LEATHER GODS RST TALK TOP BUYIING TIPS AND TECH.
Fast Bikes takes a trip down memory lane with UK leather manufacturer RST to see how the one-piece race suit has evolved over the years.
Back in 1988 the world was a very different place. Not only was the UK still part of the European Union, Donald Trump was just a loud-mouthed businessman and, ironically considering the current economic climate, Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy was playing on our radios. In the UK, Rhino had just started to produce its first set of black leather jackets and gloves… In the olden days… “We made black everything – leathers, gloves, touring jackets – black, black, black,” remembers RST’s sales and marketing director Jonny Towers. “It was a good business but I remember being at Bassetts Pole in 1998 at the Tuesday Bike Night on my LC, looking around and thinking ‘what’s on offer for sporty riders?’ You had Akito, Frank Thomas or Fieldsheer if you wanted a bit of colour but while they were affordable, the really cool stuff was the likes of Alpinestars and Dainese, but they were so expensive your average rider could only dream of owning them. The thought struck me that it doesn’t cost any more to have a suit that looks good as well as performing, so I decided to make a sporty range.”
Inspired, Jonny got a coloured one-piece Rhino suit made up called the Spectre that retailed for under £300 but was well built, cool looking and, most importantly, was affordable. It was a success and Rhino Sport Technology – or RST – was born. But now the firm needed sporting credibility, which is essential when you are in the one-piece market as it is so image-driven. RST went racing and Karl Harris, Iain McPherson and Andrew Pitt all wore their leathers. In fact, in 2001 Andrew Pitt became the World Supersport Champion while wearing RST.
The firm now makes over 20,000 suits a year and supports a huge number of racers including Alex Lowes, Ian Hutchinson and Taylor Mackenzie to name just a few. And all the technology learnt on the track is fed directly back into the firm’s road suits and the sponsored riders’ race suits are built in the same factory, by the same people, as the road suits, which RST believe is key to their brand.
The firm exports to 48 different countries all over the world and their top of the range Pro-Series suit costs £659, which is still in line with the firm’s philosophy of affordability and quality. And last year they even had a suit in their range that retailed at under £300 – before Brexit struck. It is now £349…
Having spent nearly 20 years developing race suits, Fast Bikes thought RST’s Jonny Towers would be the perfect person to highlight just how far race leathers have come on and what track development has brought to road riders when it comes to both safety and protection.