RACE SUIT SIZING GUIDE

Sometimes finding the right leather race suit can be harder than saving a high-side. So we decided to put almost 80 suits to the test with six different riders from all shapes and sizes to determine what actually matters when sizing for a one-piece suit.

Race Suit Sizing Video

JC walks you through the step by step process of measuring yourself for the right fit, talks about body types, comfort, armor and then he discusses some of the differences in fit between some of the top brands.

WHAT MEASUREMENTS SHOULD I KNOW?

Your quest to find the right set of leathers starts with a measuring tape. Do yourself a favor and snag a tailor’s tape. Those are the soft, flexible measuring tapes. They’re inexpensive and easily available. Once the tape is in hand, having somebody to assist is a big help. Find someone you’re comfortable with because some measurements get a little personal. Also, it is a good idea to wear form-fitting clothes to achieve the most accurate readings. Jeans and a T-shirt should be fine, as long as the garments don’t add unnecessary bulk. Remember, be honest! You aren’t impressing anyone with that massive chest and there’s nowhere to hide that equally massive belly once you strap on the leather. Don’t suck it in or puff it out, take all measurements with a relaxed stance.

how to measure

Chest: Grab your tailor’s tape and wrap it around your chest. You will want to come just under the arm pit at the widest point. Key here is to take a slow breath, not puff out your chest, and stand natural.
Sleeve Length: Start at the point of your shoulder and measure down to your wrist. Note: some brands use a slightly different sleeve length. If you notice on the size chart, sleeve length is abnormally long, you’ll want to use an alternative means of measuring. For this you will measure from the mid-point of the neck, down the top of the shoulder, and down to your wrist.
Hips: Find the widest part of your hips. This is generally where your pants sit, or just below. Pull the tape across your butt and around the hip sockets.
Waist: The easiest way to get this measurement is by finding the soft area between the bottom of your rib cage and above the top of your hip bone. Measure around your body which should be close to your bellybutton.
Thigh Width: Not to be confused with thigh length, thigh width is measured at the widest point on the leg, typically where the leg meets the body
Inseam: The trick is to not be shy, hike up the tape as high as possible, touching your pubic bone. Standing up nice and tall, you will measure along the inside of your leg down to the floor. This is where some help goes a long way; have them pull the tape taught to where it meets the floor. This should be done without shoes.
Out Seam: Same process as the inseam, however you will start at the hip line (as we mentioned earlier) and pull down the outside of the leg to where the tape meets the floor. No shoes.

WHAT SIZE DO I NEED?

Now that you’ve got your measurements it’s time to compare that to a size chart and pick your proper suit size. Each suit on our site has a sizing chart provided by the manufacturer for you to reference, but there are a few things to consider before going with one size or another.

suit size tag
Euro sizes are exactly 10 higher than US sizes, but they should fit essentially the same.

The first step is to understand exactly what you’re dealing with when talking about sizes. Some suits are labeled Small/Medium/Large/etc. However, most are labeled with a two-digit number, and this will be expressed as European size or an American/US size. The Euro sizes are exactly 10 higher than US sizes, but they should fit essentially the same. For example, a Euro 54 is the same as a US 44. Also, changes in size are done in increments of two in both Euro and US. If a US 44 is too large, drop one size to a 42. If it is too tight, go up to a 46. This is common with many motorcycle jackets as well.

Body Type

Probably the most common issue people have when buying a race suit is choosing the correct size for their body type. All brands build their suits for an average height and weight proportion. This is commonly called the athletic body type. Unfortunately, not all of us fit that mold. What you have to do instead, is pick the measurement that is most important to you, and size from there. For example, if you are taller than the average person, you will want to make overall height or inseam the primary factor. While your suit will be long enough, expect the arms, chest and midsection to be a little loose or baggy. On the flip side, if you are a bit wider than the average rider, the chest measurement or waist (gut/beerbelly) will likely be the determining factor for sizing. Again, this will allow a proper fit in the chest, but you will deal with some extra material in the arms and legs. The basic idea is to take your largest measurement, and order a suit to fit that segment of your body. Any concessions in the way it fits other areas are something you will have to live with. If you don’t take into consideration your largest measurement, then you will wind up with a suit that simply won’t fit. The only way around this if you aren’t the “typical” athletic body type is to order a custom suit directly from the manufacturer. There’s no denying how comfortable and safe these can be, but there’s no denying the hefty pricetag that come with it either. Fortunately, there are often ways that a tailor can make small adjustments to an off-the-rack suit, especially to sleeve and leg length, which aren’t nearly as expensive. It is a good idea to always try on the suit before you hit the road, to ensure proper fit, coverage and that the protective pieces do not rotate easily.

mark marquez

Now that we’ve gone over body types, the next step is determining between comfort fit and race fit.

Race Fit- These suits should fit snug against the body, but should also not restrict your movements or breathing. There should be minimal excess material and the built-in armor should not be able to rotate. Undoubtedly this will be the best option for serious track riders or racers where the speeds are high.

Comfort Fit- If you are a casual track day attendee and like to tear up the canyons or back roads but want that next-level protection, the comfort fit will most likely be the optimal choice. This fit is more relaxed and certainly less invasive, giving you a little more room for comfort, making it by far the most popular choice. While slightly baggier, the protective pieces on the knees, shoulders and elbows should not be able to rotate much. This will still allow the suit to maintain the coverage you need if you do indeed take a trip on the asphalt.

Sizing for Race Fit vs. Comfort Fit- Once you’ve found your race fit through size charts and identifying personal needs, finding the proper comfort fit is easy; just go the next size up. Keep in mind, suit sizes in increments of two, so if you are a 44 race fit, your comfort fit size is a 46.

CAN I ADD ARMOR?

Adding one last factor into the mix is the addition of armor and under layers.

back protector
chest protector
underlayer
underlayer
Base Layers

Base Layers- Getting into your leathers is tough enough, but once you start sweating in them, getting the suit off is a major pain. We recommend some sort of riding underwear that is form-fitting and moisture wicking. Not only will these perform much better than a regular cotton T-shirt and undies, you won’t experience bunching or any moisture related discomfort. A long-sleeve shirt is better than a short-sleeve. We encourage a slightly taller collar to help keep the suit collar, usually stiff leather, from chaffing your neck. Just an inch or two is fine, doesn’t have to be a full-blown turtleneck. Thumbholes on the cuffs can be a nice addition as well, but are less important. For the legs, definitely use long underwear instead of shorts. There are also one-piece suits available that are designed specifically as race suit underwear. Products from Under Armour/Nike/Adidas/etc. are sufficient and easily acquired, but there are products built by motorcycle companies that are probably more deserving of your funds. Support the sport, folks.

Armor and Additional Protection- Suits will have different levels of armor built in. Some are stitched in place and others are removable from the liner system. Often, the suit has inserts built in to accept even more armor which is purchased separately. Most brands that produce race suits, such as Alpinestars, Rev’IT and Spidi make additional internal armor if you desire more protection. There is also armor from other brands such as Knox and Forcefield which are more universal and can be paired with virtually any brand of suit. One of the drawbacks of adding additional armor is adding bulk, which may require a larger size. We find that if you want to add armor, your best option is to go with the comfort fit, as explained above. This will give you the necessary room for armor, but still deliver performance and protection you need.

Note- It’s a good idea to decide whether or not you want additional armor now or in the future, so you don’t have to purchase larger suit down the road.