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#248 Transit Jacket

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Aerostich Transit Leather Suit in Action

Transit 2 Jacket #248

18 Review(s)

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Customer Reviews

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A season of testing: update & original review Review by Ken
Aerostich Transit Suit

Update: My other gear hung in the closet during the 2009 season. The Transit suit was what I wore, although sometimes I substituted my First Gear over-pants for the Transit pants. When it was cold I wore it with the Aerostich Kanetsu Airvantage Jacket Liner (reviewed separately).
It was an especially cool and wet summer so I rarely had a chance to experience how this suit performed when the ambient temperature was above normal body temperature. In the upper 80’s and low 90’s it was comfortable and I partially unzipped the jacket only a couple of times.
The Transit is absolutely waterproof and windproof. In cold, wet conditions I’d rather wear this jacket (with a heated liner) than any other I’ve ever owned or tested. At below 40 degrees the ability to withstand wind while riding a naked bike made it practical to travel, although under these conditions the longest I rode was 4 hours.
Cleaning bugs off the leather was easy, despite the perforated texture. This is a heavy jacket and although remarkably flexible for new leather it will require at least another year to break in. The pants are heavy and perfect for long days in the saddle, but not for walking around at rallies or strolling about taking in the sites. I’d suggest buying them a size or two larger and wearing them as over-pants. The mesh lining does make them comfortable heat-wise and the flex-panels work as they should, yet these are heavy leather pants.
I must profess to feeling safer when wearing the Transit than anything else I’ve worn for street use. The last time the ground caught me, my ballistic-nylon jacket felt mighty thin.
I sorely missed having a nice large glove pocket on the jacket and those on the pants aren’t worth much except for some folded bills and a spare key. I would like to have at least one cargo pocket on the pants. For safety reasons, having stuff in pockets is not a good idea, but as a touring rider I like having pockets for a variety of essential items.
The test is over. I have other gear. What will I wear? For long hard rides where I’ll cover a couple thousand miles, I’ll wear the Transit. When the weather promises to be cold and wet or just very, very wet – the Transit. For test riding new bikes I’ll always wear the gear that offer the greatest crash protection, i.e. the Transit. For cruising downtown to hangout at a café and people watch – nope, I have more stylish leathers in the closet.



