ATGATT. For those who have been reading this magazine for some time, you will know what this means. For those who are new, it is All The Gear, All The Time. We are big proponents of this philosophy, and I have, unfortunately, tested the theory with good results.
If you do follow this, you will be wearing your gear all the time (duh) and, thus, it will definitely need some TLC. There is the opinion, mostly with a motorcycle and the long-distance riders, that leaving a bike showing the miles of dirt and travel it has been through, is a badge of honor. On the other hand, washing your bike – really getting into the nitty gritty – will expose any loose nuts and bolts or other things that may need attention or fixing.
The same is true for your riding gear. I have been wearing an Aerostich two-piece Roadcrafter for many, many years. I like them because I can wear ‘civilian clothing’ underneath and, in less than a minute, be out of my gear and much more comfortable. Some criticize that they are too warm, not enough ventilation and/or heavy. This may be true, but after years of use and the aforementioned testing, I feel very protected in my ‘stich. I have learned to position my hands just so that there is a constant flow of air up one sleeve and out the other, almost like air conditioning (especially if there is a little perspiration present).
Relating to that ‘little perspiration’, I find that after a particularly warm, long ride, the suit is certainly in need of a good washing. After our recent jaunt to Springfield, MO with temperatures in the 100 mark for days, my blue and yellow (either Ikea or Ukrainian) suit was in desperate need of that TLC. On another note, somewhere in West Virginia the leg zipper split (hey, it’s over 10 years old and never had any problems so…) and I resorted to large safety pins to cinch it up for the rest of the ride home. This solution kept me relatively dry in a pretty heavy rain, so I was satisfied with the fix.
While I was set to get out the NikWax and see just how dirty I could get the washing machine water, after speaking with the good folks in Duluth, MN, I removed the safety padding and, filth and all, packed it up for Aerostich to do its magic. They sent me an assessment for what needed to be done – replace and upgrade zippers, replace any Velcro that was frayed and a good washing. The service was super-fast and my pants were reunited with my jacket in not too long a time.
Other textile gear can usually be tossed in the washing machine, following the NikWax TechWash and Waterproofing instructions. Just remember to remove the padding and close all zippers and pockets (after removing what might be in them.)
Leather gear has its own process and products to take care of the grime and bugs as well as ridding the liners of sweat and smell. There really isn’t anything like a well-worn leather jacket so taking some care to ensure its longevity is a no-brainer.
As you’ll read elsewhere in these pages, I recently upgraded my helmet, so the refresh and cleaning were taken care of but for you with sweaty, smelly liners in your helmet, here’s what to do: Consult the owner’s manual to see the proper way to remove the liners, should that apply. If so, do that and fill a sink or tub with warm water and baby shampoo, give ‘em a good dunk and scrub, rinse ‘em out and let them air dry on a towel. Do not put them in a washing machine or use a hair dryer or other such drying devise. Once fully dry, pop them back in and you are good to go. If the liners are not removeable, there are products from Motul, Motorex and such to refresh and get rid of the smell. The outer helmet should be cleaned often, with the face shield cleaned after every ride, to make sure the moving parts keep moving.
I have small feet, so finding boots that fit correctly is somewhat of a chore. When I do, I make sure to take care of them so they last a long time. As with leather care products, there are similar for boots. Should yours be ‘waterproof’ it is important to check the seams for any splits as well as the soles to make sure they are not ‘showing their belt’. I have a wonderful cobbler near me (Sparta Cobbler, Sparta, NJ) who has put a small lift on my boots and I just brought them back to have them done again. They look stock. And when I picked them up, they were cleaned and the zipper was greased so that it operated smoothly.
Keep an eye on your gloves – check the seams for any splits or wear. It’s suggested to wash them once a year, especially if you are a sweat-er: rinse them (or soak briefly is very dirty) in clean water then use antibacterial liquid soap in the sink and let them soak a bit to get all the grit out. Work the inside and out until clean, then rinse enough to make sure that all the soap is gone. Starting from the fingers down, press or squeeze out excess water (do not twist), perhaps use a towel to wick extra water away. Let them air dry slowly, not in direct sunlight or high heat; in front of a fan is a good way to do it. Once COMPLETELY dry, us a good leather conditioner, work it in well, and let them dry completely before using again.
With just a bit of time and effort, the gear your wear will last a good long time and keep you safe on the road while looking mah-ve-lous.