First some philosophical ranting on my part…..don’t give it much attention. The first point I would make is that if you want to travel from point A to point B and always stay completely dry, you should buy a car or stay home.
If you ride a bike in the pouring rain for long enough or hard enough, you will eventually get wet….whatever expensive raingear you wear.
Water runs off your helmet and down your neck. It will be thrown up from the road and up your jacket. It will hit your gloves and enter the sleeve. Or rise up your boot to your leg. It will find its way through zips and pockets.
If the pressure of water is strong enough, and the duration of the ride is long enough, there is no garment out there that can guarantee to keep you totally dry.
Any manufacturer who claims differently is lying. But the manufacturers don’t tend to lie (okay, some of them do!). Most use clever wording like water resistant that normally promises nothing.
The most common claim is that a material is backed by a membrane, like Gore-Tex, that is supposed to be 100% waterproof. From this, the manufacturers will then sometimes imply or suggest that their jackets or trousers are completely waterproof.
The reality is that they are not, for all the reasons already outlined.
And anyway, the standard test that is most commonly applied to certify a fabric or membrane as waterproof is exceeded by a factor of 20 when rain hits a motorcycle garment at a speed of 100kph!
And even the best waterproof membrane is meaningless if the seams of a jacket are not taped with waterproof tape, or if the pockets are not also waterproof. And then there are the zips, the air vents, the collar, the sleeves and so on.
So where do we end up?
Well, as I have suggested, there’s no such thing as a jacket, a pant, a glove or a boot that can keep you 100% dry for 100% of the time.
But your chances of staying dry for longer are almost certainly improved if you buy your clothing from one of the more technical brands out there.
As a consumer, we admit that it’s not always easy to work out which brands are the real deal and which are not. Because everyone claims they are the best.And remember, the highest priced gear isn’t always the best. But beware of anything that is too cheap.
If the brand in question can always be found discounted, or being touted about by the George Whites of this world, or the other pile-it-high sellers, you can be pretty sure that you’re not going to be getting the most technical and reliable gear.
It’s a cliché, we know, but if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. There is, after all, no such thing as a free lunch!
This brings us to another point….
Waterproofing is not everything.
As in so many things in life, motorcycle clothing is a compromise. The most waterproof clothing would not have a breathable membrane. It would keep water out with an impenetrable lining, but you would sweat horribly.
The other issue is that most of us want a jacket and trousers that we can wear all year round. To keep air moving across the body, you open the vents. It’s vital if you want to stay calm, collected and cool. But in the rains, these vents are an inevitable weak point for water ingress.
So, when you buy motorcycle clothing, think about how you might use it. Staying dry is something we all want, but we have hot weather for all 12 months and, for those days, you need ventilation.
If staying dry is the most important consideration, you should of course avoid leather. A leather jacket can be a very cool thing to wear. A leather jacket or a leather pant is about as much use in a rain storm as a tax return is to your average Member of Parliament.
I’m going to close with a few words on boots and gloves.
The basic tale is the same, but even more so. On a pair of boots, water will run down your legs. It will find its way through the zip or laces. And eventually, in heavy rain, the leather or PU will become so sodden that it will work its way through to your foot. After all, down there, near the road, is probably the wettest place of all.
Gloves also take a hammering. Leather gloves will let water in most easily; unless they have Gore-Tex or similar material. But don’t let me mislead you. Whatever you put on your hands, your fingers will eventually get wet. One jugaad you can do is to wear a surgical glove on top of the riding glove. Trust me it is water proof. Your riding glove will absorb the sweat if it is half a day worth ride. But surgical gloves close all the vents and if the weather is hot, your hands will get sweaty.
I hope I haven’t confused you and made the subject even more opaque than it already is.
I’m not sure that you should always expect to get wet on a motorcycle. And I’m not making excuses for sub-standard gear that doesn’t work. But when you’re on a bike, you are exposed to the elements in a way that you are not when you’re in the car. Be it hot, cold, wet or humid, on a bike you’re going to experience it to the max. That, after all, is why we love biking in the first place
Rant over….now to more sensible part
Cheapest and best option is to wear a rain suit on top of your riding jacket and pants. A duckback rainsuit would cost somewhere around 1200-1500 bucks and can be used for couple of years. But you don’t look cool and you still sweat and you feel cumbersome and it flaps at high speed.
So let’s now look at some waterproof riding gear being talked about.
Is Gore Tex 100% waterproof?
Yes. It is/ We have all heard name of Gore-Tex. It is a breathable, waterproof, windproof membrane. Usually Gore-Tex products are horribly expensive (though they are worth it) so mere mortals may try and find some alternatives. Here is a list of brand names used by some companies to declare Gore-Tex like properties:
- AGV, RS Taichi, Cramster, Zeus – Reissa
- Alpinestars – Dryster
- Hein Gericke – Shelltex
- Vega – Amphitex
- Tour Master – Aqua-Therm
- Fieldsheer – Rainguard
- BMW Motorrad, Vodafone Mc Laren Mercedes/ Hugo Boss and Westcomb – C_change
Performance of these alternate products is debated hotly around the world and let’s just say that they are good enough for most of us.
These membranes or rain liners are deployed in different ways in different jackets.
- In some jackets, it is laminated with outer panel
- In some jackets, it is a detachable liner
- In some jackets, it is laminated with inside panel
Please understand the difference here. If the rain liner / membrane is inside of jacket, however good that performs, the outer side of jacket / pant will be getting wet and after some time, it will be very heavy. It will also take long time to dry. Do you really want that?
Best bet is to buy a product which has membrane / rain liner laminated to the outer cloth. The jackets where membrane is laminated, are treated with Durable water-repellent (DWR) treatment on outside. This treatment does not allow water to soak into garment.
Now you are saying that these are very expensive products and you can’t spend so much money…or your girlfriend/father/mother/wife does not approve….despair not.
Here are few handpicked riding gear that is waterproof –
How to care for these membranes:
- Machine wash your garment as described in the wash instructions. Line dry your garment, or tumble dry it on a warm, gentle cycle.
- Once it is dry, tumble dry your garment for 20 minutes to reactivate the durable water-repellent (DWR) treatment on the outer fabric.
- If unable to tumble dry, iron the dry garment on gentle setting (warm, no steam) by placing a towel or cloth between the garment and the iron. This will help reactivate the DWR treatment on your garment’s outer fabric.
- When the factory applied treatment can no longer be reactivated, apply a new water-repellent treatment like Nikwax available as a pump-spray or wash-in product to the garment’s outer fabric.
How to wear your raingear:
- The rain gear HAS to be OVER the rain pants
- The rain pants HAS to be over the high raise riding water proof boot
- The rain gear has to be worn OVER the riding jacket COVERING the gauntlet of the gloves
- If you own a waterproof safety shoe, use gaiters under the rain pants to avoid seepage from the water running down from top.
Last thing to remember,
In India, rains may last for 3 months but heat lasts for 12 months. So your jacket must have decent quantity of vents. Otherwise, you will be mistaken for a dish at KFC.
Steps for deciding on which waterproof riding gear to buy –
- Work out your budget
- Choose what exactly you want
- Get the right size
- Check the gear has reflective material / strips
- Check whether the zippers have textile flap to cover them
- Check whether you have at least one waterproof pocket
- Last and most important bit …..Double check that you look stylish in it.
Here is a range of products that would be useful during rains.
Let's have a look at few of the products we offer:
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