For the ladies: a real life fat suit

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So you know when you have that *thing* to do and you really don’t want to do it? You hem and you ha and you promise it’ll get done later…. until later is 7 months down the road and the person you promised you’d do the *thing* for is noble enough to recede into the background without ever calling you on it? Guilty.

Sorry Scorpion. You might remember that, back in October, Scorpion was nice enough to outfit me in a two-piece touring suit for our 3,000 mile Goldwing trek. I really owed our readers a full report then. I wanted to tell you that I think ladies should definitely consider it as a great touring gear option (and that it’s worth every penny at $430), but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it (even though you should definitely have a suit like this in the closet). Here’s why.

Take a long hard look at that tag up top. Every time I put on my Voyager jacket, it tells me to “get stung”. I hate this. Everything about it. It makes my skin crawl. No wonder they’re named after a bug. But I avoid eye contact with the in-your-face branding (admire the samples in the gallery to your heart’s content) and snuggle into the awesome hand loops and high zip-on collar. I’m cozy and content.

I live in the suit for 10 days straight. I’m pretty happy.

But then I see what I look like in most of our vacation photos.

The photos make me sad.

Wes might be a prima donna when it comes to pictures, but I can’t fault him because I like to look pretty too.

As a former fatty, I’m a little bit sensitive about body image (thanks for this, asshole Jalopnik commenter) and this Voyager jacket and Hellina pants combo isn’t helping. The little waist cincher straps help make you look like a fat hourglass, instead of a fat column. Bonus.

I did a shoot in the suit on three different occasions (one photo set mysteriously disappeared from the camera card) and I hated those pictures more than the vacation ones. So when it comes down to it, I just really hate the way this suit looks in photos. That’s right ladies. Gain 4 inches in every direction, effortlessly. No special diets needed.

I thought maybe it was just me. But then my super-duper-svelte lady friend wore the jacket for a ride, and quickly pronounced similar misgivings.

I’m being pretty hard on Scorpion. I have yet to see any truly flattering touring gear for men or women from any brand. (Have you laid eyes on the pouchy butt ‘stitch these guys keep sauntering around in?) I guess it’s just kind of the nature of the beast.

While it insults me every time I put it on and makes me look like a cow in photos, good things seem to happen while I’m wearing it. Bottom line? When I wear the jacket and pants I stay warm and dry while I spend a fuck ton of time on a motorbike. It has its redeeming qualities, you know?

While Sean’s feet got drenched in the biggest rainstorm of last winter, I was absolutely dry. Not a drop of water through from the double closed zippers of the jacket down to the cinched ankles of the pants. (Alpinestars’ Stella Armada boots offered similar waterproof black magic during that ride even though you’ll probably have to replace broken zippers. More than once.)

The hard protection in this suit is rather anemic in terms of surface area, but it does come with legit low profile CE approved SAS Tech armor for the shoulders, elbows and knees as well as large hip pads. I wore a real back protector instead of using the foam pad that is included. I love that I can stumble around bumping knees and elbows on trees and rocks and Trader Joe’s parking lots without the bruising that usually accompanies my clumsiness.

If it’s the kind of weather one really shouldn’t be riding in or if I’m going to spend more than the next 150 hours alternatively riding or sleeping and not doing much of anything else, then fine… I’ll put on my fat, happy touring costume on. But otherwise, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

The quest continues for protective, attractive ladies gear. For now I can stay bone dry, protected, and warm while looking like an out of touch German motorbike tourist (bonus points for a rental Harley as part of the costume).

Luckily, in spite of my tardiness, you can still get your hands on the jacket and suit for next winter. Tell Scorpion I sent you. They’ve been expecting it for far too long.

  • Doug

    Sorry about your body image. You look fine from this side of the screen. You’ll note that firefighters don’t look svelte either. :-)

    • Bronson

      +1. I really like the 1st pic in the gallery. You look good! ;-)

  • Beale
    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      We’re not so into Aerostich ripoffs round here.

