I spend a lot of time touring on my motorcycle in all kinds of weather. I live in Canada, but love riding all over the United States. When the roads are safe and salt-free, I’m riding my motorcycle until icy conditions force me inside. My gear has to be comfortable, and keep me safe, warm and dry. While fit and function are the most important criteria, I want to get them in the fewest number of layers and pieces.
The layers of the BMW TourShell suit and my merino wool base layers are all thin so they keep me warm without adding bulk.
I ride a dual sport bike, a Yamaha Super Ténéré
, with no intention of taking it off-road. Regardless of brand names the motorcycle suit I’ve found that meets all my needs for riding gear is the waterproof TourShell suit from BMW. Its top-of-the-line functionality is reflected in the price of $659 for the jacket and $459 for the pants, and they’re worth every penny. This riding suit,
plus a merino wool base layer, and a heated jacket and pant liner
, are all I need year round.
The distinctive highly reflective prints on arms and legs are eye-catching in traffic. The unique and slimming style lines put the off-centered zipper closure on the side, which means no snaps or Velcro to interfere with helmet straps.
The first time it started to rain
, I was actually delighted that I could keep riding. There was no need to pull over, root around for rain gear and then struggle to put it on. I’ve since worn the TourShell suit through days of heavy rain and stayed completely dry. The abrasion-resistant material is constructed from an outer water repellant layer, micro porous foam, and a wind and waterproof, breathable membrane that adjusts to changing temperatures and activities. Under that is a hydrophilic membrane, which transports water from inside to outside.
A stretchable band runs inside a cuff at the neck (shown here), wrists and waist. A Velcro closure secures it in the desired position. I tightened up the neck to keep out the rain; it kept the collar high under my helmet so no water could seep in.
A removable collar adds additional protection from the wind.
When not using the collar, it stores in a pocket at the back of the jacket. The interior is finished in pretty piping which matches the liner.
The removable quilted liner can be worn on its own. Since it doesn’t need to be waterproof, it keeps you warm and comfortable, far different than waterproof liners that cause you to perspire. The material overlaps at the upper chest and neck providing additional wind protection and warmth.
A unique feature is that the liner attaches to the jacket with snaps, which means you can still use and access the inside jacket pockets.
The liner has four roomy exterior and interior pockets, one of which turns into its own stuff sack for easy storage.
The side pockets and large vents all close with waterproof zippers. I often stuff gas receipts in my pocket and in this jacket, they stayed dry in all the rain I’ve ridden in. The subtle yet effective zipper pulls are easy to use with winter or summer gloves.
Substantial vents on the back are positioned to work with side vents to provide maximum air flow.
The pockets on the inside of the jacket are waterproof, this one is designed with a transparent window for a phone or MP3 player. A loop at the top of the jacket lets you thread through the ear-buds.
Elasticized Velcro wrist closures make it easy to adjust for layers and gloves. Stretch panels at the hips allow for a comfortable fit and hold the jacket tight to your body. They do get wet, but the dampness doesn’t penetrate through to you.
BMW’s branded armor, called NP protectors, offers maximum protection and exceeds CE ratings, that’s the universal standard for armor protection. All the armor is easy to remove when it’s time to throw your gear into the washer.
All NP protectors are labeled so you know where they go when you slip them back in the jacket. The back protector helps hold your jacket in place at the waist and keeps the wind from blowing up your back. You can zip the pants and jackets together for additional protection.
While you feel the molded shoulder, elbow and back protector when you first put on the jacket, your body temperature warms them up and they become more pliable, mold to your shape, and you forget they’re even there.
You can see here how the jacket and pants fit together in the riding position. The jacket hugs the pants without being constrictive. The leg length is good, and doesn’t bunch behind the knees or at the hips.
The pant’s waistband is made of stretchy material so it doesn’t cut into you. On top of that, the same elasticized Velcro closures used at the neck and wrists allow you to adjust for layers and dessert. The pockets have the same waterproof zippers and convenient pulls.
The hip protectors fit so well I barely notice they’re there. Although
there’s a comfortable mesh liner right down to the ankle, I prefer to
wear a merino wool base layer for easier movement in warm weather.
The waist has a solid fastener and the forgiving waistband means you don’t have to strain to secure it. Behind the fly is a waterproof gusset preventing moisture from seeping in. Because the fly zipper is not waterproof, this gusset will get damp, but only on the outside layer. The water doesn’t get through to you.
The knee protectors, adjustable to three different heights, are long, extending to the top of my mid-shin length boots. That means you’re protected from knee to foot. You can’t tell by looking but the knees have a double thickness of highly abrasion resistant artificial leather for that extra coverage in case of a fall.
Getting your boots on and off with these riding pants is easy given the thoughtful design that includes a long zipper and fastener. The pant legs don’t flap in the wind, and there's no chance of getting a loose pant leg caught on the side stand when you’re putting your foot down.
After years of searching for the right touring suit, I’m thrilled with BMW’s TourShell outfit. It combines the best of function, style, comfort and versatility. Last year winter came early and I got caught riding back from the southern U.S. on roads that had been heavily salted. As soon as I got home to Canada, I removed the protectors and threw the entire suit in the washer. It came out looking and functioning like new. I plan to wear it for many miles and many years of touring, no matter what motorcycle I’m on. For more information and to find a retailer near you, visit bmwusa.com.
To read more from Liz Jansen, visit Liz Jansen's Touring Life section on WRN. And to learn more about her, visit the WRN Contributor's Page.
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