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View Full Version : Leathers- know what you're buying and know what's important.



Tom Anderson
02-22-2017, 06:35 PM
Leathers could be the single most important purchase you make for your racing. Your safety and health is the single most important thing to preserve when you race.

MacMan always used to include a mention of this in his safety briefings before track days, "I've seen guys roll up in a motorhome, $20k bike with a $1500 exhaust and $1000 paint job, wearing $400 leathers. Why?"

The problem lately is that there are manufacturers that all get their leathers made in the same place. Pakistan. Now, there's nothing wrong with Pakistan, the Pilot leathers I have *I believe* are made there too. There's other brands I'm sure. It seems though that there are certainly different materials and workmanship that go in to each brand based on their specs. I know the Ebay $200 brands are as well.

So I found out the hard way Saturday the difference between "Keprotect" (or other derivatives of Kevlar fabrics) and other materials in the expansion joints. The issue with mine was that the expansion joint material was (likely) Nylon or some other synthetic and not the Kevlar material (that was advertised on the website). It was pretty easy to tell that it wasn't because the material literally melted away with the impact to the asphalt. When it did, my skin was exposed and I got a nasty dollar-bill size road rash that has since been infected with Staph. My arm was only in contact with the track for a split second because I almost immediately began to do the "ground-sky-ground-sky" routine.

So what do you do? These leathers are marked retail price of around $1500 ("custom racer quality"). That's a lot of money for something that uses such cheap materials.

Well, ask the folks that have been racing for a while and have had some crashes with their equipment. What worked, what didn't, and what they recommend.

For me, it was REALLY easy to compare my Pilot leathers with the Keprotect material in the expansion panels, and the ones I just crashed in and the Nylon material that it has. Not to mention I had a really similar crash in my Pilots a few years ago and you can see how the Keprotect material was just abraded and certainly didn't melt or create a hole. The Nylon in the other suit was really, really stretchy and felt a bit silky (a lot like Under Armor material) and the Keprotect was less pliable, felt "tougher" and much thicker too.

Now, this isn't a plug for Pilot brand. I like mine, but I KNOW there are other brands like Syed, Vanson, and "Name Your Favorite" leathers that are just as good (maybe better?).

The key is to know and understand what you're buying and what you need for your safety.

Josh Henke
02-22-2017, 08:43 PM
Like.

Mitchell Klein
02-23-2017, 12:11 AM
My alpinestars have served me well during many of crashes

John Deutschlander
02-23-2017, 06:00 AM
I don't want this to sound like a product plug it's merely a statement of facts. Dylan has worn a suit from Hazardous Racing for the past year. He had a decent speed off at MSR last year and a low side at MSRH a couple weeks ago where he slid a pretty good ways down the track and not one stitch has broken. They're very affordable, 100% customize-able, tailored to fit and offer great protection.

To make it Hazardous even more appealing, Ana from Leather and Lace is a rep and can get you fitted and fixed up in no time. Just my .02 cents

Tom Anderson
02-23-2017, 07:06 AM
Now, this isn't a plug for Pilot brand. I like mine, but I KNOW there are other brands like Syed, Vanson, and "Name Your Favorite" leathers that are just as good (maybe better?).

The key is to know and understand what you're buying and what you need for your safety.

That's why I included the above. I'm sure like oil, everyone has "their brand" and what they like.
I was giving this company a chance because they supported me and from a visual standpoint, the leathers looked good, fit well, and seemed well made. Unfortunately I've also seen friends who wore the same brand and have had major problems- problems I guess I ignored for myself.

Anyway, the point is, this brand (and others like it) are retailed for $1500+ for "racer level protection;" so they're by all appearances, on-par with the established equipment out there. If I would have paid attention, I would have been able to see the signs before having an incident myself and avoided a needless injury.

So, are there leathers out there that cost less and are good? I'm sure there are, heck, you can get some Syed custom leathers for $800 (or you could in the past) and they're in my opinion one of the top 3 best leathers made.

