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The Alpinestars Long Range 2 Review


One of the few things I like about Winter is being able to pull on really thick and warming clothing; to wrap up all snug and be protected from the elements. Sadly my increasingly aged Hein Gericke Tricky III suit was becoming too old in the tooth to keep even the faintest tendrils of winter at bay – it was never the same after washing it frankly, a mistake I won’t make with this new suit.
So it was with some interest that I read the email from Alpinestars extolling the virtues of their latest all-weather suit to incorporate their Drystar® lining; the Long Range 2. A tentative email back to Italy resulted in an impressive box arriving a week later into a crowded house (“take the weather with you la la la”) as both Stace and Gavin had stopped by on other business. Both of these two are all-weather riders and it was with much interest that we opened what turned out to be a shipping wardrobe from which hung my new Long Range 2.

According to the blurb this suit has a “host of technical innovations” and a “4-in-1” configuration system both of which are meant to keep you warm and dry in the harshest environments

Looking deeper at the specifications and we see that it has (amongst other things):

•    Specifically coated highly abrasion and wear resistant main panels
•    Bio Armour in the main joints but no back protector (suits me as I prefer my own)
•    2 removable linings – one thermal, the other is the technical Drystar® lining
•    The jacket has a waist zipper and the trousers a detachable bib with natty Astars braces
•    Both jacket and trousers have volume adjusters for a more flexible fit



 

Out of the Box

After taking the suit of the hangers in the shipping box I’m struck not just by the volume of the suit – there’s a lot of it – but by the lack of weight that volume has. Sure, the jacket has a weight to it but considering it has 3 layers I was surprised to find it weighs marginally less than the outgoing HG Tricky III. Perhaps the HG’s built in back protector is tipping the scales.

Then there’s the size of it. I specifically ordered a bigger size because I wanted to comfortable with my Knox Aegis under the jacket and in the waistband, plus by the time I put a fleece on underneath my HG suit I was struggling to bend down to unlock the bike.  Popping the fastner on the trousers was an all too regular state of affairs and very embarrassing. Middle-aged spread as a result of family induced laziness meant a bigger size was needed.

The Long Range 2 with its dual liners is a substantial bit of clothing and appears worth its £350 + £250 combined price tag. It is quite soft and pliable compared to some seemingly starched textiles which hinted at being comfortable from the get-go. The Bio-Armour is the soft type, again nice and comfortable especially once it has moulded to your shape.

In The Details

The suit only comes in one colour scheme – black with anthracite (posh word for grey) panels - which is about as colourful as a winter suit can practically get because it’s going to get plastered with all manner of road filth.

Alpinestars have applied discreet labels to both jacket and trousers, not their usual bold designs, which adds something of a classy appearance heightened by the small red “drystar” stitched into the leg and jacket.

There are pockets galore; two chest pockets, two waist pockets and two interior pockets plus a big pocket on the back like a built in bum-bag while the trousers sport two hip pockets where you’d expect and two bigger more combat pant style pockets mid-thigh.


The chest and thigh pockets are more external-type pockets and come with rain flaps which Velcro down to seal the opening while the others are more traditional internal ones and all appear to have waterproof linings.

The collar sits quite proud on the jacket which compared to the Tricky III is an improvement because I can go without a neck tube for longer periods – it tightens up nicely yet doesn’t interfere with your helmet.

When the weather warms up there are vents on the front of the arm at bicep level and at the waist on the jacket. There’s also a rear vent which aids the flow of air out of the jacket - if only it had been warm enough to need that!

This suit has 2 linings which makes for 3 layers in its warmest configuration. Next to you sits the thermal liner which is a typical (though smarter than usual looking) quilted insert and this zips into the suit around the edges and even zips into the base of the sleeves and legs – the HG suit had press-studs instead which weren’t as secure.

Then there’s the fabled Drystar® technical lining which is the breathable waterproof layer designed to control the moisture coming in and out of the suit. Whilst the shell is water-resistant this layer means that the water stops here no matter how torrential the downpour.

But it begs the question - should a suit’s waterproof membrane be detachable? It’s certainly a fine debating point for the pub and all I’ll say in its defence is :

  • come summer I will not be carrying around a pile of waterproofing materials I don’t need
  • when I wash the shell I won’t risk damaging the waterproofing as happened to the HG suit

XKZ zips abound as do clever touches like the protective covers to the zips and pockets – someone has given a lot of thought to avoiding obvious openings being presented to the hostile weather.


Getting It On

Whilst I’ll admit to not riding in the icy conditions we’ve seen a little of this winter, I have been out riding in the cold and damp days which surrounded the really icy ones. When the suit arrived I did make a point of going out in the old one and then returning, swapping into the new gear and heading out again and the difference was amazing.

The extra layers didn’t cause any comfort problems while riding or walking and I was so glad to have ordered two sizes up from the actual measurements suggested.  My Aegis back plate fits without problem and the braces/webbing on the trousers sit over it to secure it firmly against my back.

Being two sizes up means the arms are also longer than normal so they don’t ride up when anywhere near a racing crouch to reveal wrists to the elements. I guess most manufactures work on the principle that all-weather riding is probably done on a more upright motorcycle than a Triumph 675 so again, ordering larger sizes paid off.