      • smoke4ndmears

        Teiz stuff is fine. I have a powershell and it is quality. Just the same, I would like to try a roadcrafter to know which one is best.

        • David Dawson

          I’ve had both a Roadcrafter 1pc and a Teiz Lombard 1pc. The Teiz suit is heavier and feel heavier duty. The Roadcrafter feels better constructed and better thought out. Both suits fit me well overall, are easy to get in and out of, and both leak in heavy rain. Overall the Teiz is 3/4 the quality at 1/3 of the price.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

        I’m glad you like the Aerostich, but that’s taking brand loyalty too far.

        Personally, I like my Power Shell significantly more than I liked my Roadcrafter. It’s not a perfect product by any means, nor was Aerostich’s offering, but I’m glad I chose it instead.

        • Sean Smith

          Watch it there bub. We don’t take kindly to reason around here.

          • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

            Damn censorship.

      • Anthony

        I read this in a slow, sinister, southern accent.

      • Archer

        Really? You don’t seem to mind Arai ripoffs… ;)

  • resonance

    if you want to look ‘cool’ prob wouldn’t bother with a gold wing………

  • paulo

    Nice article. there’s not a lot of info around for women riders regarding gear, I’ve been trying to find a nice jacket for my girlfriend, god knows why the manufacturer’s seem to think the jackets have to have floral embroidery or pink and purple panels and the ones that look good (nice cut and not barbiefied) have zero protection, any tips for a GOOD jacket for a women rider would be appreciated. : )

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

      My gal likes her Scorpion Hat Trick jacket. If you get it in black, the details don’t stand out in any way. That, combined with the excellent waist adjustment and armor, really won her over.

      • paulo

        cheers Ben,

    • Eric

      Stella uptown.

    • nick

      I just bought this for my girlfriend. A lot of nice features, but have not had a chance to try it yet. Doing a big trip through the Rockies/Yellowstone Areas.

      http://www.revzilla.com/product/revit-womens-siren-jacket

  • John

    Paulo, I just went through exactly the same scenario with my wife. Check out fieldsheer. They have a couple of options that have solid protection, and look good: cut, style, color and appear like they were designed for a female sport bike rider.

    • Roman

      Maybe they’ve improved they’re offering, but every piece of Fieldsheer kit I’ve ever bought was kind of floppy and dorky looking. It’s generally good value, but I’ve never thought of Fieldsheer as particularly stylish or well fitting.

  • John

    And, Ashlee – great article. Aside from finding the rare jacket that fits, the state of suits and/or pants for women is abysmal

  • Gene

    I don’t know if that’s still a loaner, but that retarded tag wouldn’t last 10 seconds with me & a pair of scissors.

    The obnoxious logos on my British Motorcycle Gear made me cringe, so I got a seamripper and it’s much better now. I plan to wear it to show to the BMG salesman at Daytona in October and talk to him about it.

    Most any riding gear is going to have a pouchy butt so you can sit comfortably. I wear Duluth Trading “Ballroom Jeans” not only because I don’t like my ‘nads crunched, but because I don’t like my rear beltline pulled down to my crack. They have room in the butt so you can sit down and not get strangled by your belt. It’s just like the knees in racing leathers will hang a foot too low when you’re walking around.

    Not only do I feel like the Michelin Man in my gear but I hate a lot of the noise it makes, especially the swish-swish from most rainsuits (except Frogg Toggs, but they leak!)

    I just washed my jackets an hour ago, meaning I had to take out the armor, and it was amazing how much smaller they became.

    And FYI, the leader pic is awesome. Gave me the snickers for 5 minutes.

    Next, I need to find gloves with thumbs long enough I don’t have to clip the tips off. I seem to be a mutant hominid with thumbs 1/2″ longer than everyone else.

    • Sean Smith

      Find gloves you like and take them to your local shoe repair place to get altered.

      • Kevin

        Hadn’t thought of that. Inevitably medium gloves fit the meat of my hand but the fingers are all too long. Never thought of getting them altered. I spent good money on my Knox Hand Armour gloves, so that could be worth it.

