Courtesy of Alexa Krueger at www.spyderleatherworks.com:
I've been getting many questions about which suit to purchase, what is considered correct fit, etc.
Brands that I unequivocally endorse:
Off the shelf:
I do not necessarily have biz connections with all of these companies, I just feel they are exceptional.
As far as customs, most rock, from Vanson , Barnacle Bill, NJK, Komodo, you will most likely be satisfied.
All other suits will work, provided they fit properly, some are not on the list because I consider them to be too expensive and/or over engineered, some are not on there because they are not a value. I've omitted "Value suits", because these will get you through a crash or 2 and require regular repair.
Cowhide vs Roo:
Roo is thinner and lighter than cowhide, and offers superior abrasion resistance. A roo suit will be more comfortable in hotter climates and conditions. Once it is breached, it can tear easily. Pricing on Roo runs the gamut, and it can be repaired, and you may have to repair more often if you happen to crash on abrasive tracks or run into particularly sharp kitty litter.
Cowhide is tough, but abrades more readily. It can be cut thinner, to save on some weight, but that is at the cost of durablilty. Vanson, BB and other customs tend to use thicker leather, and can last years, Thinner leather will still offer adequate protection, but may have a shorter usage window.
Fit is the most important aspect of your gear! If you have an ill fitting suit, you and the suit will get damaged. We can repair the suit, but scars are forever, broken bones take longer to fix than the hole in your sleeve. If your armor is not in the correct position, it cannot protect you properly. If your suit is loose and the armor moves out of position easily, it cannot protect you. Flapping leather in the thighs and biceps can cause "snake bites" that essentially tear your skin requiring stitches, sometimes internal as well as external.
However, if you spend $1600 on the meanest, baddest suit, and it just doesn't fit, you are doing yourself no favors, and injury is likely.
Most suits will generally do their job at least once, and sometimes, you get what you pay for. If you paid $500 for a suit, and it got tore up, but you didn't, it did it's job. Send it out for repair, if need be. If you pay $1000 for a suit, and that same result happens, you can be a little miffed you paid a bit much, but ultimately, it did it's job.
Something to remember about this sport: It's dangerous, and the reason we wear protective gear is to reduce risk of injury. No gear can guarantee to prevent injury, just to lessen it's potential. Do your homework, buy the best you can afford. As always, ride smart.