The target audience here is the new folks or track day riders. Educate yourself, learn what to look for, talk to folks who have a lot of experience and can tell you what is important. Don't skimp. Price should never be a driving force for your protection; it might be the most expensive thing you buy for racing... or not.

Brandon Orr
02-23-2017, 08:06 AM
My Alpinestar leathers were actually $400 :bannana:

Harry Tomlinson
02-23-2017, 08:20 AM
Do not hesitate to seek out Garet about suits. Obviously, he is partial to Alpinestars but has a strong working knowledge of the materials and construction of various brands. Additionally, he is becoming an expert on all brands of the newer air-bag suits.

Arthur Simondet
02-23-2017, 09:18 AM
My Dainese suit slid from the very inside of carousel to the grass on the other side this weekend, diagonally. So about 15-20 yards. Not a single stitch let go and yet virtually every side of the suit got pavement time.

Christopher Corder
02-23-2017, 10:14 AM
You can never, ever go wrong with Vanson, Syed, Barnacle Bill or Bates. There are many good brands out there but these four have been proven thousands of times over many decades and disciplines.

Chuck Ergle
02-23-2017, 11:30 AM
What Chris said. I owned five sets of custom Vansons from 1992 to 2008, and they held up well (except the last two that were cut off me by EMTs at TWS!!). I currently own a top-of-the-line off the rack Taichi suit.

On a similar topic, BUY THE HIGHEST QUALITY AND BEST FITTING GLOVES YOU CAN AFFORD!! Also, replace them every couple of seasons even if you think they look okay. Trust me on this and ask me how I know. Correctly working digits are priceless!!

Eric Falt
02-23-2017, 11:33 AM
The set of BVD's I have seems like good quality...original cost was supposedly $1800. But being sponsored , only cost $650. I never wore them , but someone can for $495 :biggrin: 42-med.

Carter Rossner
02-23-2017, 11:38 AM
Maybe I'm missing it, but... what brand were the crappy $1500 leathers?

Tom Anderson
02-23-2017, 11:55 AM
Maybe I'm missing it, but... what brand were the crappy $1500 leathers?

The important part is to educate yourself here. I'm not naming names because I've had other friends who seem to have gotten better quality from them.

Jeff Offutt
02-23-2017, 02:16 PM
I have the Dainese Airsuit. It has served me well during 2 crashes in which the Airbag did its job. The two complaints that i have are: If you have alterations made they will void your warranty and no longer service the airbag. The second one is the wiring that attaches to the snaps is weak and breaks off the back of the snaps causing the suit to inoperable unless you find a way to rewire it. :) The suit is $2500 and the repack $250 to $300. Not much if it keeps you from making a trip to the emergency room. I am interested in the Tech Air but do not believe it is available because of a patent infringement lawsuit from Dainese.

Joe Lopez
02-23-2017, 05:29 PM
I'm with Carter on this one.
I'd like to know too.
How about the rest of ya'll namedrop the make and model with PRO's and CON's.
The one suit i have, i got off the rack. I have horizontal issues and need a new one.
Just ordered a custom Gimoto.
So, hopefully i can hear some more input to look out for next time.
Not sponsored by anyone, so definitely open to hear from everyone.

Tom Anderson
02-23-2017, 07:51 PM
*Now regretting posting anything*

I'm with Carter on this one.
I'd like to know too.
How about the rest of ya'll namedrop the make and model with PRO's and CON's.
The one suit i have, i got off the rack. I have horizontal issues and need a new one.
Just ordered a custom Gimoto.
So, hopefully i can hear some more input to look out for next time.
Not sponsored by anyone, so definitely open to hear from everyone.

Yall are missing the point.

I'll tell you what though, if you go see Audrey at MotoLiberty you'll get lined out with the best. They know their stuff and will get you set straight. I'm sure too if you get with Garet Tomlinson he can help you find a great suit from his vendors. Check out Syed on their website, or Barnacle Bill's along with Vanson; can't go wrong with any of those.

