Alpinestars are a company that like to take their time and do things properly. As one of the biggest names in protective clothing in auto and motorsports, they began their involvement with mountain biking in the early 90s. With the Honda G-Cross programme launching in 2003 made a huge impact when they returned in downhill and began a process that has taken them another decade to bring to fruition. The kits that Greg Minnaar, Matti Lehikoinen, Brendan Fairclough and Cyril Kurtz wore aboard those Hondas were iconic. 2014 sees their most complete mountain bike range yet, which we took a look at when we visited their European headquarters in Asolo, Italy.
The Drop shorts and jersey is their Enduro race wear - the aim was to create clothing light enough to ride in all day, but tough enough for rough trails. Visually it is closer to their downhill kit, as it is race wear, but it is much lighter. The top is made from an advanced poly-fabric to help wick away moisture and control your temperature. It is loose fitting, with the back coming lower down to keep you covered when you are stretched forwards pedalling. There are some nice, useful features, like a terry cloth goggle wipe and a side pocket to take a smartphone or MP3 player. The shorts are made of several different materials, depending on the need for each part of the short, in the seat area there are no seams to make them as comfortable in the saddle as possible. Inside there is removable chamois padding. The pads are their lightweight Fierce knee and elbow pads and they are paired with their Aero gloves .
The Sight downhill gear is the direct descendant of the Honda G-Cross programme. The jersey and shorts are heavier, to deal with the demands of downhill racing, but use a clever layout of different materials and mesh vents to offer airflow and movement. The Moab knee protectors that accompany them are the burliest Alpinestars make, with hard shell protectors on the key contact areas. The Gravity glove that accompanies the outfit are a lightweight option, without protection on the knuckles, but with external reinforcements on the fingers.
The All-Mountain jacket is their ultra-lightweight waterproof. It is made of a breathable two layer rip-stop main shell with reinforced interior lining for durability and features a storm hood.
The Pathfinder clothing is Alpinestars' lightest trail clothing. The t-shirt is an advanced poly-fabric blend, so it's more comfortable and dries faster than an ordinary t-shirt, but is low-key enough to wear for a beer after riding. the shorts are a technical, multi-panel construction with nicely thought out features, like a seamless crotch for maximum comfort
The Nemesis clothing plain surprised us, as we didn't expect Alpinestars to make full XC lycra. The shorts are a body-mapped bib design for maximum comfort. The jersey is as light as you like and comes with a good set of pockets and silicon bands to hold it in place as you ride.