In recent years, lots of motorcyclists have convinced themselves that, when it comes to a waterproof, textile suit, laminated is the way to go. And it has to be acknowledged that laminated membranes do bring some advantages to some riders in some circumstances.
In a laminated garment, the waterproof membrane is bonded to the inner side of the outer shell. Because of this, the rain cannot pass through the outer fabric. A laminated garment will never become soaking wet and waterlogged, even after many hours in heavy rain. It will never reach the state that we know as ‘wet out’.
The more traditional construction for a waterproof jacket or pant is known as drop-liner. In a drop-liner garment, the membrane hangs independently inside the outer chassis. In both forms of waterproofing, the rider will not get wet. The membrane will keep the rider dry in both scenarios. The difference is that a drop-liner garment will, in certain circumstance, specifically after many hours in the rain, take on water. But we need to be clear here. Whether you wear a laminated garment or a drop-liner one, the rider will stay dry even in the heaviest of downpours.
There are only a couple of situations, in our view, where you really will benefit from a laminated garment.
The first is if you find yourself facing a long, long journey in heavy rain; say, a five hour slog at speed on the motorway. On such a journey, a laminated jacket will not become waterlogged. At the end of the journey the jacket will be damp, but will dry out in an hour or so. A drop-liner jacket, by contrast, will soak up the rain and might still be wet the following morning.
The second scenario where laminated garments have an advantage is commuting. We’re not talking about a fifteen minute commute here. But if you have an hour’s commute into work in heavy rain, when it comes to going home eight hours later, if you have a drop-liner outfit, it might well still be damp. With a laminated garment, it’d be bone dry.
These are the situations in which you might really benefit from laminated gear, but we don’t all commute an hour each way every day. And very few of us find ourselves riding for five hours in heavy rain. I do about 5,000 miles a year, and the last time I found myself riding that long in the rain was when Rossi last won at Mugello! And that was a long time ago!
The problem is that there are lots of downsides to laminated garments; and I am personally of the view that, for more than 90% of riders, a drop-liner jacket and/or pant is the way to go. Drop liner outfits are more comfortable. The lamination of a membrane on to a fabric makes it stiffer, so laminated garments are rarely comfortable.
Drop-liner garments are also warmer because the air gap between the membrane and the outer shell is an insulating pocket for trapping body heat.
You also get better value for money with a drop-liner garment, and that’s because laminated jackets and pants are complicated and expensive to make. So a £500 drop-liner jacket will normally have more bells and whistles than a laminated one at the same price. It is a fact that the cost of laminated garments has come down in recent years, but the inconvenient truth is that the less expensive laminated gear tends not to be very reliable. A laminated garment requires a huge amount of taping, and you simply cannot cut corners on this. It’s why so many cheaper laminated garments fail and ultimately leak.
Nonetheless, us bikers are a headstrong lot, motivated at times more by considerations of the heart than of the head. We like new and shiny things, and when somebody implies to us that laminated gear has certain performance advantages that’s what we all decide we want. And that’s a shame because, for most of us our riding is going to be more comfortable and more enjoyable in a drop-liner suit.
And predictably perhaps after this rambling introduction, it’s a drop-liner outfit that I want to talk about now. And that outfit is the brand new Comfo-R suit from Rukka.
Cards on the table. This is probably the nicest drop-liner suit I have ever come across. Everyone here who has tried it on loves it. In fact, there’s also a ladies’ version called the Comforina; and that has gone down with the ladies here equally as well; maybe even more so.
The shell is a 500 denier Cordura woven with stretch. The Nivala also contains stretch. Now that’s a super-comfortable jacket even though it’s laminated, but the Comfo-R is even more comfortable; and that’s because the starting point is a drop-liner garment. The Comfo-R, frankly, is as comfortable to wear as any technical jacket we have ever come across.
In the key areas, such as the elbows and shoulders, you get a second layer of Cordura 500 for extra strength and abrasion resistance in the event of an accident. On the subject of protection, you get Level 2, vented, D3O in the elbows and shoulders. There’s a Level 1 vented protector included in the back.
In some ways disappointing is the Comfo-R’s single A rating under EN 17092, but this seems to be the price that has to be paid for garments that include a stretch component. As we have discussed before, the new test’s Darmstadt machine seems to somewhat unfairly penalise stretch fabrics. That’s why the Nivala 2 is only A rated: ditto the Klim Kodiak. But in our view this is still a supremely protective jacket. If you’re a box ticker, it might not be for you, but we would have no qualms about riding in the suit.
When it comes to waterproofing, the membrane in the Comfo-R is supplied by Gore-Tex; and, as most people accept, Gore produces the best, most reliable, most breathable membrane. For warmer weather, the Comfo-R has vents up the flanks and exhaust vents in the back. This won’t make it the jacket you need in the Sahara, but these vents will provide a degree of cooling. For colder weather, the jacket has a zip-out, 60g. thermal liner. It’s nothing high-tech. It’s not made with duck or goose down and it doesn’t incorporate Outlast, but it will keep you warm on a cool day. Personally, though, we would be tempted to junk it and use something like a down jacket. Then you really would have a warm combo..
There’s a good degree of fit adjustability with the jacket. You get button straps on the upper arms. And Velcro adjusters on the hips. The sleeve ends close similarly by means of Velcro flaps. We would normally have expected zips too, but clearly Rukka felt the need to make some economies. Shame. The neck also has a Velcro flap, as well as a storm collar that tucks into a pocket behind the neck. The neck is lined with corduroy and Neoprene; this is partly for comfort, but the Neoprene will also serve to catch rain as it comes off the helmet and tries to get into the jacket.