One thing I have done in the past and will always do in the future, regardless of suit, is add keyring loops to every major zip. There’s nothing worse than fumbling in winter gloves to open a pocket and it is also easier to feel where the zip head is for those “did I do my pocket up?” moments whilst riding.

 

Zipping Up

I was a little concerned with the joint between jacket and trousers – it is about 2/3rds the circumference of the waistline whereas my HG fastened from one side all the way around to the other and felt a little more solid as a result. Not that I doubt Alpinestars’ quality, I’m sure they tested the join and found it satisfactorily strong, but initially a little peace of mind was missing. But since I've barely given it a moment's thought it is hardly a big deal.

Interesting though, both the outer shell and the Drystar® liner have a joining strip to the trousers and with the liner in you use that zip to connect to the trousers which helps seal the suit I guess. There is some initial fumbling with the various options but once you know where the tab is it is easy to zip the suit together.


Likewise at the front of the jacket: there is a zip on the liner to be done up if desired (for a full weather protection) or you can leave it open and just close the main zip on the outer shell to allow a small draught in should needs be.

I did keep joining one half of the liner to the opposing half of the outer shell which doesn’t work so well! They’ve used identical zips on both which isn’t ideal if I was going to nit-pick.

The arms finish with a nice elasticated inner cuff – it looks like you’ve a base layer coming out of the sleeve – while there is a sturdy plastic strap backed with Velcro to adjust the aperture on the outside which is easily handled with gloved hands and has enough Velcro to stay shut as gloves are pulled on and off over it. I did find that chunky watches (I’ve a collection of G-Shocks) sat directly underneath this which caused some discomfort so the watch comes off (as is probably safest anyway).

In The Elements

In the wet the suit does as billed and kept the rain out while my skin, clothes and suit pockets remained dry. I haven’t ridden hundreds of miles in the wet, nor do I intend to, but for now this suit is repelling all moisture thrown at it with barely a shrug it seems.

I did buy the suit fully expecting to have to wear a fleece under it, as I did with the Tricky III, and frankly I’ve not need to. Sure I might have if I’d gone out in the ice but like for like with the old suit the Long Range 2 is easily a jumper warmer – something I’d immediately put down to the wind-stopping ability of the DryStar® liner.

If I was going to embark on few hundred mile ride in the cold I’d probably dress light underneath and put an oversuit on just to bolster the wind protection but for everyday riding in all but the harshest weathers this suit is the business. No-one likes turning up at say, the Ace, on a cold day and having to remove several layers before spontaneously combusting. With the Long Range 2 I could arrive with just a base layer underneath, take the jacket off and relax comfortably yet be warm enough on the bike.

This morning, for instance, it was cold and foggy although some 16 degrees was promised come the afternoon. I wore a cotton t-shirt under the fully lined suit and the 35 mile trip from Kent to North London, inc some 70mph stretches, was perfectly comfortable. For the trip home I’ll simply remove the thin thermal layer from the jacket only and open the vents. Perfect.

Overall

Will it last? I can’t remember the last time I heard a biker moaning about an item of Alpinestars clothing falling apart.

Is it good value? Yes I believe it is. Right now – 24th March – I can find the jacket online for £200 which is an absolute bargain. Sure it is the end of season for this kit but still, that’s a massive saving and this jacket with all linings removed would make a great shell over a leather suit in the less warm summer days.

The cheapest I can see the combo for is about £400 and I can seriously recommend it for commuters and adventurers alike.

LB Scores:

Design: 8/10 - For: trick double inners which provide flexibility without discomfort, smart appearance and clever details. Against: would be debatable point of separate waterproof liner meaning potential waterlogging of outer shell.

Protection: 8/10 - For: good quality armour where supplied, strong outer shell material. Against: with no built in back protector it means adding another £100+ to the deal for one.

In Use: 10/10 - The Long Range 2 has delivered exactly as promised. It is warm enough to avoid cumbersome thick fleeces being needed on all but the coldest days, and repels water perfectly. Buying a little large is a definite advantage.

Overall: 26/30 - This is a very good product at this price bracket especially if you have (as would be recommended) a separate back protector. There are better of course but at a premium.

Go get one now in prep for next year, they're sure to be discounted for a while yet.

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1 Comment

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chet78 | 19 October 2012, 17:52
After living with the jacket for a while I could not recommend it I'm afraid. It's built very well and great in the cold, however in the wet has some major design faults. Once the insulating layer is fitted and zipped to the outer shell at the cuff, the water collected by the inner-shell (as the outer-shell is not waterproof) has nowhere to escape. Any water collected by the inner-shell is just deposited inside the bottom of the sleeve, where it slowly seeps through the cuff. If you have the type of gloves that go over the sleeves this water is then deposited straight into the glove! Useless. How did it get off the drawing board?! Also the Drystar lining is far too short on the body, so if not worn with the matching trousers, any clothing underneath will be soaked from the belly button level down on a wet ride. For me though, the first point would be a deal breaker had the deal not already been done.

Personally I have found this jacket a very expensive let down!

Thanks
#My jacket is the long range 1, but I believe the spec is identical#
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