If you’ve turned the pages of Rider or scanned the photos posted on ridermag.wpengine.com, then you know we most often wear textile riding apparel on the street. It tends to be lightweight and versatile, particularly in terms of water-resistance. Of course, we wear leather on the track since its abrasion-resistance is hard to beat; in fact, most tracks require leather protective gear. Beyond its ability to protect skin from the cheese-grating effects of an asphalt slide, leather blocks wind exceptionally well. And frankly, it just looks cool.
In its alpine factory in Asolo, Italy, Alpinestars makes first-rate riding apparel for both street and dirt, in textile and leather. While the brand is most often associated with racing, Alpinestars makes a full line of street apparel that can be style-matched to any type of motorcycle. For several cruiser and retro model introductions and photo shoots–as well as hundreds of miles of road testing–I have worn two different jackets matched to a single pair of pants, all in leather.
A-stars’ Bat pants are said to be designed for sport riding, but I’d say they’re general-use leather riding pants. No knee pucks here. They are made of all-black, supple-yet-durable leather, with CE-approved, removable knee/shin armor and a generous amount of stitched-in foam padding on both hips. Accordion-stitched leather at the waist and above both knees, as well as stretch panels behind the calf, allow for freedom of movement and proper fit. The pants are lined with cool, comfortable athletic mesh, and they are secured at the waist with a zipper fly, button and leather adjustment tab that goes through a D-ring and attaches with hook-and-loop.
In the Alpinestars catalog, two schematics indicate that the Bat pants are midway between low and high amounts of ventilation. And on a 7-point scale from relaxed (1, jeans) to fitted (7, racing leathers), they are a 5. Well, there’s really not much in the way of ventilation, just two long, triangular panels of perforated leather on the top of each thigh. On a hot day, you’ll definitely wish you were wearing something lighter in weight and color and with more ventilation. As for the fit, these are not overpants; worn as regular pants they were comfortable immediately, more so after a few hundred break-in miles.
Bat pants offer little in the way of storage space, just one zippered pocket on the front of the right thigh. They are equipped with a full-waist zipper that connects to just about any jacket Alpinestars makes. This offers a significant protection advantage over zippers that only attach for 10-12 inches along the back. And if you moonlight as a rock star, these will probably look great on stage!
Alpinestars’ Interceptor jacket pairs nicely with the Bat pants. It is also black with no graphics, just a small, understated A-stars button logo on the chest and a modest A-stars logo embossed into the leather at the lower back. Made of 1.2-1.4mm full-grain leather with durable multiple-stitched main seams, the Interceptor features black stitching in a concentric circle pattern at the shoulders and elbows for an old-school look. Removable CE-approved armor at the elbow and shoulder and foam pads at the chest and back provide decent if not top-level protection; we recommend ponying up another $29.95 for the accessory CE-certified RC Back Protector, which fits in a compartment inside the back of the jacket.
Although there are waist adjustment tabs and small neoprene stretch panels at the elbows, inner arms and shoulders, the Interceptor felt awkwardly cut. The jacket fit me across the chest and shoulders and the length of the pre-curved sleeves was spot-on, so sizing wasn’t the issue. Being an Italian company, Alpinestars often designs their riding apparel to be sleek and form-fitting. Perhaps it is with this benchmark in mind that I found the jacket not all that flattering on my frame, particularly in the sleeves where the armor seems especially bulky. Then again, I don’t have the body of a male model.
The Interceptor offers no venting, so this jacket—like the Bat pants—can be a sauna on hot days (like the photo shoot for the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide featured in our November 2008 issue). The athletic mesh interior helps somewhat. On cool days, a removable thermal vest provides added warmth. To keep the design clean, exterior pockets are limited to two zippered handwarmers. Keep your sandwich or whatever else in one of the four interior pockets. A full-waist zipper connects to Bat and some other styles of Alpinestars leather pants.
Offering a different styling choice than the Interceptor, the Dragster’s distressed black leather is reminiscent of a bomber flight jacket, while parallel white racing stripes, block stitching and embroidered patch logos give it a retro, café racer look. As with the Interceptor, the Dragster is made of 1.2-1.4mm full-grain leather with multiple-stitched main seams. And it has pre-curved sleeves, athletic mesh interior, removable thermal vest and decent crash protection (CE-approved armor at the shoulders and elbows with foam pads at the chest and back, with compartment for accessory back protector). There are no stretch panels on the Dragster, but there is perforated leather under the arms to cool your pits.
Concerning fit, I found the Dragster to be even more awkward than the Interceptor. Again, sizing wasn’t the problem. The Dragster is a big, bulky jacket with very spacious sleeves. It feels more like a casual jacket than a riding jacket, though the thick leather and built-in armor are all business. Although the cuffs zip open to make the jacket easier to remove, even with the zippers closed the cuffs felt loose. Normally I can cover the ends of jacket sleeves with the gauntlets of riding gloves, but the Dragster sleeves were too bulky to do so. With glove gauntlets tucked into the cuffs, cold air blasts up the sleeves. On the other hand, this can be an advantage on hot days as the jacket offers no venting.
Neither of these jackets nor the pants are water-resistant, and if you’ve ever gotten leather apparel water-logged in a downpour you’ll know the importance of carrying a rain suit in the event of precipitation. Fortunately, I haven’t crashed in any of this riding apparel, so I can’t comment on the job it would do in a get-off. But I can comment on the fact that every piece of Alpinestars apparel I’ve tested, from gloves and boots, to jackets and pants, to back protectors and ballistic jerseys, has been top-quality. I’ve never had stitches come loose or zippers break or anything else that would suggest poor craftsmanship. You pay for such quality, but I think it’s worth it. As for the awkward fit of the jackets, that seems to be more of a design/body issue than a quality issue. If possible, go to a dealer and try on apparel to make sure it fits you well before buying.
Alpinestars Bat Pants, $299.95, European sizes 44-60, product ID 312957
Alpinestars Interceptor Jacket, $449.95, European sizes 46-64, product ID 310127
Alpinestars Dragster Jacket, $429.95, European sizes 48-60, product ID 310248
For more information, visit www.alpinestars.com or see your dealer.