Mar 12, 2013

Fixin' What Ain't Broke

Sometimes I wonder what goes through the heads of the average consumer? Take, for example, cable television. Why the hell would anyone pay a nickel for dozens of channels of "reality" crap, extended sales pitches, recycled network sitcoms, and 1950's programming? What moron doesn't know that all of that crap is free over the air? Originally, cable television was promoted as being commercial free, but today cable station commercials are longer than they are on the networks. What do you get for $85/month: HBO, mind-numbingly repetitive sports, Starz, Showtime, and repeats of the same 4 movies for a week. Since 99% of all movies are worse than reality television, that seems more like a punishment than a reward.

The REVIT Sand 2 Jacket.
Motorcycle gear appears to be going through a similar silly phase. The silly consumer was perfectly portrayed on a recent ADVRider thread when a wannabe wrote, "Aerostich's gear is superb but outdated. Maybe somebody else knows for sure, but most of what they sell appears to be circa 1985 or so. Motorcycle gear has come a long way since the Roadcrafter, Darien, and Combat Touring boots were invented. I'd love to see Aerostich modernize that stuff." Apparently, Aerostich isn't sticking on enough pockets and cupholders for this dude. A knockoff Chinese brand, Rev'IT, appears to have tripped this guy's trigger, which pretty much says all there is to say about his standards: trend over function.

 
The classic Darien Jacket, circa 2013.
Any gear is better than none, of course. Today, even the worst gear that tries to imitate the Aerostich Darien is better than everything except racing leathers from a few years back. And let's face it, everything that looks like a Darien is imitating a Darien. Outside of the canvas stuff from Belstaff, Aerostich pretty much invented modern motorcycle weather-resistant gear. While this douche bag imgaines that the Darien has been locked in 1985, I'm here to tell you that the first generation of this totally original product bears practically no resemblance to the current well-refined and massively practical gear. I owned one of the early versions and while it was state-of-a-brand-new-art, it sucked compared to my current Aerostich gear. For one, Goretex was a ways from being waterproof in 1985.



While I'm a regular maintenance guy, I'm not a fan of fixing things that aren't broke. My day-gig exposes me to a crap-load of people who believe that skill-lessly hacking into functioning gear to "improve" its performance  by mangling specifications and measurable characteristics. As a tech/engineer this whole perspective makes me want to move to my Montana hermit's cave and avoid contact with human beings until the big-asteroid Apocalypse settles the whole issue. The modern Aerostich-knock-offs are laden with silly shit that is more likely to be dangerous than useful. Belts and buckles, for example, are dangerous on a motorcycle. The only person who thinks multiple straps on a jacket is a good idea is someone who has never slid down a gravel road on his ass stuck to a 500 pound motorcycle by a damn bootstrap or belt tangled in some protrusion of the motorcycle. "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast," and smooth is also tangle-free. All those useless pockets make me nervous, too, for a totally different reason. With dozen pockets available to me on my Darien, I'm constantly losing shit; like my keys. I have been known to drive back 100 miles, convinced I'd lost something precious, only to find it in a pocket I use once a decade. Do not tell me I need more pockets. I'm warning you.

After giving me a lecture just like the ADVRider psycho-jabber a few years back, a friend decided to put his money where his mouth lived and bought a few bits of trendy looking made-in-China crap. The stuff lasted about 10,000 miles and two seasons before it bleached out, began to fray everywhere, and began to unravel itself everywhere from the multitude of unnecessary, weather-unresistant pockets to the seams that held the zippers in place. My 6-year-old Darien rig is still as water-resistant, tough, and practical as it was 110,000 miles ago and my new Darien is even tougher, more comfortable, better fitting, and more water-tight. I didn't really need a new suit, but it started with a brain fart and ended with $700 out the door and a 2nd set of riding gear. My excuse would be hi-viz. It would be a better excuse if the pants weren't black.

The Darien armor works. The hip pads and back armor are, I'll admit, expensive and big but I've fallen on my prosthetic ass hard a couple of times and it remains unbent. I've slid down the trail on my butt and back and not only did the Darien hold up but I didn't even get a bruise out of the ordeal. I'm old and I bruise easily. Hell, I break pretty damn easily.

So the gear costs a little extra. No CEO is getting rich from cheap Chinese labor or idiotically designed import laws that encourage companies to create jobs outside of the US. In fact, Andy Goldfine might be the most underpaid executive in American industry. He and his staff are all crazy people who would rather make great motorcycle gear and live in [gulp] the frozenest of all of the frozen woods of Duluth than go the usual route and pay $0.50/day for labor and cut rates on cheap and defective materials. If that bothers you, don't whine to me when your job gets Bain Capital'd into history. You deserve the misery you've asked for.

[Note: Yes I'm pissed off. This one has been boiling in my gut for a while.]

5 comments:

Trobairitz said...

Great rant!! And it probably needed to be said too.

Huby has been borrowing a Roadcrafter suit from a friend who bought a newer one and is close to pulling the trigger and buying one. He has Darien pants but a Tourmaster jacket He doesn't want to go back to them after wearing the suit.

I am glad they finally started selling womens sized gear. I have a hard time finding pants long enough and jackets with the sleeves long enough so I too may turn to Aerostich when my Rev'it goes kaput. I bought the Rev'it a few years ago as it fit the best out of anything I could try on in stores.

I can tell you that I'd much rather have 'function over frosting'. While my Rev'it has never let me down waterproof wise all the layers are a damn pain.

Again, well said. We are out there to ride, not a fashion show.

Thomas Day said...

"Function over frosting" has been added to my vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

He would like to see aerostich become less dated? Check out the new catalog.....now they come in all black, differant fabric weights,contrasting thread stich,more colors and in leather! This and all of the obsessive tweaks that they have made to the already functional designs, makes me wish I had waited one more season to get mine......

Thomas Day said...

Aerostich does keep improving the design, but they've all been pretty good for at least a decade. You should have seen my old Roadcrafter. The "armor" was some kind of fuzzy, cotton-like, unwashable crap permanently sewed into the elbows and knees. Still, it kept my skin intact a couple of times on and off-road in southern California. I actually sold it for a couple hundred $ a few years ago and the guy who bought it loved it.

Sean McDermott said...

There are very few brands that get my wholehearted support. Aerostich is high on a pedestal for me. Roadcrafter for the street and Darien for real dual-sport riding on a bike that is less than 600 lbs. In fact, I had my first "at speed" crash on the dual sport last fall on a frosty mountain road. It was just slick enough to encourage me to steer with the throttle around the corners. I steered too much. Down I went at ~35-40 mph. Got up, dusted myself off and continued riding for several hours that day while using the handlebars to do what they are designed for, steering.