BMW Atlantis 4 Leather Motorcycle Riding Suit Review

[This BMW Atlantis 4 Leather Motorcycle Riding Suit was originally published in the February 2009 issue of Rider magazine]

Back in a previous life, when I had to wear nonsensical clothes to work, I had a suit made at an expensive tailoring shop. I walked into the office and my secretary said, “Wow! You look good. Really good. How much did that cost?”

I got the same reaction when I showed up in this BMW Atlantis 4 riding suit. Fits well, looks good and costs a good deal. As far as I can determine, BMW has been making an Atlantis suit since 1992, and this is its fourth rendition.

It’s flattering to my large figure, at 6 feet, 3 inches and 230 pounds. The pants and jacket have a 15-inch connecting zip at the back, so no drafts can get in—or, should you be silly enough to fall down while wearing this suit, the jacket won’t pull up.

The cowhide leather is called “nubuck,” which relates to the old buckskins our cowboys wear to this day. It is very much like suede, but instead of using the inner side of a skin, as does suede, this uses the outer after it has gone through a “bucking” process, being soaked in an alkali solution. This “nubuck” has a nice feel, and gives a comfortable fit, not stiff at all like regular leather. After a couple of hours on the motorcycle I felt right at home in this suit.

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The collar closes in a mock-turtle fashion, with a long-lasting snap rather than short-lasting hook-and-loop. Very nice. Stretch panels keep the jacket snug, and the wrists close well with zips and elastic. The jacket has two zippers on the front, an inside one, then a protective flap to keep wind and rain out, and an outside zipper—good thinking. The pants have adjustable waistbands, allowing proper fit, and there are zips at the cuffs to ease access and egress. The pockets all have sealed taped seams on the zippers. A polyester lining allows for smooth putting on and taking off. It’s a middling temperature suit, most comfortable between 60 and 80 degrees; in cold weather you can wear warm undergarments, but in hot, it has no vents to let air in.

Shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and back all have high-quality armor inserts, meeting EN1621 requirements if you want to get technical and legalistic—that’s a Euro standard, and a high one. The knee-protector pocket is adjustable for leg length, which is very practical, as it is no fun having knee protectors hanging too low when you are walking about.

The leather is said to be waterproof, or as BMW puts it, hydrophobic—lovely word, fear of water. But I have yet to give it a deluge test, as I haven’t been in any deluges of late. I know the suit is good for showers, but I have no idea if an eight-hour, 400-mile slosh might allow some water to get in. I carry a lightweight rainsuit when wearing this Atlantis 4, because I am vain enough to want to keep the suit looking good.

The Atlantis 4 is machine-washable, preferably using BMW’s detergent, and after a washing should be treated with BMW waterproofing spray. After three washes the suit should be returned to BMW for professional re-waterproofing. This is really a lifetime suit, so I am glad that BMW provides the good advice.

The suit is made in Bosnia, as BMW likes to have its suppliers in the European theater…this wisely promises good workmanship and the ability to oversee the operation. Your local BMW dealer will provide this Atlantis 4 suit, and make sure you get the right fit. The BMW website says that prices vary, I presume according to how much hide is needed to cover one’s figure, but you can figure on spending about $1,500.

For more information: See your dealer or www.bmwmotorcycles.com

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