If you’re like me, you have come to realize the advantages of textile rider wear vs. leather (or no gear at all). I have been riding in textile since I became a “professional motorcyclist” in 1997. That was when I got my first job as a motorcycle tour guide. In the 20 years since, I have gone through six riding suits (I wear them out), and at the beginning of the 2016 riding season found myself in need of a new suit.
Being a woman, it can be difficult and time-consuming to find a functional yet well-fitting riding suit. Many dealers that carry good gear do not have multiple women’s sizes to try on. So, much of the time I must go through the cumbersome and time-consuming process of finding a maker and model online, finding the shop that carries it, ordering my most likely size and waiting for it to arrive at the shop. Only then can I go to the dealer and try it on, and my nearest dealer is a 50-mile round trip. When it doesn’t fit or there is something about the design I don’t like, I start all over again.
This time, I didn’t have time for all that. I like BMW gear, so that’s where I started. I have ridden big GS models since 2000. Though I don’t do off-road and only a smattering of dirt and gravel roads, I have found that the longer ADV-style jackets work best for me. Since I ride in all conditions in one riding suit (you can’t take multiple suits on an extended trip), I needed one that includes a wide range of features. It must be comfortable and contain the very best in safety features. It must breathe well in the heat yet include rain protection. It must either include a thermal liner or provide enough room for a heated jacket to fit underneath without being bulky. It must be a color that will not look too dirty after many miles of traveling with clients and it must clean easily (no white or silver for this gal and definitely NO PINK). In short, it must “do it all.”
I’m not against trying on men’s sizes and have found that some pants fit my “figure” better in a man’s cut than a woman’s cut. But I have never found a unisex or men’s jacket that would work over my chest and hips. I really liked the features of the BMW Rallye Suit, but alas, it is not made in women’s sizes and the men’s cut just didn’t work for me. So I decided to try out the BMW GS Dry Suit. My closest dealer didn’t have anything my size so I called South Sound BMW in Fife, Washington. They had numerous sizes in various models, so I made the 140-mile round trip and was not disappointed.
In the end, I wound up with the GS Dry jacket and a pair of men’s Rider pants (like I said, I’m not above mixing and matching to get the right fit). After riding more than 5,000 miles in all manner of weather, I am pleased with my choice.
The Rider pants have an outer shell of cotton and polyamide that is abrasion-resistant, and they include a waterproof, windproof and breathable liner that zips in with full circumference zippers at the waist and ankles. The outer shell is also water resistant. I have not yet tested the pants in a heavy continuous rain, but found I didn’t need the waterproofing of the liner during a short downpour and when the liner was installed, they were very comfortable and kept me warm on a 150-mile ride in 40-degree weather.
Safety features on the pants include removable armor at the knees, which are adjustable, and at the hips. Other features include adjustment zippers on the outside ankles, ventilation zippers on the upper thighs, two side zipper pockets, two back pockets and two mid-thigh snap-closed cargo pockets. I love the cargo pockets. They are large enough to be very useful (one can hold a Samsung Note 5), but they don’t look cumbersome or bulky. The pants also include a full circumference connecting zipper that mates with BMW jackets.
Speaking of which, I am also enjoying my GS Dry jacket. At first, I wasn’t sure how I would like it. I need a jacket that has waterproof capability, but I have had an aversion to built-in waterproof membranes since I have found them too hot on warm days with no capability of removing the membrane. What I found with the GS Dry is that it is possible to be generally comfortable in extreme heat even with the integral membrane.
The jacket is well designed to make this comfort possible. It is well vented, with a perforated lining. The back of the lining has “air mesh” incorporated which consists of raised, very porous ribs down the entire back enabling air circulation. Even with the large CE-rated back protector there was plenty of air flow with the vents open. There are no vents on the sleeves, but by wearing a short glove and adjusting the sleeve cuff openings I got enough airflow. There are waterproof zippered vents on the chest and back. The only problem I found was that my ride-leader safety vest blocked some airflow.
The outer shell of the GS Dry is made of Cordura 500 with a breathable, water-resistant treatment and the wind- and waterproof integrated C.A.R.E. climate membrane (BMW’s proprietary waterproofing; it stands for Concept of Advanced Rider Equipment). The material is reinforced in areas likely to incur the most stress in a fall. There is reflective print on the chest, back and sleeves.
Stretch inserts at the arms and adjustable hook-and-loop closures at the cuffs and waist allow for comfort and fit. Additionally, there are multiple adjustments on the sleeves so you can be sure the ample (high elbow to wrist) elbow armor can be adjusted to provide optimal protection without moving around. More armor resides at the shoulders and wraps around both the front and back of the shoulders.
Rounding out the superb design of this jacket is a full circumference zipper to mate to the pants and many usable pockets. Usable is a key word here. Being a woman, most chest pockets are worthless. They are usually placed too high on the chest where a woman’s anatomy fills it, leaving no spare room to carry things in the pockets. The chest pockets, inside and outside on my women’s jacket were placed low enough so I could accommodate things like my I.D., credit cards and other thin stuff. Most phones would also fit, but I am a proponent of not carrying my phone on my upper body due to the possibility of injury being caused by the phone during a fall. There are also two waterproof outer flap pockets on the front, a pocket across the lower back and one small zippered pocket on the left sleeve.
I am extremely pleased with the fit and performance of this suit. It was well worth the effort it took to find the right one. I just wish it wasn’t so difficult for a serious rider who is also a woman to find and obtain good gear. But, things ARE getting better. There has been a tremendous change since I started riding in 1976 and BMW Motorrad has been one of the leaders.
The BMW GS Dry jacket is available in women’s Euro sizes 34-46 in Black/Anthracite and Gray/Red, for $649. It is also available in men’s sizes 46-60 in Gray/Black and Black/Anthracite. The Rider pants are available in Black in women’s Euro sizes 34-48, and in men’s sizes 46-60, for $359.
For more information, see your BMW Motorrad dealer or visit bmwmotorcycles.com.