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AGV Sport Podium Suit Review

AGV Sport Podium Suit Review
Quality Leather Suit, Reasonable Price
by Brandon Jackson for webBikeWorld.com

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Summary

The AGV Sport Podium one-piece leather suit hits the sweet spot in price and performance.

Though the retail price of $699.00 may not put it in the super bargain class, the asking price is reasonable for what you get.

Also, the quality of the build suggests it should last quite a while.

Introduction

For ultimate street and track riding protection, nothing really beats a one-piece leather suit.

Road racers and track day enthusiasts squeeze themselves into these suits for a reason.

A one-piece leather suit, in combination with boots and a helmet, literally provides top-to-bottom coverage for the rider.

These suits are also (usually) close fitting to keep the protectors in the impact areas in place in the event of a crash.

Since it's one single garment versus a separate jacket and pants combination, the possibility of skin being exposed during a slide is greatly decreased.

Even though many jackets and pants can be zipped together, this is still a weak link versus the “onesie” configuration.

This amount of protection comes at a price, of course, but modern one-piece leather suits are much better now than in the past.

Also, a one-piece suit can be expensive, but technology and the marketplace have made it possible to get into a decent example for around the same price as a good jacket and pants combo. So price is no longer a limiting factor.

Convenience and practicality are certainly considerations, however.

A one-piece leather suit generally doesn't fit over street clothes, so the commuter who wants to quickly zip in and out once arriving at work will likely not find this possible.

I’m not saying that clothes couldn't be carried along and changed into at work, but it is much less convenient than slipping in and out of a jacket and overpants.

Note, however, that there are textile riding suits, such as the Joe Rocket Survivor suit (review), that provide the benefits of a one-piece in a garment that will fit over street clothes.

But the loose-fitting nature of a textile one-piece just doesn't provide the protection of a leather suit.

A one-piece leather suit is typically designed for sport riding and racing, so when properly fitted, will be very comfortable when on the bike.

Once you're off the bike and walking around, however, a one-piece suit can be restrictive and even just standing up straight can be difficult (and sometimes painful).

This is why you see racers walking around in the paddock either hunched over or with what looks like an extra set of leather arms bouncing from their waist.

AGV Sport Podium Suit Front Side Rear
The AGV Sport Podium Suit

During the press launch for the Continental Sport Attack 3 hypersport tires (review) that I attended for webBikeWorld, I realized I would need a one-piece leather suit and the Editor was able to secure the popular AGV Sport Podium suit for me, which is the subject of this review.

Several other one-piece leather suits have been reviewed on webBikeWorld over the years, including another AGV Sport product, the AGV Sport Willow one-piece suit (review) from 2011.

The Willow suit -- with a list price of $599.99 at the time -- was very popular also but the newer Podium suit has a higher specification.

It's now 2016 and there are still a small-but-growing (slowly) percentage of motorcycle riders who want the protection of a one-piece suit but don't want to spend a fortune on a custom-made example.

AGV Sport currently has five one-piece suits in their 2016 lineup, ranging from the $499.00 "Strike" to the $1,199.00 "Astra". The Podium suit lives right in the middle of the lineup, with two suits above and two below it for pricing and features.

wBW Slide Show: AGV Sport Podium Suit
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AGV Sport Podium Colors

My Podium suit is the Black/Blue/White color configuration, with the white and blue areas showing up as more of an accent than as a main part of the color scheme from the front.

The upper back region shows a bit more color and white is used on the anterior facing forearms and it also runs from the underarm area down each side to just above the knees.

Blue wasn't necessarily my first choice but it was fortuitous, as I ended up on a blue Suzuki at the Continental event!

The Podium is also available with yellow or red in place of the blue on the suit shown in our review photos.

Really though, color is not what I was concerned about here, but rather how it is all put together and how it would protect me.

As a race suit, the Podium has its share of logos and branding, but while the quantity is plentiful most of them are pretty small.

