11:30 AM Wednesday, November 25, 2009 hear a knock at the door, wake up and find a much anticipated package on my door step. My 2-piece Spartan prototype suit has arrived!
44 degrees outside with a cold rain/drizzle falling is normally a lousy day for a motorcycle ride, but itís the perfect sort of day to test out my new 3.5 season, all weather suit. Open the box and all looks great, just what I wanted. Yellowís not quite as hi-vis as I planned but itís pretty bright and lots of reflective piping means I WILL be seen, which should be a much higher priority for motorcyclists than it is. Yes, black does look cool, but if safety is priority #2 (right after fun!) then black is definitely not the wisest choice in motorcycling gear.
I try the suit on and realize my error immediatelyÖ I measured the inseam of the pants standing up, NOT in a crouched riding position, so the pants are a couple of inches short. Oops, but it was my oops not Dave at Spartanís. Other than that all is well. Suit is a little snug (probably due to my measuring errorÖ) but should loosen up a bit and it had both the waterproof and quilted liners in so in dry summertime riding Iím sure the suit will be a fair amount roomier.
Go out to the garage and fire up the bike, back her out and hit the road Ė again, remember it was 44 degrees and raining. Pretty comfortable while riding but I really should have done the measurements in a crouched riding positionÖ very livable though. Get up to 60 MPH and realize Iím still pretty warm, and I am definitely still dry.
I didnít stay out too long because, well it is still 44 degrees and raining, my VFR is going to need new tires this coming Spring and I certainly didnít feel the need to test the armor or abrasion resistance of the new suit.
Initial impressions: Keep in mind this suit is Daveís first textile suit and heís been doing track leathers for a while now. It is also a prototype and heís already made some design changes and I plan on making some other suggestions too. That said it is a REALLY high quality item, on par with suits in the $1500 range.
The suit is tough getting into and out of which is good when youíre doing track days in full leathers, but not so good when youíre planning to use a suit for commuting/touring duty. I donít see this being a big problem when Iím doing long tours, or day rides, but Iím not sure Iíll use this for commuting to work because it will take longer getting it on and off than my ride will take. I thought a two-piece design might be better, but in hindsight perhaps I should have done a one-piece suit and requested a full step-in design similar to the Aerostitch, a suit which costs at least 5 times what I paid for this one. I prefer the look of a two-piece suit though, especially with my substantial mid-section, so thereís a trade-off somewhere.
I most definitely should have followed instructions as the pants didnít come down far enough on my boots and there was a slight draft coming up my legs. This is also due to another area I would make a design change suggestion. I would make the zipper points for the liners higher up the leg so that the liners could tuck into the boot with the outer pant coming down over the boot. I wear full length track boots whenever I ride so that would require quite a bit of extra length.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this suit. Quality is on par with suits costing 4 or 5 times this one and thatís their standard rack size items, not custom fit. The main things I would change are due to my error not his and I believe he is looking at all options regarding design changes.
Suggestions for design changes. Most would be regarding making the suit easier to get into and out of. Aside from the zipper points on the liner suggestion, I would also make the side leg zippers quite a bit longer, perhaps another 6" or so. I would definitely suggest a one-piece design with a step through type full length zipper.
The main area of tightness in the jacket was the arm openings at the shoulders. Again, on a track suit this wouldn't be an issue but for touring making those openings a bit roomier would be better in my opinion. On a distance ride we are often repositioning ourselves for comfort so a little flexibility there would help. Aside from that, the jacket portion is really good. It may also be less of an issue with the two liners out.
Let me summarize with this: If I ever order a track suit, I will definitely be ordering Spartan. Quality of the suit is great. Needs some design changes, but with those made I will definitely use Spartan in the future when it's time to replace this suit.