The main zip is water-resistant, and not waterproof, but there’s a small storm flap in front of the zip and a large one behind it, so there’s no way the rain is going to get through.
You get a couple of external pockets, which are water-resistant at best. Inside the jacket, there are two, more waterproof Napoleon pockets. The jacket has a zip that will allow you to zip the jacket into any Rukka, or Halvarssons, pant. Bear in mind that you can also zip into the Halvarssons Waist Zip, which means you can also connect to a riding jean. You get a crotch strap if you have a pant it won’t zip into. (We, by the way, can normally create a connector that will allow you to zip into any pant with a zip). Finally, you get reflective piping and further reflective detailing on the arms and across the back, for added visibility at night.
The jacket comes in sizes 46 (36” chest) through to 66 (56” chest), but with the stretch in the material you may find that you can go one size down on the size you might take in another jacket. This is often the case with the Nivala, which also contains stretch, so you really should try it on before you take the plunge. It’s a lovely jacket to wear. It fits beautifully, but you still have to get the size right.
So that’s the full SP on the jacket. Let’s now go over the matching pant; also called the Comfo-R.
In all key respects, the pant mirrors the jacket. Cordura 500 with stretch. Extra layers of Cordura 500 on the knees and hips. A Gore-Tex, drop-liner membrane. Level 2 protectors in the hips and knees. Vents on the thighs. Two pockets with zips. Zips and flaps at the bottom of the leg. And an adjustment system at the waist. You also get, as with the jacket, a 60g removable thermal liner. As with most Rukka pants, you get the brand’s AirCushion and Antiglide systems in the seat. The AirCushion system makes the seat area more breathable and less sweaty. The Antiglide system stops you sliding around on the saddle. And like the jacket, the piping is reflective, as is the banding around the legs.
One thing you don’t get with the pants is Rukka’s braces. Again a shame, because braces are the way to go with a pant like this. You can make sure that they always sit at the right height, and they pants will never fall down when you disconnect it from the jacket. The pants still have the attachments for braces so they can be added.
The pants come in sizes 46 (28” waist) to 62 (44” waist). But more importantly, the trousers come in short, regular and long leg lengths. The regular will be right for most people with a 32” to 34” inside leg. If your inside leg is less than 32” then the short is probably going to be right for you. The Rukka long leg length really is quite long, but we reckon that it will work on inside legs from 34” right up to 38”. And getting the leg length on a Rukka pant is important because the armour is not adjustable. Again, if you’re going to spend this kind of money you want to get it right.
You want a dealer that holds all the leg lengths in stock. The problem, however, is that there’s only one retailer in the UK that holds the Comfo-R pant in the longest leg. It won’t be convenient for everybody, but that retailer is located in Guildford!
This is a fantastic suit. It’s not inexpensive, but neither does it sit at the very top end of the market. At £1150, it’s roughly half the price of the Rukka Nivala, the Rukka Kingsley, the Stadler Treasure Pro and the Klim Kodiak.
Instead, the Comfo-R competes directly with suits like Rukka’s laminated Kalix 2 and Halvarssons’ Wien and Wish combination. Clearly, at around a thousand pounds it competes with many other suits too, including the Richa Arc, but for us the Comfo-R is, more frequently, going to go head to head with the Wien/Wish and Kalix 2.
Now, the Kalix is a laminated outfit. In fact, it is the suit that has recently been chosen by the Metropolitan Police for its riders, although that decision was largely budget driven. Add a back protector, and the Kalix comes in at almost exactly the same price as the Comfo-R. Both come with the reassurance of a six-year warranty. The Kalix will never wet out, but it is a back-to-basics solution, devoid of a number of the bells and whistles that make riding more enjoyable. Things like a thermal lining, a storm collar and so on. The Kalix will never wet out, but it’s a mistake, in our view, to buy a suit based solely on the one ride in ten that it rains. The fact is that it does not rain every day. In fact, most of us try to avoid the stuff. We acknowledge that when you’re in a prolonged, heavy downpour you may well be a little better off with the Kalix, but for the rest of the time you’ll probably be better off with the Comfo-R.
One one level, a comparison with the Halvarssons outfit might seem more appropriate. The Wien is also a drop-liner jacket, although we tend always to match it with the laminated Wish pant. Like the Comfo-R, the Halvarssons set up is extremely comfortable. It’s warm, cosseting and is perhaps even more nicely appointed than the Comfo-R. At this end of the market, a couple of hundred pounds is not always decisive, and when you add a back protector in the Wien, the Comfo-R is just two hundred and fifty quid more. But here’s the rub. And there’s always a rub. The Rukka has a six-year warranty; the Halvarssons has a two-year warranty. One could always make a case for suggesting that the Rukka is, on some levels, the technically superior suit, but for £250 more you also get an extra four years’ warranty. And £60 a year for the extra peace of mind doesn’t seem a lot extra to pay.
So there we have it. The Comfo-R is a great bit of kit. We have always raved about the Halvarssons’ suit, but in the new Rukka we reckon that our favourite Halvarssons’ combo. has more than met its match. The Comfo-R won’t be better for everyone. But for some, it certainly will be.
For more information and to purchase online, click Rukka Comfo-R jacket.
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