wishy thinky

Which Gear To Spend Top Dollar On?

8 posts in this topic

Primarily for track and maybe for street also, can gloves and boots take multiple beatings and ok to spend top dollar on? I saw some people wear suits that have been roughed up. Not counting helmets, is the philosophy for suits, gloves, and boots always to spend as much as you can afford? I've read about suit repairs, but haven't seen mention of glove repairs or if it's worth repairing. But seeing how gloves have multiple layers of small stuffs, might be difficult to properly repair. (People with informed answers don't necessarily crash a lot).

 

Secondary question: do the vented "air" boots get damaged when caught in the wet?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The more you spend on a suit or a set of gloves the more features and quality you get from your investment. It's not always apparent the value just looking at them on the rack.

 

Years ago when I bought my first suit I wanted protection and did not see the advantages I would get by spending more on a suit. I bought a base model Alpinestars for less than a grand. The first time I tried to wear the suit I was astonished at how heavy it was and how difficult it was to move in the suit. And I got HOT fast. I suffered with that suit for quite some time.

 

I lost some weight and needed another suit and tried on a middle of the road Dainese that was double the price of the Alpinestars. The differences between the suits were absolutely amazing. The Dainese was lighter way more flexible and I could actually move around in it. I still wear this suit as a backup and it's great.

 

I was fine with the Dainese for a while until a friend asked me to grab his suit from his car for him. I reached in and picked up the suit and was amazed at how light it was. It was a Kushitani suit. I asked him about it and he gave me a lot of useful information about some of the Japanese suits. I eventually picked an RS Taichi suit and it's much lighter and much more comfortable for hot days than my Dainese. Sizing of course is a bit of a pain in the butt because they use Japanese sizing. If you can find your size and they fit you they are super comfortable and worth the price.

 

So what do you get for the money? Here's a list.

 

-More stretch panels

-More ventilation

-lighter weight stronger leather

-more protection

-exotic materials (kangaroo leather, japanese cowhide, stingray leather, carbon, titanium)

 

One other thing. The suit that you see your race hero's on TV wearing that are branded X,Y and Z aren't the same as the ones that you and I can buy off the rack. They look quite similar but each one of those suits is custom made for the individual rider and uses much higher end materials than the off the rack version. The cool thing is you can do much the same yourself on a smaller scale. Many companies out there have a custom program so you can get your own perfectly fitting suit. Some of them even aren't that expensive.

 

As for the boots. All of my boots are vented (I live in Georgia and it's always HOT). I have never had a single problem with any pair for damage. One thing I will say however. Going through a puddle at speed it's amazing how quickly a vented set of boots will completely fill with water.

 

On Gloves. Be careful buying gloves from vendors you aren't familiar with. There's a lot of fake products floating around out there and I have heard some stories. While buy the best gloves you can is a great rule of thumb there are some exceptions. Held makes BMW's Double R gloves. You can frequently find the BMW gloves on closeout for 1/2 the price of the Held ones. Are they as good as a set of full Held race gloves? The are pretty darn close. The Held branded ones are slightly nicer but not by much. Not enough to justify double the price for sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back when I thought a $500 helmet was super expensive, which was less than a year ago, I walked around a store that had the Taichi suits. I wiped that suit from serious consideration because I didn't know I would be on the sport bike track I am on right now. I seriously didn't know they could weigh that much different. But since they do, wonder what the difference is. The Taichi suits have serious ventilation like the pro race suits and unlike the consumer grade A-suits, but that couldn't be the difference in weight. Since the suit is nearly all leather, could the weight difference be that the Taichi suits use thinner leather? That would explain both the weight and flexibility. I considered the custom suits after reading other threads here, but the sample designs had no appeal.