If you want to ask me about a brand you are looking at, I'm not your man. But a lot of these things are easy to see for yourself if you are looking at "XYZ" brand of leathers. If the expansion panels look and feel like thin material similar to under armor- run away no matter how good the price is. If it feels like it's got soft flimsy armor, tell them "No thank you." If it looks like there is only one layer of leather and padding in high impact areas; look elsewhere. If the high impact areas only have single stitching and looks hastily made, probably not the suit you want to trust while tumbling down the pavement.

My Pilot leathers are great, I'm going to use them again until I need new ones.

Mitch Williams
02-23-2017, 09:57 PM
Eric had experience with Syed and Pilot. The Syed were awesome. Pilot, not so much.

Racer gloves were really nice. Great fit, protection and comfort.

Matthew Palmore
02-24-2017, 01:24 PM
I've been a big fan of my HELD Slade suit. i cant say enough good things about it. The Kangaroo holds up amazing.. the joints are good. The titanium sliders are in all the write spots. Cooling is ample and the back protector is one of the thickest ive seen from any suit off the shelf.. So thick i dont even ride with an aftermarket back protector. I've crashed 4 times in this suit with 2 of them being around the 80~90mph mark. after the 3rd crash the sticking finally started to give way in the knees . Ana at leather and lace hooked me up with repairs and i'm on my 4th season in this suit. I would absolutely buy this suit again.

Cody Stewart
02-24-2017, 02:51 PM
I have mixed opinions on my heroic suit. The customer service and 'repairs' i got were horrendous. I was sent the wrong suit initially, and after wearing the wrong suit (which he let me wear until the right one came in), the stitching on the chest broke after about 2-3 times of just wearing it, no crashes. When I got my replacement suit, for the most part it has held up. I've had zippers fail and a few holes repaired, but I've never been injured after multiple crashes.

I had Held Titans for several years that were my 'daily' riders as well as my racing gloves. They finally started getting brittle, but those things were awesome. Unfortunately, I replaced them with Racer High Speed gloves and they were total crap. The first time I used them, I unfortunately crashed. The next time I used them, I noticed the seams on the fingers coming undone on the glove that I'm not even sure if it touched the pavement. They wouldn't warranty it because I had crashed. Since then, I have had almost every single finger repaired by Ana. It also seems to be a well-known issue. I'll never buy another product from Racer or Heroic.
-Cody

David Dahms
02-26-2017, 04:40 PM
Syed protected me like nothing else, and ANA mad them perfect again. They are ugly, but solid!

The 1800.00 Spidi suit I had destroyed the skin on my knee in one 30mph go down. They were very comfy, and looked cool, but shred first time they hit the ground.

Ana Duran
02-27-2017, 03:25 PM
Yall are missing the point.

If the expansion panels look and feel like thin material similar to under armor- run away no matter how good the price is. If it feels like it's got soft flimsy armor, tell them "No thank you." If it looks like there is only one layer of leather and padding in high impact areas; look elsewhere. If the high impact areas only have single stitching and looks hastily made, probably not the suit you want to trust while tumbling down the pavement.

All true. Brands have several different models, so asking for specifics it not conclusive. Just need to be aware of what your selecting.
Thanks Tom!

Fox Schaffer
02-27-2017, 04:08 PM
Ps after every season, send to Ana for seasoning and an inspection, time, sun, rain and humidity can be caught by her if you take the time to always use the off-season for an equipment check. I'm glad my wife requires me to do this every time ;) Also, I love her too!

Becka Harvey
02-27-2017, 05:44 PM
Fit is just as important as construction. You can have a great set of leathers but they won't do their job it they don't stay in place when you crash. For example, I had a decent suit from a reputable manufacturer, but it was a little big (not huge, but not snug either). Every time I'd crash the armor had room to rotate around whatever limb it was protecting and I'd end up with rash on all my bony bits.

