Style and Function – A Designer’s Riding Suit
Marilyn Yu is an award-winning author, artist, and clothing designer.
The Michele is a two-piece suit with a cropped jacket and high-waist pant that zips together. Special care was taken by the designer to meet certain requirements. The suit must be protective, accommodate a range of temperatures and have ease of use in a public restrooms.
I love Marilyn’s fresh approach to riding gear. She is breaking the mold of women’s riding gear and giving us amazing new designs all while working to improve on the features that keep riders safe and comfortable.
Look for more on Marilyn and her designs at Plutonium in an upcoming issue of Modern Moto Magazine.
More from the Designer about the Michele:
There are many elements that make a suit protective. Durability, comfort, and fit are just a few. Some of these elements conflict with each other, so finding the right balance is the art. For example, some highly rated armor is bulky and heavy. If the discomfort and weight compromise your riding ability, then it may be better to use armor with a lower rating.
I use the heavier-weight 1000 denier Cordura in the places that most need protection in a crash: shoulders, back, elbows, and knees. For comfort, the other areas are 500 denier Cordura.
One of the most challenging parts for fit in a riding suit is the legs. When a joint is bent, it is longer than when it is straight. In riding position, a rider is bent at the hips and the knees, thus needing extra room in the front and back of the leg. Simply adding room in the low back and the butt drops the pant crotch which results in restricting leg movement and pulling the pant leg up when seated on a motorcycle.
There is a high-waist design for Michele with a loose upper pant to maximize leg movement. The extra ease in front and back (for hip and knee bending) are incorporated into one design element. The design also allows for a long crotch that can easily straddle a motorcycle. There is webbing above and below the knee to ensure proper placement of knee armor.
The pant is also designed to allow for easier alteration. Shortening the bottom of a pant leg is easy. However, if the pant is shortened too much, the knee will be in the wrong place. The Michele is designed to allow for ease in shortening the distance from the hip the knees.
Range of Temperatures
Layers: When it’s cold, I wear more layers. I want my suit to have enough room to accommodate extra layers without being loose when there are less layers. The jacket hem and pant waistband have webbing that can be loosened or tightened to accommodate layering.
Venting: Facilitating airflow helps to keep you cool when it’s warm. There are vents in the cuffs, under-arm, and back. To ensure that the elbow armor is in the correct place even when the cuff zipper is open, there is webbing that can be loosened and tightened near the elbow. Additionally, the collar can be worn in various positions to increase/decrease airflow. When it is snapped at it’s lowest, allowing for maximum airflow, there is a side-release buckle and webbing across the neck opening to keep the rest of the jacket place.
Heated Gear: I run cold and often ride with a heated vest. There is a hole in the left pocket for the cable to connect my vest to my bike. Additionally, there is a webbing loop with Omni-tape to hold the controller. (Omni-tape is hook and loop tape that alternates rows of hook and loop. This means that it can stick to itself.) I put some loop tape on the controller so it can be attached to the webbing loop and hang outside the left pocket within easy reach. When not in use, the loop can be closed and tucked it into the pocket.
Public Restroom Use
When I am out riding, I eventually need to use a public restroom. Because the cleanliness of public restrooms vary, I want to be able to use the facilities with minimal contact of my suit and restroom surfaces. The pant legs tuck inside my boots, so the legs won’t drag on the floor. The pants unzip from the jacket and unbuckle from the suspenders, allowing one to remove the pants while keeping the jacket on.* If you are not wearing the suspenders, then you only need to unzip the pants from the jacket.
* Suspenders: The suspenders help with fit by taking the weight of the pants (and everything in the pockets) off the jacket shoulders. This maximizes arm mobility. They also make it easier to hold the entire suit up when the jacket is off and hanging in the back during a rest stop. When it is warm, in addition to removing my jacket during a break, I slip out of the armor shell, yet keep it tucked in the pants. This leaves my arms free while keeping all components of my suit with me. To do this, I unzip the armor shell 2/3 of the way open. Then I slip my arms out of the sleeves while keeping them in position through the suspenders. The waistband and suspenders hold the armor shell in place.
The Michele riding suit is named after French former rally driver, Michele Mouton, the most skillful and most successful woman in motorsport history.
Two-piece suit: Cropped jacket and high-waist pant that zips together.
Jacket Pockets: One exterior zippered pocket and two interior pockets.
Vents: Under-arm, sleeve cuffs, and center back.
Adjustable Collar to increase or decrease air-flow.
SOLAS reflective tape in back and fore-arms.
Webbing at waist for maximum fit no matter how many layers one is wearing underneath (jacket and pant).
Pant Pockets: Two exterior zippered pockets and two interior pockets.
Suspenders (for ease of fit) with side-release buckles in front and back (to accommodate pant removal while still wearing the jacket).
Interior pocket hole to accommodate heated gear cord.
Knee Armor: Pant has pockets for knee armor.
Armor Shell: The remaining armor is contained in a separate layer that can be easily removed and worn with a different jacket. Armor Shell has pockets for back, shoulder, elbow, and hip armor.
Check out the Michele here: