will be comfortable in the Aerostich Roadcrafter suit.
For me, the Motoport Kevlar mesh jacket is comfortable and flexible and is less bulky than the Aerostich. If I stop at a restaurant I can take the jacket off and keep the pants on, something I routinely do. However, I can also get out of my one piece Roadcrafter if I choose to do so.
Motoport Kevlar Mesh costs a little more than the Aerostich; I think I paid about $825 and then about $200 more for the liners. However, when I got the Aerostich, I paid extra for the back protector and hip pads so I think it came to about the same.
Have no doubt, this is expensive stuff, and worth every penny. Remember, when it comes to protective riding gear, you really do get what you pay for.
Pay a little, get little protection. And then again, maybe this is overkill. Me, I would rather error on the safe side.
I think the vast majority of protective clothing is laughable, in fact I believe it is a cruel trick the manufacturers are playing on unknowledgeable riders.
The bottom line is that Kevlar mesh will not melt when it skids on the roadway or comes in contact with a muffler. It is possible for all other garments to tear or melt from friction and could (not likely, but could) melt into or onto you.
Aerostich garments come with a warning attached telling you to always wear full clothing under their garment because of this melt on friction possibility. Don't get me wrong, this is not an every day thing, but it does happen, particularly with the lower quality stuff. Donít even think about letting any kind of nylon product get anywhere near a hot exhaust system.
With the Motoport, you throw the WHOLE thing, armor and all, into a washing machine and let it hang dry. With the Aerostich, you remove all the armor and then throw it into the wash.
That is the title of a section on the Motoport web site which presents and dissects the matter of the tear strength of most fabrics known to man. You owe it to yourself to read it and then factor what you learn there into your decision making.
I think they present the facts in a straight forward fairly objective manner and you will judge for yourself what is right for you and your budget.
When it comes to protective clothing, the truth is I donít care what you wear: Aerostich, Motoport, Joe Rocket or you name it. Spend as much money on buying the very best gear you can afford.
You donít want to ever be in a situation where you are saying to yourself "Gee, I wish I had bought better gear, because maybe I would not be in this hospital bed or going in for my third skin graft". You get the picture.
Just wear something; anything is better than nothing. I hope I have answered your questions and this is helpful.
Happy trails, Pete.
Publication Date: May 2005
From "K.T." (September 2011): "Ultra II Air Mesh Kevlar Suit: I have been wearing the Motoport two-piece 3/4-length jacket and pants now, for about 5 years. Iíve looked at others but am spoiled in these.
In Zachary, Louisiana, the summerís are hot, the mesh pants and coat work perfectly. Shorts and a tech shirt is all I need. The pants even protect me from the heat off my engine. I ride a Harley 883.
Yes, I am the ugliest outfit out there, as I went for the hiz-vis fluorescent coat and pants! (Good thing the Marine Corps taught me to like green.) My riding partner says people spot me from their porches, other bikers have rubber necked and cars see me.
No one has pulled out on me in five years (knock on my hard head). When I go into restaurants, they think I am a fireman. The liners work well in the winter but I hardly ever need them as I can just layer inside.
The top liner fits in the back pocket of the coat. I ride in every month of the year, from the lower 40ís to the around 100 degrees. 95 degrees on up and I use a cooling vest as the mesh helps it work really well.
Workmanship is fine, the suit is holding up too well as I really need a great excuse to spend this much again and it just isnít happening! Yep, it ainít pretty Ö but it gets me home Ö safely!"