My Alpinestars Octane suit and I have developed a cozy relationship. It was my first piece of official Rider-logo gear, and it has served me well on many tracks in the United States, Germany and Japan. During my stay in Kyoto after the Kawasaki ZX-6R intro, I even wore it as a costume on Halloween night, though the lack of venting made for a sweaty night on the dance floor.
The A-star logo is familiar to anyone who watches motorcycle racing, as many top riders wear Alpinestars gear. Founded in 1963 and based in Asolo, Italy, Alpinestars offers a full line of leather and textile gear for street and off-road riding, as well as casual apparel and accessories. For track riding or sport touring, a two-piece suit with a full, 360-degree zipper offers more convenience than one-piece suits worn by most racers. During breaks the jacket can be removed completely rather than peeling away the top half of a one-piece like a partially shed layer of skin.
Alpinestars’ patented suit design is constructed from 1.2-1.4mm full-grain leather with multiple-stitched main seams for tear resistance. Die-cut leather logos are stitched on the chest and legs, and rubberized A-star logos are stitched on the upper arms, knees and lower back. Accordion panels under the arm, above the knee and at the lower back, as well as nylon stretch panels inside the arms and legs, provide a comfortable fit while allowing plenty of movement. There are no vents or perforations in the leather, but the stretch panels let your skin breathe (somewhat). The interior of the suit is lined with cool athletic mesh, with a soft-lined collar, three interior pockets (no exterior pockets) and inner pockets to accommodate optional Bionic Chest Pads ($39.95 per pair). Since leather suits cannot be easily cleaned, wearing full-length Lycra undergarments will absorb sweat and skin oils (Alpinestars has one- and two-piece accessory items that work well for $59.95 to $119.95).
Between the leather and lining is CE-approved armor in the shoulders, elbows, knees and shins, as well as foam pad inserts for the back, hips and tailbone. I recommend supplementing or replacing the foam back pad with Alpinestars’ reticulated Bionic Back Protector ($129.95), which offers CE Level 2 protection and a kidney belt for secure fit. As with most track-ready suits, large hook-and-loop panels on the outside of each knee provide ample space for securing hard plastic knee sliders. Sport knee sliders come standard, which can be replaced for $29.95 per pair or upgraded to ergonomic GP sliders for $49.95 per pair. (Funny anecdote: A bartender and patron at Dracula Bar in Kyoto befriended me on Halloween night, peppering me with questions about the ZX-6R launch in broken, drunken English—far better than my Japanese. As a token of my appreciation, I tore off the knee sliders that had been ground down at Autopolis and gave one to each of them.)
The Octane Two-piece Suit is high-quality gear at a reasonable price ($689.95). Premium Alpinestars suits can run upward of $2,500, but for a fraction of the cost you can get race-developed design and protection. When sized correctly, it fits well and the leather softens up after breaking in. Thankfully, I have not crash-tested this suit, but I have the utmost confidence that it will save my skin and bones should the misfortune arise. European sizes 46-64 in black, blue, red or white.
For more information: See your dealer or contact Alpinestars, (310) 891-0222 or www.alpinestars.com