Becka Coolwear Motorcycle Underwear Review
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
Thicker fabric than most polyester-only wicking under garments.
Definitely transfers moisture away from the rider's body.
This helps to make leathers or textile garments more comfortable to wear in hot weather.
It seems counterintuitive to wear a full-length "Long John" under garment in the summer to keep cool.
I can understand how an extra layer of underwear can keep me warmer in the winter, but my mind has a hard time wrapping around the "cooler in the summer" part.
Nevertheless, some of the wicking underwear designed to be worn under leathers does seem to help.
They're designed to transfer moisture from the rider's body and release it to the atmosphere without that "sticky" feeling that is all too common, especially when wearing leathers.
When the ambient temperature is greater than body temperature, the only natural methods that the human body has to keep cool are perspiration and exhaled moisture.
I've read that the body releases around 600 grams of moisture per day even when not subjected to high temperatures or exertion and surely that number must be higher when the rider is encased in black leather or a sticky textile jacket.
Most of the wicking underwear that I've tried uses very thin material, like the BMW Summer Underwear, the EDZ Motorcycle Wicking Underwear or the Dri-Duke wicking shirt, which really does seem to make a difference. The Becka Coolwear, however, is thicker than I expected. This may be due to the cotton that's used in its construction.
Cotton makes a comfortable fabric, especially for underwear, but it's not highly regarded when a lot of sweat is involved. That's because it will absorb a lot of moisture but it won't release it very efficiently.
The Becka Coolwear "Under Leatherwear" combines polyester fabric with the cotton in a specially woven yarn to enhance the ability to transfer the moisture away from the body.
The idea is that the synthetic fiber lies next to the rider's skin while the cotton forms the outer layer. Becka Coolwear calls this their "quikDRY" fabric and, believe it or not, it seems to work.
The Under Leatherwear sizes run slightly large, the Becka Coolwear website describes how to find the correct fit. I would normally take a large, but I after following their instructions I ordered a men's size medium and it fits perfectly, with just enough room to remain comfortable and to account for the slight shrinkage after it was washed.
Since the fabric is thicker than a pure polyester and because the cotton outer layer has a certain amount of "grabbiness" to it, climbing into a one-piece leather suit can be slightly more difficult than normal. The fabric is thicker than a hefty T-shirt but not as thick as, say, one of those cheap waffle long underwear garments.
The entire garment is constructed with very high quality. There's not a stitch or thread out of place and all of the loose threads that remain after sewing have been either hidden or clipped. The long front zipper has two slides, one at the top and one at the bottom, so the garment can be opened from both ends.
There are two chest pockets with zippers, which are very useful under the Lookwell one-piece leather suit, which has only a single internal pocket that happens to be unusable because of a a broken zipper. The Becka Coolwear garment also has a zippered pocket on the left arm, but I haven't quite found a use for that one yet.
I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical the first time I wore the Becka Coolwear under my riding clothes on an 82 degree (28 C) day. It's definitely warmer when not moving, but once underway, I estimate that I can still feel about 50% to 65% of the air flow that normally comes through the perforations in the Lookwell suit.
One thing's for sure -- I get very sweaty wearing the Lookwell leather suit with only a normal set of cotton underwear underneath. The suit has good air flow because of the perforations, but it's not easy to peel off the arms and legs when it gets wet inside.
The Becka Coolwear definitely absorbs all of my sweat and I stay nice and dry, even after a few hours in the saddle. In fact, the first time I wore the Coolwear underneath the leathers I thought it wasn't working, but when I took it off I realized that all of the sweat that would normally be between me and the leather had all been transferred to the outside of the Coolwear and away from my body.
I've also worn the Becka Coolwear underneath a pair of textile pants and the M2R Rally Cross jacket with the windproof liner. I've found that textile clothing, even the mesh variety, can also feel very damp underneath on a hot day because the Nylon absorbs no moisture whatsoever.
Most of the time this type of clothing is worn over a simple pair of underpants and a T-shirt and it doesn't take long to notice the moisture buildup. The M2R jacket and others like it can get pretty swampy inside when worn with the liner, but there's a very noticeable difference when wearing the Coolwear underneath.
One thing I don't like is the neck on the Becka Coolwear suit. I would much prefer the suit without a collar of any type. I found the higher collar with its Velcro closure to add too much bulk under my jackets and it sticks out of the lower neck on most one-piece motorcycle leather suits. I can't seem to situate the collar so that my neck doesn't get chafed by the sharp edges of the Velcro, so I'd rather do without and may bring it to a tailor to have it removed.
The Becka Coolwear does an excellent job of wicking moisture away from the body while leaving the rider nice and dry. It does add some extra warmth, which is especially noticeable when waiting at a stoplight or standing in the hot sun, but once underway, it isn't that noticeable.
So I'm not sure about the "cool in summer" tagline, but if your motorcycle clothing normally leaves you feeling damp, the Becka Coolwear should help -- and feeling nice and dry is, I think, a good tradeoff for the added bulk and warmth.
I haven't worn the garment in cold weather but I'd guess that the fabric should keep the rider warmer. Wicking away moisture from the body is just as important in the winter, too.
The product is sold only in the UK but Becka ships worldwide and since the garment is lightweight it can be shipped at relatively low cost to the U.S. and other countries.
|wBW Review: Becka Coolwear Motorcycle Underwear|
|Manufacturer: Becka Coolwear||List Price (2007): £34.95|
|Colors: Red, Blue and Gray with Black.||Made In: Unknown|
|Review Date: May 2007|