The "AGVSPORT" name is displayed on each shin under the knee slider space as well as on either side of the collar in a small size while a larger version is emblazoned on the forearms and the hip areas.

A larger "AGVSPORT" logo also is present across the chest and the “A” graphic is displayed on below the shoulder on the upper arms as well as on the aero-hump on the back of the suit.

This “A” graphic is also screened on the metal external protectors at the knees and shoulders.

AGV Sport Podium Suit Zipper
Overall Construction

As the mid-level leather suit, the Podium is in an awkward position. It's “better” than the AGV Sport Valencia ($549.00 list) and Strike ($499.00) suit but it doesn't have the features of the Phantom ($899.00) or Astra ($1,199.00) in the AGV Sport lineup.

The devil, I believe, is indeed in the details.

This Podium suit in size 54 (Euro) is heavy at 5.8 kg (12 lbs. 13 oz.) and this is where one aspect of the lower price shows.

The leather used for the majority of this suit is full grain cowhide that is 1.3 mm thick, with 1.4 mm leather used in the impact areas. This is 0.2 mm thicker (0.1mm thicker in impact zones) than that used in the higher end suits in the lineup.

It seemed to me that the thicker leather would be more desirable, so I did some research on this. It turns out that one way to save manufacturing costs in this case is to use a thicker leather that is of a lesser “grade”.

The customer (hopefully) ends up with comparable protection for less money, but there's another price: the extra weight.

Also, the thicker leather may take longer to fully break-in, but we’ll see how it does later on.

AGV Sport Podium Suit Chest Perforations
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Perforations

The leather used in the Podium suit is extensively perforated. The entire chest area is vented with 9.5 mm pitch holes and this continues down the abdomen and on over the thighs to the accordion stretch panel panel over the knees.

Down below the knee area, the front of the shin and the back of the calf leather sections are also perforated.

The perforations at these lower areas of the suit might be a bit redundant, as this area will likely be covered by motorcycle race boots, but they aren’t hurting anything either.

Finally there are more perforated leather sections in the rear of the suit, in two wedge shaped areas below the speed hump on the back.

These two areas sit on either side of the white leather panel in the middle of the back. The speed hump is perforated also on the top panel but to what end, I’m not sure.

Entry Zipper

I was surprised to find dual runners on the main entry zipper of the Podium suit. This is something I have not seen on other one-piece racing suits, but the idea is that the zipper can be unfastened from the bottom up as a “relief port” for male riders, if you will, for a restroom break.

However, the zipper doesn’t seem to move far enough down for that to be a reasonable idea. It just doesn’t add up anatomically, but I digress...

AGV Sport Podium Suit Elbow Armor
AGV Sport Podium Suit Knee Shin Armor

More Details of the AGV Sport Podium Suit

Speed Hump

The speed hump of the Podium suit is filled with foam as a "foam spine pad", so there doesn’t appear to be any ventilation from this area to anywhere in the suit.

On full custom race suits for MotoGP riders, the speed hump might contain a water bladder, electronics for an internal airbag system and/or telemetry and more. But obviously, that is way above the level of the Podium suit.

More on the Zippers

The dual zipper runners I mentioned earlier are YKK brand and each has a large rubber pull tab, which makes it easy to manipulate when wearing gloves.

A rubberized strap with hook-and-loop is present at the collar to keep the upper main entry zipper pull in place once closed.

Likewise, the arm and leg cuff zippers are also YKK and these use small leather straps attached to the pulls for ease of use. A large leather tab using hook-and-loop fastener is used to keep the zipper pulls in place here.

Non-Leather Synthetics

There are only a few small spaces where leather is not used on the shell of the suit.

The back of the neck has a section of neoprene that is moisture wicking and it runs from the top of the collar down to the speed hump. This helps make things more comfortable when in a full tuck, which required tilting your head back pretty far.

The inside facing sides of the arms use a textile stretch material that is tagged with the label “Dynamind”. I tried searching for Dynamind online for a little more info but I didn’t turn up anything related to fabric.

