copyright © David Fisher-2005. All
Alpinestars Drystar Suit
Text and photos by David Fisher for webBikeWorld |
Owner Comments (Below)
There's a strong correlation between my desire to sleep
in as late as possible on a work day and a steadily declining regard for
wearing proper safety gear on my morning commute.
I have distant memories of having staggered out of bed
with enough time to toast a bagel and eat it while grumbling at overly
cheery morning show hosts, though I've since given up even trying to get
half a bowl of Nutty Nuggets down the hatch before I race out the door.
No, these days, sleep is far too precious for such
niceties. Eventually, though, something had to give. That
third bash on the snooze bar was starting to have consequences.
There was still time for basic hygiene, but my socks no
longer matched my shirts, and riding pants were relegated to the pile in
the back of the closet "for when it's cold". One or two rainy
afternoons riding home in clammy cotton slacks reminded me that I should
cut corners elsewhere.
A riding suit seemed to be just the thing: easy on,
easy off, and no way to leave off the weather protection, not to mention
the anti-pavement barrier that's only missed when truly needed.
I'd been looking hard at Aerostich suits for some time, but they were
expensive, and most of the guys I'd seen wearing them looked like fat
astronauts (even the ones who were actually skinny accountants).
Eventually, I discovered the Alpinestars 360 Drystar suit. I was
immediately attracted to its clean, simple lines - similar to the
Roadcrafter - and to its somewhat lower price.
Drystar Suit Construction
The suit is constructed of 500 Denier Cordura and is cut loosely enough
to allow easy movement on any bike. A large elastic expanding
panel is located on the back and there are also expandable areas at the
shoulder joints, crotch and knee. But the fit is slightly closer
than the Roadcrafter, which helps keep fat jokes at bay.
The back panel allows for an unimpeded stretch to
the low clip-ons of a Daytona, and the sleeves are
plenty long, even for my lanky arms. Like the
Roadcrafter, the suit is designed to be worn over street
clothing – perfect for commuting and for retaining some
civility when riding out to a fine dinner.
At first glance, the unzipped suit resembles some sort
of restraining garment from a mental ward. But once past the confusing
array of flaps and zippers, getting in and out is easy, and can be done
in less than thirty seconds. Really!
Just stick your right leg in, followed by your right
and left arms, zip three times, shoot a mean look to passers-by and roar
off on your scoot like you mean it.
The leg zippers are on the outseam, unlike the
Aerostich, which may help prevent water from leaking in around the
crotch area. All of the entry zippers are protected with deep rain
flaps, and the torso zipper is offset from the leg to keep water out at
The entire interior is lined with a Drystar polyester
waterproof membrane. I suspect that this reduces manufacturing
costs by eliminating the need to tape or otherwise seal external seams.
Naturally, it hasn't rained here in sunny Northern California since I
bought the suit, but its anti-weather features should help the Drystar
live up to its name. I'll report back as soon as I receive a
The suit is only available in one color, dark gray with
black abrasion panels, so fans of high-visibility color schemes or
flashy graphics may not approve. In the interest of being seen,
however, there are clever and stealthy reflective nylon panels on the
shoulders, across the back, and along the ankle.
These appear black until passed in front of a headlight
- then they light up bright as day. Thankfully, the suit is
festooned with just one rather small logo, which will likely be hidden
by a well-experienced stomach or bulbous fuel tank.
Adjustable belts around the waist and neck help fit the
suit to the wearer. The waist strap did a good job of snugging the
suit, but the elastic neck belt caused the collar to fold inward and
chafe my neck. I found that it was best left at its most relaxed
position, but geeky, pencil-necked types may feel a bit of a draft.
Jam a scarf or, better yet, an electric vest into the
tank bag to compensate when it turns cold. Additional elastic
snaps on the forearms really help snug the armor down - it felt like it
would stay put in a crash. The arm cuffs and ankles secure with
the usual Velcro straps, with an additional snap on the ankles to keep
Alpinestars 360 Drystar Suit, Rear View.
Arm snugging straps.
Alpinestars 360 Drystar Suit, Shoulder.
Armor and Padding
Heavy Cordura material covers the shoulders, elbows, knees, lower legs
and seat areas of the suit for abrasion resistance. The shoulder
and elbow/forearm armor is CE certified and feels very substantial.
The elbow pieces extend almost to the wrist and can be positioned inside
the suit via a zippered access panel.
The back pad is regular foam, but a CE certified
replacement is available (all armor is removable). The knee
padding is disappointing - it is rather lightweight foam (no upgrade is
available from Alpinestars) and seems to be badly located. I rode
several different bikes while wearing the suit, and the knee sections
rotated toward the inside of my leg each time - not the best positioning
in case of a crash.
