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Thread: The Noob's guide to buying leathers

  1. #1
    "Master Yoda". Banditman's Avatar
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    Default The Noob's guide to buying leathers

    So what's the big deal about leathers? Sure they look cool - always have, always will. They're probably the iconic image of a biker. But why are we still wearing them? Part three of the Noob's guide series will deal with not just why we should buy and wear leathers, but what to look for, how to fit them, what's suitable for the riding you do and other suggestions.

    There are some excellent new types of protective bike gear on the market, but leathers still top the list for most riders and racers. They have abrasion resistance that’s yet to be equalled by cordura/goretex/airflow-type jackets. They can often be repaired after a spill, while textile and other man-made material jackets / trousers are one-use only. A quality set of leathers should be in the possession of every serious rider.

    Just as it is with helmets, we are spoilt for choice these days. Even more so in fact. There are lots of manufacturers out there looking for your money, many are good and many are rubbish. Colours range from good old black to striking, to tasteless. Start by reading the motorcycling press & speaking to other riders about their choices. You'll very quickly discover which brands are trusted and held in high regard & which are good for protecting your elbows from spilt beer in the pub.

    Get on to Motorcyclenews.com (MCN), or try to get back issues from RiDE magazine in the UK. They regularly do exhaustive test on various types of leathers (and other gear) and their test results are held in high regard by many riders, with manufacturers seeking RiDE Recommended or Best Buy tags. If you ever buy gear in the UK you'll notice the green RiDE triangle tag attached to such items. What kind of riding are you going to be doing? What's your budget?


    Construction:

    The most common base material for leathers is good old cowhide. Kangaroo leather is highly regarded but not cheap, and goat hide is also good but - as posted on this forum by others - small panels don't make for easy large garment construction, as in jackets etc. Kangaroo and goat hide gloves are more readily available.

    So what are you looking for in a good set of leathers?

    There are some basic guidelines to follow. First off, what’s your impression upon a close look? Lots of loose threads and flimsy-looking workmanship or does it look solidly made? If it’s a cheaper jacket, are you sure it’s actually made of leather? Don’t just rely on your sense of smell and the “Real Leather” tag in the collar. There are ways to check which are beyond the scope of this article – Google is your friend, or ask a local leatherworker what to look for.

    You want a jacket that’s ideally made of 1.2-1.5mm thick hide. Take a look at the stitching, because that’s the weak point that’ll fail in an impact first. Seams should be double stitched and have hidden stitching. This means that the maker ran the first stitch row, then folded the leather over and did it again. The purpose is protection of the stitching. In an accident where the rider may slide a long way, abrasion could wear through a stitched seam and allow the jacket to rip open. Hidden seams provide a barrier – if the first row is worn away, you’ll probably have come to a stop before the second does the same. If not you were probably going too fast for any level of protection to matter.

    Next up – a jacket or trousers should ideally have as few panels as possible. Multi-panelled jackets like those patchwork leather jackets beloved in Boksburg in the ‘80s are useless – every seam is a potential weak point. Logos or similar stitched ON to the jacket don’t count. We’re looking for a lot of panels joined together as weaknesses. Colours don’t affect anything but taste. A lot of modern leathers have stretch panels in areas unlikely to touch the tar, like the inner thighs. These are both for stretch and comfort (temperature) in summer.

    Take a look at the zips; the main jacket zip as well as those on the pockets, cuffs, vents, fly and legs. Are they robust and quality (like YKK) or do they look like they’ll last 6 months at the most? Remember a zip is another potential weak point on the jacket.

    What kind of armour and padding protection is provided with the jacket? Can it be upgraded if necessary?


    Type & Choice:
    For the sake of clarity I'm going to use commonly used terms to describe each type & style. Note that you can have leathers custom-made for yourself in any of the following styles if you wish.

    One Piece Race Leathers:
    This is what you see Rossi & company wearing on the track. In fact this is what you see EVERY racer wearing on the track. In their cases they’re wearing perfectly tailored gear.
    Note that you CAN get custom-made leathers to fit you, and it doesn’t often cost as much as you’d think.

    A lot of circuits won't allow you to ride without them, though for track days and riding schools they will allow two piece leathers which zip together. Race leathers aren't designed for biker bar comfort. They're meant for high protection and high streamlining, which is why they're as clean in their lines as possible - even if the occupants often aren't! Designs from roughly 2001 onwards feature a hump on the rider's back to help streamline the gap between his helmeted head and his back. One piece leathers are also very popular with dedicated superbike riders.

    They ideally feature high strength construction, and are often perforated & have stretch panels and vents for the rider's comfort. Full protective armour is a vital feature, as are knee sliders. Race leathers aren't comfortable to walk around in, as they get so hot. This is why you usually see track rider unzipping their suits to the waist, and tying the arms together to keep them from dragging.

    If you're a racer you'll be in one as your work clothes. If you are only going to do high speed breakfast runs and track days then they're what you're wanting. If your riding is mostly commuting, fun rides and so on then they're not going to be comfortable or practical at all.

    Two Piece Sports Leathers: For riders who don’t fit into the above riding category, these are the perfect choice. They’re the modern descendants of the gear worn in the ‘50s & ‘60s, which wasn’t designed to look cool – It was always meant to be practical. Most of these suits are made with built-in zips on the back to connect the jacket and trousers. This is for track riding – to make you safety compliant – because it prevents the jacket from being pulled up in an accident when you’re sliding, which would expose your flesh.