The Revolutionary Transit: First Impression

The Transit leather suit from Aerostich is something quite different. Imagine a leather jacket and pants that are perfectly waterproof, absolutely windproof, and keep you up to 30-degrees cooler than regular leathers when riding in the hot sun. Fitted with TF5 military-grade foam the Transit probably offers more impact protection than anything short of competitive racing leathers or Motocross body armor. Although it contains several familiar elements, the leather material used in its construction is a state-of-the-art laminate made by W. L. Gore & Associates.
Gore-Tex Pro Shell Leather consists of three layers: leather, Gore-Tex membrane, and nylon webbed lining. The outside is the highest quality cowhide—1.2mm thick perforated and 1.4mm thick smooth—that has been treated to resist water absorption and the use of a special dye that reflects up to 30% of the solar radiation striking it. These treatments also have the added benefit of prolonging the life of the leather. The newest Gore-Tex membrane is laminated to the inside of the leather and the seams are electronically welded to form a 100% waterproof barrier. This new membrane allows 25% more water vapor to be expelled than previous Gore-Tex products and the lamination process allows the membrane to stretch with the leather. The nylon webbed liner protects the membrane, shields the rider’s skin from leather abrasions in the event of a crash, assists air circulation within the suit, and provides a convenient means of creating pockets for armor and personal effects.
The benefits of this new material are: 1) 100% waterproof, 2) 100% windproof, 3) reduces solar heating by 20 to 30 degrees, 3) increased pliability, 4) increased durability and abrasion resistance, and 5) prolonged life (for the leather—and possibly for the rider). The downside is that the material is expensive and it requires special techniques—i.e. higher expense--to make anything from it.
Gore-Tex has licensed only a handful of the world’s best motorcycle apparel manufacturers to use this new material and Aerostich is the only one in North America who was granted such. The Transit design comes off the drawing board of Andy Goldfine, the innovator who introduced ballistic nylon to the motorcycle-touring world. There’s no question that Gore-Tex Pro Shell is superior to conventional leather, but how well does the Transit compare against the two-piece Roadcrafter suit?
The Transit is fitted with removable TF5 armor—lots of it. Unlike conventional foams, military-grade TF foam is soft and pliable until struck. The harder it’s struck, the stiffer it becomes as it absorbs the force of the blow. Afterwards this “memory” foam returns to its previous pliable state and is ready for the next impact. I’ve bench tested TF2 foam with a five-pound hammer and (unintentionally) crash tested it on the highway. As a result I’ve become a believer in the advantages of TF armor over destructive cell foams. Not only does TF5 absorb more destructive energy than TF2, the armor used in the Transit is encased in a flexible shell that is contoured to fit the body part being protected and pockets in the nylon web lining keep the armor properly positioned.
Waterproof leather justifies the use of exceedingly high-quality waterproof zippers. The Transit has eleven of these: the primary jacket zipper, the two 28-inch-long zippers on the legs, the 14-inch long back vent, one on each wrist, the fly, and on four pockets (two on the pants; two on the jacket). Behind the long zippers are positioned 3-inch-wide storm flaps and a there’s a gusset behind the fly and cuffs. YKK zippers are used on inside vest pocket and for the heavy 18-inch rear security zipper that attaches the jacket to the pants.
The flexibility of Gore-Tex Pro Shell leather is augmented by strategically placed panels of ballistic nylon and, on the pants, accordion-like leather panels that cover the kneecaps and back of the waist. I suspect this suit will become much more supple the longer it’s worn.
The subtle touches that often get overlooked include soft-lined pockets, a heavy waist tab with snap, Velcro tab closures at the ankles and wrists, an adjustable waist cinch cord, and soft fabric on the inside of the collar. The large 3-inch wide by16-inch long reflective strip across the back of the jacket is a flap that covers a horizontal double zipper for the expansive rear vent--the same proven feature as found on the Darien and Roadcrafter jackets. The reflective material is also applied to the Velcro tabs on the ankle leg closure. These reflective strips are a sedate pewter color in daylight, but a transformed into brilliant white beacons when illuminated by headlights. I believe these are essential on a suit of matt black leather.
The Darien jacket has ten expansive pockets. Coupled with those in my liner and pants I can carry—and loose track of—an incredible amount of gear. The Transit has a total of seven modest-size pockets. The Darien and Roadcrafter allow a liner –jacket, vest, heated, or not—to be zipped into place. Not so for the Transit (although I will wear an electrically heated Kanetsu AirVantage jacket liner with mine). When temperatures exceed 100 degrees I often load the huge front pockets of the Darien with ice, with the Transit I’ll be limited to using the wet tee shirt method of evaporative cooling.
Being water and wind proof the Transit offers major protection against hypothermia. Add the new electrically heated Kanetsu and you can ride until Hell freezes over. In direct sunlight the Gore-Tex Pro Shell leather will keep you much cooler than conventional leathers and possibly a little bit cooler than ballistic nylon. Improved vapor venting of the Gore-Tex membrane and perforated leather will practically eliminate the sauna effect and greatly reduce the need for complicated venting openings (thereby retaining suit integrity in the event of a crash). Still, when ambient air temperature exceeds body temperature (i.e. 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) evaporative cooling methods --an ice vest or wet clothing—are highly recommended and the closer humidity approaches to 100%, the less effective the Gore-Tex vapor membrane becomes. The Transit is not a jungle suit.
The Transit doesn’t offer the crash protection of competitive racing leathers, but promises to perform better than any recreational motorcycle suit on the market – Roadcrafter included. These aren’t sexy leathers, unless you remove all the armor and buy one size too small, but the design is classic and won’t go out of style. I believe that the Transit offers a greater range of rider comfort (especially when augmented with a heated liner) than any suit on the market and the pants can be worn as jeans or as overpants. The Transit is a justifiably pricy, although it probably costs less than the deductible on your accident insurance. Regretfully the Transit is only available in standard sizes since the manufacturing process precludes custom tailoring.
The honest truth is that no comprehensive evaluation of the Transit can possibly be made until tens of thousands of miles have been logged and at least a year or two have passed. The best I can offer are my first impressions of a suit that promises to transform my riding experience. (Posted on 2/10/10)
Transit suit excellent protective garment Review by Trimmer
Got the Transit suit during the rainy season in Seattle area and immediately put it to use in (near) record breaking rains.. absolutely no problems of getting wet inside the garment. The local tannery makes a great leather "dickie" that snaps around my neck before zipping up the jacket and that made the seal watertight and improved the chafing. A pair of Cortech Scarab gloves fit over ends of the jacket sleeves for a waterproof arrangement. I tied up some leather thongs to the zipper pulls to enable gloved usage. My suit has dried fairly fast if I hang it in the basement on a wet-suit hanger near the de-humidifier (doesn't everyone have one in Seattle?)... The one challenge (mentioned already) is having to pee...
other than that... it's extremely robust in construction and the armor (once it warms up) is comfortable... great value...
(Posted on 1/30/10)
Early Empression Review by Paul
I have had the Transit Suit a short time and have not ridden in the rain, so cannot comment on how it works in rain.