The Drystar falls well short of the benchmark Aerostich
in terms of pocket population. When riding with a tank bag or
other luggage, I feel that few pockets are necessary anyway, but those
laden with personal digital gadgetry may disagree - just remember that
in a fall, you're likely to have a nasty, phone-shaped bruise on your
Pockets and Storage
There are two zippered chest pockets on the torso, two handwarmer
pockets on the thighs, and two additional semi-hidden zippered pockets
on the thigh, as well as a rather handy visor holder on the inside of
The leg entry zippers go both ways - zipping them
partway down while wearing the suit allows easy access to your pants
pockets for when you get all suited up and remember the bike key is in
your jeans. All pockets are well placed and work fine, but there
is an annoying lack of zipper pulls on all but the vent zippers.
You'll be happy to find those few zipper pulls when it
turns hot outside. Ventilation on the suit consists of two inlets
on the upper arm and a large back outlet vent, all of which are easy to
open or close while underway.
Unfortunately, when wearing a suit designed to keep the
rider dry in the winter, there will be some difficulty keeping cool in
the summer, and the Drystar is predictably toasty when sitting in
stop-and-go traffic, no thanks to the aforementioned polyester membrane.
So split lanes, keep moving, open the chest zipper - moving a bit of air
past the suit does keep things bearable.
The expandable material in the crotch and knees also
helps in the heat by maintaining some movement when you're sweaty, and
goes a long way toward keeping your hands away from the ejection handle,
even while baking at a stoplight.
Wearing a wicking microfiber shirt beneath the suit
would likely do wonders for its hot-weather usability and might truly
turn this into a four-season outfit - naturally, you'll want to bulk up
a bit during the winter, making sure you've got gloves that cover the
cuffs, some fleece or thermal pants, and that lovely, lovely heated
vest. As is, the suit is miles ahead of my previous jacket in the
heat, and that even has a zip-out liner. It's not as nice as a
mesh jacket, but not bad.
The overall look and feel of the suit is one of quality
- I found no defects. Whether it represents a meaningful savings
over the Roadcrafter is up to the individual. Neither suit is a
minor investment, and both perform very well. If the Drystar fits
you right off the rack, it's a great choice, but there are plenty of
folks who fall a bit outside the norm and may prefer a more custom fit
that is available (at extra cost) from Aerostich, who also provide a
crash repair service which Alpinestars does not.
Also, Aerostich sells suits via mail order and thus
they are not readily accessible for inspection and fitting without
making a purchase, which can be slightly off-putting when plonking down
this much money.
After a few weeks of use on my short commute and several long day rides,
the Drystar remains comfortable (aside from the slightly irritating neck
fit) and largely unobtrusive, which is paramount. A great test of
its versatility occurred on a ride from Sacramento to San Francisco on
one of our legendary 105º August days.
On the freeway, the vents
demonstrated the effectiveness of evaporative cooling (wearing long
pants beneath the suit seems to help cooling as it prevents the liner
membrane from sticking to sweaty skin), and when the fog and cold began
rolling in at the Golden Gate, changing to gauntlet gloves and closing
the vents sealed me in a nice weatherproof cocoon, allowing me to enjoy
the rest of my ride without adding any layers.
Pretty good for a 55º temperature swing!
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Review: Alpinestars 360 Drystar Suit
Retail Price: $599.99
Sizes: S to XXXL
Comments: 500D Cordura with water repelling treatment.
Reinforced shoulders, elbows, knees, legs and back seat. Claimed
waterproof and breathable. Full-length zipper makes it quick and
easy to put on and take off. Stretch fabric on knee, back and
underarms. Reflective fabric inserts. Knee padding doesn't
fit well. Velcro-type adjustable CE certified protectors on elbows
and shoulders. Four front pockets and side access to internal pant
pockets. Extra helmet visor pocket. Adjustable waist,
sleeves, cuffs, collar and legs. Back protector compartment with a
foam back pad (CE certified back protector available as accessory).
From "D.": "I've owned one since last November, and I have
been in downpours that forced me to the side of the road. I ride all year
long. Luckily I live in the (San Francisco) area, and I have a relatively
short commute, 30 minutes each way. This suit fits my needs perfectly.
The only part of my body that got wet are my hands, and that's
because water was rolling down my arms into my gloves. With a pair of Sidi
Strada Tempor (boots), apart from my glove dilemma I am nice and dry.
There are a few shortcomings to the suit. Little - more
like no - leg armor, no removable liner (but in my area it isn't needed, most
I've needed is a mock turtle neck shirt and a t-shirt under that during 45
degree morning rides), and the horrible green gray color (matches fog very
nicely). I threw in an RC back pad, and I'm now using Icon's leg armor...
I plan to pick up some T-Pro hip and butt shorts to be as protected as can be.
During these crisp morning/warm afternoons, the 360 suit works
wonders, even without a liner. Keeps me warm, and I don't sweat on the way
home. What more can you want?
I did happen to pick this suit up used (and at a great price),
so take my praise with a grain of salt. So I'm a happy camper. But
it is hands down the nicest textile riding suit I've owned (and I've owned a
FirstGear Kenya suit, a Frank Thomas Aqua suit and an "off brand" suit).
I'm a self-proclaimed gear-(freak)... and this is the only piece of gear that
I've never considered selling/replacing!"