Mithos RCP-15 Racing Suit Review | One-of-a-Kind
“Please take off your pants” was the surprise beginning of my experience with Mithos Fashion and Sport CEO Bruno Zimmerli.
He was preparing to take my measurements for a custom-made kangaroo leather race suit made by a relatively new subsidiary Mithos-Sport of the Swiss clothing company. Zimmerli was in California at that time, but is based in Baden-Daettwil, near Zurich.
One needn’t worry about getting measurements taken, the Mithos-USA operation already has 11 fitting centers in four states—California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Jersey—including its headquarters in the City of Industry east of Los Angeles.
There are a few old-line manufacturers of race leathers and they produce trusted protective garments. There are also many small manufacturers, often in Pakistan and thereabouts, that sell leather suits of questionable materials and construction.
Quality and cost of protection are not quantifiable unless you crash and then dissect the results. I’ve seen suits that sell online for as little as $325. I have also seen a video of a guy who was able to tear his cheap leather suit apart with his hands.
So, as with motorcycle helmets and all protective gear, one cannot test their safety capabilities without crashing and I don’t get paid enough to do that. I buy the best I can afford and trust in the name, the quality of the components, and anecdotes to keep me informed and, hopefully, safe.
Mithos is a new entry to the upper echelon of quality race suits. After a close examination and a few outings, it is my belief that Mithos is as good, or better, then what is now available elsewhere.
Mithos Fashion and Sport expanded into racing leathers due to Zimmerli’s passion for motorcycle racing.
“We started in 2011 with the brand Arcuoso,” Zimmerli explains, “and in 2014 we founded Mithos for our fashion products. For marketing reasons, we brought everything together in the brand Mithos. In 2011, we made a partnership with a Pakistan factory, but after two years we learned that’s not the place to manufacture the best leather suits. So, we started the project for the current leather suits.
“I like to ride and race for fun. I had to buy leather suits with logos and custom measurements from a German manufacturer. The price was very high, and I was not happy with the fit and the service. So, I started a project to make a suit especially for me. After constructing my first suit, some racer friends also wanted personal suits and that’s the beginning. A typical garage story. Now our suits are made in Vietnam from our patterns and materials. Why Vietnam? Because Vietnam is one of the biggest and best manufacturers for motorcycle clothing.”
Asked how he developed Mithos suits, Zimmerli replied, “I searched for people with a lot of experience with leather suits. A German motorcycle clothing technician made the base. A pattern master from Italy developed the patterns, and we used one for Loris Capirossi at first.
A designer from Mercedes made the perfect design for outside protectors with the target being the best aerodynamics with the lightest weight. We got together with [armor maker] SAS-TEC to develop the best product that would boost the function of the inside protectors.”
“Then,” Zimmerli continues, “with [two-time 250cc GP World Champion] Sito Pons and his [Moto2 racing] sons Axel and Edgar, we tested and improved step-by-step over a two-year period. In 2015, we started with the RCP-15 and I am sure we now have a very good and safe product. We also tested at a 24-hour race in Barcelona with eight riders to know more about the comfort.”
“The name RCP comes from Axel Pons. After Axel took his first ride in our suit he came in after 30 minutes, took off his helmet, and told me with a big smile, ‘I feel safe like Robocop.’ For this reason, we call it RoboCopPons.”
Months after having my measurements taken, I received my RCP-15 in kangaroo leather via air from Switzerland. It fit perfectly which, anecdotally, has not been to the case for some riders who have had made-to-measure suits from other companies.
They report most often that the torso is cut too short and that the crotch is too tight. Hold the jokes.
A tight cut is almost impossible to rectify without re-manufacturing the suit and one rider I spoke to reported that his Pakistani manufacturer would not correct its error. His unworn suit is now for sale, and he has no interested buyers.
I minutely examined the suit, inside and out. The seams were straight and perfect. All pattern cuts were symmetrical and accurate. The quality of the leather was uniform, with no odd grain or markings.
Probably due to the fact that kangaroo is stronger than cow leather, and can be thinner than cow with the same protection, the RCP-15 was immediately flexible and comfortable. It was nicely flexible and did not bind in any areas whether I was riding in a tuck on a race bike or a super naked in the sit-up position.
Naturally, the arms and legs are pre-curved and shaped for a racing tuck, adding to the comfort. The removable inner poly lining was also cut precisely, making for easy entry and exit, even on a hot day at the track. The zippers are all high-quality YKK brand and the suit quality is excellent overall.
I also wore Mithos’s RGC-17 kangaroo gloves. These are not custom made, so I ordered my usual large and they were true to size—unusual from a European source. The RGC-17 gloves are comfortable for all-day wear, with no annoying internal seams that rub the wrong way.
Mithos-USA Managing Director Ken Tam says, “Our goal is to take over the world, one suit at a time. The fitting centers help a lot. Each fitting center is trained and fully equipped to measure our customer according to our specifications. The rest is handled by corporate Mithos-USA.”
I immediately found the Mithos RCP-15 suit to be my all-time favorite suit and look forward to track days and fast canyon rides with even more anticipation. My only gripe is that there is no inside pocket for a driver’s license or credit card, which I am forced to tuck into my shorts. Oh, well.
Photography by Don Williams