        • Gene

          Wow, thanks. That’s the first helpful advice I’ve heard. I didn’t know that was possible. Now I just have to track down a shoe repair place that hasn’t closed recently.

    • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

      re: Finger length.
      I have a pair of Held Steve II, you can order them with “long” or “short” fingers.

      • http://hivelosangeles.com Ashlee Goodwin

        Kushitani also carries long sizes of some of their gloves.

  • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

    For style (IRL and on photos) a cat suit or snug leather two piece should do the trick.

    HFL seems to have a good relationship with icon these days, maybe you could score an Overlord Prime suit like Wes (or just get their Federal jacket)…

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      Read that completly distracted by something else, you were adressing touring (and waterproof) gear specifically, so nevermind my comment.

      • Sean Smith

        Still, since you brought up the cat suit: This. Minimal protection, maximum hollywood. For some reason, I doubt these will be a big seller…

        • JMcMahon

          Whooooa!

        • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

          Thanks for that link. Brightened up my work day!

        • Kevin

          Okay… I like that outfit. I like that outfit very much.

        • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

          Wow.

        • Gene

          Christ. I think I just dropped my beer.

  • http://www.karinajean.com karinajean

    I’ve about decided that for a full suit option I’ll have to go ‘stitch, because I’m pretty sure I can pull off a bitchin’ rosie the riveter look. I may look goofy and overly protected, but at least I’ll have some kind of style with a purpose.

    right now I’m wearing a corazzo 5.0 jacket (that’s hanging a little big on me and could use some smaller profile armor) and a pair of slim cut (by comparison) rev’it pants, and it’s *ok.* but not 100% waterproof and it doesn’t zip together so not as protective as a full suit would be.

    • Sean Smith

      Wanna watch me beat a dead horse?

      [insert 'stich promo here]

      • http://www.karinajean.com karinajean

        sir, you are the reason I am considering instituting a swear jar at my house in order to save up enough cash to buy one. post haste.

  • nick2ny

    You look pretty hot in that top picture and I can tell you’re cool by the bottom one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

    Ashlee, when I took my fiancee to shop for her first set of gear, I never fathomed how maddening it could be. Without zooming in and studying too closely, you seem to have similar figures. I understand your struggle so much as a guy can.

    She’s happy with her jacket. It’s a Scorpion Hat Trick and the waist adjustment runs down the sides to the hips, so it does a good job of maintaining her curvy silhouette. No jacket she tried did anything to cure the uniboob look, though, and that’s her only complaint. Slap a Sas-Tec back protector in it and it’s good to go.

    Pants, however, are a new level of hell. Beyond the wild sizing discrepancies between pants, even of the same brand, they’re all brutal to curves. Want the thighs to fit? Better get a size “holy crap you’re huge” even if the waist and length end up absurdly large. Want your butt to look somewhat presentable? Shut yo’ mouth.

    Pants are actually the last piece of the protection puzzle for her. She’s held out. However, after her first down and subsequent banged up knees, I’m dragging her to Moto Liberty for her birthday this weekend and buying her the lesser of all evils in the women’s pants section.

    It sucks that one of the things I love about her causes such anguish at times. C’est la vie.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    I have yet to see an “adventure”-style waterproof suit or jacket/pant combo that looks tailored. They all seem too loose and too big for anyone who eats less than 5000 calories a day, even in small sizes.

    But there are plenty of non-waterproof motorcycling outfits that look great on slender figures. My wife, for example, wears Alpinestars leather pants and (an almost logo-less) ICON leather jacket — and she looks amazing.

    I think a totally viable option for many motorcyclists is to go for a non-waterproof, armored motorcycling outfit that looks great and breathes at the level you need it to breathe. And then layer a Gore-Tex or other waterproof-breathable oversuit for rain (or “it might rain”) days.

    The waterproof oversuit doesn’t even have to be motorcycling specific. There are plenty of affordable bicycling jackets and pants, for example, that you can easily don over a motorcycling outfit.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

      Re: waterproof oversuits, I’ve had good luck with my frogg toggs. They won’t hold out in a downpour, but steady rain is no problem. Got caught in a thunderstorm in Kansas, so I know they’re pretty easy to get on when you’re in “ohcrap ohcrap ohcrap” mode.

