Only a few years ago. You’d be hard pressed to find fashionable motorcycle gear with actual armor. Sure, there Vanson and Schott, but many of their options had blocky cuts, a severe rockabilly vibe, or lacked actual armor.
Now, your local coffee shop/beard emporium/motorcycle shop/glamping hub is full up of options from established players and limited run startups. Noticeably lacking in this field has been one of the biggest brands of all: Alpinestars. At least until now.
Last year, they rectified this on their Oscar line with a collection, an unusable flashy website, and brooding which in their words:
Merging a history of innovation and Italian craftsmanship, the current Oscar by Alpinestars line will exist as a fusion of classic styles and silhouettes, punctuated by technical features and modern processes. Much in the vein of the original Oscar by Alpinestars branded product, an equal balance of form and function will be meticulously maintained, creating unique, premium garments, guided by the timeless rebel-style essence of motorcycle racing.
Neat, but is the stuff any good? Can Oscar gear both live up to Alpinestars technical pedigree while looking fashionable? Let’s find out.
(Disclaimer: the Goodwood Revival is a vintage event. So I needed gear to match. Sean gave me a talking too, mentioned something about reclaimed wood and beard oil, and sent me his Alpinestars Oscar garb. Yes, we share sizes, yes it is adorable. Seeing the event, I also took the uncharacteristic option of wearing a 3/4 helmet I’ve kept around. I will not be doing this again.)
(Disclaimer disclaimer: I used to be the PR/marketing guy for a competing apparel brand, but I’m not anymore, so to take a walk on the rival’s side was both awesome and a challenge. I no longer work in the motorcycle industry nor will I ever again because, while it’s fun, those dudes work way too hard for far too little - but I will keep writing for you guys and for sean because I like you and he begs me.)
We’ll begin with where it started for the brand, from the feet up:
I was on a recent group text where people were soliciting moto boot options. Red Wing was given as the premier option.
They are very nice boots. They are not fucking motorcycle boots. This gives you an idea on what prospective customers are looking to Instagram themselves in.
The Alpinestars brand was started with boots, specifically for skiing, and then offering one of the first dedicated motocross boot options. This lineage obviously continues today if you look at the feet of Supercross podiums. Boots are an important part of the brand, and hugely important for motorcycle protection. You could call this homecourt advantage for the Alpinestars.
Many of the casual boot options I’ve worn, tested, or poked at suffer from three problems: lack of stiffness, protectors, or flimsy construction. But the Rayburn blew me away. Two ankle protectors, a thick upper, an oil resistant sole (important during a vintage British car show) ZING BOOM GOT JOKES), and a toe box.
Detailing is superb, with metal clasps on the end of the laces, subtle embossing, and a chunky casual profile. They were all day comfortable by my moto boot standards, and most importantly had proper stiffness around the ankle.
As far as casual motorcycle boots go, these are a total winner. Will they be good as technical options? Hell no. But for all day wearability and a lack of “look at me I rode here” looks they are ideal and leagues above other options.
Motorcycle denim could be classified as the “brown manual diesel shooting brake” of motorcycle gear. Too expensive, and people will just wear Levi’s. That’s bad. Not enough protection, and they’re for not doing this job.
The Coppers are the closest balance I can find to a jean that has a good balance of quality, price, fit, and protection.
They are Alpinestars “Regular” fit which is tapered but not skinny. (I’ll let Sean wear the skinny pants.) They have CE knee armor, and hip pads, and Kevlar in the seat and knees.
The comfort is there for all day wearability. Any more kevlar and they would be too scratchy and hot.
And the detailing is nice. Riveted pockets buy some durability, the stitch lines for the Kevlar panels are well color-matched, and the length is long enough to cuff or leave un-cuffed and not ride up high when in rearsets.
Are they going to do as well as leather pants in a crash? Like all protective denim options, that would be a no. But it’s leagues better than the Levi’s gamble, offers a look far better than the Obama pants silhouette of most manufacturers, and leather pants look really bad on a plane.
These were the biggest letdown of the group.
They are designed to look like deer hide gloves your grandpappy would have worn on his BSA throne doing authentic things with grinder sparks and the like. Hashtagging into trees as they did during those days. You know, MAN SHIT.
They are full goatskin leather and the fit is standard, so looser than their race glove options. Comfort was awesome out of the box. And the palm has an extra layer of leather, not just panels of leather stitched together.
The slip on design was convenient and secure enough around the wrists.
However, they have no additional reinforcement, and this style is highly common with actual deerskin for less money. They definitely round out the Oscar collection, but if you want that look, look elsewhere.
Otherwise known as, the money piece. This the most competitive space with most every brand running a vintage option.
We ran with the Oscar Monty.
Fit is slim-ish, definitely not race jacket tight, but athletic enough to not be a box. At 165 and 5’11, otherwise known as the “not tall enough for Tinder zone,” I was square in the middle of a medium and small. I chose a medium. The shoulder and body fit, albeit a touch long. And the sleeves were also a bit longer, but true motorcycle jackets should be so they cover your wrists while riding. You know, that thing you bought the jacket for in the first place.
The material is a supple vegetable-dyed full grain leather, which is what you should be receiving in this price bracket. Full grain is the best you can get. No artificial texture, no hiding imperfections, and retaining abrasion resistant qualities unlike the Forever 21 pieces you’ll see people rocking. One - 1.2mm is a little thin, but the elbows are double upped in material.
Armor is CE-rated foam pieces in the shoulders and elbow. Coverage is decent, but it is unfortunate there is not an included back piece. The pocket is there, but everyone from seems to leave a back piece out besides ICON.
Detailing is exquisite, zippers are beefy, and all signs point to initial quality. Three days wear does not a review make, so I’ll be following up on this.
And the liner. Perfect weight, full liner, plaid design is the quickest way to my VWVortex-addled heart, and offers a good amount of insulation. Take it out, and you receive a good amount of ventilation, as the Monty is fully perfed along the sides and under the arms.
Should you get one? This one most depends on your style preference. This jacket is definitely for the comment boards that say, “I love Alpinestars but I just want something without the logos.” You get way more bang for your buck over a Roland piece. But you go without the full armor suite.
This gear segment is tough. For a fickle rider base you need to nail design first, market hard, and hope they don’t get distracted by some other trend before a product hit the shelves. Oh, and actually make it a protective garment.
Most brands do the first three, only a handful all four.
The Oscar line nails it in the boots, pants, and jacket, and wobbles on the gloves, but it’s an alternative to fashion jackets or posuer pieces. If this is something you were already eyeing, you can pull the trigger with confidence.
Photos: Alpinestars and Bree Poland
Joseph Gustafson is Lanesplitter’s most loudmouthed contributor. His mouth is much faster than his riding acumen. He enjoys taking long rides on the road, short rides on the dirt, and finding new ways to use the term “voracious” in a sentence. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter as he butchers welding and words in the pursuit for hashtag glory.