Jackets and Pants

Like most other gear, I’ve gone through numerous rounds of gear, from seemingly-ok-but-not to some higher end gear.
Refer to my long section on gear details, standards, and considerations for some in-depth details on what’s available and what to look for or consider.

For me, living in the humid Southeastern US, but also riding nearly year-round as well as a mixture of types of riding, I had to make some decisions, namely:

  • Different sets for normal commuting and on-road/cruising and trips, off-road

  • Different sets by season

Technically, there’s also another consideration we’ve all got to make in many cases, unfortunately - stylish vs safety.  Let’s face it, they don’t always co-exist.  

I’ve ridden down to ~17*F,  and up to ~110*F, including a long trip stuck in a traffic jam approaching the latter (this was not fun - at all).

I wound up going with safety and functional over style, and after so many different sets of gear over time, I was really looking for a ‘do it most’ 3-season+ set of gear.  

What did I choose?

I went with Motoport gear, specifically in air mesh Kevlar, for both jacket and pants.  
I had an additional pouch sewn into the left sleeve for ID or phone, and with the full set of liners.
They have a few armor options, and when I ordered it, their tri-armor was their top end, while they’ve since added one more layer available as an option in their quad armor today (2020).  Yeah, they’re expensive and not getting any cheaper, but I went through a number of ~$200 ‘good’ jackets before getting ‘here’ and lost $ on each of those..

Positives and not-so-positives

First - for the good

I’ve ridden this gear nearly everywhere, including off-road, in other countries (and offr-ad IN other countries ;)), on half-US distance trips, and in all seasons.  It’s pretty functional, and the air mesh (even with the armor, which is drilled and has decent airflow), I’m pretty comfortable all around from around 35* up to ~95* or more, humidity dependent.  Let’s face it, once you’re up near 100% humidity or 100^F, it’s all just…hot, and cooling gators and/or shirts come into play for longer trips, but there’s only so much your jacket and pants can do in those temps. 

The kevlar mesh does not absorb water, so even sprarying yourself down, depending on what you’re wearing underneath - won’t retain water for very long.  

The kevlar mesh is somewhat abrasive and stiff initially, but it does soften up, and I think Motoport even says to throw it into a dryer on low heat or something, and the gear is very easy to wash - I literally have just hosed and scrubbed it off, but it can also be put in a front-loading washer/dryer.  

The pants are zippered from the bottom all the way up to the crotch, and really makes getting in and out of them, with or without boots - quick and easy.  When riding in hot weather and taking a break, it also let’s you ’strip down’ for some extra airflow pretty easily in seconds - just unzip inside of both legs.  

I’ve run the gear now for over a decade at this point, and - it’s still just fine.  I would do it again.  

Any downsides?

Some, I suppose.  While I’m relatively happy enough with the options for colors, the cut of the jacket etc…let’s face it, it doesn’t look like BMW, RevIt or Rukka gear - it’s definitely functional over style, but - it’s very functional, so it’s a known trade-off, and one I’d choose again.

The liner system is all ‘on the inside.’  This has some good and bad to it.  
If the start of a ride is raining - the rain liner goes in and off we go.  
If on a long ride and it starts raining, well - it’s more of a production to remove gear, insert liners, put gear back on, but if it’s relatively warm, considering the Kevlar mesh doesn’t really sbsorb water, I usually just ride right through it and am dried off pretty quickly once the rain stops.

For colder weather, it’s just not generally an issue, as you’re going to leave the liners in place, possibly with a few other base layers depending on the temperatures.

Depending on where I’m going, I’ve also carried a set of Frogg Togg raingear, which pack up pretty small.

  • A good quality helmet. My preference is DOT/ECE, not Snell - I had a link to a great article by Motorcyclist, but it’s now offline :( A head impact is nothing to sneeze at, and Snell helmet ratings, unless updated - just didn’t leave it as an option.  When buying, check for the latest standards applicable, as occasionally some standards updates are made, and in general - usually for the better.

  • A good quality jacket, with CE Level 2 armor, appropriate for the conditions you'll be riding in. Again, you've got some fairly important parts covered by a jacket - your back, chest, ribs..

  • A good quality pair of gloves. Hands are easily damaged, and often come into contact with the ground in a motorcycle accident. Yes, some gloves are bulky, and with most, you lose some amount of 'feel' to the bike, but, consider the alternative.

  • Quality boots. Ankles are very easily broken, and quite often a bike can fall onto one in a low-side, or even accidentally tipping over off the kickstand. Sneakers, sandals, or anything not covering your ankle is simply an accident waiting to happen.

  • Pants. Knees are also easily broken, and quite likely in an impact that knees will be impacted, as well as in sliding or rolling/bouncing.

Conclusions after real riding time with the Motoport gear

After a decade of riding with the Motoport gear, it’s actually gotten better as it’s become much more molded to me, both the gear and the relative softness.  Having said that, the mesh can be abrasive with enough riding time - not so much to you, but to bike seats with piping on them…I put some wear onto the F650 seat, while the DRZ and SV650 seats haven’t been affected.  I think you can now order ‘half and half,’ meaning using stretch Kevlar on the back of pants (not sure on jackets) and mesh on the front.  This might be better depending on your priorities - the stretch Kevlar breathes, but not as well as the mesh, while it’s also a bit more able to be more form-fitting and less baggy.  It’s definitvely worth making sure your gear fits the way you want/need/expect it to, so I’m pretty ok with my full mesh pants as is, but others may think differently, and if in a cooler climate, I’d choose the stretch Kevlar then.

Klim and a few others seem to have since come out with some gear at least positioned as highly rugged, protective gear, and I’ve looked at some of it online.  Motoport certainly has a bit more ‘industrial’ look to it, but I’m not convinced any of the others truly offer any more protection, while the kevlar mesh likley remains the winner for my personal location with the higher spring and summer temperatures and humidity.  I wouldn’t mind checking out a few specific options out there now, but in general - I have no need to.  I’ve ridden from 17*F up to over 100* and my gear is still going strong.  Interestingly, on the 17*F ride (I had several layers underneath, of course), it was actually my boots and gloves (also layered) that were the most miserable on that ride, but let’s face it - that was really, truly, just too cold.

In short, I’d made the same choice today in 2020.