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Aunt Zero

Syed vs Z Custom - A Review

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Well, since I ordered from both places, let me tell my tale of how it has worked out...so far...

 

Having lost weight and pretty much stabilized at how "big" I expect to get going forward, I wanted a better grade of cow protecting my bony ass should something happen.

 

Only two real contenders for custom-fit (after finding OTR suits that had what I wanted were too tight in the arms to be usable).  Syed (Florida) and Z Custom (California).

 

Syed

 

I went with a plain two-piece from Syed.  A couple of extras (mostly no perforation and back armor added).  Their cost was about what I was used to paying for a suit from Z Custom.  This time, the same from Z Custom would have cost hundreds more.  I guess the high cost of being in California is largely to blame for this.  This was a downer as the cost difference for a "basic" suit is why the job went to Syed.

 

PROS ... The Syed suit generally appears to be well-made, and it even came with a speed hump (which I could have opted NOT to have but was included for the price).  Fit appears to be good.  First ride was a bit tight in the seat and legs, but I'm sure it will break in with more wears.  I'll count this as a "PRO" but I have mixed feelings on it...the elbow armor is inserted on the OUTSIDE of the suit with an access sealed with Velcro.  I'm still trying to get used to it because whenever I see the access seam, I think the pocket is open when it's not.  Does make it easier to change out the armor (or just remove it) compared to something sewn into the leather itself.

 

CONS ... The suit is HEAVY.  I'm not sure why this bothered me as this suit seems just as heavy as I remember my prior Z Custom suits being.  My cheap Bilt one-piece is nowhere near the weight...which might be why this threw me.  Heavy normally does = good crash protection, so how you see it depends on how you feel.

 

DEALER ... They certainly were friendly and helpful over e-mail, but be warned if you talk to them by phone.  The guy I got had a heavy Hispanic accent, and it was difficult to tell if he understood what I was saying.  I took extra care to make sure there were no misunderstandings in what we were saying to each other.  I found their measurement chart to be a tad more excessive than Z Custom requires.  While I believe there were no errors, even with a "snug" fitting, the jacket has a bit more width than is necessary (makes my shoulders look broader than they are).  This could have simply been from adding material to accommodate the back protector (extra).  In the end, it's a blessing because the bit of extra room leaves an option to layer clothing underneath or even a heated vest.  Another customization I asked for was an "extra long zipper."  Last time I had a custom suit made, I asked for the zipper to go as far down as was practical to make it easier to get on/off when using the bathroom (yes, just one inch makes that much of a difference).  This was probably a first for them, and what I got...well, the zipper goes ALL THE WAY down.  I should have just asked for it to go one inch longer.  On the upside, I can don and remove this two-piece suit as if it was a one-piece (which saves me the struggle with the waistband zipper).  On the downside, it's the likely cause of why it's a bit too snug in the legs and seat (when seated on the bike) fresh out of the box.

 

Z Custom

 

For Z Custom, I went with a one-piece suit.  Pretty much the same extras were ordered.

 

PROS ... The suit looked good overall (as I expected), and it fit like a glove.

 

CONS ... Other than the significantly higher cost, I saw no clear defect in construction or fit.  My only other issue was the WEIGHT of the suit.  It was 18 pounds to ship.  When I picked it up, I couldn't believe a whole suit was in the small box they used.  Maybe it's just my perception, but I'm suspecting there's some "cost shaving" going on, and given the higher price, I expect the grade of material should equal or exceed their competition's.  I'll update this when I get the suit back and can wear it a couple of times to get a better feel for things.

 

DEALER ... I'm questioning what's going on with the vendor.  A HUGE oversight is that they put the wrong type of collar on the suit.  While I expect them to refund the return shipping, it shouldn't have happened in the first place.  They also shipped to my PO Box (billing address) rather than the address I told them to.  This tells me someone wasn't looking at the actual order form and whoever did the final QA check before shipping didn't do their job very well.  Yes, the suit design came with a collar, but the order specified a different collar.  For the cost of the product, mistakes like this don't inspire confidence.  Also regarding cost, in the past if you wanted a "custom colored" suit design, and if your color stayed within the whole panel (no special cutting or sewing required), the charge for different colors were minimal to none at all.  All they had to do was cut that particular piece from a different bolt of material.  I opted for a simple one-color detail as shown in the suit pattern, and the increase in cost for that one alteration was significant.  As any pattern they sell would be invisible if done in only one color, you'd think the base price for a suit would reflect the work of custom coloring WITHIN their pre-designed pattern.

Edited by Aunt Zero

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Any reason you went with one from each?  I assume if you ordered both from the same place you'd get a discount.

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Well, I would have just gone with Z Custom as I liked the work they did in the past, but the significant increase in their prices made me consider Syed as an option.  Had Syed had a pattern I liked for the one-piece, I might have gotten both from them.

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UPDATE - Syed

 

Okay, after having time to basically spend a week in the Syed leathers, I can say I'm rather impressed.  While the suit had some initial discomfort in the thighs, the suit has either broken in nicely or it was my using the Corbin saddle that made the difference.  The extended zipper I requested made getting the suit on and off super easy (essentially as a one-piece suit), and bathroom breaks were no-hassle.  The suit comes perforated as standard, and I went without perforations, but the Kevlar panels let enough air flow into the suit that it was comfortable (for me), and as usual, in cool and rainy weather, I was glad that I didn't have the perforated version to deal with.  As it stood, going home I put on my rain jacket for the extra shielding from the damp, cold air.

 

I still need to do a weight check between the two suits...it's been crazy at home and I keep forgetting to take the time.  I hope to get enough time in the Z Custom suit to give a fair evaluation on it, although prior experience tells me I should be equally happy with the overall quality.

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UPDATE - Z Custom

 

Well, I can honestly say I'm done with this vendor...or at least, I'm not willing to risk my money with them in the future.  I decided to try the suit on again, and the collar is definitely fucked up.  Way too large and oddly "warped" after they had to fix sending it with the wrong collar in the first place.  It's bad enough it doesn't look right, but it's a comfort issue as well.  The material flexes down into the collarbone on one side and bulges out on the other side.  It looks even on a hangar, but it looks like shit on the body.

 

I'm not sure what's going on at their end, but as I noted before, missing details at this price point shows poor workmanship.  The quality of the suit just doesn't measure up to what I've received in the past, and because I waited this long to finally determine it's not made right, I don't have any real leverage to have them fix it at their cost...and this isn't a "cut and re-sew" job.  They took too much material out, so it would involve re-cutting the whole upper part of the suit.  I really need to listen to my gut more often.  When I got the suit back after the initial "fix," I wore it just to see how it looked.  I never took it out for a ride.  Now, it's clear to me that even if somehow the collar evens out, I'm forced to layer underneath or have gale force winds shooting down my chest and back.

 

Indeed, it feels like they cut the shoulders way too broad...which is odd as the suit from Syed had the same base measurements but fits much better.  A large departure from the quality I got from my first two orders with them.

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Maybe when it is warm out, you could soak the upper part in water, put it on and ride until it dries.  That and a lot of bench presses. ;)

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