Kit advice

Racer’s Kit – Andrea Dovizioso

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Andrea Dovizioso, 31, is a racer who competes in the premier class for the Factory Ducati team.

Andrea won the 125cc Aprilia Challenge in Italy in 2000 before scooping up the 125cc World Championship with the Kopron Scot Honda team in 2004.

He moved up to the 250cc class in 2005, picking up five podium finishes and third place overall in his debut season. He finished second behind series winner Jorge Lorenzo a year later, and finished second again in 2007.

In 2008 he moved up to the elite class with JiR Team Scot, finishing a credible fourth place in the season opener in Qatar. He finished fifth overall and the following season became an official Repsol Honda rider, replacing former world champion Nicky Hayden. He won his first premier class race at Donington Park and finished sixth overall in the standings.

Andrea went one better in his second season as a Factory Honda rider, finishing fifth overall in 2010.

Despite taking four second places the following season in the three-man Repsol team, and finishing third in the championship behind Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea rejected the offer of a Honda satellite bike and moved to the Tech 3 Yamaha squad, partnering Britain’s Cal Crutchlow.

Dovizioso was quick straight from the off on the Yamaha, gaining top-five finished in his first three starts, and he finished the season in fourth overall to cap an impressive year.

His riding caught the attention of Ducati, who signed Andrea as a replacement for the departing Valentino Rossi in 2013. Despite struggling to adapt to the career-destroying Desmosedici, he scored a fourth in the wet at Le Mans and finished the season in eighth.

His fortunes improved significantly following the arrival of Gigi Dall’Igna, and this year has seen his stock rise even more – outclassing Jorge Lorenzo and enjoying two wins already.

He’s had his fair share big offs – especially on the notoriously difficult to turn Ducati – and knows what kit works and what doesn’t. Here he shares his kit wisdom.

HELMET: “Everything is important when it comes to your helmet – protection, comfort, vision, quietness, ventilation.

“My advice is to try as many on as you can and buy the best you can afford. You can’t afford to settle for less.

“In terms of order of importance, protection is most important for me, then comfort and finally vision. You want your helmet to give you peace of mind. I need to know it’s going to protect me when, not if, I come off. And it needs to be comfortable. When you’re on the bike you don’t want the interior to be uncomfortable, or to be pinching your head, you want not to notice it so you can focus solely on your riding.

“Ventilation is important too. You can soon overheat in hot races, or mist up in west weather, so having a helmet with effective vents is crucial.

“And you want a helmet to be quiet, the quieter the better. Anything that distracts you from takes your focus away from what’s ahead isn’t good.

“The only thing I change about my helmet is the fit. I wear Suomy and we have adapted it slightly so that the visor aperture sits higher up on my head. That way I can see more when I’m in a full racing crouch. Apart from that it’s completely standard.”

LEATHERS: “I like my leathers to be tight. It’s no good having them loose or they’ll offer little or no protection when you crash. But you can’t have them so tight as to restrict movement, so look for leathers with a good range of stretch panels.

“And don’t be put off by weight. Yes, lightness is important, but you don’t want the material to be that thin that the asphalt burns through it as you slide along the tarmac at 180mph.

“I’m not so fussed about external armour, as I don’t think it makes that much difference. So long as you have armour in the crucial areas, then that’s fine. The principle’s the same as when you go MotoCross riding – you want to be protected, but you don’t want it so restrictive that you can’t move.

“My suit has an airbag, but I can’t say I even notice the difference. It doesn’t make the sit feel any heavier or restrict my movement on the bike.”

BACK AND CHEST PROTECTORS: “I wear both and I can’t recommend them enough, especially the back protector. When was the last time you heard of a rider getting paralysed?

“There’s really not any excuse not to wear either anymore. They’re light, comfortable and after a couple of times wearing them you forget you’ve got them on. There’s a huge choice out there, and most are adjustable.”

GLOVES: “Gloves need to have protection in the right places, especially the wrist. If you come off the bike at speed your hands are going to come into contact with the tarmac. It’s very easy for your hands to dig in and break either your wrist or fingers, so the more heavy-duty protection and sliders gloves have, the better.

“The difficulty is finding the right balance between protection and feel. Your hands control the throttle and brakes, so you need movement, but some gloves are that thin and light that when hit the ground or roll through the gravel they almost fall to pieces. That’s not good, so always go for gloves that are that bit thicker.”

BOOTS: “Boots need to be comfortable, flexible and protective. The ankle is a very complex joint, and is easily damaged, so look for boots with lots of external protection in the ankle area.

“I wear Supertech boots and they’re brilliant. The use a really snug tightening mechanism that keeps the boot snug and secure. They’ve got loads of chunky plastic armour but they’re thin enough on the top of the foot to make changing gear easy.”

BASELAYERS: “I can’t imagine riding without these. They’re excellent at keeping your core temperature constant, and work just as well whether the temperature is 5C or 35C. And they make it so much easier to get into and out of your leathers.”

EARPLUGS: “I always wear earplugs. It is impossible to ride a GP bike without them – the engine is just too loud.

