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.

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