‘A seriously solid suit’
BKS Prowess ladies leather suit £649.99
Tester: Emma Franklin Time tested: 2000 miles What’s good: In 2008 the great British made-to-measure leathers manufacturer BKS created a range of off-the-peg items for the Frank Thomas Group, which included this top-spec ladies race suit. Although the Prowess was mass-produced in China, BKS’S founder Brian Sansom designed and oversaw the production of the suit so it retained the bespoke brand’s legendary build quality. It’s seriously robust, made from 1.2-1.4mm cowhide held together with heavy, multi-row seams, with double-layered leather at the shoulders and elbows. It also has Ce-approved armour in the shoulders, elbows, forearms, knees, shins and hips. Kevlar-reinforced stretch material on the insides of the arms and legs help give this suit a degree of flexibility as well as making it a fairly flattering fit. It’s tough and feels very secure, which is why I choose to race in it.
Because it’s so robust, it’s taken literally years to break in. I’ve owned it since 2008 but have only recently persevered with it long enough to get it comfortable. Other niggles include the lack of soft neoprene material at the collar and cuffs – it’s just exposed leather here and isn’t as comfortable as other suits I have. Also, the tag on the main zip snapped off, so I had to attach a loop of cable tie in order to get purchase on the zip.
Contact: www.jandsaccessories.co.uk Value ★★★★ ★ Quality ★★★★ ★
Arai RX-7 GP £429.99 (+£500 for custom paint)
Tester: Bruce Dunn Time tested: 30,000 miles/ five years
What’s good: I have been wearing Arai helmets for 20 years. This RX-7 GP is now five years old and has been used for road-test work and racing. It has kept me safe and shared some of the most unforgettable biking experiences I’ve had: racing at the NW200; doing 207mph on the V10-powered Millyard Viper; and accelerating to 180mph in 13 seconds on the Kawasaki H2R. After all that, it finally fulfilled its reason for being when it kept me safe when I highsided out of second place at the last round of Golden Era Superbikes at Cadwell Park last month, so I’ve had to retire it.
The fit has always been perfect and I’ve been able to wear it for many hours at a time with no discomfort. There is excellent cooling and ventilation, and it’s very stable even at speeds of up to 180mph.
What’s not: Sometimes the visor locking catch doesn’t engage properly and the visor can open at speed. However, this issue can be rectified free of charge by an Arai service centre or dealer.
Contact: www.whyarai.co.uk Quality ★★★★ ★ Value ★★★★ ★
BMW large soft bag £175
Tester: Adam Child
Time tested: Three weeks/1000 miles
What’s good: I didn’t think this would be as good as a conventional hard top box, but it’s better. It’s huge – the 50-55 litre capacity is more than BMW’S top box. Unlike a top box it has several internal compartments, great for separating clean clothes from dirty shoes. The main section is 100% waterproof and the four side pockets are water resistant. For £175 I think it’s good value, and the quality is up to BMW’S standards.
What’s not: It’s not lockable – it would be easy to unzip and walk off with it. It offers some support for a pillion, but can’t be used to lean on for added comfort.
Contact www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk Quality ★★★★ ★ Value ★★★★ ★
Thick leather, decent stitching and CE armour makes this BKS suit feel solid – except for the broken zip tag