Motorcycle crashes happen that’s why a premium quality one-piece leather suit is one of the best ways to protect yourself.
When tumbling across the road with your body skidding against skin-melting blacktop the last thing you want to think about is if you’re wearing the right protective gear. Motorcycle crashes happen and aside from a properly fitted helmet, a one-piece suit is the most critical piece of kit you can wear. That’s where motorcycle safety brand Alpinestars comes in with its Racing Replica suit ($2899.95).
The Alpinestars Racing Replica One-Piece Suit is the Italian company’s top-of-the-line suit worn by both professional and amateur riders seeking the utmost in protection and comfort. These are the same leathers worn by road racing heroes including reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and young gun Marc Marquez. Of course, membership in an elite racing fraternity like MotoGP has some great perks including a locker full of shiny custom tailored suits. Apart from the fit, ultra-lightweight Kangaroo leather construction and composition of the knee puck, the Race Replica offers the same-level of safety and protection for everyone.
(Top) Alpinestars has a dedicated design team at its headquarters in Asolo, Italy. Here she double checks the layout before sending the design to the plotter. (Center) The plotter allows engineers to map out each panel of the suit before it is cut from leather. (Bottom) After each panel is printed on paper the template is traced then cut from leather.
All of Astars custom race suits begin life at its worldwide headquarters in Asolo, Italy, with final assembly of the Racing Replica in Romania. In Italy a team of engineers and seamstresses go about the process of drawing, plotting, cutting and sewing individual components to build the ultimate piece of road motorcycling protection.
The body is constructed from full-grain Bovine hide that is sourced from free-range ranches. It’s an important detail as cattle raised within traditionally fenced areas are prone to scars and other blemishes on the hide which can compromise strength. Compared to other brands the leather has a more supple feel when touched yet still offers 1.3mm of abrasion resistance.
The main junctions where the leather panels meet feature numerous-stitched seams adding a level of separation resistance in the event of a crash. (Fun fact: nearly one mile of thread is used in the stitching of each suit). There’s also fine perforation through the torso, stomach, thighs and forearm areas flowing air and helping to keep the rider cool behind the windscreen. For pros like Lorenzo and Marquez, more perforation can be added in other areas such as the top of the arms based on preference. Furthermore, sections of accordion-like leather backed with Kevlar are used in the shoulders, knees, and calf areas to increase fit, mobility, and to accommodate the optional Tech Air (airbag) system (approximately $1500) which can be retrofitted inside the back hump of all 2012 and new Racing Replica suits.
Impact protection is just as important as abrasion resistance and the Racing Replica doesn’t skimp with its layered density armor. Externally there are form-fitted thermoplastic cups stitched onto the shoulders, elbows and knees. This not only provides protection against blunt force impacts but also more effectively disperses energy by sliding across pavement or other obstacles rather than digging in and causing added friction while increasing the force at which the body stops.
(Left) The plotter creates a paper panel for each section of the suit. Each piece is matched up much like a jigsaw puzzle with the finished product being a complete leather suit. (Center) An Alpinestars seamstress stitches a logo onto the leg panel of a suit. (Right) Alpinestars Racing Replica suits employ 1.3mm thick leather sourced from free-range ranches. It’s an important detail and makes for a stronger, more durable suit.
(Top) Here the thermoplastic shoulder armor is stitched onto the suit. This piece of armor provides both protection from impact and is designed to slide against pavement and other obstacles. (Center) A technician verifies the position of the logo and ensures that it is within specification. (Bottom) After the suit is stitched together the armor and speed hump are inserted. The speed hump also holds the Tech Air system and/or hydration pack.
Underneath, pliable and anatomically fitted bio armor is used inside the leathers further reducing energy in an accident. Other clever touches include rubber-like grip material on the inside of the knees elevating feel and traction against the fuel tank of the motorcycle during high G-braking and steering maneuvers. There are also integrated intake vents to move more air keeping your core temperature in check in extremely hot climates.
Obviously, a custom tailor of any kind suit is going to fit you exactly, in theory at least, but engineers spent considerable time dialing in the fit on its off-the-rack suits by incorporating the aforementioned accordion stretch panels in the legs and shoulders as well as employing larger pieces of Kevlar stretch material in the pelvis area as well as underneath the arms. This helps the suit better conform to the rider’s physique and lets them move fluidly at the controls with minimal restrictions.
More comfort comes in the form of the thick neoprene collar and wrist cuffs which not only wick away sweat and moisture but also feel pleasing and help mitigate skin irritation. There are also small rings of silicon at the bottom of the legs to prevent the suit from shifting. Inside there is a removable mesh anti-bacterial liner with extra foam padding in select areas. Also supplied is its fabulous Bionic Race Back Protector that attaches to the suit with a three-way adjustable height snap connector. Lastly the Racing Replica comes with a pair of teardrop-style GP knee sliders that attach to the knee cup via Velcro (It also makes racing-only oval-shaped knee pucks, however they’re available to pro racers only).
Visually, the sky is the limit in terms of design and Alpinestars-sponsored riders benefit from the latest manufacturing techniques including the ability to print patterns and logos directly onto the leather. This not only gives the suit a cleaner look but saves weight too with a production size 40 U.S. weighing 12.5 pounds.
Although Alpinestars doesn’t yet offer custom fit for everyone because of it’s involvement in racing and forward-thinking designs, the Italy company is trickling down high-end safety technology that up until recently was out of reach to the everyday rider. You may not be able to ride like a world champion but at least you can get the same level of protection.