Retail descriptions of the suit refer to it as an “Aramid stretch material", so I don’t believe it's the more familiar Dyneema, which was my first guess. A bit of a mystery this Dynamind...

This same material is used in the crotch area as well. It is important to note that this material is marked, and I have determined that it is windproof.

I’m not certain why windproof material would be used here as ventilation seems to be a priority in the Podium suit.

Behind the knees is another type of stretch material which feels a little thicker, softer and stretches more than the Dynamind while being breathable.

Since this is a low-impact area, this material might not need to be as abrasion resistant.

AGV Sport Podium Suit Shoulder Metal Protector
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Pockets?

Something you don’t see on all one-piece leather racing suits is a pocket, but the Podium suit does have an internal zippered chest "document" pocket on the left side just inside the main zipper.

The pocket is large enough to hold a wallet or cell phone, which is something the street rider might use. At the track I can’t see anyone doing that.

I found it to be a great place to stash my earplugs between sessions on the track.

Stitching

Stitching on the Podium suit is very well sorted throughout and it is all very neat and tight.

AGV Sport calls their system "Advanced Safety Seam Stitching" and it uses what they call "Multi Tech", "Multi Four" and "Multi Three" stitch types in various locations throughout the suit.

The Multi Tech type offers the highest abrasion resistance, with the Four and Three varieties being less so as the number drops and the level of abrasion resistance used is varied depending on potential impacts of the area involved.

Details about exactly what is involved in the stitches is not readily available but they do appear very strong.

It is hard to tell exactly what is going on as the mesh liner of the suit is sewn in permanently making it difficult to examine it from the inside.

Note that the more expensive AGV Sport one-piece leather suits have removable liners, but you can easily wear a one-piece (or two piece) set of motorcycle underwear. See the webBikeWorld motorcycle underwear reviews page for more on that.

Bottom Line: Build Quality

The overall quality of the construction is very robust and seems more than ready for the weekend warrior hitting the back roads as well as the track day rider.

In fact, there’s not much that I can see that would suggest the club racer on a budget couldn’t use this suit and feel good about the choice.

AGV Sport Podium Suit Shoulder Screen Vent
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Protective Features

Let's face it: you're buying the Podium suit because you care about maximum protection and this suit offers some very good protection in all the expected areas, plus a few extras.

All of the protectors (elbows, shoulders, shins and knees) is claimed CE Level 1 rated.

Starting at the top, the shoulders contain removable CE Level 1 protectors in the form of a single density rubber (or rubber-like) padding which is tough and flexible.

A similar, but longer, protector is used at the elbows and also removable for easy replacement/upgrading.

The speed hump at the upper back is stuffed with what feels like a good medium-weight foam providing some protection for the upper back, though the purpose of these humps is primarily to help out the aerodynamics as air passes over the rider’s helmet.

In several locations on the front and at the shoulder blades are rubber pads providing additional impact protection for the ribs and chest.

Moving back inside the suit, foam protectors are present for the hips and they extend almost to the knee. These protectors are not removable.

The knees have plastic over foam CE Level 1 protectors that cover not only the knee but the shin as well. These are held in place between the leather and mesh lining via hook-and-loop fasteners.

The two loop sections, one at the bottom and one at the top, to which they attach are about 96 mm long (4 inches), allowing easy height adjustments.

Additional protection is provided at the knees and shoulders via external aluminum protectors.

These can absorb impact and should also slide easily in the event of a crash and are placed right over the internal CE protectors.

Of course, provisions are present for knee pucks and nylon knee pucks are included with the suit.

A back protector is not included save for a thin foam in the provided back protector pocket. This is not surprising however, as most serious riders would likely be using a separate standalone back protector and we have plenty of back protector reviews on webBikeWorld.com.

The Podium suit provides comprehensive protection that one would expect for a suit of this level plus the extra external metal protectors add a bit of cool looking and functional protection as well.