The pants are comfortable and I like the ease of putting on and taking off boots with the long zippers.

The jacket is the stiffest and least comfortable of five I have owned. It is hot and the collar chafes, but the cuffs are the worst. Even after clamping them as suggested they are so huge that I have to struggle to get my gauntlets over them, the zippers won't stay zipped and the bunched up leather hurt my wrists. I'll probably have to get them altered to fit.

I hope the jacket loosens up with use, but there is no hope for the cuffs. (Posted on 1/20/10)
Yeah . . . . Review by John
I'm on the list for when there are more size options. Fine.

Put 6,000 miles on one of these suits last summer. Commutted most weekends from DC to Williamsport, PA. It's waterproof and comfortable. For the sleeve venting to work, you need gloves with minimal or no gauntlets.

I got no regrets. (Posted on 1/5/10)
excellent suit if you're average size Review by OGRE
First the suit itself is waterproof, protective and comfortable.... but the suit either needs to be customizable or offered in a better range of sizes...I'm extremely tall and although I got a jacket and pants long enough for me, I had to get both about 2-3 sizes too big in the waist. I hoped to have a local alterations shop, that fixes leather motorcycle gear, adjust the size but, they were unable to help me.... I think the pros outwiegh the cons.. and if you're average sized there are no cons. (Posted on 12/10/09)
90% postive. Wish they could be customized. Review by Scott
I really like this jacket. Definitely not cheap, but the quality is great and it feels like it will last for many years. It's quite a feeling to ride through a downpour in a leather jacket and stay bone dry plus not worry at all about damaging the leather. The jacket has a good temperature range, though I would use a summer or perforated jacket for real hot weather. The Transit is good up to about 90, especially if you keep moving. You could also use it in pretty cold weather, especially with a heated liner (it's a bit too snug for multiple layers underneath). The armor is well placed and seems substantial. My only complaint is the sleeves/cuffs. The sleeves are a bit too long so the cuffs, which are not soft, chafe and push against my hands/wrists when riding. And only my thinnest cloves fit underneath, all others have go over, so you need gaunlet-style gloves. I REALLY wish the sleeves were a couple of inches shorter, or that customization was an option, because I really like everything else about the jacket. (Posted on 12/7/09)
A pricey mixed bag Review by rustyrotor
There is much to appreciate, and in dire weather, even love about the Transit jacket and pants. Fact is that they work exactly as advertised. Cool for black leather, and quite waterproof.
The leather is IR reflective, as you will note when stopped under the hot sun, when the black cordura at the insides of your elbows starts to blister your skin, while the leather remains fairly cool.

Getting caught in a summer storm is no problem. The garments are legitimately dry. The same goes for cold fall weather.
Despite the -tiny- perforations in much of the garment, I was able to ride 125 miles in driving 45 degree rain and hail and stayed dry under the suit. Let's not talk about my hands, or feet. The Combats, which in all fairlness are not offered as waterproof or even really repellent, eventually soaked through.

Now for the bitching:

Not enough venting for truly hot weather.
Not by a long shot. Both the jacket and especially the pants need to be configurable to move more air.

The sleeve cuffs are silly.
Just an amateurish design.
It's not like a cuff is a new invention.
The Transit cuffs are ENORMOUS!
And uncomfortable. I have yet to find a way to snug them down without some portion of the cuff pressing uncomfortably on my wrist. Getting a gauntlet over it has also proven hard. And if you can't get the gauntlet over the cuff, you can't seal out rain or cold wind.

The same goes for the collar.
I've yet to be able to close the collar completely and be comfortable.

There's something weird about the way the shoulders are cut. The shoulders bunch up into strange humps even while riding my standard bike. The cafe is worse.

The leather soaks up a ton of water and takes days and days to dry. I literally could not hang it up as I reasonably suspected the beefy wooden hanger I use might snap as the garment had grown so heavy from absorbed water. Again, the water does NOT get through, not even driving rain at 70+ MPH, for hours at a time.
It does come down your collar...