Keith Hertell
03-01-2017, 10:51 AM
I've had at least 10 sets of leathers over the last 20 years. My 1st set I spent a fortune on at the time, they were $1600 Dainese and blew open my first crash.
Then i went with some Z-Custom. Those were the best leathers i have had up until now. They lasted 10 years with a few repairs here and there. They are on par with SYED and Vanson. I just recently got a new set made by GTZ and sold by Specialized Race Gear here in SA. They are custom fit and didn't need any alterations, even my Z-Custom I had to do a minor fix to the fit. They use the same type of leather and stretch panels. The stretch panels are a different shape than the others and I think that helps in the feeling of more flexability. I love them, but have yet to crash in them.

James DeFrain
03-01-2017, 08:36 PM
I went with Hazardous with good results so far, did a low side on corner 10 at TWS ground up the fore arm spittle but nothing to repair. If I recall they ran $900.

David_Gonzalez
03-07-2017, 09:53 PM
you get what you pay for, sometimes you are buying the brand, not the best materials as advertised.

For anyone interested, I'll be selling leather suits, this are extremely well made and with the best materials out there.

I've had A-Stars, Dainese, AGV's and this are by far the most comfortable suit I have ever wore.

I'll be at NOLA, with my own suit and a spare I brought with me so you all can see the quality of our suits.

Check them out in facebook : Specialized Racing Gear.

Jeremy Harvey
03-08-2017, 11:45 AM
Not taking anything away from previous comments, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned Taichi yet. Becka and I both have a set (Japanese cowhide) and they have survived literally at least a dozen crashes each with very little repair needed, and more importantly we have had very few road rash or injuries to the body.

Yes, they are costly initially, but we've had them for enough years that the "annual" cost isn't any more than most, and we've had good protection and durability during that time. They're both probably 6-8 years old and we are just now looking at replacement.

In line with other previous comments though, both of our suits were tailored and fitted to our exact measurements. And we try to keep them cleaned and conditioned throughout the year.

No matter what, the protection is the most important. Bike parts can be fixed or replaced, but we only have one body. Protection is one area we don't cut corners.

Becka Harvey
03-08-2017, 12:55 PM
In line with other previous comments though, both of our suits were tailored and fitted to our exact measurements. And we try to keep them cleaned and conditioned throughout the year.


Correction: Jeremy keeps his cleaned and conditioned throughout the year. I count racing in the rain as washing my leathers.

Josh Henke
03-08-2017, 01:03 PM
Does that cause friction in the marriage? Is that how you "do the laundry?"

Jim Doyle
03-08-2017, 05:59 PM
My old A-Star Race Replica saved me 6 times in 3 years with out even a bruise (2 high sides). The most spectacular and smoking (literally) use of that suit was a RRW feature at Sears point. Make sure they fit. As said, buy the best you can afford - applies to helmets as well.

Robert Lackey
03-09-2017, 04:26 PM
I had a Syed 2-piece I wore on the street when I'd take a trip to Arkansas and ride the twisties. It was heavy and hot... but it was bad ***. Went down around 25 mph on highway 23 and you could barely even tell where it made contact. I sold that suit and I kind of wish I hadn't, but I'm not on the street anymore and wanted a 1-piece. So I'm in an RST Tractech now, I love the fit and look. I've been down in it 3 times, all pretty low speed. It's held up only okay. My first crash was in the Bus Stop at Hallett, I tumbled a bit and slid on my butt... basically no damage. In another crash I went down hard on my shoulder and elbow and slid the stitches in the shoulder expansion panels burned off when I slid on my back, but that's more cosmetic than anything. The bad part was (as others have experienced) the elbow armor rolling aside and the flex panel burning through immediately. I've got a nice scar to show for it.

I haven't had a big crash yet but overall the way the suit has held up compared to higher-priced competitors' suits makes me feel confident in the product.