First came the rain. Then came the hail. And then the sleet was upon us.
For three days across the Colorado Rockies last fall the elements came at us in fits and spurts, punctuated by periods of sunshine, but mostly the rain fell. It dropped in buckets at Monarch Pass, on our tents as we slept, and blasted into our face shields as we motored back and forth over the Continental Divide searching for rain-flattened-and-fast fire roads and long stretches of asphalt to make time.
In the slow wind up to Independence Pass, our troop of simple dual-sport bikes and beefy BMW GS's rose up and out of the mid-70s warmth of Buena Vista, Colo., up Highway 285 and into the biting cold sleet of 12,095 ft. There's a saying about places like Colorado that if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes. When you're riding motorcycles through places like Colorado, halve that time.
You've got to hand it to Tucker Rocky and FirstGear for picking a dual-sport ride through the Rockies as a way to showcase the features of its TPG (Technical Performance Gear) riding apparel. They either had strong foresight into what we might encounter or had some major pull with certain parties to arrange that kind of weather.
If the goal was to demonstrate how well the TPG lineup handles the elements, they succeeded in spades. In interest of full disclosure here, Tucker Rocky and FirstGear supplied me with the riding gear for the purposes of demonstrating its features. And Sun Sports Unlimited, a dealership in Gunnison, Colo., loaned me a 2009 KLR650 for the ride.
That being said, I wouldn't be able to rhapsodize about what was one of the best rides of my life had I spent the whole thing shivering away in rain-soaked riding gear and soggy chones. I realize that the largesse of these three entities could color my impressions of the TPG apparel, but I'll be as forthright as possible.
But first a little about the TPG lineup. The collection is essentially a three-piece system consisting of Basegear (optional) to keep you dry, a Tech Liner inner jacket meant to help control body temperature, the Rainier outer jacket, and the Escape pant. The latter comes gender-specific and features a comfy liner. I'll give my pros and cons for each piece later.
The gear is also the only apparel in the FirstGear lineup to get the new d3o armor, a replacement from the more commonly used Knox armor. Relatively new to the U.S. powersports market, the d3o protection (see here for an earlier story on d3o) is more flexible, less bulky and more high-tech than anything currently used. Its energy-absorbing nature comes from what are known as "intelligent molecules" that move freely under normal conditions, but lock together stiffly in an impact. Pretty cool stuff.
One other feature about the TPG apparel I almost forgot — it comes with a two-year crash protection policy. What this means is should a rider crash and damage his or her TPG jacket, pants or gloves, the company will send a free replacement. To qualify, the damaged gear and a police report must be returned to TR along with any additional feedback. (Continued)