Alpinestars Bionic 2 Stella Body Armour
Additional Features: 6/10
Good Looking: 3/10
Wow. I had such a time trying to find some rally gear that a) I could afford and b) would not squish my boobs in all sorts of uncomfortable direction. On the market there is limited tailored ladies wear for rally riding. In fact I only found specific lady armour by Alpine Stars and then by custom made sellers which were crazy in pricing. After various conversations with suppliers my understanding is that Alpine Stars have now stopped manufacturing the Body Armour due to the limited demand and cost implications. To be fair, it’s overall design kind of didn’t really help it too much…
Comfort and fitting:
Next to safety, this to me was the most important part of the garment, particularly for the trip we had ahead of us and knowing I would be wearing it daily for 8 months straight. As they are almost impossible to come by in the shops I had to order mine online with a rough sizing guide which turned out pretty accurate. I was genuinely excited about receiving a properly lady-tailored body armour suit. When it arrived… I saw the breast plates and thought “eh?! They look upside down? Maybe they have been zipped on the wrong way up or something”. Upon closer inspection I saw that the plates are actually stitched on. Manufacturing error maybe? I checked again online and no… they looked the right way up but the scooped section for the boobs were insanely high.
In hope that maybe there was some kind of adjustment, I pulled it on, twisting my arms into the sleeves and then zipped up the front. Fiddling about there was no way I could really adjust the breast plate and even with proper heaving of my boobies there was no chance they were going to sit up near my collar bone. This garment… was obviously designed by a man and his model of a blow up comedy doll.
I was so disappointed. Overall it was… okay in comfort at a push, especially in comparison to the other varieties I had tried on. Yes, my boobs were squished but at least they were not being pushed in unfathomable directions. I decided to keep it and then rode with it for the entire duration of our African travels and still have it with us today as an off road option on those sweaty betty days.
So, what’s it like after 8months? Let us start with the positives. The elbows and shoulders and back support are all very well fitted with adjustable clips and elasticated velcro straps to help with tightening and holding it all in place. Typically, like most rigid back supports it every so often catches in my trousers and sticks in to my knickers but nothing a quick wiggle can’t resolve. It manages to keep me reasonably cool with the elasticated netting and an additional gap under the arm, even in the likes of the heats of Sudan (55 degrees celcius).
Now, the negatives. The rest of the body armour is just really infuriating. The elasticated kidney-type-belt is very comfortable the instance you put it on but within minutes of being on the bike it rides up and sits on your ribs. If you have any tops on underneath they just ride up with it leaving your midriff exposed. Some of this is due to the bottom of the main body having Velcro tabs on to connect to the belt in order to keep the main body armour pulled down but it has the opposite affect though and in turn yanked it up. As above, the breast plates were uncomfortable although bearable. The sleeves of the arms were a few inches too short for me too. Very frustrating, but with such little choice out there I had to go with it. I am constantly fidgeting and very happy to tug it off at the end of the day. Sizing wise I would not advise going by the suggested website sizing. I went one up on the website suggestion and was glad I did.
The cool thing with the Alpine Stars Stella Body Armour is that you can remove the back plate to help with cleaning or storing of the armour. In theory you’re not supposed to put it in a washing machine although we have on a cold wash with no adverse affects. Really it’s all about the handwashing and seeing as the elbows, breast plates and shoulders do not remove it’s can kind of a fiddle. Having worn it through Africa they have been super stinky and I’m afraid to say that no matter how much I do clean it, a bit of body heat later and it’s kind of whiffy.
Overall the quality is excellent. Although I’ve not had any major offs the few scuffs I’ve had have provided excellent protection and minimal scratches to the armour itself. It’s always kept its shape and the elasticity hasn’t stretched. All the stitching remains intact and even though there are lots of Velcro adjustments they have remained in good nick and not gone fluffy if you know what I mean.
At around £180 they’re kind of mid range in the market and the quality of the material and safety is reflective of this, if not higher. It just kind of falls flat on design and comfort.
It’s pinky purple edged. Typically a favourite colour motorcycle manufacturers think all us ladies like. It’s not to my tasting but maybe for some other. For me, I feel like a hunchy sack of potatoes in it and due to all the fidgeting and riding up I can’t say I feel like a hot biker chick. With the breast plates all in the wrong places it leaves lumps and sorts in weird positions. I know body armour isn’t a hot saucy look for ladies and this really is no exception of that rule
I think I was so excited over the booby section of this body armour I ended up buying too quickly into it. As it was all sorted only a couple of weeks before we left and over the internet, we were short on time and testing out other brands which were not really stocked in many shops around. I think if I had more time, money and the chance to shop around I would possibly have paid out a few more bucks for the likes of the Forcefield brand which, although not tailored for the ladies, is softer and looks a little better in fitting. I’m not sure, I would need to go on a big try out session and see how it all worked out! I know the motorcycle industry, particularly motocross and adventure riding, is not so saturated with us lady riders and thus motorcycle gear for us is few and not particularly well tailored, I am still disappointed that such big brand names could get something so wrong!