      As a bonus, they’re good for doing chores outdoors in the rain, if you don’t mind looking like the Gordon Fisherman to your neighbors.

      • ike6116

        Gorton’s.

        Trust the Gorton’s fisherman.

      • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

        I’ve got a frogg togg suit, too. It has worked well keeping me dry, but damn, it gets hot inside of it if the ambient temp is about 85 degrees.

      • Gene

        Do they have any Frogg Toggs w/o the stupid pants pocket things that leak like hell? If they got rid of those, they’d be fine, they don’t leak otherwise, even in Florida downpours. I duct taped mine shut as an emergency measure.

    • Kevin

      The last generation Dainese D-System D-Dry (yeah, I know) textile jacket actually looks really cool (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzefgTqUNyc), at least for a textile jacket. I get compliments on it all the time.

      Unfortunately, the new generation jacket got beat with the ugly stick.

  • Frosty_spl

    There’s a lady in Atlanta that wears a 2 piece Rev It combo. Looks pretty good too.

  • Asaf Sommer

    Try the German Held gear.

    They are of great quality and their range of women gear is very good looking (IMO) and seems to compliment the female form.

    Not sure you have it in the US though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

      My local shop carries Held’s gloves and a few of their women’s boots. I’m glad they do, because we found a pair of boots that strikes a great balance between form and function. I haven’t seen any other US place carrying anything beyond the gloves.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      I have a Held suit with a matching Held Gore-Tex over-under-suit (it can be attached as an interior liner for “I know it’s going to rain” rides or quickly donned as an oversuit for “oh crap, it’s raining” moments.

      Unfortunately, Held USA (whom I called a few times — they’re nice folks) does NOT import sizes for thin builds. Therefore, I called up Held DE and they pointed me to FC-Moto in Germany, who promptly sent me the size SMALL that I wanted (at a significant discount, no less).

      Being of slim build (5’10” and 142 lbs), the size SMALL fits me well everywhere — except around the stomach. The suit’s overly expansive stomach area is big enough that I could easily fit a football in there. I guess German motorcyclists who wear Held — even thin ones — drink too much beer.

      BTW, I just finished a 9-day tour along the Appalachians (from MA to WV and back) in that suit, and I was wetter from my own sweat (at 102 deg F) than from the rain. I looked forward to the rain. And in fact, I was more comfortable WITHOUT the Gore-Tex suit in the rain because of the extreme temps.

      BTW, the Held Gore-Tex over-under-suit has a ton of velcro everywhere, and it’s already self-destructing from light use. The hook portion of the Velcro catches everywhere when putting on or taking off the suit, and lots of threads have been pulled out.

      In contrast, my waterproof duds from Sugoi and GORE have lasted through many years of heavy use (bicycling) with much higher quality stitching and smarter use of Velcro.

      For touring suits, Held is definitely a tier down from the likes of Rukka and Rev’it.

  • Brad

    BMW Atlantis 4 leather. Waterproof,full armor no branding, looks great, comes in a zillion sizes. Downside is it’s very expensive.

  • http://www.anotherdamndj.com evilbahumut

    2012 Olympia women’s gear. They put in a bunch of hour glass shapes to differentiate the ladies from the men.

    And like Asaf said, a LOT of the euro ladies gear looks GREAT. The trouble is finding it here…

  • dan

    you are still cute as a button

  • Restless Lip Syndrome

    Ready to rant.

    I abhor almost every piece of women’s gear I come across. Everything fits weird, and I’m not some strange shape either. I’m 5’5″ and 120, and the only piece of gear that I can honestly say I love it my Alpinestars track pants. But what actually infuriates me when gear shopping is how poorly most women’s gear is built. Shitty armor, poor armor placement, offensive colors and patterns, jackets that are too short and wouldn’t do dick in a minor crash, flimsy shorty gloves. Most of it on top of it is just shit quality compared to items they offer for men — and this is seems to be the case both for dirt and street/track gear (I will add that Rev’it gear is a lot better about their women’s lineup).

