Steve Palella goes asphalt surfing
Earlier this summer, we reviewed the Arlen Ness M3 Magnesium 1-piece leather suit. We couldn't have been more impressed with the design, function or construction of this outstanding $999 garment. Track testing showed the fit and ventilation to be
absolutely superb. Of course, the true test of any set of leathers is how it survives in a crash and as always, we've gone that extra mile to serve our readership. Ever wonder how we get our testers to fling themselves down the asphalt? We sew TrackdayMag.com patches to their suits and say, "These are expensive. Don't mess them up! Works like a charm...
After our initial test, contributing editor Steve Palella rode this Arlen Ness suit to the CCS Expert Heavyweight Superbike Midwest points title. To wrap up what had been a fine season, he headed to Putnam Park for the AMA Grand National; a winner-take-all series of championship races for those competitors who have yet to turn pro.
With a very good shot at winning a national title, Palella was riding on the absolute edge. He recalls, "I was chasing down Joel Spalding, who had a horsepower advantage over me. On the first lap, I left the start stuck to his rear tire. As we came out of Turn Six, I saw that his line was going to carry him wide. I took the opportunity to square off the corner and get up the inside. I needed to get the best drive possible to put myself in front of him before Dead Bear. The red mist got the better of me. Still fully leaned over, I grabbed a big handful of throttle. She let loose with all the ferocity of a hit by a linebacker, hooked up and went into a highside. There was no time to save the initial slide and the best I could do was try to stay on and balance the now bucking bike. Almost saved it but you know what they say about almost. I did not go over the top but instead lost hold of the bars and ended up falling off the inside."
Steve's GPS showed him moving at 52mph when the crash occurred. He took a solid hit to the shoulder and then tumbled. The M3 Magnesium was scuffed up in many places (and of course the TrackdayMag.com patches were destroyed) but there was literally no structural damage to the suit. Steve walked away from this crash with a few aches and pains but was otherwise OK.
You can pay a whole lot less than $999 for a leather suit. We've tested plenty of leathers that cost less and have found several brands that make very acceptable offerings in the lower price ranges. The one thing we've found that all lower-end suits have in common is that they don't survive crashing very well. You'll probably be fine in those suits but when you get up, your leathers will be in shreds. The post-crash condition of this Arlen Ness M3 Magnesium suit is an excellent demonstration of what you should expect from the "thousand dollar and up" category of leathers. When we initially tested this garment, we stated that it was, "Exactly what a $999 race suit should be." Post-crash, aside from a few scuffs, it still is. There's no higher praise than that.