 

Although I like stuffs that look pretty ;), I like value and admire people who can stretch what they have to make them go further. For example, if a pair of $300 gloves can last 3 crashes, it would have more value than a $200 pair that has to be thrown away after one crash, so it's worth it to fork out more mula upfront; all crashes are equal right, haha.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The higher end suits use leather that's thinner but more abrasion resistant. What you are paying for is the material and the engineering. They test various types of leather for abrasion resistance and then pick the leather that provides the best balance of abrasion resistance and weight. What's interesting is some of the lighter weight leathers actually are better at dealing with crashes than the thicker heavy stuff. Dainese has their own type of leather called dskin and you will also see Kangaroo and Japanese Cowhide in a lot of suits. Part of what makes these suits lighter weight is their use of non leather materials in key areas that don't see abrasion. Add in stretch panels for flexibility and the suit becomes a lot more complex and labor intensive to produce.

 

A great source of information for the various gear that's out there is sportbiketrackgear.com. They have a youtube channel where they do reviews on various suits, gloves, helmets and accessories that you might be interested in buying.

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/Sportbiketrackgear

 

STG does not always have the best price out there but they are pretty close. What's most impressive about STG is their customer service. I lost a wing on one of my Knox Handroids and I asked them about buying another wing. Instead of selling it to me they sent it to me for free. When it comes to buying new gear I always check to see what they have available.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you look at where the damage happened on the suit it's on the elbow. That's why suits have armor in them. Not only to cushion your bones from the impact but also to protect a pointy spot from abrasion. Shoulders, knees and elbows all have this protection because they are pointy bits. That suit worked as designed and can easily be patched and worn again.

 

Falling off on the track is like going through a rock tumbler. A rock tumbler attacks all the nice pointy parts of a rock and wears it all smooth. Fortunately at the track the rock tumbler only lasts a few seconds rather than a few hours. If it were to last longer we would all look like Swedish or Italian meat balls afterwards. Not a pleasant thought for sure.

 

Some food for though. Rather than invest energy into determining which suits are more resilient after crashes why not prevent that crash to begin with? Riding at the track does not always have to involve ending up on the pavement. The pro's are able to leverage good technique to go way faster and have fewer accidents at the same time. There are of course accident's that you can't avoid so it's still a good idea to have high quality gear.

 

Something else to keep in mind. Even high quality gear is not going to look the greatest after a tumble. If you care much about cosmetics at the very least a re-dye and some cleaning is going to be needed. Even if cosmetics aren't a concern any suit is not going to be as good as it was for a "round two" crash. Crashing stresses seams and stretches the material and can even deform armor. Even when you aren't crashing the gear is still aging. Foam gets stiffer over time and the materials weaken from age. That's why it's recommended that helmets get replaced every 5 years.

 

So what does all this mean? Invest in some high quality gear. Also invest in good training so your suits die of old age or from your latest diet rather than an accident.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looked to squeeze Lv3 & 4 in this year but schedule won't allow. So I'm determined to figure out how to do day-long track days. Will have to drive few hundred miles same day instead of 4+ days commitment for me to attend school travel included. Got most everything figured out now. Few questions left such as will Tires Plus change motorcycle tires, and somethings I have to do for the first time such as removing the wheels from my bike. The rear wheel will be messy, but there's no stopping now. I've already put order in for new brake lines, brake lever guard, duck tape (maybe vinyl tape later) etc.

 

It occurred to me recently that I have not gotten very close to crashing on my own when I read others say that the same stock tires I have on my bike are junk when I thought they are awesome. The discussions in the thread titled "how to read traction" implies pushing the bike to the limit of traction, which apparently I haven't gotten close, etc. There are somethings I should only do with my own bike instead of a rental bike.

 

Interesting how it completely escaped me that the leather jacket "roadcraft" wore in the video didn't have elbow/shoulder sliders. I went back and looked at the custom suits that the various shops make and it appears that none of them have those either.

