Alpinestars Atem Leathers Review

The first leather suit to be completely CE certified

story by Troy Siahaan, Photograph by Dax Rodriguez, Created Jan. 14, 2013
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Today’s motorcycles are loaded with technology, and as sportbikes are getting faster protective apparel must advance at a similar rate. Alpinestars is meeting those challenges with its $1499.95 Atem leather suit, the first A-Stars suit to be fully CE Level 1 certified to EN 13595-1 standards.

Unlike other suits which feature only CE certified armor, the entire Atem suit passes three rigorous tests designed to mimic conditions found during a crash. The first test measures the abrasion resistance of the 1.3mm cowhide used throughout the suit.

Alpinestars Atem Leathers Front and Back

A material sample is weighted and dropped from five centimeters onto a rotating belt that has a rough texture similar to 60-grit sandpaper. In order to pass Level 1 CE certification, the sample must not wear through after four seconds. The Atem withstands the tougher Level 2 standard of seven seconds. This test is also done several times in different directions.

Next, the impact cut test takes a sample of the leather and mounts it over a block containing a rectangular hole. A striker of fixed mass with a sharp blade fitted is then dropped from one meter with an impact speed of 2.8 meters per second, directly above the rectangular hole. Then the maximum penetration of the blade through the material is measured. For Level 1 certification, the maximum allowable penetration is 25mm. The Atem actually passes the Level 2 standard of just 15mm.

Alpinestars Atem Leathers Shoulder Elbow

Finally, the burst strength test takes a circular sample and places it over a diaphragm clamped around its edge. It’s then gradually inflated into a dome shape, applying force to the seam. To pass Level 1 certs, it must withstand 98 psi before bursting. The Atem meets the Level 2 requirement of 112 psi.

Despite passing numerous level two requirements, the Atem is only a Level 1-certified suit, as Alpinestars didn’t want to compromise fit and functionality in non-impact areas like the armpits in order to fully meet the higher rating.

As far as impact protection is concerned, it goes without saying the Atem is filled with strategically placed CE-certified protection. Hard armor is found in the shoulder, elbow, forearm, knee and shin areas, while the chest, back and hip areas are protected with high-density foam. There’s also a provision to attach an A-Stars Bionic Back Protector (sold separately) via snaps should you choose.

Being mobile is important on the bike, and accordion panels in the back allow the rider to crouch naturally into the tuck position. Part of the reason for the Atem’s lower price tag compared to the Race Replica is the exclusion of these panels extending from the back, along the sides and to the shoulders. It’s also missing from the calf area, instead utilizing zippered Aramid stretch panels to better accommodate the rider’s anatomy.

Alpinestars Atem Leathers Legs zipper open and closed

The Atem’s fit is noticeably snug, as its lack of accordion panels along the sides means the only “give” comes in the natural flexibility of the leather. Compared to the Race Replica and its assortment of panels which contour to the body, the Atem feels snug throughout. Keep in mind this may factor in the use of separate back and chest protection.

Visually, the Atem is a sharp-looking piece of kit. With its classy color placement and form-fitting design, it's sure to make at least a few people envious at your next trackday.

alpinestars atem 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R WING9402

Initially, I experienced a slight annoyance with the hip pads, as they would hinder my ability to extend my knee fully. However, with some adjusting of the pads, this issue disappeared and movement on the bike is fluid and natural.

Alpinestars Atem Leathers Wrist ClosedThe leather panels are lightly perforated as well, but because of the aforementioned chest and back protection, I didn’t notice much airflow. Weighing in at 12 pounds, it’s on par with others in this price range and is hardly noticeable while riding. Inside, the Atem features a removable, washable inner liner with hook-and-loop fasteners around each wrist and ankle meant to help keep the suit in place during a fall. Fortunately for me, I haven’t had a chance to put this claim to the test.

As a suit touted for its safety, the Atem delivers. However, there are a couple downfalls. First is the lack of accordion stretch panels mentioned earlier. This cost-cutting measure inhibits rider mobility and comfort.

Also, each wrist cuff features padded neoprene, which, when combined with the inner suit’s wrist loops, makes glove ingress and egress more difficult than necessary. Depending on the glove and the rider’s dexterity, it also hinders the ability to twist the throttle fully.

alpinestars atem throttle hand closeup 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R

Overall, these gripes are relatively minor, especially when considering the $1400 price difference between the Atem and Race Replica. It features all of the safety components of the RR (except the airbag provision) and lacks none of the quality. Ultimately, the amount of protection combined with the comfortable fit gives me the confidence I need to ride as hard as my talent allows.

It’s available in black/white, black/white/red or black/white/yellow in U.S. sizes 48-60. A jacket version is available as well. For more information, visit http://www.alpinestars.com/.

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