"Ride Smart, Ride Safe, Be able to ride tomorrow" - Darren Lott.
Your first priority when participating in the sport of Street Luge should always be Safety. The Safety Gear shown in this site is considered by the Street Luge community to be Not Negotiable when riding. It is common practice within the Street Luge Community not to ride with persons who refuse to wear Safety Gear.
Safety should always be in the forefront of every riders mind, and the largest, and usually the most expensive, piece of safety equipment is a set of leathers.
Leathers serve two purposes, firstly to protect the rider from skin grazes and cuts if a rider comes off their board, and secondly to make the rider more streamlined whilst riding.
"Types" of Leathers
There are two "types" of leathers that Gravity Riders, of all disciplines, use/wear to protect their bodies. A one-piece suit: a one-piece suit covers your body like a pair of overalls would cover a trades mans body, with a zip from just above the groin to the neck in the front of the suit. The arms and legs also have a zipper at the ankle and wrist to allow the wearer to easily get the leathers on and off, and then secure the arms and legs securely. It is crucial that the main torso zip be in the front of the suit, as in most cases when a rider comes off their board they have a tendency to slide on their back rather than their front. If the zipper is in the back of the suit, it can easily heat up and burn the rider, and/or be pulled apart exposing bare skin to the surface of the road.
Two-piece suit: a two-piece suit has a pair of leather pants and a leather jacket with the pants and jacket being joined together with a zip around the waist. Ankle and wrist zips are also present in this type of suit. The only real advantage that a two-piece suit has over a one-piece is that the jacket can be removed while not riding on a hot day. Both types of suits offer the same amount of protection to the rider.
Some motorcycle leathers have an aerodynamic "hump" between the shoulder blades, which is great for motorcycles, however this "hump" restricts the luge or classic luge rider from laying in the correct position on their board. In some sets of leathers, this "hump" may be removed and the "pocket" or "flap" can be taped or stitched down permanently, allowing you to successfully use the leathers.
When purchasing leathers, the thickness of the hide itself should be approx. 1.2mm thick, as leather which is thinner can be torn in an easier fashion than thicker leather. The thickest hide to consider is 1.6mm thick, as any thicker the suit becomes extremely heavy to the wearer.
Cow hide is the most common leather used, however some suits are being made with Kangaroo hide. Roo hide is more resistant to abrasions than cow hide, however the roo hide is quite a bit more expensive.
When learning to ride any gravity discipline, you will have small crashes along the way, so for your first set of leathers, looks are certainly not a priority. You are going to scuff them up, so save your money for your first "good looking" set of leathers.
Cash Converters, Ebay and secondhand motorcycle shops are the best places to find your first set of leathers. A new set of custom made leathers can cost up to $1,500.00, or more in some cases, however it is possible to purchase leathers, which are safe to ride in, from Ebay, etc, for as little as $200.00.
When trying/sizing a set of leathers on, there are several aspects to consider, including comfort, stretch and ease of getting the leathers on and off. Regardless of whether the leathers you are purchasing have an inner liner or not, it is recommended the very first items you buy is a set of "Skins", or a similar type of undergarment. Everyone perspires whilst wearing leathers, and a set of the Skins type of undergarment makes removal of your leathers a lot easier.
When your leathers are on and zipped up, you should be able to move freely, bending forward and moving your arms and legs around, while at the same time not being too baggy. In a crash, even a small "off", baggy or ill-fitting leathers can move around and severely rub and graze your body, similar to a severe carpet burn, so purchasing a correct fitting set of leathers is extremely important. Firm fitting leathers, with minimal wrinkles in the hide allows for greater aerodynamic capabilities, which translates into greater speed.
As everyone perspires, the leather will become damp to the touch, on the inside of your leathers. After riding, hang the leathers outside, in the shade, to dry. Never leave wet or damp leathers folded or in a bag, as they will quickly become odorous and slimy to the touch. Over time, through the drying of perspiration, your leathers will become hard and brittle. A regular maintenance program is recommended, where a leather moisturizing compound is applied to the outside of your leathers, and a thorough check of the stitching can be done at the same time, as a preventative measure.
For repairs to your leathers, you can attempt to do the repair yourself, if it is only a small repair, or take them to a leather repair shop. Most motorcycle shops would be able to guide you to a local leather shop/repairer, alternatively your local yellow pages will be able to supply you with the information you need.
At some stage, most riders will consider entering legitimate racing events, and part of each event is the "Technical Inspection". At Tech, riders will be asked to present to the Tech Inspector all of their racing and safety equipment, ie, leathers, helmets, shoes, gloves as well as their luge and spare equipment. In this "Leathers" section, the Tech Inspector will be looking for holes in the suit, that all seams are still intact and that all zippers work correctly. When purchasing your first set of leathers, it is good practice to thoroughly examine the intended purchase, checking for all imperfections in the suit.
The 2011 IGSA Rulebook is found here.
It is recommended that riders locate a professional leather repair shop, if repairs are required to be done in order to pass an events Technical Inspection. The above rulebook will allow the rider to make sure their leathers are of a suitable standard to safely ride and compete.
Please keep in mind all information on this page is purely a guide, "DO NOT" attempt to build or ride your own board, the boards and equipment shown here have been made by professionals and are at competition level, make sure you have the correct equipment and safety gear before attempting to ride any board.