 

Robert, the info you provided have been helpful. I have narrowed down a suit. The Dainese mugello air bag suit would be so awesome though even if maintaining the battery is a hassle and paying for it might require a mortgage on the house.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looked to squeeze Lv3 & 4 in this year but schedule won't allow. So I'm determined to figure out how to do day-long track days. Will have to drive few hundred miles same day instead of 4+ days commitment for me to attend school travel included. Got most everything figured out now. Few questions left such as will Tires Plus change motorcycle tires, and somethings I have to do for the first time such as removing the wheels from my bike. The rear wheel will be messy, but there's no stopping now. I've already put order in for new brake lines, brake lever guard, duck tape (maybe vinyl tape later) etc.

 

It occurred to me recently that I have not gotten very close to crashing on my own when I read others say that the same stock tires I have on my bike are junk when I thought they are awesome. The discussions in the thread titled "how to read traction" implies pushing the bike to the limit of traction, which apparently I haven't gotten close, etc. There are somethings I should only do with my own bike instead of a rental bike.

 

Interesting how it completely escaped me that the leather jacket "roadcraft" wore in the video didn't have elbow/shoulder sliders. I went back and looked at the custom suits that the various shops make and it appears that none of them have those either.

 

Robert, the info you provided have been helpful. I have narrowed down a suit. The Dainese mugello air bag suit would be so awesome though even if maintaining the battery is a hassle and paying for it might require a mortgage on the house.

 

Best place to get tires done in my opinion is at the track or at a shop that specializes in race/track bikes. Look up some of your local trackdays and find out if they have a tire vendor. Pay the gate fee (usually a few bucks) and get the tire vendor to do some tires for you. Or find a local shop. Motorcycle tires require specialized equipment and tires that are going to be used on the track require a bit of specialized knowledge that the average tire shop is not going to have. You want a tire vendor that can answer questions for you on the best tire pressures for a given pace and other questions of that nature.

 

Tire grip is more plentiful than you think. It's question in every riders mind of course. I don't know where you are with your riding however I will tell you that when you start to get close to the limits or start making big enough mistakes the coaches at the school will let you know really quick. I worry a lot about grip myself however most of these concerns are completely unfounded. It just takes a while to completely understand and be comfortable using everything your contact patch has to offer. Most of the time my riding is well within the grip of my tires. The few times I have stepped over the line the bike did not immediately fall over. The best advice (and hardest to actually accomplish) is just not to think about the grip. Just ride and be somewhat responsible and steadily increase your pace as your comfort level allows.

 

Last year I did a 2up ride with Nate Kern the BMW test rider. You might find the article somewhat interesting when it comes to grip. Riding with someone who has the technique and skill and understanding of the grip that tires has is an eye opening experience. I posted about the experience here on the forum. You can find the article here.

 

http://forums.superbikeschool.com/index.php?showtopic=4458&hl=%2Barticle+%2Bwrote

 

In regards to the suit. The school rents leathers at a very reasonable price and it's an opportunity to test ride a brand of leathers and grade of suit. You can get a decent suit starting at around $1000. It's mostly the sub $1000 suits that present mobility and heat problems and even then every brand of suit is different. Not all sub $1000 suits are going to be as terrible as mine was.

 

Something to keep in mind on the airbag suits. There's many kinds of airbag suits. The Dainese uses a motion/G sensor which is quite nice however once the airbag unit deploys it requires a visit back to the service center to be re-enabled. Some suits use a tether based system that utilizes an air cartridge that can be re-armed by re-packing the air bag and replacing the cartridge by an end user. There are pro's and con's to each system. The tether based systems can be accidentally deployed and you have to remember to remove the tether. You don't have to charge them though. If you accidentally deploy it of course is annoying but is fixable. The sensor based systems are nice but you have to charge them. Your unlikely ever to accidentally deploy them but if you forget to charge the battery you don't have an airbag.

 

They also sell vests that add air bag protection to any suit that are tether based. A bit ugly and they do have some aerodynamics compromises but they are a cost effective way to add air bag protection to any suit. Beyond air bags they have a lot of other protective equipment such as back protectors and chest armor to provide a bit more protection to a rider. The school sells back protectors and equipment like this at a substantial discount to students. I got a great deal on my Forcefield back protector I bought from them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now