I’m not sure if I truly qualify as part of the CityBike Wrecking Crew: I don’t have a ‘Stich. Don’t get me wrong; I want one. Aerostich suits seem to have all of the great qualities of utilitarian gear: easy in, easy out, safe, cozy, waterproof. But it’d likely be the latest addition to the pile of gear I’ve collected over the years that you would only see me wearing while physically on a motorcycle, and definitely never while standing next to a stack of tires.
So when I saw Stellar Moto Brand’s Stratosphere Dyneema Jumpsuit during the Cover your Assets tour in the winter of 2017, it instantly piqued my interest. A fitted denim onesie more abrasion-resistant than Kevlar or Cordura?
And really, who doesn’t want a onesie?!
We ladies are lucky these days. Seasoned women riders know what gear options used to be for us: first men’s gear, then smaller men’s gear with pink accents here and there—still missing the mark. Now we can get appropriately fitted jackets, Kevlar-lined jeans, and even Kevlar-lined leggings. No longer just pink, women’s gear comes in a variety of styles, colors and can even be—gasp!—flattering.
One of the fantastic things happening in this golden period for women’s motorcycle gear is that smaller, women-run companies have begun popping up with attractive and functional options that are not only safe to wear while riding, but fucking cute when you’re off the bike.
Women aren’t an afterthought to these companies, which tends to be the case in much of the motorcycle industry (see the Give a Shift round table where it was suggested that women can help “save” the motorcycle industry by riding three-wheelers… insert facepalm). Women are these companies’ raison d’être; they are not just making products we can wear, but things we want to wear.
If you look good and feel good while wearing safety gear, you are 98 times more likely to wear it while riding—based on my scientific research, of course.
Example: I ordered a pair of riding jeans years ago and when they arrived I was so excited I danced around my apartment after putting them on. I couldn’t wait for the first ride: I’d be able to get off my bike, walk around not looking like I just landed on the moon.
Those jeans now sit crumpled in a ball somewhere in the dark recesses of one of my apartment’s closets. Why? They’re a pain in the ass to get on and off and the knee pads really hurt my knees. The thick Kevlar doesn’t breath well, especially on hot days, and is only found on certain sections of the pants, so there’s not even 360° abrasion resistance.
And anyway, all of that dancing energy is now spent grooving around my apartment in my new Stratosphere jumpsuit.
The Stellar Stratosphere has none of those issues. Most importantly, the Dyneema is woven into the jumpsuit’s fabric so it offers abrasion protection throughout the entire suit, and there isn’t a second layer of thick, heavy Kevlar to deal with or keep the heat in on hot days. The fabric is breathable and looks just like any denim you could buy in a store. There are three shades to choose, ranging from medium to dark blue.
A little background on Dyneema, if you haven’t heard of it. According to Stellar, Dyneema is five times stronger and 40% lighter than Kevlar, and also 15 times stronger than steel, the strongest, most durable lightweight fiber in the world, and water, chemical, tear, puncture and abrasion-resistant. The company that makes this denim is based in Switzerland and supplies protective textiles for motorcycles, workwear, police and military. A quick browse of their website is a reminder just how far clothing and technology have come and how happy I am it coincides with the progression of riding gear.
Along with 52% Dyneema, the Stellar onesie’s fabric contains 38% cotton and 10% spandex. The stretch of the spandex allows for comfortable movement on and off the bike, and I think that stretch is also a big factor in the Stratosphere suit’s magical ability to fit and flatter all body types. I purchased my jumpsuit while at a woman’s motorcycle event in Long Beach, the California Moto Market and throughout the day I saw every size and shape of woman try on the jumpsuits—the fit really does compliment all forms.
The included knee and hip armor is CE-certified Level 2, and since the Stratosphere doesn’t fit tight to the skin like most modern jeans, the knee pads sit comfortably against my knees while seated on my bike and don’t rub or bother me while I’m walking around.
Unfortunately, there are no pockets in the elbows, shoulders or back for armor. Stellar also makes a stretchy mesh shirt called the Atmosphere to be worn underneath the jumpsuit, and offers a discount if you buy the armored shirt as a set with the jumpsuit.
The undershirt didn’t seem utilitarian enough for me to purchase—since its only use would be underneath the jumpsuit, I couldn’t see a reason to buy that over simply wearing my armored leather jacket on top. I have been snooping around some of San Francisco’s custom clothing shops to see if they’d be able to sew in some pockets and have found some options, but I haven’t followed through to drop off the suit. I found that I don’t like having to commit to the armor in the arms and shoulders because it’d be a pain in the ass to put in and out and have since purchased an Atwyld armor shirt to wear under the suit when I don’t want to wear my jacket.
Jenna, the founder of Stellar Moto Brand, grew up around motorcycles in the late Seventies. Her father was a sidecar racer, from a family of sidecar racers. If you take a look at Stellar’s other offerings, you’ll see a big nod to Seventies style and fashion: lace-up jeans, tiny vests and space-age metallic leather jackets. The brand is clearly inspired by Evel Knievel-esque style: stripes, stars, open-face helmets, and old motorcycles. This trend is wildly popular across different subgroups of motorcycling, and a big part of it is a nod of acknowledgment and appreciation for that vintage look. Many younger people getting into riding are choosing choppers, brats, scramblers and cafe bikes, and the gear they choose mimics the styles of riding they are emulating. Companies like Stellar Moto Brand are making fantastic safety gear to match, and I’m super stoked for it.
At $850, the Stratosphere Dyneema Jumpsuit still comes in under the cost of a ‘Stich, the gold standard moto-onesie. For comparison, Cycle Gear sells a variety of Dyneema jeans with retail prices ranging between $230 and $600, so I’m quite satisfied with what I paid. I think it’s a good price for a great piece of gear made by folks getting paid fair wages just down the way in Los Angeles.