At Bison we obtain 30 measurements from your body to ensure the best possible fitment of your bespoke leathers. Once we have those dimensions, we then ask you to choose between "Race Fit" or "Comfort Fit". In this short blog we will describe the differences between the two tailoring styles and help you determine which option is best for you!
What is the difference?
Essentially, a Race Fit Bison suit is made for someone who doesn't fluctuate in weight. It's going to be pretty "unforgiving" when it comes to weight gain or layering underneath the leathers in colder weather. If you're like me and you can't resist those amazing holiday meals, you might find yourself sucking in while trying to zip up for the first event of the season! On the other hand, a Comfort Fit suit is going to have a little more wiggle room. You're still going to be safe and snug, but much more comfortable.
Things to consider:
- Do you maintain a consistent "race weight" regardless of season?
- Do you plan to ride in cooler weather conditions on occasion?
- Do you anticipate any changes whatsoever since measuring? For instance, a different back protector or an increase in bulk?
What to expect in terms of fit
Let's talk first about out-of-the-box fit. There's nothing more exciting than pulling your brand-new bespoke Bison leathers out of the box for the first time! Now you go to put them on. There may be some anxiety. "I hope my buddy measured me properly", "I know I've gained some weight since we measured"... With a Race Fit suit, the initial ingress and egress are likely going to require some help from a second person. Don't freak out yet! They're supposed to be snug. And they will break in. They're not particularly suited for standing, so go sit on your motorcycle or take one for a spin. The suit should quickly begin to feel more comfortable, but a solid weekend of sweaty riding should get them feeling a lot better. Once broken in, a Race Fit suit will fit you like a second skin - assuming that you don't gain any weight or layer any clothing underneath!
A Comfort Fit suit is still going to fit nice and snug in the right places. After all the last thing we want is for the padding to shift in the event of a crash; everything needs to stay in place and do it's job. However, other areas of the suit will be slightly looser than with a Race Fit. This will allow you to gain a little weight in the offseason or layer some clothing underneath the suit in cooler temps.
On both types of fitment, the common denominator may be some looseness in the lower back/buttocks. For a track use suit this is normal, allowing for proper fit and mobility once in a race tuck. Again, sitting on the bike and tucking forward will tell you if the leathers are fitting correctly and comfortably.
Then why would anyone even choose Race Fit?
Quite simply, a Race Fit suit is going to do the best job possible in the event of a slide. You do want the suit to fit as tight to your body as possible because any excess material can fold and create excess friction which will send you tumbling, or it can bunch up and create a hot spot which will burn a hole in the leather. Additionally, at the highest levels of racing where every thousandth of a second matters, a race fit suit is going to fit more streamlined and weigh just slightly less.
Dominic Doyle on the top box at Road America showing off his true race fit Bison leathers.
What happens if I'm at my lowest weight and my Comfort Fit suit becomes loose?
I always tell people "You can always layer protection under the suit, but you can't make it looser without alteration". The primary areas of added dimension in a Comfort Fit Bison suit are in the torso and upper thighs. I personally wear a Comfort Fit suit because I fluctuate between 155-170 lbs, and I will occasionally ride in cooler temps. When I'm on the lower end of that weight scale I add a chest protector and stack my back protectors (this means I use a "backpack" style hard-shell protector along with my soft Level 2 Bison factory insert). In the legs, I will wear a padded pant. These items take up the additional slack in the suit while adding more protection. In cooler weather I can wear a light jacket under the suit.
Kris Lillegard and yours truly, in our comfort fit leathers at Indy during MotoAmerica qualifying.
Which style is right for me?
What I have found is that most racers and trackday riders come into this process with a Race Fit mindset. You want to look like your MotoGP hero after all! But sometimes those same folks find their physique isn't as flattering as Fabio Quartararo's, plus that super tight race suit doesn't feel as "homey" as the old oversized off-the-rack leathers they've had for years. The truth is, when it comes to true race suits the word "comfortable" has a totally different meaning than it does when referring to an off-the-rack suit. A comfortable Race Fit suit will be comfortable not necessarily in the sense that you'll want to walk around in it all day, rather it will be comfortable on the motorcycle and allow you the peace of mind in knowing it's going to do an optimal job in a race tuck position or while sliding down the asphalt.
Conversely, those who order Comfort Fit suits are more likely to enjoy the diversity in the ways they can use the suit. They will also be more comfortable walking around the paddock. For most riders - from the street to Expert club racers - a Comfort Fit suit is going to be the best compromise between functionality and fit.
If you've read everything above and still aren't sure which fitment style to request, don't hesitate to reach out to us directly! We're happy to help answer your questions and evaluate your specific needs to ensure your Bison suit fits and performs exactly as it should.