Personal Best - Ari Henning's Motorcycle Gear

The needs for speed

I'm fortunate to get to ride at the racetrack fairly often, and have had the opportunity to run through quite a bit of gear since I started at _Motorcyclist _two years ago.

I have several roadracing suits in my closet, but I tend to gravitate toward my Pilot leathers ($1100; www.pilotleathers.com). Small details like the soft beading at the wrists, neck and ankles and the well-placed accordion panels make the suit all-day comfortable, and the custom patchwork and lettering give it a "factory" look. Materials and construction are on par with suits priced hundreds more, and options like colors, lettering, patches and perforation are all included in that price. The suit's only real weakness is the quality of the knee sliders, which melt faster than butter in a hot frying pan.

Comfort and protection are the primary factors that determine what I wear. Arai goes above and beyond in both those regards, which is why the Corsair V ($899; www.araiamericas.com) has become my helmet of choice. The Corsair is expensive, but there's a confidence that comes from knowing your headpiece is the culmination of 50 years of near-obsessive design and analysis. The face shield mounting system is the helmet's only flaw-any design that requires an instructional booklet and a DVD needs to be rethought!

When it comes to gloves, they've got to fit perfectly, which is why I keep a pair of Alpinestars GP Plus mitts ($189.95; www.alpinestars.com) in my gear bag. These are comfortable, offer proven protection and are easy to get on/off. The all-leather chassis has a last-defense Kevlar lining and is dotted with hard plastic armor and double-thick leather in places I know from experience tend to get beat up in a crash.

As for back protectors, nothing comes close to the security afforded by the Forcefield Sub 4 ($190; www.johnsonleather.com). The Sub 4 is the latest version of Motor-cyclist's 2008 Product of the Year, and gets its name from the fact that it transmits less than 4 kilonewtons of energy in the CE EN1621-2 impact tests. Not only is it the most effective back protector on the market, it's comfortable-the soft, pliable design conforms to your back, and the shoulder straps and belt ensure that it stays in place as you ride. The downside is it's nearly 2 inches thick and can cause fit issues if your suit is snug.

Festooned with buckles and ratchets, Sidi's Vortice boots ($475; www.motonation.com) are almost absurdly complicated. But all those contraptions serve to keep the boots in place during worst-case scenarios. They're too much trouble to put on for a street ride, but when I'm strafing corners at the racetrack, they provide unparalleled protection. Yes they're costly, but Sidi offers full parts support and the Vortices are almost infinitely repairable. And they have vented soles!

If you've ever worn a leather suit on a hot day, you know what a struggle it can be to extricate your sweaty limbs from within. With Alpinestars Tech Race underwear ($84.95 top, $74.95 bottom; www.alpinestars.com), getting in/out of my leathers is much easier-no flailing or tugging necessary. I make it a point to take off my leathers between sessions, and thanks to my A-stars Tech underwear, I no longer need a friend's help to do so.

Personal Best - Ari Henning