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Discussion Starter #1
I work downtown New Orleans and commute 10mi each way. The free parking i had access to has been prohibited now so im looking at spending $120-$250 per month to park.

Or

Motorcycle parking remains free, right next to work!

So, Im thinking about giving full time bike commute a try, rain or shine. This means appropriate gear. I have to stay dry, so im considering a one piece suit and boots? Dont want to go buying all kinds of stuff that isnt really necessary. But i think at least a $500 suit is a must. Something i can jump in and out of quickly. Id love to hear what kind of gear u guys use for full time bike commuting. Or is this idea just a little nuts?!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, i have no clue. I just know that if im not comfortable (cold/wet) ill likely get frustrated and give up on the idea. Im thinking if i get quality stuff maybe can stick with the plan just long enough to pay for the gear. Lol!
 

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I have used Wally World rain suit and works pretty good my ride to work is 53 miles one way got a frogg togg rain suit for Xmas wore one time and got a hole on the right side from the heat so I would not recommend it
 

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Im not familiar with the weather in NO....but isnt is generally kinda warm and rainy, not balls cold out and rainy??

Secondly - are you the type of person that is concerned more about outward appearances, or do you value function over form?

The reason I ask is because an Aerostitch suit would be perfect for your needs - but they are usually worn more by adventure bike riders than cruiser riders... If you are concerned with how you look to others, then this isnt going to work for you. They are a one piece suit that zips from ankle to neck - you literally step into and out of it, over your regular clothes. But they leave a little to be desired as far as styling goes - hasnt changed design since they came out in the 80's. Kinda ugly, but very practical.

I commute three out of four seasons, skipping out on the cold ass winter months. I have a Frank Thomas branded (used to be sold at Cycle Gear...now its BiLT crap...but you can still order Frank Thomas stuff online from England) Force Aqua jacket - pretty much waterproof, as I have driven in pouring rain before and my clothes stay dry. I use waterproof gloves (tip - take an old windshield wiper blade and cut it down to 3 inches and glue it to the left hand glove's forefinger - great for wiping away the rain!) and Rain-X on my helmet visor, as well as Fog City shield inside the visor to keep fogging down. I have a pair of First Gear waterproof overpants as well. Lastly, I have a pair of Tourmaster waterproof boots.

Most important thing about riding in the rain is to remember that you have to increase your following distances, as breaking will be harder. You must also do everything you can to avoid metal manhole covers, and do not be alarmed when you grab some throttle at a stop light and your rear tire spins like hell when it touches the paint from the crosswalks. Lastly, remember that you are already freaking invisible to drivers, and you are going to be even LESS visible, since they do not have wipers on their rear windows. Ride with your high beam on all the time. (Thats what I do, and its legal in CA to do so...might want to check your area laws...)

I commute on the bike not only to save money, but to save my sanity as well! Public trans costs me $190/month, but parking the bike is only $70/month. Add 6 tanks of gas at $14/tank, and Im still $30 ahead, and it only takes me 20 minutes to get to work/home, rather than 1.25 hours. No such thing as traffic on the motorcycle!
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Im not familiar with the weather in NO....but isnt is generally kinda warm and rainy, not balls cold out and rainy??

It's generally warm, and stupid hot almost 9 months out of the year. But we get 2 months or so of cold rainy weather down to mid 30s. And this is primarily what concerns me most.

Secondly - are you the type of person that is concerned more about outward appearances, or do you value function over form?
I definitely use to be, but not any more. Comfort and function over looks now.

The reason I ask is because an Aerostitch suit would be perfect for your needs - but they are usually worn more by adventure bike riders than cruiser riders... If you are concerned with how you look to others, then this isnt going to work for you. They are a one piece suit that zips from ankle to neck - you literally step into and out of it, over your regular clothes. But they leave a little to be desired as far as styling goes - hasnt changed design since they came out in the 80's. Kinda ugly, but very practical.

I commute three out of four seasons, skipping out on the cold ass winter months. I have a Frank Thomas branded (used to be sold at Cycle Gear...now its BiLT crap...but you can still order Frank Thomas stuff online from England) Force Aqua jacket - pretty much waterproof, as I have driven in pouring rain before and my clothes stay dry. I use waterproof gloves (tip - take an old windshield wiper blade and cut it down to 3 inches and glue it to the left hand glove's forefinger - great for wiping away the rain!) and Rain-X on my helmet visor, as well as Fog City shield inside the visor to keep fogging down.
This right here is worth gold. I will save all this in my notepad for future reference cheers

I have a pair of First Gear waterproof overpants as well. Lastly, I have a pair of Tourmaster waterproof boots.
So do you generally stay dry head to toe in this attire after riding through the rain? And if not, what is the weakest part of this setup? I'm thinking about a 1 piece suit to eliminate any seams that might leak. And as I said before, I don't mind paying a little more (~$500) to get something of decent quality

Most important thing about riding in the rain is to remember that you have to increase your following distances, as breaking will be harder. You must also do everything you can to avoid metal manhole covers, and do not be alarmed when you grab some throttle at a stop light and your rear tire spins like hell when it touches the paint from the crosswalks. Lastly, remember that you are already freaking invisible to drivers, and you are going to be even LESS visible, since they do not have wipers on their rear windows. Ride with your high beam on all the time. (Thats what I do, and its legal in CA to do so...might want to check your area laws...)
I have to agree, learned all this from experience as well. Laws here are very laxed. I love it.

