MC Tested: Syed Custom Leathers

Syed roadracing leathers have a reputation for enduring the gnarliest impacts, slides and tumbles without requiring replacement or repair. Hoisting my new suit out of my gear bag, I can understand why. Made from nickel-thick 1.5mm cowhide, heavy-duty armor and burly brass zippers and hardware, these leathers are beyond robust.

Syed's racing suits are handmade in the USA (in Florida nowadays), just as they have been for the past 20 years. Custom leathers are their specialty, although they also offer ready-made suits, jackets and pants. Choose from any of their 40 standard designs or indulge your creative impulses and draw your own, as I did. Taking full advantage of their flexibility, I sketched out my idea, modifying a pattern I was fond of and adding my own touches to personalize the look. When my suit appeared in the mail a few weeks later, I was impressed by its every aspect.

The suit is the epitome of zip-on courage. The leather used to make the chassis is some of the thickest in the industry, and Syed lays the stuff on double-thick in the knees, hips, seat, elbows and shoulders. That's 3mm of tough-as-nails cowhide protecting your delicate epidermis. Impact protection is handled by hard-shelled armor in all the normal places, plus foam padding at the hips and tail bone. Holding everything together are some seriously substantial seams. Adjoining panels are fused together with double-stitched seams of six to seven stitches per inch. These duds certainly won't blow apart like an overfilled water balloon upon impact.

Tailored from the ankles up based on a 22-measurement template I submitted with my order, my suit fits like, well, a second skin. The full-ventilation option I chose, with perforations from knees to wrists, is the closest thing to air conditioning you can get. Yet despite its abundance of thick leather, the suit doesn't hinder mobility. The custom tailoring, in combination with billows and stretch panels, offers excellent freedom of movement on the bike and off. The tailored sleeves and ankles are a perfect fit inside gloves and boots, and eliminate the pressure points and chafing I've experienced while wearing ill-fitting, off-the-shelf leathers.

An extra-long main zipper extends a few inches lower than most, and makes getting into and out of the suit surprisingly easy. The knee pucks, as old-school as they appear, are the best I've used. Their hard compound outlasts other pucks 4:1, and they feel just right skimming the pavement.

Speaking of old-school, the red color I selected for the body of my suit has a pretty retro hue. Some people might have been a little put off by the color's tint (you can ask for a leather sample to verify colors), but since I intend to wear the suit while racing my vintage Honda CB350, the retro look is fine with me.

Syed Custom Leathers
Price: $595+

Contact: Syed Leathers

Verdict 5 stars out of 5
No titanium-alloy exo-skeletal jewelry or fancy gimmicks, just quality materials and outstanding craftsmanship.

If Syed's custom leathers are out of your budget, don't fret. Their ready-made suits (in men's sizes 38-52) feature the same materials and craftsmanship as their custom creations, at about half the price.