Bigbikemad’s guest writer James Nutt gets a second skin…
Ever seen what tarmac does to human skin at 100mph? The effects are rather taking an industrial sander to yourself, unless of course the tarmac is rough, in which case think high-speed cheese-grater. Of course, we all hope contact between ourselves and the black stuff will never happen…. But our James, having bought a fast CBR600 track bike, decided his hide was worth protecting. Yet, with so many suits on the market, which to choose? One things for sure though – as things turned out, splashing out on a good suit was to prove a very wise investment indeed…
Like most of us, James did some online research, but cleverly supplemented this by asking around the paddock on racedays. He wanted better than off the peg gear like Alpinestars’ entry-level stuff, but needed something more affordable than full bespoke.
Word in the paddock was almost unanimous – ‘get in touch with British firm arc-on’ (yes, in lower case letters) ‘and get them to adapt one of their basic suits’. So that’s what James did and here’s how he got on.
How does it work?
James explains how the buying process works…
‘Following a trial fit on a stock suit sent to my house, I needed a little bit of length added to the arm (yes, I have baboon-dimensioned limbs). Arc-On arranged for a courier to pick up the suit and I let them have my final colour design back by email.
Then I had 6 weeks to wait – and I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. In the end they did the job in only 4 weeks and it turned out to be everything I could have hoped for’
It’s true that the price I paid was more than if I’d gone into a store and bought off the peg – but it was nowhere near as much as a full bespoke suit’.
Opening the box…
The first thing that struck James about his arc-on suit was the quality. He’d looked at many suits including Alpinestars, Arlen Ness and RST, and felt that none of them matched arc-on suits for value for money when one take’s into account comfort of fit and level of protection.
James continues; ‘Leather thickness ranges from 1.2 to 1.4mm on the arc-on suit, with double thickness at backside, thighs and elbows – all the places likely to take the brunt of an impact, a well considered design idea and one that some big names haven’t adopted yet.
‘On the rear of the thigh, a raised patch of Stingray skin is placed to help protect the leather in the event of a low-side. External titanium sliders are fitted onto the shoulders, elbows and knees, the idea of these is to help protect key areas of stitching’.
‘Inside the suit, an antibacterial mesh lining keeps the suit clean. There’s armour in the shoulder, elbow and knees, and that’s good stuff from Forcefield (their Pro Sub 4 back protector is the worlds first to transmit less than 4kN of energy to the wearer in the event of a crash, the lowest amount for any back protector out there).
At the chest there’s foam padding, not only for comfort but again to help protect in the event of a spill. Concertina stretch panels ease mobility, with units at the shoulders, knees and back. High Kevlar content Scholler stretch panels are placed in groin, behind knee, under arms and back of neck for ergonomic fit and again to aid in moving around the bike’.
Real world tests
It turned out to be just as well that James invested in such a good suit. His first real need of it came in the last session of his first trackday at Oulton Park. Says James; ‘I came into Lodge Corner on the last session and went in carrying too much front brake. Down she went. I held on to the bike until I was just about to hit the gravel, convinced I could save it all the way until I finally had to abandon ship to make sure it didn’t dig in and flip onto me. After a brief bounce through the gravel I got up, shook my head and went off to lick any wounds’.
‘The most amazing thing was, I was completely unhurt. The suit got christened, but the only damage was a scuff to the right thigh, slight scuffing to the right forearm and a bit of abrasion across the rear. Despite sliding on my forearm for about 20 metres there was no damage to stitching, leather or the integrity of the suit’.
James sums up; ‘My honest advice to anyone looking at buying leathers for road, track or both is, seriously consider arc-on. Their suits are second to none in quality, can be altered to suit the customer, and they work in the real world.
I paid £800 for mine including the alterations and a truly personal service. I got stuff that fits like a glove and will last for years – even with my riding!
I think the service and quality of the suit is possible because that’s the way the firm is geared up. They develop the products with the aid of WSB and BSB riders. The products you buy are exactly the same as the racers use. This suit has literally saved my skin, and I will be using arc-on leathers for as long as I ride bikes’.