Monday, July 13, 2009

Tourmaster Rainsuit review

When I woke up for work this morning, the rain storms from last night had not come to an end as I had hoped. Starting the day by worming my way into a one piece rain suit is not a pleasant method. I picked up a Tourmaster Elite II one-piece suit about a month and a half ago when it became apparent that I would be using the bike as a primary transport and I would need something to keep me comfortable on rainy afternoon (a fairly common occurrence during the summers here.)

My experience today is as follows: The suit is top notch when it comes down to construction and material and features. They have a range of color options to suit you, mine is head to toe bright yellow for high visibility. Add to the color a fairly impressive amount of 3M reflective piping and I feel as good about being noticed as I do with my Icon vest. The suit has several large pocket, water proof and easily accessible, for me to put things like keys to the office in. It also has a comfortable liner and a very nice microfiber neck. The final feature that is noteworthy is the under-the-helmet hood that Tourmaster puts on most of their rain gear. It is a great way to keep the back of your neck dry when you have to move your head when riding in the rain.

As far as comfort, it's fairly good once you get on the bike, I may have one slightly too small for me, but the crotch to shoulder length is just short enough that it becomes too tight to crouch into a riding tuck. The under foot elastic stirrups are fantastic at keeping the leg from flapping around and the aforementioned microfiber neck liner is good at keeping water from seeping down as well as keeping your neck warm. The full front zipper is a little difficult to open after riding for a little while, but I think I discovered the trick to that this morning, hold the neck closed when going to unzip and that releases pressure on the zipper allowing it to move more freely.

My only complaint, and this may be to my lack of experience with properly sealing the suit, is that water leaked through either at the seams of the crotch or at the base of the front zipper, where the suit bunches up while seated. I noticed this after about 15 minutes of only moderate rainfall on the highway. As a note for clarity, what I consider moderate the Weather Channel marks as bright yellow on their storm tracking Doppler. However, rather wet jeans and a comfortable ride in are far better than a very wet me and a chilly ride in. I'd venture to say that even with a leak, this suit is more pleasant than my last one, which had zero breathability due to its PVC construction and became a sauna within minutes of putting it on.

Overall, I would recommend the suit, but you may be better off looking at Tourmaster's two piece suits that may not bunch up and collect water at the seams. Though in a storm, it may be that any suit will leak some.

Here is Tourmaster's stock picture, mine is fully yellow, even where this one has black legs.

One last thing to add, I really need to pick up some water proof boots. My feet are freezing as my socks dry. (I should probably also wear wool socks when I know they will get wet.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tired Tires?

I've known for a while that my tires are beginning to wear out. 9000+ miles on the original rubber is not too bad, but it is getting up there and the age of the tires is beginning to worry me. Yesterday, I got a look at the tread and noticed the wear bars on my rear tire are beginning to show through. For those of you who don't know, wear bars are raised sections in the grooves to show when the tread is getting so thin that it is time to replace your tire. You can see the flat spot in my rear tire's center groove in the picture below as an example of what I mean.

I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do a little post on motorcycle tires and taking care of them. I think it almost goes without saying that maintaining your tires is probably one of the most important things you can do as an aid for safe riding. Properly inflated, good tread, soft rubber tires are vital for keeping good traction on a ride. Obviously, all three aspects I mentioned play important roles in braking, cornering, and accelerating. Proper inflation means the tire will not flex under strain (as is the case with under-inflation) or (in the case of over-inflation) be so inflexible as to promote slides and low traction. Good tread means better contact patch and traction, especially in the case of wet roads. Lastly, by soft rubber I mean tires that aren't too old. Old rubber hardens and dries out, leading to cracking and drastically lower traction.
I hope this serves as a good reminder to all riders to be mindful of their tires, and to new riders I hope this gave a bit of insight into what to look for and to think of.