I commute on the bike not only to save money, but to save my sanity as well! Public trans costs me $190/month, but parking the bike is only $70/month. Add 6 tanks of gas at $14/tank, and Im still $30 ahead, and it only takes me 20 minutes to get to work/home, rather than 1.25 hours. No such thing as traffic on the motorcycle!
Sounds like we're in a very similar situation. It's not really so much about saving money for me (I just like to be able to justify my decisions via math, it seems less crazy that way). It's more about time and convenience of having the bike on the side of the building ready to go after work. No 12 floor parking garages to deal with and traffic congestions are easier to bypass on the bike. Plus I don't see the value in paying MORE to also be MORE inconvenienced. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Looked into Frank Thomas and AEROSTICH. They both look like darn good options. I am also considering the SPIDI brand. It's an italian company that seems to be very well rated and respected. This part if very confusing because there is so much stuff out there, for all kinds of different riding and weather. I'm just not entirely sure what I actually need.

I guess it breaks down like this:

9 months out of the year it's too hot to be wearing anything more than a t-shirt.

But then 2 months is where I need warmth to handle mid 30s.

and it's going to rain a lot in both hot and cold weather.

So something like the SPIDI EARO 05 might work, which is multi layer (3) and therefore seems very versatile. However, this one is not one piece. Not sure what to make of that though.

Dang, i don't think i'm gonna get this right on the first try.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yes, that one got my eye too. Right now olympia stealth and phantom are both on sale for $199 and $299 respectively. They have outstanding reviews and are half the cost of aerostich. Im doing some reading on both of those right now. Will probably get one of them, havent decided yet, but leaning towards the phantom for no compromise warmth when i need it.
 

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Looked into Frank Thomas and AEROSTICH. They both look like darn good options. I am also considering the SPIDI brand. It's an italian company that seems to be very well rated and respected. This part if very confusing because there is so much stuff out there, for all kinds of different riding and weather. I'm just not entirely sure what I actually need.

I guess it breaks down like this:

9 months out of the year it's too hot to be wearing anything more than a t-shirt.

But then 2 months is where I need warmth to handle mid 30s.

and it's going to rain a lot in both hot and cold weather.

So something like the SPIDI EARO 05 might work, which is multi layer (3) and therefore seems very versatile. However, this one is not one piece. Not sure what to make of that though.

Dang, i don't think i'm gonna get this right on the first try.
Do not fear, my friend! You can get it right the first time!

SPIDI is a very good brand - I come from a sport bike background, and SPIDI has been around for many years as a top of the line manufacturer. I cannot say anything bad about them (other than price! Can be expensive, like Dainese branded stuff...) That jacket is $600 - you can spend $200 on the Frank Thomas jacket that does the same thing!! The Force Aqua is basically two jackets in one - you can wear the "anti-freeze" liner as a lite duty jacket, wear the outer shell as a medium duty jacket, or combine both for a heavy duty winter jacket. My only warning about these kinds of jackets are that you might want to try them on first - Ive found that, when I wear them both together, there isnt much room for another layer underneath... HOWEVER, that said, Ive ridden in temps as low as 40* with nothing more than a regular v-neck tshirt as the bottom layer with the jacket over it. Actually quite impressed with how warm I stay...

As far as one piece vs two piece suits...sure, one piece is going to be a little easier to put on/remove. But as far as rain protection goes, as long as you have a 3/4 length jacket that goes well below your waist, you do not have to worry about leaks.

The one weak point of ANY gear set up is going to be around your neck. If you spring a leak, its likely going to happen here... If you have a one piece suit on, its going to run down the entire suit. If you have a two piece on, your bottom half stays dries. To prevent these issues, I also use a cycle gear "freeze out" balaclava - you know, one of those things robbers in the movies wear to cover their faces. Lastly, there is also a product that attaches to the bottom of your helmet called the NOJ quiet rider, that blocks out wind and rain and cold...once installed on the helmet it is easy to use. Install is simple as well - just slides between the shell and styrofoam inside. I have one of these too, and it kicks butt when its really cold...only problem is fogging inside the visor, since there isnt any circulation of air unless you are moving...


I wish my commute was only 10 miles. Instead, its twice that, and in heavy heavy traffic... So I just dont risk it when its really cold and rainy out.
 

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I spent around $100 on a 2 piece suit from Cycle Gear and it works quite well. The only real thing you have to worry about is how well whatever you get fits over your normal clothes. Good luck with your decision. (BTW, just get whatever is comfortable to you)
 

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One thing I have learned is that you get what you pay for. You cannot skimp on quality by paying less.

