99 months ago

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How to Buy Leather Motorcycle Suits or Leathers

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

A sample leather one piece suit from Safari Impex

A sample leather one piece suit from Safari Impex

Buying leather motorcycle suits or leathers: truth and fiction

If you have read my post on textile jackets, you would be right in wondering what I might know about leather motorcycle riding/racing suits. Fact of the matter is that I currently own two leather suits. I have a one-piece leather suit custom made here in Canada. I also have a two-piece zip together leather suit. Lastly, I have a pair of leather riding pants that will zip together with my textile jacket. Over the years, I have owned three previous suits. I have also helped a few friends to find a leather suit. It is like big ticket shopping without the hit on my Visa card.

So what do you look for in a leather riding suit? Well first why are you buying a leather suit? Is it for racing? Is it for track days? Is it for street riding? Very few people buy leather suits for street riding. Most suits are sold to riders who want to do track days or possibly race or maybe a bit of both. Two-piece suits are secured together with a full round the body metal zipper. Two piece suits are easier to get in and out of and allow you to have just a jacket for those rides when a full suit isn't needed. One piece suits are more the norm in racing.

To start, you can do track days and race in either one piece or two piece leather suits. Both can work well on the track, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Motorcycle road racers usually ride in one-piece suits, track day riders use both and most dirt trackers go with two piece suits. The other fallacy I hear too often from people is that only expensive name brand leathers are worth looking at. A decent leather suit (one-piece or two) can be had new for around $500.00 to $800.00 plus tax. A top level name brand suit can cost $1800.00 and a top level name brand ‘custom fit’ suit can be over $2000.00. A decent used suit can often be found for $350.00 to $400.00. I have attached a few photos of motorcycle leather suits from SAFARI IMPEX of Toronto. Safari is a small company that brings in their own brand of motorcycle suits in both two-piece type and one-piece.

an example of a two piece suit that can be zipped together for track use.

an example of a two piece suit that can be zipped together for track use.

How to fit your leathers

Lets talk about how to fit your less than perfect bod into a leather suit. First thing to know is that leather riding or racing suits can fit differently from brand to brand.

Try on lots of different suits! Yes I said try on suits. To be able to check the fit, start with wearing the proper under gear. Your new leather suit is not designed to be worn over jeans, etc. Try on a leather suit over compression gear (Lycra exercise tops and pants work). Don’t have compression gear yet? A tight cotton t shirt and boxer shorts will do in a pinch. Start with your ‘business suit’ size. Don’t be surprised if your suit size isn’t the size leather suit that fits best.

Climbing into a new suit of leathers will be a lot tighter garment than you are used to. Be prepared for that. Start with getting your legs all the way in and the leg zippers done up. I have big calves and some suits have legs that are just too tight. It doesn’t mean that I have to have a custom fit suit, it just means I try a different brand suit. Next thing to look at is where the knee slider and knee armor sit when you are seated. If the knee armor and sliders are not in the right place covering your knees, the suit isn’t a good fit.

When you are ok with the bottom fit, time to get your arms into the top of the suit. It won’t be easy as this is a suit designed to be tight. Once you are in the suit, check location of the shoulder and elbow armor. Are they up close to your joints? Can you easily zip up the front zipper? Is there enough room in there for a back protector? If you don’t have one to take with you, borrow one. Your seller should also have a few back protectors for sale you can use.

Sit on a bike or a chair. Sit in the riding position with the suit on and lean forward to a pretend set of handlebars. Do the sleeves extend down to your wrists? Zip up the sleeves. It should be tight but not too tight. While you are still in the chair, twist your body right and left. Can you move without the suit binding up your movement? Is the collar too tight? Remember, a new suit will be tight. The suit will ‘break in’ just like a pair of new shoes that hurt your feet the first few times you wear them.

Another thing to remember is that your weight or body size does change. A heavy meal before riding, skipping breakfast, failing to drink enough water before riding…all of these can affect the fit of your leathers. After a hot day of racing, you can lose up to ten pounds.

I hope this quick review is helpful.

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