View Full Version : Evaluation of Z Custom Leather riding outfit
First of all, why did I buy Z Custom Leathers? I like my hide a lot, whatever left of it, so I wanted maximum protection for "spirited" riding. I did some research and found out that Z Leathers riding gears are top notch stuff. Plus being short & fat doesn't lend one to find good fitting off the rack. And frankly an off-the-shelf Vanson or Dainese outfit cost just as much or more than a custom-fitted outfit from Z.
I went with jacket and pants instead of suit because I want the convenience and comfort of a two-piece instead of one-piece outfit. However, if and when I hit the tracks for fun, I can zip the jacket and pants together (optional feature) for maximum protection.
The jacket is called Black Lightning because the top half is made out of a heavy nylon fabric with reflective threads weaved into it. The fabric is black and the weaves are off-white but when the light is shown on the fabric, it lights up like a Christmas tree. Attached is a picture of the jacket and riding boots w/ the reflective cloth cut in as my initials. This photo was taken by my little pocket digital cam. The flash wasn't much but it was enough to light up the reflective cloth real nicely. I'm a bit nervous about riding at night. Okay, so I'm paranoid.:)
The leather is very thick and heavy. According to Adolph the owner and leathersmith at Z, it's 1.2-1.4 mil leather. The stitchings and the seams are flawless. To me that's more important than anything else. Heavy weight leathers are pretty darn good regardless of the makers, but if the seams and the stitchings aren't done right, the outfit isn't going to hold up when you take a spill. And since that the outfit is individually fittd, you don't feel the weight once you done the gear.
All zippers are made out of brass; main zipper, pocket zippers, zippers for vents, pants leg zippers, ad infinitum. No plastic zipper to break on you.
My outfit has foam armor built in at the back, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. No hard armor although that's an option for the true racers.
The boots are typical riding boots and are made to be worn outside of the pants legs. The sole has an additional 1/2" lift. ;J Hey, I'm short - I need all the helps I can get. You're not going to hump the Rocky with these boots, but for riding and simple walking about, they're more than serviceable. Another nice thing is that my right foot is narrower than my left foot BUT my right calf is bigger than my left calf. That's a pain whenever I went shopping for riding boots. Once again, custom fitting came to the rescue.
Attached is a pic of the sports rider pants. This thing is formfitting all the way from the waist down to the ankle and designed to be worn inside of the boots.
It has the stretchy cloth at the crotch area and behind the knees for comfort.
Good looking stuff.
I just bought a Fieldsheer Highland one-piece suit and now I wish I had bought separates. Oh well, as funds allow I'll do that.
Here's one thing that I bought that I think will come in handy in the garage...
It goes up to 6 ft high so I've got room to hang my one-pc suit, my jackets, and pants; helmets on the bottom rack (don't want them falling from the top); boots on the top rack. Only $30 + shipping.
Another pic of the pants showing the leg zipper with the generously cut flap inside to protect the leg from the zipper.
The outfit still needs a bit of a break-in but the fit is perfect. I was asked to come in for the second time so that I can try on the outfit before final stitching. There were some minor adjustments made to the jacket in order to fit me up better.
The attention to detail is incredible. It took me probably about an hour to talk with Diane (the Boss Lady) in order to hash out my desired features, colors, body measurements, etc. I was asked what sort of riding I intended to do while wearing the outfit and what kind of bike so that they can cut the jacket and pants to match my crouch. As of current, if I were to wear the jacket as a typical outergarment for cold weather or whatever, the fit is very uncomfortable when I zip it up. But when I get on the bike and lean forward to reach for the handlebar, the fit is perfect.
When Z Leather said "custom", they meant "custom". Anything you want in your outfit, they'll make it. Any graphic and color combination you want. Any feature you want - numbers of pockets and locations, numbers and sizes of vents and locations. The sky is the limit. And yes, it does cost more the wilder you get.
And how much did this red outfit cost me? $1295 before tax. I'm putting this info on the board not to brag but so that the people who may be interested in Z Leathers gear would know. It's all about information exchange.
I was so impressed with this outfit that I already ordered another outfit. Another set of jacket and pants. This one has more vents and pockets and geared more toward touring than sports riding. The jacket still has the same foam inserts as my red jacket. But the pants are more loosely fitted and only has a bit of knee foam protection for comfort and for wearing longjohns underneath. This outfit costed $1400 because of the various additional touches that I wanted plus it has multi-color designs instead of a single color like the red outfit. I'll give it a review upon receiving the outfit.
