Updated, February 2020

One of the greatest thrills of going roadracing or doing a trackday is having a legitimate excuse to dress up in a skin-tight leather onesie. Aycaramba! Apart from your bike, a good set of leathers is probably going to be the biggest purchase you’ll have to make when you decide to take the racetrack plunge. You’ll be glad you bought the cheapest pre-owned suit you could find, right up until you have your first gnarly, high-speed get-off. After that, you very well might wish you’d spent a bit more. You don’t have to have the latest airbag technology from Dainese, Alpinestars, et al, but if it saves you one broken collarbone or worse, maybe think of as much protection as you can afford as a wise investment. Most of the suits we’ve listed here are each manufacturers’ creme de la creme, but all of them make more affordable suits, many also come in women’s sizes, too – as well as two-piece zip-together suits that are nice for when you just want to wear the jacket. On with it!

Alpinestars Racing Absolute – $2,600

Alpinestars’ latest and greatest is a 100% kangaroo suit, which is of course Tech-Air compatible. MotoGP trickledown, says A’stars, results in “a state-of-the-art racing suit which sets new benchmarks for protective technology available to riders.” A brand-new innovative aramid bonded leather is used in the areas most prone to high abrasion: shoulders, knees, elbows, forearm, seat, and the sides of the back, as well as dual-leather layers. The aramid-bonded sections have significantly increased tear and abrasion resistance, and reduced heat transfer to the rider. Cut in a full-on racing fit, the Absolute’s premium grade 1.1mm-kangaroo leather provides high levels of abrasion resistance, lightness, flexibility, and breathability. Yin and yang, this one’s got anatomically contoured screw-mounted elbow sliders and an internal waterproof wallet pocket.

(Don’t panic if this one’s out of the budget; Alpinestars price rang drops down to $999.95 for the Stella Missile women’s suit.)

BMW ProRace Race Suit - $1,699

The Germans know their motorsports and their cows, as well as how to show a little restraint. A suave perforated Nappa leather exterior contains armor at the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, and the suit’s ready to accept BMW’s optional Long NP Pro back protector. Special 3D “spacer” fabric lines the back to help keep air circulating, while strategically placed stretch panels make moving around on your bike stiction-free. Naturally, we’re CE-certified, and there’s an inside pocket – sorely missed on some suits when you’re riding on the street.

Cortech Adrenaline RR One-Piece Race Suit – $800

Worn by several MotoAmerica racers, and also endorsed by guys with “dadbods,” the Adrenaline RR suit from Cortech features a seamless design in the legs, external armor with aluminum sliders in the shoulders and elbows, and accordion stretch panels throughout for excellent range of motion. It’s constructed from 1.2mm-1.4mm cowhide, and CE-approved shoulder, elbow, and knee protectors are included. Seams are double- and even triple-stitched in high impact areas, and heavy-duty 600 denier stretch Kevlar is used in non-critical areas for greater flexibility. To help with comfort in the proper riding position, the shoulders are rotated and legs pre-curved. YKK zippers with spring-loaded pulls on the cuffs keep everything secure and free from flapping in the wind.

Dainese Misano 2 D-Air Perforated Race Suit – $2,500

Of course, Alpinestars isn’t the only one in the airbag game, and the Dainese Misano 2 D-Air suit incorporates Dainese’s D-Air System for airbag protection across the shoulders, collarbones, neck, and ribs. Like the Tech-Air system from Alpinestars, the D-Air does not rely on physical tethers and is operated electronically upon detection of a crash. Unlike the Tech-Air system, however, D-Air is incorporated into the Misano 2 – meaning the system can’t be transferred to other garments, and the whole suit would need to be sent back upon deployment of the airbag. As for the suit itself, construction is entirely of cowhide, and revised inserts along the inner knee area provide a positive connection with your bike. You’ll find stretch panels along the sides, back, and knees to allow natural movement, and aluminum sliders/protectors are seamlessly placed along the shoulders, elbows, and knees to help promote sliding in a fall, which beats tumbling. Internal armor can be found throughout, and real trackday heroes will be happy to know the Misano 2 comes equipped with elbow sliders.

Heroic Stage III Custom Pro Professional Race Suit – $2,350

There are several independent manufacturers/retailers of leather suits in the US, and New York-based Heroic Racing Apparel (HRA) is a popular one among trackday goers nationwide, largely because they offer suits custom-tailored based on your specific measurements. Sampled here is the premier Stage III suit, but as you can likely guess, two lower stages are also available for less money. The Stage III is made entirely from 0.8mm – 1.1mm kangaroo leather and can weigh as little as eight pounds (depending on rider size and other options). Because it’s made to measure based on 23 measurements, the suit will feel broken-in immediately, and though CE level 1 armor comes standard, an upgrade to D3O Xergo armor is also available. Whether you like more subdued graphics, or something wild and crazy, because it’s custom made, Heroic can help you design the suit of your dreams. Or, grab an “off-the-rack” suit for $1,050, or a kid’s for $750.