How would I fix this interesting, and useful garment?

Smaller, normal cuffs designed to accept a standard motorcycling gauntlet over them.

Improve airflow, pants and jacket.

Find a way to make the surface of the leather shed water so it is more difficult for it to become waterlogged.

Design the collar and shoulders for human beings, not venusians.

Include a full zip between the jacket and pants, not the short, rear only zipper as is.
Really cuts down the usefulness of the garment in spring and fall. This is NOT really a true hot weather garment, but rather a good, interesting, first generation
three-season leather 2-piece.

Enlarge the zipper pulls. Too small, especially with gloves on.

Bottom line I find the garment uncomfortable. I nevertheless use it religiously, and hope it will be in salable condition when something better comes along, hopefully from Aerostich. (Posted on 11/19/09)
Transit Jacket & Pants Review by O'Mara
In planning for a long trip this summer, I weighed pros & cons of various suits & jackets. I had mesh and cloth gear, but each had disadvantages (as in needing rain suit for mesh gear or looking like a dork in a restaurant / bar in my fluorescent yellow retinal burning commuter jacket). Wanted one do it all out fit to minimize weight, bulk in my luggage and maximal protection. Was really attracted to abrasion protection offered by my discount perforated leather jacket but armor was not greatest and would still have to pack a rain suit. Plus any rain suit would have me sweating inside soon.

Saw catalog description of Transit suit with claim of best of both worlds and took a chance. Very glad that I did.

Did several weeks on the road this July with only the Transit pants & jacket. Went through a series of heavy storms, as well as mild rain.

One storm in particular stood out: torrential rains with hail, lightning, winds and traffic dodging all over the turnpike (Ohio) in a section with jersey barriers on each side and flooded road surface under about 1-2 inches of water. For obvious reasons, like lightning and standing water and no over pass and idiot cagers dodging all over the road as they were blinded by the torrential rains , stopping was not an option. Being in total control was. Without distractions of getting wet or suffering hypothermia. I was amazed. The suit kept me totally dry. I was damp inside from sweating a bit and having 100% humidity on the outside, so hard to evaporate body moisture out. But never once did I get cold or wet. And was able to completely focus on what was at hand. Plus, suit dried out far faster than my leather gloves (deerskin ropers) did.

Then, due to poor planning on my part, I got to test higher temps in the suit. Got stuck in 85+ F degree temps riding thru Friday afternoon traffic in Chicago on Rt 80 as I was heading west. (Don't do it - if riding west from DC or Baltimore - take 70 West and then 65 North to Illinois 24 West - and avoid Chicago like the plague unless you want to develop hand strength from clutching& braking for hours - yeah boy that was fun - not!).

In 5 hrs of stop & go traffic, the suit was fine. Opened up the jacket at sleeves and front zipper and stopped to hydrate periodically. Once out of traffic and above 20 mph, with a CoolMax undershirt, airflow & cooling was fine.

So, can not say enough good things about suit performance. Did everything as claimed. And the armor is superb in feel and comfort. The back protector in particular impressed me with its size in terms of back area covered (width as well as length.)

A few niggles:

- the top outer left chest pocket will hold a BlackBerry Storm but not in a protective hard / waterproof case that you can buy for it. I used the zip closure style snack size (6 1/2" x 3 1/4") plastic bag to ensure water did not short out my BlackBerry. But after the storm described above, I found no evidence of water in the pocket. Still, it would be nice if the pocket was a bit wider / bigger to accommodate a smart phone within a protective hard case.

- due to lack of customizable size, my jacket has a longer sleeve than my other jackets. Not a big deal per se. Just that heavily armored gauntlet gloves will not fit easily under the sleeve, and due to longer sleeve length make putting the guantlet over the sleeve uncomfortable for me. However slim gauntlet style gloves, like Lee Parks, fit under sleeves fine. But shorter gloves like Aerostich Elkskin Ropers, Aerostich Vegan, Lee Parks Touring gloves or a short gauntlet glove like CoreTech's Vice are a better choice for underneath the sleeve.

- for really hot temps like 95 - 105 degrees F, in stop & go traffic, you may want to bring a true mesh jacket along with upgraded armor. You sacrifice protection from abrasion & impact but getter better airflow if not traveling at speed. If at speed, in drier climates, the Transit suit should be all you need. Just stay hydrated and wet down. (Posted on 8/11/09)

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