The reality of crashing is an unfortunate aspect of the motorcycling industry that will always be at the forefront of any apparel design process. The risk only amplifies with speed and when competitors are vying for the top podium spot. The investment into technology to improve protective gear is advancing as fast as computers and cell phones and is a vital aspect of any racer’s preparation.
One-piece suits offer the most protection for racers and most tracks recommend them to competitors. Two-piece suits, although not as strong as a one-piece, offer more versatility and function for a day-to-day rider, and it won’t completely deteriorate when sliding across the asphalt.
Fitting a customer into a suit that is designed for their body-type is very important.
“The many differences of female/male anatomy are taken into consideration for the suit, including mobility, stretch and feel,” said Todd McNabney, owner of Heroic Racing Apparel.
Several companies offer both off-the-rack and custom suits, depending on the customer’s need.
“If a rider is outside of the range for an off-the-rack suit, custom will be their perfect friend,” McNabney said. “The benefits of a custom-sized suit are paramount for the level of focus required in this dangerous hobby.”
Like a vehicle, color plays a role in the racing suit design process. McNabney mentioned that if a suit is light in color, it will be similar to placing your hand on a white car versus a black car that has been sitting in the sun. Of course, the white car will be more approachable. The same idea goes for the color of a race suit.
Suits are designed to make the rider able to perform at their best and ergonomics is the key.
“For road racing, if the guy or gal is looking to dominate, they need a suit where they can be comfortable in a fetal position. Canyon racers spend more time telling their story, so the suit needs to be comfortable standing. The mechanics are specific to flat track and Supermotard racers’ needs and the proportions and function of the suit is different,” McNabney explained. “It is important to talk to each customer and provide them with exactly what they are seeking.”
Leather is the choice material for racing suits because it offers the highest level of protection. Cowhide is No. 1, followed closely behind by kangaroo and stingray leather, strategically placed in critical points of the suit to improve strength and durability by adding extra reinforcement.
When it comes to ventilation to keep riders from overheating, McNabney notes that perforation on race suits is focused on the front and only in non-impact zones.
“The most important perforation on a motorcycle apparel product is on your middle and lower back,” McNabney said. “You need to exhaust body heat, and this is the most important consideration.”
High-impact areas of the suit, like the back, spine, limb joints and palms, are reinforced with several levels of advanced safety stitching, along with different materials, such as Kevlar, Dyneema, Keprotec and Cordura, which offer temperature, cut and abrasion resistance, while enhancing comfort and breathability.
“At Heroic, we offer standard CE1 protection, which is lightweight, low profile and transparent in feeling,” McNabney said. “We also offer Level 2 protection that will absorb the energy if you literally jump out of a second story window. It is noticeable and has weight, but the safety considerations are worth its weight in gold.”
For your customers, race suits can be affordable for any budget and the highest rated protection is not contingent on a price tag. Suits can range from $300 to several thousand dollars, especially if the suit is customized instead of purchased off of the rack. Typically, racers will buy for the brand — a well-established, trusted name that has years of experience in the industry, adheres to strict standards and delivers quality, track-proven products.
Make sure your customers are covered from race day risks by pairing a suit with a full-face helmet, gloves and boots, along with an under suit for the most protection possible. In the event of an unexpected crash, your customers will thank you for keeping them safe.