Date reviewed: November 2018 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £483.99 (jacket) £351.99 (trousers) | www.held.de
In a stroke of design genius, the Held Aerosec jacket and trousers transform from cool-to-ride-in mesh, to waterproof three-season textiles in a matter of seconds. This 2-in-1 system potentially gives the best of both worlds, meaning many riders might be able to buy just this kit – which has a total price of £835.98 – and be ready for almost anything…
The jacket and trousers essentially have two compartments to get into – if you don’t need them to be waterproof, you just leave that whole section zipped up at the back. As the total amount of material is the same, even when you have the waterproof section all to the back of your torso, arms and legs, your movement isn’t restricted.
I do find it snug, but not overly so; my main criticism of the fit is that the trousers are too long for me – I’ve got the regular leg length, but at 5’10” with a 32” inseam, I find the knee armour sits too low, and is uncomfortable when walking. Apparently a short leg is available, which might be a better fit for me – as always, do try before you buy, both on and off the bike.
When I use the waterproof section, I do find that one of the seams presses into my bicep a little when wearing a tee-shirt – it’s not painful, but a little irritating.
Protection and CE certification
While there’s space for a back protector, one isn’t supplied, but you do get CE-Level 1 armour at the shoulders, elbows and knees.
The outer shell is made of 500D Ripstop nylon and mesh – as the jacket and trousers haven’t been certified to CE standards, we don’t have a reference of how tough this is. The jacket and trousers are well made, but they’ll always be a compromise; if you want the best protection possible, you’ll need to look at something heavier duty and potentially sacrifice some of the versatility.
From April 21 2018, all new motorcycle clothing is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. For more information on the law, click here.
The two trouser pockets aren’t that large, and they double as vents, so I prefer to use the jacket’s front pockets for keys, phone and wallet. Obviously they’re not waterproof, and they’re not that big, but this is a more sporty piece of kit than a typical touring or adventure suit. There’s a padded phone pocket inside, along with two further compartments, though of course, being a sung fitting garment, you won’t want to cram too much in.
A chunky, solid zip fastens the front of the Aerosec jacket, with the same design used on the trouser’s fly, along with a clip above it.
If you’re wearing the gear in vented mode, the jacket and trousers are connected by two zips at the sides that reach nearly all the way around the back. In waterproof mode, a separate connecting zip runs all the way around. In both cases, the zips are a little fiddly to connect as the two are close together, so tend to foul each other a bit until you really master them.
The arm and leg vents have zips with unusual transparent teeth, but these have proved to be a weak point; Held is aware of the problem – which sees individual teeth cracking and falling off – and has replaced them for the future batches. Anybody with problems will of course have the zips replaced under warranty (as I did), and Held UK is very good at lending kit to riders in the event of a warrant claim.
Unfortunately I had another issue with zips – one of the pulls on the bottom of the trouser leg snapped, leaving just a short tag. I’ve popped a nylon tie through, but this would also be replaced under warranty.
Overall, the Aerosec is more fiddly than a typical textile suit, but it could be that you find this a compromise worth making.
Unfortunately the zips have been a weak point of my Aerosec suit
There’s adjustment on the waist of the trousers, so I don’t need to wear them with braces, and the arms have straps at the biceps. The jacket also has a very clever zip design at the bottom that allows you to draw in the hem without leaving straps hanging loose.
The cuffs don’t have much slack at all, so it’s very hard to get them over my waterproof Knox Covert gloves, and impossible to get over my brilliant Held 2-in-1 gloves. Getting your gloves under the cuffs of your jacket is important to keeping properly dry – put them over the top and water will run down your arms, into your gloves.
Converting the jacket from waterproof mesh sees the entire liner go behind your back. The centre main fastener can also be expanded for even more airflow, while the entire length of the arms can be opened to reveal more venting
Keeping cool is the main selling-point of this kit, and with the waterproof liner zipped to the back, you’re left with a great 3D mesh that really does help to keep air circulating.
The front of the jacket allows a lot of air through in this mode, and the full length of the arms (and sections of the legs) can be opened up to allow even more air to get through. You can also fold across a flap tucked behind the main zip to extend the front fastening, which then gives even greater windblast to the chest.
