Worthy of Umbrella Girls!
The K/FX Pro Racer one-piece leather suit is the Alpha Dog of Komodo’s product line. (Um, perhaps that should be Alpha Lizard?) This suit’s mission statement is competition at the highest level. Fortunately, you aren’t required to hold an AMA or FIM license to obtain one.
We’ve previously tested the company’s other one-piece race suit offerings, the K-LT and K/XP. In addition we tried their Sport R/T two-piece, which was specifically designed for the track day rider who wants maximum protection at an event, combined with a cut suitable for road trip comfort. All were superb, featuring Komodo’s trademark full-grain leather and worst-case-scenario construction, which is used throughout their product line.
To understand the Pro Racer, (and Komodo’s corporate philosophy as well) you need to know a bit about leather. Almost any suit you can buy today will be made from top-grain leather. To make top-grain, the hide is split and a portion of its thickness is peeled away, leaving the remaining outer portion. Leather processed this way is lighter, stretches easily, feels broken in right off the rack, sews together with less effort and takes minimal dye to color. All good, right? Absolutely, until you go sliding down the asphalt. At that point, it occurs to you that “top-grain” is another way of saying “pre-thinned before contact with pavement.” For all its advantages in comfort and ease of manufacturing, top-grain leather will burn through faster as you surf down the track. A full-grain suit is heavy, takes time to mold itself to your body and won’t be as comfortable to wear on a hot day but the benefit is maximum protection. If you’re used to top-grain, a full-grain suit seems a bit crude by comparison when you try one on for the first time. Don’t be fooled. That stiff, heavy feel is the mark of ultimate abrasion resistance.
Komodo offers three different one-piece models. Their unbelievably overbuilt and nearly Armageddon-proof K-XP (XP designates eXtreme Protection) is engineered for the “crash early, often and hard” species of racetrack beginner. The K/LT is a twin-zipper model that works very well for larger and taller riders while offering them outstanding protection. Standing as Komodo’ flagship is this month’s test suit, the K/FX Pro Racer. The intended customer for these leathers is a rider who has progressed beyond the crash-happy stage and is looking for a lighter suit which can still survive a slide from high triple-digit speeds without burning through. This is no pipe dream, either. One WERA racer crashed a K/FX at 170mph, not only surviving but racing later that day in the same set of leathers! Check out the company’s website for testimonials and to scope out the impressive list of pro riders who choose Komodo.
Since every extra ounce affects performance in competition, Komodo sought to make the K/FX Pro Racer lighter than its siblings without sacrificing crashworthiness. Unwilling to give up the company’s commitment to making the entire suit from full-grain leather, they decided that weight savings could safely be made in two places; armor and construction technique. The Pro Racer uses lighter armor at the elbows, knees and shoulders. Don’t worry though, because this is premium Knox armor, considered by many to be the best available. As far as construction goes, the suit’s graphics package is simple by design for two reasons; structural safety and lightness. Komodo feels that a set of leathers should be made from as few pieces as possible. The more elaborate patterns found on some of their competitor’s products offer far less protection, since any place where you split a panel to add another color results in a seam and is a source of potential failure. The trim of the K/FX Pro Racer is sewn onto the main shell, rather than being integral to the suit’s construction. This means that you could literally grind off every bit of decoration on this bone sack during a crash without compromising its structural integrity. So how does that contribute to the weight loss program? Fewer seams makes for a lighter garment.
Rounding out the construction details, Oxley stitching, Schoeller Keprotec stretch material and YYK zippers are used, simply because they are the best available. Also featured are TPU molded impact protectors at the elbows and shoulders, a speed hump, a zip-out nylon inner lining and perforations in non-critical areas to assist ventilation. Notably absent are beryllium crystal scuff plates, skin harvested from semi-endangered creatures or any of the other ritzy stuff associated with many high end suits. Bear in mind that Komodo is based in Dallas, Texas, where the prevailing attitude is to talk straight and suffer no bull crap. “Yew git the WHOLE cow, good stuff to hold it together an’ real tough armor. What else yew need, son?”
So how does the K/FX Pro Racer work at the track? If you guessed “Heavy, slow to break in and hot,” you’re right. Don’t let that scare you off though. Komodo sizing is spot on and their friendly staff is very experienced in helping to select both the model and size which will work best for each customer. The Pro Racer is quite well ventilated and flows a lot of air at speed. You’ll only cook in this suit if you’re sitting still. As for wearing in, the K/FX required three hard, sweaty weekends of trackday action to mold itself to our tester. At that point, the leathers felt like they’d been custom made. A full-grain suit takes some getting used to but the effort is worth it when you consider the added protection.
When it came to appearance, since they lacked the aforementioned bling, we initially felt that the K/FX Pro Racer was a bit on the bland side for leathers in this category. Then a funny thing happened. We started getting compliments on how great the thing looked. Lots of complements. From girls, even. No suit we’ve tested thus far has received so many favorable comments. In fact, we can attest that if you wear a K/FX Pro Racer long enough, color-matched umbrella girls will just show up out of nowhere and start posing with you. Don’t believe it? We have the photographic evidence.
So what does this super-protective, super sexy Superman suit cost? Um, yeah. That would be twelve hundred and fifty dollars. You knew they wouldn’t be cheap, since the really good stuff never is. Still, there are a few Italian companies out there willing to charge you over a grand more than that for their top offerings and the extra cash won’t buy you one ounce more protection than you’ll get from the Komodo. Think of the K/FX Pro Racer as a set of leathers which will offer you the protection, look and feel of a rider ready for a WSB, AMA or MotoGP grid; yours with a Lone Star drawl for approximately half price when compared to its Italian rivals. Got a problem with that, Rossi lover? Remember, BEN SPIES is from Texas…