Although style is subjective and typically way down on the list of priorities when it comes to motorcycle apparel, it’s still something riders take into consideration. In recent years, being forced into a decision between style and safety has become less common, courtesy of brands like Aether Apparel. What started as a high-end sportswear brand offering only six jackets has grown into a fully fledged lifestyle brand with complete lines for all genders. And this summer, Aether upped the ante on its motorcycle gear with the debut of the brand’s first touring suit made from Gore-Tex Pro, and their first mesh riding jacket.
We logged many miles at home in the US and in Europe to find out if Aether brings something new to the premium motorcycle apparel segment. By way of riding in extreme conditions, and testing the intended purpose of each piece, we can confidently say that each item we wore raises the bar in their respective category.
While riding a BMW R 1250 GS in Germany, during a heatwave, we found just how valuable a touring suit that’s equally waterproof as it is breathable can be. Both the Divide Jacket and Divide Pants are made from super-strong Gore-Tex Pro fabric that’s abrasion-resistant and water-repellent—though we fortunately only experienced the latter in the field. One minute we were comfortably riding along country roads with the many zippered vents open on both jacket and pants, and the next moment, while on an autobahn, all those vents were closed because of a sudden downpour. Neither the pants nor jacket let a single bead of water in—whether on the autobahn as the rainfall tapered off, or when crosswinds blew in earnest. We remained bone dry and unfazed by the elements, freeing us to focus on riding.
In any pursuit, when adverse weather is a factor, there’s no greater luxury than not having to worry about it affecting your ability to perform. And while one can’t put a price on peace of mind or safety, $695 for the Divide Pants and $995 for the Divide Jacket prove reasonable. Cutting down on the distractions of physical discomfort is only part of the value of these pieces too. Both feature class-leading impact protection and shock absorption pads from D30. Their patented and proprietary technologies allow them to make protective insert pads from soft flexible materials that are rate-sensitive—meaning it changes viscosity depending on the force exerted upon it. The CE-certified polyurethane armor covers chest, elbow, shoulder and back in the jacket; it’s also adjustable and secured in place with velcro.
In the pants, that armor is found at the hip and knee, though it’s comfortable to the point of being almost unnoticed. It’s unobtrusive whether walking around or mounted on a bike, which is a major win for any rider looking to feel like they’re not wearing heavy touring gear—and that’s almost all of us.
Following our excursion in Germany, we returned stateside curious to know what Aether was capable of at the other end of the spectrum. Once again, we found an Aether piece—the Draft Mesh Jacket ($550)—comfortable and stylish, due to its minimalistic look, featuring all black ultra-breathable mesh fabric with no visible branding (save for the logo embossed on the back of the leather collar). As is the case with the Divide pieces, the physical comfort provided by the function of the apparel allows the rider to relax and enjoy the ride.
This was particularly apparent when dealing with unseasonably warm temperatures in Southern California while riding various Indian Motorcycles. Few situations are more exhausting than operating large, loud bikes all day in the desert, but constant airflow combats the energy sapping effects of heat and the Draft Mesh Jacket delivers that much needed breathability. Unique to this jacket are removable, lightweight, ventilated D30 pads at the elbows and shoulders from the LP1 series of armor which, combined with a removable D30 Viper level 1 back-pad, makes for an impressive safety blanket.
Although we didn’t encounter any accidents on that day in the desert, we have found ourselves wanting more of a barrier between us and the wind. For that very situation there is a three-layer stretch nylon woven outer shell that comes with the Draft Mesh Jacket. This shell is easily connected using snaps and also easily stashed in a kangaroo pocket at the back of the mesh jacket when not needed—a move that adds very little bulk. It’s also seam-sealed and features a weatherproof front zipper, making it water-resistant in addition to wind-resistant. Intended to be a viable barrier between rider and water (should dark clouds suddenly fill the sky), this practical piece offers more than most.
So far, Aether’s foray into motorcycle apparel has been as impressive as their efforts in other types of apparel. Industry stalwarts have taken notice of Aether’s minimally branded, sleekly tailored and specifically optioned apparel, with a few similar pieces appearing from other brands. But we’re confident Aether will continue to innovate, as avid enthusiasts of all kinds of outdoor and adventurous pursuits.
Hero image by Andrew Maness