Since most of the protectors are easy to access, they can be upgraded to higher level if desired, other than hip/thigh pads.

Metal External Protectors

The Podium suit also features aluminum sliders sewn in at the knees and shoulders. These look good by adding some extra style and they act as sliders should the need arise.

Also, this is another difference between the Podium suit and the less expensive AGS Sport Strike and Valencia suits, which do not include metal sliders at all.

AGV Sport Podium Suit Speed Hump
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Fit

This Podium suit is a US size 44 (54 Euro) and it fits me very well in most areas but is a little long in the inseam. It is designed to fit a 32.5 inch inseam.

However, the pant leg cuffs on racing suits are usually very short, designed to sit above the ankle so the pants can be easily tucked into the boots.

With my 30 inch inseam, the legs are fine where they land at the top of my feet. Pulling the legs up a bit as I put on my boots makes the legs bunch just a little, but one seated on the bike that slack is taken up.

I’m 5’10” and 190 lbs. with a 43 inch chest and a 36 inch waist. I would say that the Podium suit is spot on as detailed on the AGV Sport sizing chart and provided a good snug fit when I first received it.

It has broken in a bit and is more comfortable now but still has a good fit.

I do not have a separate back protector but instead I was able to grab a protector out of one of my other AGV Sport jackets. This works out well for me as I am pretty close to the limit of the chest circumference for this suit anyway.

If you plan on wearing a separate back protector, then I would advise measuring your chest while wearing the back protector to make the decision on sizing.

This suit is designed for track duty and it is set up accordingly. The arms and legs are sewn in the pre-curved riding position for a racebike tuck.

Of course, a track rider needs to be able to move around on the bike and change position and the Podium suit delivers well here.

Accordion stretch panels are plentiful on the Podium suit, with panels behind the shoulders as well as above the elbows. More panels are also in place above the knees and of course there is a large panel at the back at the waist level.

All of these add up to easy changes of body position and despite being wrapped up tightly in a leather shell.  

For fit I'll give the podium suit an excellent rating for being accurate in fit to their published sizing chart. The good fit plus the designed-in flex areas make it comfortable for long periods in the saddle.

AGV Sport Podium Suit Elbow Flex Accordion Panel
Elbow flex accordion panel and stitching close-up.
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Ventilation

The generous use of perforated leather means lots of air flow and the ventilation in the Podium suit is good.

Air can be felt flowing through the chest and the thigh areas at most any speed over 30 mph. Also, the stretch material behind the knees passes air very well also.

The Podium suit also adds a couple of scoop vents on the top of the collar bones. These mesh screen vents are direct openings through the leather and add a nice bonus draft of air onto the shoulder area.

The venting could be even greater in volume but the rubber padding on the chest and other areas doesn’t flow air despite the fact they have holes in the leather surface.

Likewise the lower legs aren’t going to see much air flow between the large shin protector and boots.

Overall, the ventilation is very good and could only be improved by taking the additional armor pads out of the suit. I’d rather sacrifice the added air flow for the extra protection afforded by these pieces however.

AGV Sport Podium Suit
Conclusion

The AGV Sport Podium suit hits the sweet spot in price and performance.

Though the retail price of $699.00 may not put it in the super bargain class, the asking price is reasonable for what you get and the quality of the build suggests it should last quite a while.

It did not take long for the suit to start breaking in and after the third wearing it was noticeably easier to get into. Overall comfort was also improved at this point.

The included protection is good and can easily be upgraded if desired. Again, you should definitely consider a standalone back protector, but make sure to account for the extra bulk when choosing sizing.

Off the rack suits can make fitting a challenge for some body types but the AGV Sport sizing chart seems accurate.

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wBW Product Review: AGV Sport Podium Suit
Manufacturer: AGV Sport List Price: $699.00
Colors: Black w/Black, Blue, White, Yellow, Red/White Made In: Pakistan
Sizes: 40-52 US Review Date: June 2016

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