We have to give credit to Alpinestars and their “Stella” line of ladies motorcycle gear. Most of the competition things in order to make ladies riding gear it needs to be baby blue, powder pink or hot pink with doilies and flowers all over the place. Not so with Alpinestars Stella line; simple black or white, simple logos – at the most slightly more scripty fonts displaying the brand name.
So when it came time for a new set of track leathers I was immediately drawn to the Stella Octane Two-Piece Suit ($695) comes in subtle black or white and is available in a wide array of sizes from 38 to 50. Reasonably priced for the entry level rider, the Stella manages to be one of the most affordable women specific riding suits currently on the market. Alpinestars says the suit is cut to the female form. The spec sheets and photos seemed to support this claim and features ergonomically placed accordion stretch panels and a stretch panel insert for optimal fit.
I opted for the two-piece suit thinking it would offer more flexibility in the long run, but this has proven to have been my biggest regret with the Stella Octane. I prefer jackets that are a little longer in the back so when I’m riding there isn’t a gap between my jeans and the jacket as I have a tattoo to flaunt and don’t want a silly sunburn. When worn separately, the jacket is just far too short to be practical, unless you wish to show off your tattoo or like a tan stripe on your lower back. So, in the time we’ve had this suit, I’ve not once worn the jacket on its own.
The quality of the leather is typical Alpinestars; thick, yet tumbled to speed-up the break in process. Our black suit also had the flat or dull black sheen that we are seeing more and more of. We really like the low-gloss leather finish and we feel it adds to the quality appearance of the leather.
Our suit arrived just in time for us to perform our first tests at the ladies-specific Femmoto Track Days where we’d be riding scads of different bikes in a track environment. But when worn together the suit is very comfortable and could even be worn in Sport Touring applications. The cut is consistent with the men’s Alpinestars suits we’ve used. It fits quite well and does not interfere with rider movements even on a wide array of bikes ranging from Kawasaki Versys’ and the ultra-aggressive Aprilia Mille.
It was on the more aggressive bikes that the two-piece aspect of the suit became problematic. It was a bit bunchy around the waist when bent over on the aggressive sport bikes. The extra layer of leather doubling over the middle grew to become more and more annoying as the day wore on, and despite significant use, “breaking-in” has not alleviated the discomfort. This is why we would recommend to anyone who plans on spending much time on the track or on dedicated sport-bikes to choose a dedicated one-piece suit.
This has been my first perforated leather garment and had formerly questioned their ability to breath, although the perforated panels are really very small compared to some of the alternatives. This suit with its “holy” panels and accordion stretch panels really helped move a lot of air and consequently kept me cool in Las Vegas. So while I do see the light of the perforated leathers for the track, I’m still not sure I’d want to tour in them as we tend to experience all the extremes of weather when on-the-road, but the track is a much more controlled environment and the weather typically stays constant or at least is more predictable during the day.
Fortunately, I’ve not had the pleasure of finding out how well this suit does in a crash, but it is made out of the standard 1.2mm to 1.4mm full grain leather. And since I’m not a “Knee-Dragger” I can’t speak to the quality of the knee-pucks, although they appear to be the same pucks found on the masculine suits and from what the guys tell me, they are very soft and wear quickly. I also really liked the padded mesh collar that kept the collar from rubbing on the neck raw.
Overall I thought the suit was priced well and provided all the comfort and protection a 2-piece suit has to offer. Alpinestars has proven once again to provide quality motorcycle apparel and I appreciate that it is specific to a woman’s body without being overly “girly!”