When I got my motorcycle license four years ago, I thought I'd only be a weekend rider. That plan changed when I found out I could cut my 27-mile commute from 2 hours in a car to 45 minutes on a bike. Splitting lanes is allowed here in California, and it would behoove me to take full advantage of that.
Distracted drivers make commuting in Los Angeles downright dangerous, so making myself visible is paramount. Which is one of the many reasons why the Aerostich Roadcrafter suit ($797; www.aerostich.com) is popular with the Motorcyclist staff. The highly reflective Scotchlite material on the back, legs and front pocket attract drivers' attention at night, but it's the one-piece suit's simplicity that makes it my favorite. One full-length frontal zipper and another that runs the full length of the right leg allow the wearer to literally step in/out, there's armor in all the right places, and the multitudinous pockets are easy to access while wearing gloves. The Roadcrafter is designed to fit over your street clothes, which means I don't have to lug around a shirt and a pair of pants. And have I mentioned it's machine-washable?
When I do need to carry a change of clothes or whatever, I use a Chrome Ivan Rolltop Backpack ($180; www.chromebagsstore.com). Ari wrote about this in our October 2009 issue, and I remember saying to him, "No backpack is worth 200 bucks." Man, was I wrong! I've since worn one for more than 10,000 miles, and it shows no signs of loose stitches or frayed edges. Like my Aerostich suit, the Chrome bag's simplicity is a big part of why I like it so much. The main pocket is seam-sealed, roll-tight and waterproof, and can hold an incredible amount of gear, all while distributing the weight evenly across my back.
There are much less expensive gloves on the market than these wrist-length Dainese Pistons ($229; www.dainese.com), but none look cooler, and few are as protective. I really like how the leather is soft and the armor isn't too flashy. Yes they're pricey, but mine have lasted for thousands of miles and show no sign of wearing out any time soon.
I stumbled upon these Sidi On-Road Gore-Tex boots ($325; www.motonation.com) a while back, and have been using them ever since. I like them because they're armored, yet I can ride to a dinner party without looking like that guy in the flashy roadrace boots. Unlike other street boots I've worn, they're also comfortable to walk around in.
I've never been crazy about flip-up helmets, but the Shark Evoline Serie 2 ($399.95-$449.95; www.shark-helmets.com) caught my attention. The chin bar flips up and back to become an integrated part of the helmet, rather than sticking straight up on top of your head like an un-aerodynamic airfoil. In fact, the French-made lid is ECE-approved as both an open- and full-face helmet. Other helmets offer integral sunshields, but the Evoline's is far enough from my face that it doesn't interfere with my glasses. Cat wore an Evoline 1 for more than a year before the hinge mechanism broke, but it's still good to see that's been addressed on the latest version.