A few weeks ago, I found myself in a very unexpected position: riding a sporty Yamaha YZF-R7, navigating the twists and turns of a professional motorcycle circuit in southern New Jersey. As a café racer and cruiser type, such a scenario had never been on my radar – but when the opportunity to experience the Yamaha Champions Riding School presented itself, I couldn’t pass it up.
For all the steps outside my comfort zone that this adventure involved, perhaps the weirdest was the key piece of clothing involved: a $1,500 Dainese Laguna Seca one-piece leather suit. Anyone who’s caught a snippet of Moto GP or MotoAmerica can imagine it: a practically form-fitting bodysuit armored with shoulder, elbow and knee pads, and shaped in such a way that it only looks a bit normal when you’re actually crouched down. on a bike.
Business suits often have personal touches and an airbag system (which adds another big plus to the price), but are otherwise quite similar. And as worried as I was about rocking one, I came to appreciate its charms.
So much so, in fact, that if you’re going for a track day, I – as Ferris Bueller might say – highly recommend you buy one – or at least rent one to try. Here’s why.
1. A one-piece riding suit fits like a glove (really)
This expression is used often, but you know that it really applies when the article in question takes at least 15 minutes to put. You have to really contort and squeeze to put on one of these costumes, at least the first couple times. I’m sure from the outside it was quite comical to see me and the other noobs struggling to get dressed. (Especially in the first costume I tried on, which was too small – and so tight that my voice went up an octave.)
The suits are perforated, so even on a hot race track you don’t feel totally overheated. They’re mostly made from full-grain cowhide, so they’ll probably stretch a bit to conform to your body over time. And you understand how to wear them, even unzipping and shaking the upper (a process made easier with a tug on another rider’s sleeve) during breaks.
By the end of the two-day school, I could put the costume on in about five minutes, but even that number is a testament to its fitted shape. Which, in addition to streamlining you for speed, puts you in the right frame of mind to ride your best.
2. The leather racing suit boosts your confidence
The great Ned Flanders once said that a skin-tight ski suit helps to maximum mobility. While the Laguna Seca doesn’t necessarily have that effect – I can’t imagine trying to run away from a bear in this suit and matching Axial D1 boots – there’s no doubt that slipping into it made me feel like a superhero.
I’m not the fittest man on the planet — and my school classmates came in all shapes and sizes — but everyone seemed ready to wear suits. Thank Dainese design principles. I’ve tried a number of their products, including other technical products, and while I’m sure my part-Italian blood leaves me biased, I’m convinced the brand is incapable of making products that aren’t (or at least close to) the pinnacle of form and function.
This is certainly the case here. The black and white color scheme is classic and the garment seamlessly incorporates many interesting qualities, including breathability and a surprising amount of flexibility, thanks to XF Arrow, a Dainese proprietary material that introduces some stretch into the garment. .
It also delivers performance and hydration all in one go – the rear aero hump is designed to hold a water bag kit with a tube that goes straight into a compatible helmet for on-the-go sips. All of these features added up to make me feel like I had everything I needed to ride faster and safer than ever.
3. You’re as safe as a turtle in a one-piece suit.
I swear I didn’t put that part here because the phrase Safety Third is popular enough to land on T-shirts. I favor the recency effect instead, because security is the main reason combinations like this exist. Even without an airbag, it’s packed with protective features, including room for a back protector, and strategically placed plates and pads.
That’s right, shoulder protectors are actually aluminum plates – a pioneering and patented Dainese approach – to help you slide rather than roll dangerously in the event of a fall. The suit also includes Pro-Shape 2.0 protectors on the hips. Meanwhile, the elbow and knee pads are made of a composite material, designed to make contact with the track as frictionless as possible. The knee pads are attached by Velcro, as elite racers drag their knees around the tightest corners and need to replace them from time to time. But hey, if you ride at this level, you definitely don’t need me to tell you to invest in a costume like this.
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