Perfect example: helmets. Ive worn all kinds, from HJC to Joe Rocket to Suomy to Bell. I finally plonked down some serious cash for the Bell Star helmet (top of the line helmet) and I have learned what real quality and craftsmanship and customer appreciation is all about. I will never wear another helmet. (Example: I had the side plate break on the helmet where there is a lock for the visor. I called Bell directly and told them the issue and asked about replacement parts. They asked me what my address was and mailed me a replacement kit FREE OF CHARGE. When the anti-fogging liner on the visor began to crack, they sent me a free new visor and just asked that I mail the bad one back to them - and they paid the shipping for it. You dont get service like that from other manufacturers...)

Not saying that you are going to get similar service from Oylmpia or Aerostitch, but you are paying for a better product. My experience has been that, when you try to save a few dollars by buying a bargain brand, you end up screwing yourself. I tried to save $100 buying BiLT leather boots - after two days, the sole came unglued. I will not buy Cycle Gear branded stuff anymore.
 

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i do the daily commute. North Florida. I do gear on the cheap. got a $15 rainsuit at the sports store. northface / fleece lined for the cold with soft lowers.
but then again, its florida, shorts tshirts sneakers for months on end.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
ok, so I have now been doing quiet a bit of homework and am looking at the following 3 options:

Frank Thomas Aqua Jacket-~$200. Don't really know how much it is really, or how I would order it from U.S. I guess contacting them through email would be a good first step. I really like this option as it seems very sturdy and looks to have very good neck protection. Removable thermal liner is great. This option would need pants.

Olympia Phantom One Piece- $299. This is nice because it's high quality but reasonably priced, good head to toe coverage since it's one piece, and internal thermal deal is removable. For the money, this is the best option so far, I'm not sure how good neck protection is though, because the collar does not look as tall and well insulated as the other two. Just hard to tell.

SPIDI ERGO 05 Jacket -$379 (at close out, so I may not be able to find it any more) Very similar to Frank Thomas option, but this one is 3 layer. Looks like top notch stuff, well rated and loved by everyone. Very good neck protection. Would also need pants.

I'm VERY tempted to get the Olympia, which is normally ~$450-ish, but now its on close out and is by far the cheapest option at $299. I feel like this would be the quick and dirty solution for 75% of my riding, and wouldn't be a meaningful compromise on quality since former owners of AEROSTICH seem to say that the Phantom quality is not far behind. The only thing this suit will not do is the really scorthing days, when it's amost 100F. They nick named this suit the "sauna" for that reason.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
One thing I have learned is that you get what you pay for. You cannot skimp on quality by paying less.
I could not agree with you more because I have learned the same lesson with all the things I have bought in the past. Do it once, do it right, and you save yourself money in the long run.

If I knew for sure that I would not get tired and give up on the idea after a while, I would spend much more now on higher end gear. I just don't know if this will work out as a long term solution.
 

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One other thing I forgot to mention - the Frank Thomas gear has full armor in the shoulders and elbows.

Also, I got hit on the bay bridge a couple of years ago, going 45mph. I was very impressed with how well that jacket stood up to being dragged across the pavement. Worst injury was a contusion on my knuckle from slamming my fist into the ground...not a scratch on my upper body (but got a few bruises on the legs from my feet kicking my legs as I rolled over and over and over and over...) So impressed that I ran out and bought a second one to replace that one (insurance paid for it...)

Ordering the Frank Thomas stuff might be harder than its worth, considering you'd have to pay import taxes and stuff. But, that doesnt mean you cant look on ebay for some left over ones! Even used if you dont mind - but Im not selling mine so dont ask :)

My second choice would be that SPIDI jacket. Thing just looks damn awesome! and its three layers! badass!

Also, make sure you go to motorcyclegear(dot)com and look for closeouts on their site - I buy most of my stuff there. You could get a good pair of waterproof pants to go with the jacket for $150 or so...maybe less. The First Gear HT Overpant I have I bought from there, and they keep me dry...as long as it isnt DRIVING rain. light rain is fine...
 

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Any decent 2 piece rain suit is going to do you fine.

If you're realy worried keep a full change of clothes at work.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
As I was pondering what to do last night, I tried to see what the availability of these jackets is and realized that I can't get the ergo 05 for $379 any more and the Olympia phantom was sold out at revzilla for that really sweet $299 price. I was however, able to find them in stock at motorcyclecloseouts.com for the closeout price, so I went ahead and bought it. I figure this jacket will be a good starting point, since most owners are really happy with them. That neon green "high vis" color will besomething to get use to, but I really like the fact that I will be much more visible when riding through a rain storm, which is really where this jacket will be used mostly.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Pesky 4 wheel objects require expensive parking spaces, because they can't be parked in alleys between buildings. Plus, it's hard to squeeze between standstill 18wheelers on the interstate in a fiesta, I'm just not that good yet... :(
 
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