MODERN DAY MOTORCYCLE adventurers have never had it so easy, thanks to their technologically advanced machines, global availability of parts and the host of excellent kit on the market.
But with so many options out there it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Should you splash out a grand and a half on all-singing, all-dancing Gore-Tex gear? Or should you save your pennies for beer and border crossings and opt for a cheaper alternative? Would a suit three times the cost of another really last three times as long?
This in mind we decided to take an adventure suit from each end of the price spectrum and put them to the test. Here are our first impressions…
With a £500 budget, Leo went for the Weise Dakar Adventure suit, for which the jacket cost £269.99, and the trousers £209.99 – totalling £479.98.
Meanwhile, with a budget three times the size, I went for Rukka’s Suki ladies suit, which other female riders I know swear by. At £849.99 for the jacket and £679.99 for the trousers, it came to £1,529.99.
At first glance, the Dakar suit looked much more adventure-ready, while the Rukka was smart, black and demure – not that I minded, it meant that it would suit a wider range of motorcycles. Rukka do offer similarly aggressively styled suits, but not for ladies unfortunately.
A plethora of pockets (some could argue too many) on the Dakar jacket included a large, removable map pocket and, best of all, large ‘furry pouches’, beside the main pockets – perfect for putting cold hands in while not on the bike. The Rukka doesn’t have anything like this, although I could just about retract my frosty fingers inside its double cuff to keep warm.
Both suits have tons of adjustability, with poppers, Velcro and zips holding you together. However, while I could adjust nearly all of the Suki while wearing it and a lot while on the go, Leo found that he had to be off the bike to change some of the Dakar’s adjustments, and completely out of the suit for others. There’s ventilation across both suits but the Dakar features patched which can be completely unzipped and folded back to allow for a larger vent and so more airflow. Both also have handy storm collars to provide extra protection from the elements.
Understandably the Rukka has the edge in terms of quality and tech – the finish is excellent and there’s not a loose thread or bungled seam in sight. Made of Kevlar, Cordura and Gortex it’s both protective and waterproof, with the latter negating the need for an internal waterproof layer and keeping the kit compact and relatively lightweight (the jacket weighs 2.55kg and the trousers are 2.1kg).
Inside, there’s a detachable liner with 60g insulation and Outlast phase change materials – a NASA-derived temperature regulation material that absorbs, stores and releases heat to continually regulate body temperature.
The Dakar suit pales in comparison to the Suki suit’s extensive spec list. It’s constructed of a 600 Denier polyester outer layer, then a waterproof, windproof and breathable drop lining and finally a 120 gram thermal quilted lining. There’s no given weight but it feels a hell of a lot heavier than the Rukka gear. Both inner linings are removable and the idea is that the rain soaks through the outer layer but doesn’t go any further. A lot of manufacturers use this tech, but I can’t say I’m a fan, as who wants to be walking around in a heavy rain soaked coat.
While Leo found the suit to be very comfortable from the off – unlike my Rukka gear, which was a little stiff and needed wearing in – he thought that it felt a bit cheap, especially when it came to kitting up…
Here is when the Dakar Adventure jacket scored a serious black mark, with a mis-stitched lining in the right arm having completely closed the arm-hole. It took minor surgery/a bodge job with a Leatherman later to get the jacket on.
Eventually the kit was on, and off we went on our mini-adventure. Temperatures sat between five and ten degrees Celsius all day, but neither of us felt the cold. Unfortunately, it didn’t rain during our trip, so we’ll save that comparison for another day.
At the end of the day you’re going to be better protected from the elements in the more expensive kit. As the waterproofing is included in the outer layer (thank-you GoreTex) you’re also not going to have the issue of a heavy rain-soaked jacket for days to come.
But that’s not the end of the world, especially if it means a massive saving. Only time will tell which suit comes out on top, but from first impressions, I’m tempted to say save your money for bikes, beer and border crossings…