“In the 2008 GP at Donington Park I didn’t have time to put my earplugs in as I rolled out the pits for the outlap before the race. It was horrific. It actually hurt my ears. The bike was that loud. You definitely couldn’t complete a full race without wearing them. I’ve never made that mistake again.”

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Racer’s Kit – double TT winner Ivan Lintin shares his kit wisdom

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Roads ace Ivan Lintin, 31, from Bardney in Lincolnshire, has bikes running through his blood.

He cut his teeth competing in speedway and sand racing before switching to the British Supermoto Championship at 19. It was a baptism of fire, and in his first season the young Lintin broke his collarbone three times.

After a period of recovery, 2006 saw Lintin turn his attention to circuit racing, and he won his first race after just two races, eventually finishing second in one championship, and third in another.

The following season saw him win his first pure road race championship – the Irish 250cc – 400cc support class – and that led to him signing for a factory supported team, RC Express Racing, where he competes on the national and international road racing circuit.

He won his first TT in 2015, the lightweight race, and won the same race a year later. He also won the NW200 Supertwins race, setting a new lap record for the class at 109.304mph in the process.

He suffered a brutal off at Oliver’s Mount last July, losing part of his ring finger in the process, so he knows what works, and just as importantly, what doesn’t. Here he shares his kit wisdom, to ensure you get the best you can afford.

HELMET: “For the coming season I will be using the new AGV Carbon Pista – it is the flagship model of AGV (see New Kit section) and comes with a built-in hydration system.

“During the 2016 season I used two different helmets during different parts of the season – the AGV Corsa and the AGV Pista. The difference is basically the venting and the weight, with the Pista being the lighter of the two thanks to its carbon shell. Racing in any TT race takes it out of you, but your neck takes a right buffeting with you head basically being ripped off your shoulders at 190mph all the time. Them few grams of weight helps combat that a little.

“If you buy a new helmet from an official dealer they will normally offer you a fitting service where you try on different sizes, and they’ll adjust the internal padding to get the perfect fit – this will make the whole experience of riding your road bike or race bike that much better, allowing you to focus on the road.”

LEATHERS: “Until the 2015 season I used off-the-peg RST suits, all of which were crashed in and survived the season racing without any repairs or issues – it just proves how good their base level race suits are.

“I now wear made-to-measure factory suits and my suits for next season are the RST kangaroo – they’re lighter than cow hide and more supple. They fit like a glove and once you have them bedded in they’re all-day comfy.

“Last season I had a massive crash at the end of the back straight at Oliver’s Mount at 160mph, sliding more than 250 yards on the tarmac. The leathers stayed intact, and the only injury I suffered was a graze on my hip and elbow which was more heat burn than anything else.

“Leathers are something that you don’t always see people wearing on the road, and I know if the worst was to happen I would want to be wearing a set. Try different sizes and models on and find something that fits nicely both on and off the bike. Don’t be afraid if they’re a little tight when you buy them new –leathers bed in a lot, sometimes up to 10%. A little trick I have used to expand a specific part of the suit (mine was an issue around my knees at the TT) is to put a motorcycle inner tube into the problem area, blow it up and leave overnight. You will be surprised how much space can be made doing that.”

GLOVES: “Safety is paramount, but comfort is important too. In pure road racing good knuckle protection is vital. When you’re in the pack at the NW200 or Ulster GP, you’re basically getting shot blasted with stones. If one of them hits your knuckle without carbon or metal protection you certainly know about it.

“I have worn RST Track Tech Evo and Pro series gloves for longer than I can remember, they offer everything I require. They’re comfy when there bedded in and offer that vital knuckle protection. They also have the little finger sewn to the ring finger so in the event of a crash your little finger doesn’t get torn about as much.

“Going into the 2017 season I will have a special glove made with a shortened ring finger following the off at Scarborough, which resulted in it being amputated.”

BOOTS: “Boots are another piece of safety equipment some road riders overlook – your ankles won’t last long sliding along the tarmac at 60mph, so boots are as important for road riders as they are for racers.

“In the racing world I always look for a very rigid boot to stop the twisting that would brake your ankle in a crash. When I started out I wore Daytona boots as they were the most rigid, but now the other manufactures have caught up and I use the RST Pro Series boot. It allows free movement for gear changes and rear braking but limited twisting, so if you have a nasty off with your legs flying about you’re not going to break your ankle.”

BACK AND CHEST PROTECTOR: “I only used to wear a back protector as chest protectors are not the most comfy thing in the world. The say you learn from your mistakes and I had a crash in 2014 at the Southern 100, a first corner pile-up. I ran into the rear of another bike at about 30mph with my chest. I badly bruised my sternum and felt like I was winded for about three weeks.

“I was not wearing one that day – whether or not it would have saved me from the injury I don’t know, but now I wear one without fail and haven’t had a chest injury since.

“I would recommend one to any road rider because it could save you a lot of pain. When choosing either try them on to check how comfy they are and try get a longer back protector as it will offer the most protection.”