The outer boot has a side-opening zipper that runs along the outside of the leg with a stretch bellows panel for a snug fit with ease of entry and exit. A full-length suede leather panel on the inside offers better grip and feel with the motorcycle. Numerous vents in front of the boot provide cooling airflow (the white and black versions of the Supertech R have perforated sections for additional venting as well), and the heel area is surrounded by a TPU plastic protective cup with replaceable heel slider (working with the aluminum insert on the outside of the heel to prevent the boot from catching on the pavement while sliding). The upper TPU plastic shin protector has hook-and-loop fabric inside to ensure a positive and snug closure, with an adjustable ratcheting strap up top for even more security. A gaiter at the top rim of the boot keeps out debris, and the clip-in replaceable TPU plastic toe sliders can be upgraded to magnesium units.
The new Supertech R basically addresses nearly all the complaints we had with the old Supertech boot. The side-entry zipper is much better than the outdated rear entry, overall ankle and foot support is much better and feels more secure, and the R does away with many of the overly flashy components that adorned the old Supertech. Peg feel and grip are superb. About the only gripe we have with the new Supertech R is that the plastic toe sliders can wear away quickly and cause you to wear into the boot if you have a tendency to drag your toes while cornering aggressively.
Ever since we first tried Shoei's X-11 helmet (June '03) it's been one of the staff favorites. Constructed using the company's "AIM+" (Advanced Integrated Matrix Plus) blend of synthetic and organic materials-including Dyneema, a textile claimed to be lighter and stronger than Kevlar-in the shell, the X-11's fit and finish are excellent, and it's very lightweight in comparison with cheaper helmets. And as we've said before, the Shoei's ventilation system is the best, bar none. Even its aerodynamics are superb, with less lift and buffeting at speed than most other helmets.
As described in the opening paragraph El Jefe's crash wasn't a simple lowside (much as he might've wished). Just as the Yamaha's rear end reached the point of no return, instead of just spinning out into a lowside fall the rear tire began to hook up, and Kunitsugu quickly realized that unless he stepped off the bike at that point he might have had to register a flight plan with the FAA. Unfortunately, even though he stepped off just as the bike flipped, his momentum threw him forward as he hit the pavement at about 80 mph, with the right shoulder and arm taking the brunt of the initial impact and his helmet receiving a smack from both the pavement and one of the bike's tires before tumbling off the track and skittering into the dirt field.
Amazingly Kunitsugu suffered no injuries whatsoever (other than a little soreness of the two middle digits on his left hand from what he thinks was the bar being ripped from his hand just before he ejected). In fact he was well enough-and his gear survived enough-to continue testing for the rest of the day. The RS Taichi leathers suffered some nasty scuffing (especially on the plastic shoulder cap) but never wore through or tore anywhere, and the gloves only had minor scuff marks. The Alpinestars boots were scraped up pretty good in a number of areas, but no foot or lower leg injuries were sustained. Despite scraping off one of the rear vents and some paint-plus getting a little rubber mark from one of the bike's tires-in the crash, Kunitsugu suffered no head injuries, and the Shoei X-11 was still plenty usable (even though he retired it at the end of the day just to be on the safe side). Yet another example of how quality safety gear can protect you from even the nastier falls.
RS Taichi has a repair service for its leathers that we will be showing the results of in a later issue. The GP MAX R070 suit retails for $1755.95, and is available in white/red, white/blue and black/silver in sizes 40-50. The GP MAX gloves cost $189.95 and come in red, yellow, blue, gunmetal and black, in sizes S-XXXL. Alpinestars' Supertech R boots retail for $399.99 and are available in black, white/black "GP tracks" (vented), black/red, black/blue, black/silver (vented) and white/black (vented) in sizes 5-12.5 U.S./35-48 Euro. The Shoei X-11 helmet is available in a variety of solid and racer-replica colors (prices range from $587.99 to $692.99) in sizes XXS-XXL.