My second set of Z Leathers outfit was finished last Friday and I put it to work this weekend. Attached is the photo of the outfit being draped on the bike to "air" out the sweat.;J
As noted before, this outfit is more for touring than sports riding. It cuts a bit more loose for longjohns and heated vests, etc. Same thing with the pants. More pockets and vents on the jacket as well.
And yes, the color scheme is my own concoction. A few Bimmer/Beemer owners picked up the scheme while most thought that it was representative of racing flags-type. Anyway, something different.
The jacket is all leather so it's quite a bit heavier than the red jacket of which half are made out of the nylon reflective cloth. The vents are on the torso and close to the armpits with exhaust vents in the back.
The weather was warm, reaching up into the low seventies this weekend. So when I was putting the gear on, it was getting a wee bit hot. However, once I started rolling, the vents though small in size (I didn't want too big of vents) did the job quite well and I was comfortable.
PS Forgot to add that I requested for the nylon reflective cloth to be sewn on the sides of the jacket and down the outer seam of the pants.
The Shoei RF1000 is a rather decent helmet but it doesn't fit me just quite right. So the search went on. I contacted Shoei and their technical assistance suggested the X-11 helmet. Pricey at around $550 for a basic, solid color model, but if it fits, then it fits. I have a round head with fat cheeks. The X-11 was, according to Shoei, designed more for round heads. I went to Cycle Gear in Fullerton, California to try out the X-11. We tried large and extra large with various paddings. Just doesn't quite cut it. The RF1000 fitted me better than the X-11 even though supposedly the RF1000 was designed for slightly round head. But that's helmet fitting for you.
I was exasperated and I was ready to go with the cheaper helmets to see if I could find me a fit. Then the sales guy asked if I had tried Arai and I replied no. So we went and tried out the Arai lines and found out that the Quantum II large fits me to a Tee. Hooray! With 12-mm cheek pads on, I was happy. So, the fit is nice, but how does it perform?
Aerodynamically speaking the Quantum II is about the same as the RF1000. Very stable at freeway speeds. When I turn my head to check blind spots, it doesn't feel like my neck was going to snap, or when I ride into the wind, the head doesn't get buffeted too badly.
Noise reduction is also about the same. Very quiet when both face shields are locked down.
I think that the Quantum II has better venting because I can feel more wind on my head with it than the RF1000. It also doesn't fog up as badly either. The built-in chin wind deflector is a nice touch. You pull it down in order to redirect some of the wind away from your neck and chin for that chilly day ride. The RF1000 has a removable chin windblocker that works better but not quite as convenient.
I prefer the multiple ratchet settings of the windshield on the Shoei than open-or-near-close as on the Arai, but that's a very minor point.
Both feature quick removable and installation of face shields without tools. Very easy for both. I'd give a slight nudge toward the Shoei because installation is quicker and more positive with the visual check to confirm that it's snapped in place.
I didn't weight them on a scale, but the Arai seemed to be a bit lighter but then it's a Large instead of Extra Large like the RF1000.
The Quantum II's chin strap has a button to snap back the loose end instead of a little snap on the RF1000 that you must hook onto the D ring. Shoei, if you're reading this, spill out the extra $1 and get the freaking button snap for the chin strap's loose end.
The Arai Quantum II costs around $450 for the solid color while the Shoei RF1000 costs around $350 for a solid color. If the standard cheek pads in the Shoei were not to fit, you have to buy a different set. With the Arai, you don't have to pay extra for the cheek pads switch out.
The Arai helmet came with a small bottle of silicon grease. A nice touch.
Both have 5-years warranty.
So, which one do I prefer? The Arai, naturally. The fit is perfect and the defogging vents work better. Of course, it costs around $70-100 more than the RF1000. Will I get rid of the Shoei? No. It fits me well enough for proper protection of my head, and I can use it as a backup unit.
Originally posted by fnfalman
Attached is the photo of me and Boss Lady Diane. I was trying it out for final fit, so check out my sexy footwear.;f All I see is the leathers draped over the bike.
Sorry about that. It didn't attach too well so I had to post a different photo.
Let's try again me and Diane of Z Leathers: Well, for some reasons, this photo won't attach properly.
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