Held’s designers really have been extremely clever in offering such high levels of ventilation, in a jacket that can be reasonably quickly converted to waterproof.
Like the jacket, the trousers have two compartments – one that puts you in a Gore-Tex waterproof liner, the other that allows air to reach your body through the mesh outer
There’s no removable liner, but the inside is well constructed both in vented and waterproof modes, the 3D mesh of the back helping to keep you cool when riding in summer.
When using the Gore-Tex liner, the jacket and trousers are completely waterproof – the only point of ingress I’ve found is the stomach, where some water managed to creep up in a particularly heavy deluge – being quite a short jacket, this isn’t too surprising, but it will depend on your body shape and seating position.
As you may know, waterproof textile bike kit is generally made in one of two ways – with a waterproof drop-liner, or with a membrane laminated to the outer shell. The latter means that water doesn’t get a chance to soak into your kit, but it’s typically more expensive. A drop liner works fine, but when the outer fabric shell ‘wets out’ (becomes soaked in water) the waterproof liner can’t breath, so you can get sweaty. It also means that the clothing can take a long time to dry if it gets soaked (you can usually just shake laminated kit dry).
Kit with a drop liner often has a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating, which makes water bead and flow off the outer material (though it soon wears out) – in the case of this gear of course, the water sits in the holes of the mesh, which can make you feel cold quite quickly. On the other hand, the material tends to dry out a bit quicker.
I’ve found that I do feel wet sometimes after wearing this kit, but that’s due to the outer being soaked – when I strip off, I’m actually dry.
The optional clip-in thermals are held inside the jacket and trousers using hidden clips that attach to the strings
Despite there being some thermal material in the waterproof section, when you set the kit up to be waterproof, because of the way moisture is held in the mesh, the Aerosec gets cold pretty quickly if it’s a damp ride.
Of course, this is predominantly summer kit, with the bonus of being waterproof when needed – just keep this in mind if you’re looking for something to commute in through the year. To beat the water holding in the mesh, you could wear a waterproof over-suit, but that kind of defeats the object of the clever design.
There’s no thermal liner supplied, but Held does sell separate Thinsulate ‘clip-in thermos top and bottoms’. The trousers (9756) cost £70, while the hooded top (9755) I’ve tried the Aerosec with adds £84. Using small, cleverly hidden clips in the Aerosec, which wrap around neat strings on the liner, it takes a little time to add the thermals, but they do feel lovely and warm.
The trousers are a bit more of a hassle to do up with the liner in as you have to reach in to zip up the liner’s fly, but there’s enough movement in the elastic that you can leave the liner’s zip done up as you pull the trousers on.
The trouser and jacket liners both stay in place fine when taking the kit off, but as the jacket is already snug on me, I find it just a bit too tight with the liner in. Of course, this is why you should try kit on for yourself, so if you are planning on adding the thermal liners (keeping in mind they add £154 to the total price), make sure you try on the complete package.
The hood on the top acts as a balaclava – it’s quite thin so doesn’t add too much bulk under your lid, and is effective at keeping you warmer. Or if you prefer, you can let it drop down your back when riding. A version without a hood (9757) is available for £62.
Adding extra warmth to the Aerosec is not cheap, but the clip-in kit is very nicely made, and the jacket’s good-looking enough to wear on its own. Note though that, to keep the bulk down and aid flexibility, the stretchy insides of the arms and legs don’t offer the same wind-resistance or warmth as the outsides, and the whole suit is more awkward to put on with the thermal liners fitted.
Most riding kit is a compromise, but the Aerosec GTX makes an excellent attempt at offering great ventilation in the heat, yet turning into a waterproof suit when needed.
It’s good for British riding, especially in the summer months, and even better for touring in the warmer parts of the world, though the construction has to be compromised compared to heavier-duty, CE-approved kit.
For summer riders who want waterproof capability on rare occasions, it might be better to look at standard kit and carry a lightweight waterproof over-suit, as the inconvenience of stopping, taking all your gear off and repurposing it, before putting it back on isn’t ideal at the roadside.
Needless to say, this is not for the all-year commuter, but it is very versatile for someone who tends to ride in the better weather, yet wants the advantage of a waterproof Gore-Tex drop-liner built in.