    The only way I have been able to get gear that works for me for all the things I do is by buying both men’s and women’s gear and having a tailor run through it and make it fit perfect. I’ve given up on trying to find something that just fits off the rack, it doesn’t seem to exist. I would kill to have something that looks and fits like the new Catwoman’s suit with some D3O armor incorporated and good abrasion resistance on top of it. Mmmmmmm, yes that would be nice.

    • JMcMahon

      Sean already linked it here: http://www.alpinestars.com/vika/

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        We’re pursuing a story on that as soon as Astars is ready.

        • Kevin

          I’m already picturing my wife in that. Hot. Frigging. Damn.

        • http://hivelosangeles.com Ashlee Goodwin

          If they wanna give me a catsuit, I’m ok with that.

          • Gene

            Next week on HFL: The “buy Ashlee a catsuit” donation button…

      • Restless Lip Syndrome

        Gold Lamé??? Seriously? It doesn’t look like something I can race in, and it also would appear that is doesn’t zip together. Make it a black one piece and I would buy one for street use!

        • Gene

          I really seriously don’t think that Vika outfit’s intended so much for riding, much less racing. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s only one suit and it’s fitted to that model. I’ve seen people do stranger things for web hits.

  • Гена

    I had Scorpion mesh pants. They disentagrated in a minor get off, mostly because of terrible stitching. I’ll never buy anything made by them again.

    • Brad W.

      Were you hurt?

      • Гена

        No, I wasn’t. The crash was a lowside at 30MPH or so. I slid about 15-20′. Few more, and I’d riding on my bare ass.

        • Brad W.

          I’m glad you weren’t hurt, but I think people expect to much out of their textile gear. It is mostly throw away, one crash stuff.

  • Johndo

    I recently tried a Rev’it Horizon jacket. I really wish it had fit my tall and slender shape, as the quality is impressive and you get excellent ventilation and 100% waterproof at a very reasonable price (the horizon pants had the weirdest fit ever on me, made me look like I had diapers, but the jacket was really sharp). I ended up going back to Rukka. I’ve put over 100000km on my last jacket, rain or shine and it was still 100% waterproof but was starting to show some signs of wear, and my confidence just wasn’t quite there anymore, as we all know over the years UVs will attack all textiles. Got a Rukka Athos in black. Super comfortable, and fits like a glove.

  • Ax

    Oh, dear Lord, that helmet makes your head look absolutely HUGE!

    Sorry, but I find the whole “protective riding gear should be stylish” thing — from either sex — totally ridiculous.

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      It must not be, but if it can (with, of course, no reduced function) why shouln’t it be?

      Also specifically in the case of pillions, who are often less aware of the risks, proposing appealing gear can only help don’t you think? I know my girlfriend, who doesn’t paricularily care about bikes and only rides with me on short distances (when i come pick her up at work for instance), will be less reluctant to gear up if she looks cute in it, reducing the chance of one day not using it.

    • http://hivelosangeles.com Sean Smith

      How badass does Darth Vader’s gear look? I rest my case.

    • http://hivelosangeles.com Ashlee Goodwin

      A lot of people live unconsidered lives in renters’ white apartments. That’s fine. I prefer elegance. In technology. And in appearance.

  • Eric

    I dont have an example at hand but I find to some extend good look going with good design and function…ok, like my black Dainese D-Day jacket, from jan. 2011..quite acceptable with exeption of the wardrobe-shoulders from the armor.
    However, the jacket was expensive and I make myself wear it even in the spanish mediterranean midday summerheat for safety, but also almost fainting at stops and trafficlights.
    Man, there is still a lot of work to be done.

  • Jan Wrobel

    As for your mention of foam back protection, the usual way of doing that is creating a back protection pocket for a sas-tec protector and filling it with foam. I do not know why. There for sure exists a sas-tec back protector that will fit into this suit.