There’s really no logical reason for me to be annoyed by the Klim Hardanger – a one-piece riding suit set to arrive in shops this month – but I kind of am.
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I mean, yes, it is a blatant copy of the Aerostich R-3 Roadcrafter, but, you know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And it’s not as if I have any sort of financial stock in Aerostich; I just like the people who work there. Plus, hey, Klim has a tenuous Minnesota connection (the Rigby, Idaho-based brand is a wholly owned subsidiary of Polaris*), and I really like their gear – still regularly using the Adventure gloves I got two years ago.
Nonetheless, I’m not sure about the Hardanger. I guess that’s because it’s inevitable that at some point some moto-journalist will rave about it, saying something like: “I can’t believe no one’s thought of such a useful suit like this before!”
But, of course, that’s utterly wrong. It’s been around for 36 years, created by hard-working Americans who didn’t want to abandon their hometown when businesses and industries were fleeing like politicians from a whorehouse raid. The Hardanger is possibly a little more stylish than the R-3, but it is also more expensive, not made in the United States, and not available in as many sizes and color choices.
Apparently the Hardanger was revealed at EICMA 2018, but I’ll admit I only heard about it this week, when thumbing through the Motolegends catalog. The suit is a one-piece item which doesn’t appear to be made of 500d Cordura like the R-3. Klim’s website simply says the suit has 750d Cordura on the boot panels, knees, shoulders and elbows (compare that to the 1000d Cordura that Aerostich uses in the same places). But it doesn’t say what the body of the suit is made of.
Like the R-3, the Hardanger relies on Gore-Tex to keep the rider dry, has 3M Scotchlite reflective panels (3M is also a Minnesota company), and uses a neck-to-leg zip to create a suit that is super easy to get in and out of. Like the R-3 it has a port to allow wiring for heated clothing. Like the R-3 it is not lined (Klim refers to this as a “streamlined interior”). Like the R-3 it is adjustable at the waist and legs. Like the R-3 it has two chest pockets (one with a carabiner), two thigh pockets, two “hand warmer” hip pockets and a pocket in the sleeve. Klim’s sleeve pocket is on the left rather than the right, and there are two interior pockets – something you can purchase at additional cost on the R-3. Speaking of additional costs, the R-3 is more customizable, with the option to order all kinds of additions or alterations.
To its credit, the Hardanger does have a few things the R-3 does not. It has 14 vents, is also adjustable at the arms, and has CE-rated armor. Controversially among folks who love Aerostich, Roadcrafter suits use TF impact armor. It covers more area than standard armor but it has not been tested according to European standards. Aerostich says it doesn’t sell enough suits in Europe to justify the cost of such certification. There is strong anecdotal evidence to suggest its TF armor really is as good, if not better than CE-rated stuff but I’ll concede it is a potential weak point as far as consumer opinion is concerned.
KEEP READING: Klim Adventure – Gloves Review
Perhaps getting CE certification is the reason the Hardanger suit costs notably more than an R-3, despite being made in Not America. Klim isn’t clear about exactly where the Hardanger is made, saying it gets products from all over the world (the various bits of my Adventure gloves, for example, were made in China and Vietnam), but it is, at least, honest about the fact its products are not made in the United States. The R-3, meanwhile, is manufactured in Minnesota, using Cordura that’s also made in America. I met the people who made my suit; their names are handwritten on the inside label.
About those 14 vents, by the way: Klim offers very good products – I don’t argue that point – but I can’t help feeling that 14 zips equate to 14 potential points of failure. The R-3 has three vents – one under each arm and one at the back – but they are quite large. In addition, you can open up the front (you can do this on a Hardanger, as well). I’ll point out that I have never been hot in my R-3.
But, as I say, there’s no reason for me to care. And I suppose that if Klim is able to encourage a few more people to ride far by copying someone else’s idea, well, it’s not an awful thing. And it certainly won’t be the first time that one product has “inspired” another. Personally, though, I’ll still opt for the ‘Stich.
*I’d really like to see Indian Motorcycle capitalize more on this fact in releasing FTR 1200-appropriate clothing.