We take the hit to prove this newcomer’s worth
In June, we received a pair of one-piece leather racing suits from R Speed; a brand that is new to the business. We were intrigued to see what this fresh entry was all about, especially after our many email contacts with the company. These folks are enthusiastic!
Upon initial inspection, there were details about these suits that we liked and others which had us wondering. Minuses included rather plain styling, a somewhat fussy removable liner and worst of all, substandard zippers. This last issue was a case of, “Right supplier, wrong part number.” The zippers were genuine metal YYK items, but were of the weaker, small-toothed variety. This might never be an issue on the sleeves and legs but was worrisome for the main zipper that runs crotch to neck. On the plus side, the R Speed suit featured genuine Schoeller Keprotec Kevlar stretch material, robust seams, Titanium scuff plates, thick CE Approved armor and the biggest speed hump in the history of motorcycling. Time to ride!
Love at first apex
On the bike, we immediately fell in love with this R Speed suit. Its cut and fit were absolutely perfect, working beautifully both for enormous Senior Editor K3 and our much more normally-sized photographer Kendrick Kirk. Aside from protection, the bottom line with any set of leathers is their fit. If you can’t move freely about the motorcycle at speed, you’ll hate every minute you spend in them. On track and on the gas, the cut of our R Speed leathers really let us get down to business. Functionality and comfort were on a par with the best gear we’ve ever tested; to the extent that we were willing to overlook the details we didn’t like. We gave the R Speed a good review and it became our “Business Suit,” getting plenty of hard use while other gear we possess put in hanger time.
In the blink of an eye, a mechanical failure threw K3 down the road at over 100mph. We don’t plan to crash test gear here at TrackdayMag.com, but we know it will happen eventually. This one was a doozy. Our Editor was flung headfirst and face down into the pavement, taking the initial hit on the forearms. A fifty-yard slide across the asphalt came next, with the final ten yards of the trip spent tumbling through the grass.
Damage to the rider was limited to bumps and bruises. Helmet, boots, gloves and suit had all done their jobs. Remember, if you walk away, the crash was a success. In the aftermath, it was time to assess how well the R Speed suit had faired in the get-off. In truth, there was more damage than we expected. The forearms were fairly well shredded, exposing the armor beneath. A seam had opened under one armpit, where the Keprotec is joined to the leather at the rib cage. Otherwise, there were the usual scrapes and scuffs. Since this crash was essentially a hard, high speed impact and slide on the arms with a bit of tumbling thrown in once the rider left the track, the damage makes sense. It was the sort of accident that would render any Top-Grain, “one crash” suit unusable until it received repair; however, we’d have expected the leather shell to have survived un-breached.
In truth, this set of R Speed leathers performed below our expectations. Any consumer would have been upset by the zipper failure we experienced early on; the knee pucks had been strictly for show and when we crashed it, the suit’s structure was opened up in three areas. That’s all bad news, BUT…. Bear in mind that we walked away from a violent, 100mph-plus crash without injury. Trashed as the R Speed may have been when the wreck ended, it had protected us 100%.
Our final opinion
Here at TrackdyMag.com, we get the chance to test many products that have yet to be released to the buying public and others that are brand new. Some are such epic failures that we simply send them back with suggestions for improvement and a promise to retest the next version. Others are fully developed and well thought out, with the manufacturer just looking for our input during the final stages of Beta testing. Then we have this R Speed suit, which is a complete paradox. As the company’s first-ever attempt at building a serious set of racing leathers, it’s a near winner. In the categories of fit and comfort, this garment is world class. The dense, oversized armor inside is what protected our rider from injury when the leather shell failed. In all honesty, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this suit to a street rider, since we feel that it would hold up admirably at legal speeds. For racetrack use though, R Speed’s first offering needs improvement.
What we see here is a company which is still early in its learning curve, yet deadly serious about joining the ranks of the best protective gear available. Fortunately, startup companies build their products in small batches. A new design is already in production, which incorporates lessons learned from crashes like ours. R Speed assures us that the zipper choice, leather-to-Keprotec seam construction and grade of cowhide issues have all been addressed. We truly believe that R Speed’s next suit will be just as awesome to wear as their first, with improvements that will make it safer and more durable for racetrack riders. We can’t wait to test it!