Mithos RCP-18AIR Tech-Air Compatible – $1899

Heroic Racing Apparel isn’t the only game in town when it comes to made-to-measure leathers. Mithos is another brand that may be more familiar to Europeans due to its MotoGP presence, but the brand is establishing itself in America. What separates Mithos, and the RCP-18AIR specifically, is the ability to have a custom-measured suit that’s also Alpinestars Tech-Air compatible (actual Tech-Air system sold separately). Not even Alpinestars offers a service like this. Available in either cowhide or kangaroo leather, Sas-Tech internal armors are used in the shoulders, elbows, hip, and knee. The exterior protectors use a honeycomb design to absorb and disperse impact energy, rather than transfer it to you. Vulnerable slide areas get double layers of leather and are double stitched. Industry-standard YKK zippers round out the suit’s features. For 2020, Mithos offers a new semi-custom suit for $1,599 in cow, or $2,249 in kangaroo, in your choice of four designs.

Pilot EVO V2 – $1,350

Add Pilot to the list of made-to-measure custom suits available to the trackday/racetrack enthusiast. While the EVO V2 may not be airbag compatible, at $1,350 it’s a relative bargain for a top-notch suit, made just for you (because let’s face it, new suits are expensive). Constructed from competition grade 1.3mm – 1.5mm milled calfskin leather, Schoeller Keprotec Kevlar stretch panels in the chest, arms, crotch, and calf, the combination of the two materials makes for a suit that’s both protective and comfortable. Removable CE-approved internal armor in the shoulders, elbows, forearms, knees, and shins help protect from impact, and alloy external armor cap the shoulders and elbows to help promote a slide should you fall. Apart from the hard armor, sewn-in memory foam lies on the upper tailbone and across the back, hips, and upper shoulders. As for airflow, thermo-plastic vents lie on top of each shoulder, and the suit can be ordered with or without perforation.

Rev’It Quantum Race Suit – $1,250

If fashion is as important for you as speed, the Rev’it Quantum race suit might be the choice for you; its Monaco cowhide is “debossed” for a honeycomb print that looks like shimmering snakeskin. Complementing the Monaco cow skin is perforated leather, Nubuck leather, Lorica, neoprene, and 3D mesh. Together, they create an extremely comfortable suit. Dual compound sliders at the knees, elbows, and shoulders help absorb impact energy in a fall, but also help the suit glide instead of catch on the pavement. There’s CE-rated armor in the usual spots (shoulders, elbows, forearm, knees, and shins), with pockets for optional chest and back protection. Additionally, the speed hump can double as a pocket for a hydration pack (sold separately).

RS Taichi GP-EVO R107 Tech-Air Racing Suit – $3,400

When you care enough to rend the very best… RS Taichi prides itself on making extremely comfortable racing suits, and the GP-EVO R107 is the latest evolution of Taichi’s continued development towards more comfortable and flexible protection. It has done this by taking into consideration the position of the body while riding and moving or adjusting the suit to accommodate. Make no mistake – this suit is NOT made for standing around, but once on the bike, it’ll feel like a second home. Constructed from Japanese full-grain leather, you’ll find CE approved protectors on the shoulder, elbow, and knees. Exterior sliders are found on the shoulders, knees, and yes, the elbows. Further comfort comes from the leather flex panels on the waist, knees, elbows, and shoulders, allowing the rider to move freely. But the biggest talking point with the GP-EVO R107 is its compatibility with the Alpinestars Tech-Air airbag system (sold separately). Some even say the fit of the suit is optimized for the Tech-Air system, and wearing the suit without it feels awkward.

Spidi Track Replica EVO – $1,700

The Spidi Track Replica EVO race suit takes its origin directly from MotoGP; with features like the removable and adjustable elbow sliders, and the ultimate evolution for the Spidi patented Warrior Technology. The Track Replica EVO is tailored with premium 1.2mm – 1.3mm Italian cowhide, combined with stretch material structures and neoprene inserts to increase the level of comfort while racing. CE Force Tech protectors on the elbows and knees are joined by CE biomechanic protectors on the shoulders and CE multitech protectors on the hip. The suit comes ready to accept Spidi’s Warrior back and chest protectors (sold separately), and the speed hump on the back is ready to accept Spidi’s Hydroback hydration system (also sold separately).

Vanson Hybrid One-Piece Racing Suit – $1,299

When it comes to leather motorcycle apparel, perhaps no name is better recognized in the US than Vanson. The company offers custom suits built to your specs (which would be our choice if you can afford it), but the Hybrid One-Piece Racing Suit will give you an idea of the design and protection offered by all Vanson suits. Vanson prides itself on building tough suits that will last through multiple crashes. This is thanks to the 1.2mm leather used, which is thick and can take a beating. The suit features both the twin front zipper design and Floating Armor system, which were invented and patented by Vanson. A lot of thought and consideration went into making the suit both comfortable and protective in the riding position, and articulated panels throughout, combined with expansion panels in key areas (knees, elbows, lower back) let the rider move naturally. Of course, you’ll find CE approve F.A.S. armor at the knees, shoulders, and elbows. To help keep the rider cool, the front panel is made from ProPerf perforated leather, and the front bib portion is laminated to spacer fabric to provide cushioning and a channel for air to flow across the torso. The aerohump on the back also features a mesh screen across the top to flow air along the spine while in a tuck.

For extra peace of mind, every Vanson product is covered under warranty and the company will do repairs, alterations, washing, reconditioning, and redye of the leather regardless of the age or condition.