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Thread: Leathers- know what you're buying and know what's important.

  1. #1

    Leathers- know what you're buying and know what's important.

    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.
    You're like a kid in a batman costume at Halloween....you think you're cute...and you think you're batman.
    -Author name withheld to protect the further embarrassment of the guilty

  2. #2
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    My alpinestars have served me well during many of crashes

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    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

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Anderson View Post
    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.
    You're like a kid in a batman costume at Halloween....you think you're cute...and you think you're batman.
    -Author name withheld to protect the further embarrassment of the guilty

  6. #6
    Senior Member Brandon Orr's Avatar
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    My Alpinestar leathers were actually $400
    Novice #728
    Lucas Oil - Vesrah - BD Racing - Vortex Racing - Shorai Batteries - Sidi Boots - Josh Henke
    Torquasaurus #98

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    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.
    Harry Tomlinson #24
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    CMRA BOD 1998-9, 2006-9, 2012-3, 2017-9

  8. #8
    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.

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    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.
    Expert #325
    Boulder, Colorado

  10. #10
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    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!!
    Former Expert #33, member since 1988, BOD 2001-2004, retired 2008, returned 2016.

    I used to be fast. Ask me about my championships. Bring beer.

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