So, you’re planning an all-Americas, top to bottom (and some bits inbetween) journey, 50,000 kms. It’ll be stinking hot with tropical rain, there’ll be snow high in the mountains, the whole ten yards’ worth, but what are you looking for in the kit that you’ll be wearing pretty much all day, every day for six months? It will need to keep you warm when it’s cold, cool with it’s hot, dry when it’s bucketing down and keep the skin on your flesh when you’re sliding along the gravel after hitting a cunningly hidden rock…
That’s the dilemma for all long-distance riders. Ideally, you need to take three sets of protective gear but, well, there’s a limit to what you can carry on a bike so you’re looking for one jacket and one pair of trousers that will do everything. ‘Renaissance Man’ kind of gear – all things for all people.
Part one of my journey – California to Canada and Alaska before south again to Mississippi and Louisiana – threw most weather conditions at me. I was wearing the LS2 Lance Man jacket and LS2 Nimble Man trousers and, now that I’m back home preparing for Part Two, I can say categorically that they ticked almost every box.
Down to the nitty-gritty: To cope with all four conditions I outlined above, the jacket and trousers have the following:
500D polyester and ripstop outer layer, which is robust and after 27,000 km shows no signs of wear at all. Inside is a fixed mesh lining “for enhanced comfort”. Against the cold, a detachable thermal quilted inner liner; against the rain, a removable waterproof, breathable liner. Before I move on, let me talk about these. First, I was impressed by the construction of all three layers: precise, neat, workmanlike. No dangling threads; no wobbly stitching; no fraying seams. Tight as a tick. All the bits came together easily with natty colour-coded zips for the mentally challenged. I found that, when bad weather crept up on me, I could strip off and zip in the extra layers with the minimum of hassle under a bridge on the roadside or on the floor of a truck-stop café.
I particularly liked the adjustable snap collar button – nice touch. Nothing worse than wearing a thick neck-warmer and finding the neck fasteners won’t meet.
Now for the ‘sliding along the gravel after hitting a rock’ bit: protection is adequate without being excessive. No back protector is fitted as standard, but the pocket is there to accommodate an after-market purchase. The usual CE certified elbow, shoulder, knee and hip protection is fitted and easy to remove and replace after washing. Throughout the trip, I felt confident that, were I to go ass-over-t and do a little sliding along the tar, I would keep my skin where it is supposed to be. And when I did end up crashing in Canada everything worked as it should.
I can’t complain. There’re wide zip openings on the front of the legs with neat straps to hold them open to keep my nether regions cool; zippered openings on the forearms, two large zippered chest flaps and, on the back, the whole panel opens up from the shoulders down. When needed, the cool air whips through arms, chest and legs in a most satisfactory manner (unless, of course, the air itself is hotter than a dragon’s breath – but there’s nothing that can be done about that).
In the trousers there are side pockets for small items (I could fit my camera and wallet there and zip them up safely). On the jacket: Two side pockets with waterproof fold, nice size; inner pocket (fully waterproof; ideal size for a mobile phone) and a natty little Napoleon pocket that I used for my multi-tool and torch in case of emergencies. At the back, a large cargo pocket.
I was particularly impressed with the zips – large of tooth, strong YKK zips with tabs big enough for me to make adjustments, wearing gloves, while riding. None of this having to stop in the heat or the rain to open or close zips. Brilliant! Zips seldom snagged and felt as if they’d take any amount of punishment without breaking.
Stylish? I care nothing for style. Sorry. Did women or other bikers snap their heads around as I passed? I’ve no idea. Judge for yourself. If that’s your thing, then, yes, the jacket is stylish; the trousers understated and functional. But I also appreciate the reflective panels incorporated into the jacket to make riding at night a little more safe.
Let’s be nit-picky: I found the adjustable snap collar button a little difficult to adjust (but then, if it moved too easily, it wouldn’t hold its position, would it?) and, in the 42°C heat of Mississippi, with humidity pushing 97%, the venting couldn’t cope and I rode unzipped. Again, let’s be fair: in that heat and humidity, riding naked I would still have been hot.
Roll on Central and South America, my kit is sorted. At the end of 27,000 kms, all the LS2 Lance Man jacket and LS2 Nimble Man trousers needed was a wash and they’re ready for Part Two. Strange: they still look new…
RRP: Jacket £249.99, Trousers £159.99
Available sizes S – 5XL
Further info and the full LS2 clothing range available here