    A good modern two piece suit will have full armour built in. They are streamlined as well, and tend to split into two minor subcategories. One seems to be a divided one piece race suit. The other type is streamlined and sporty, but includes such practical touches as pockets and removable linings. Both types frequently come with knee sliders attached as well. Note that you can get summer and winter weight suits. Remember that a summer suit (with lots of ventilation and perforations) will not keep you very warm in a Highveld winter.

    These types of leathers are a much more sensible all-round buy for riders of modern machines, whether they’re sports bikes or cruisers, and provide good protection.

    Two Piece Traditional Leathers:Think of Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” or just about every Harley rider you’ve seen. You get two types of traditional leathers – the ones which are made as exact reproductions of the originals (like Lewis Leathers) and the modernised versions which have all the style of the originals coupled with modern construction and features like armour. It’s possible to find versions giving the looks of the ‘50s right up to the ‘80s. Like the previous category, as long as the construction is of the same quality and has the same features they will provide similar levels of protection.

    Some riders, especially of machines like vintage bikes and Harley-Davidsons, have a preference for the really old school style jackets and trousers which have no padding or armour. As good as the construction is you really should ask yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice armour protection for absolute vintage authenticity. In this regard the chaps beloved of many Hog riders may be better than JUST a pair of ordinary denims, but they’re not the best protection you can get. The jury’s also out as to whether they make middle-aged men & women look bad-assed or just camp.

    Jackets and Trousers:Traditional and sports two piece leathers can often be bought separately. In truth you don’t need a matching jacket and trousers as you may find that Maker A’s jacket and Maker B’s trousers are a better fit for you.

    When buying an individual piece of kit, make sure that it will “interact” well with your other gear. Trousers that don’t go over or inside your boots and jackets that catch on your helmet strap are not going to help you much – they’ll just frustrate you – and it’s better to find this out before you make a dent in your bank account.

    As above, look for the same standards and features.

    Fashion Leathers:There are a lot of shops, usually not proper bike shops, that stock lovely looking “race” or paddock jackets complete with logos and colours. You also find them in leather goods sellers’ stands at upscale flea markets.

    They are NOT proper bike jackets. The leather is not of the right thickness, nor is the construction of the right quality. They’re often softened and pre-stretched for comfort. A proper leather jacket or trousers is not cut and stitched for comfort when walking around the mall, but to be comfortable when you’re in a riding position on the bike.

    They’re better than a nylon jacket or windbreaker, but don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re proper ATGATT items.


    Choosing the right Leathers:

    Decide which type & style of leathers are best suited to your purposes. Start by being honest about the kind of riding you’re going to be doing. A Rossi-replica suit may look good with your Rossi-rep paint-jobbed ’09 R1. I say “may” because if you only ever cruise to the News Café & are 45 with a beer belly then you’ll just be uncomfortable and look daft. If you’re seriously into track days and speed then you’re better off sacrificing the traditional biker look in favour of maximum 1-piece protection.

    Regarding colours – leathers will last a long time – sometimes a lifetime if looked after. They also cost a lot of money. Be very sure you’ll still happily wear that white jacket with the pink & green flashes in 5 years time before you spend the cash. Black, and traditional racing colours, are timeless.


    Getting the right Fit:

    When you buy any new riding gear, it’s a smart move to go to the shop and try it on together with your existing gear to make sure there are no clashes. Never get anything based on looks alone.
    Before we go any further don’t forget that leather is made of hide, in other words skin, and it stretches with age. Any new leather bike gear will be stiff. A snug fit now will be a lot looser in a few years time, but a tight fit now won’t necessarily be loose enough in a month.
    Start with the jacket, once you know what you’re after. Zip it up properly. Are you comfortable with the fit? Can you operate the zips easily or are they a pain to use? Can you use them while wearing your gloves? What about the pockets? If you’ll use it year round, does it come with a removable lining? It SHOULD be snug – too loose and it’ll flap or buzz at speed. Bike jackets have short waists and streamlined cuts because they’re designed to be worn while sitting down in a gale-force wind. They’re descendants of cowboy and early pilots’ jackets. That’s part of the “cool” factor to leathers – they’re genuinely honest clothes, unlike flimsy fashion nonsense, but I digress. Sit on a bike in your usual riding position - preferably yours. Still comfy? Try it with your helmet on and fastened. Does the jacket in any way interfere with your head movement? Wrap your arms around yourself – do the sleeves ride up excessively? Are the sleeves too long for you? Can you get your gloves over/under the cuffs (depending on how you wear your gloves)?
    Looking at trousers how’s the fit around the waist, groin, knees and calves? If it’s far too tight in a sensitive spot now, how would it feel by the time you’re in Graskop? Like the jacket, try them on and sit on the bike –or at least get into a crouching position to check comfort. Does the knee armour or padding cause pain or pinching, or restrict blood flow? Put on your riding boots to see if they work comfortably together.
    The thing to keep in mind when buying leathers – one piece, two-piece or whichever – I that they need to fit and be comfortable and offer protection when ON YOUR BIKE, not walking around the shops or nightclubs.

    Buy Wisely:

    Look for special offers and end-of-line sales. I bought a Rhino jacket on sale in London in 2000. Got full armour including back protector included, all for R1100.00. By my count, the jacket’s done 220000km of all-year all-weather riding and has protected me in three offs. Apart from some loose stitching, scuffs from wear and new pull tabs for the zips (which are still working perfectly) the jacket’s still going strong. I call that a good investment.

    I said at the beginning and I’ll say it again – black jackets never go out of fashion. Unless red or blue is your favourite colour and you’re going to keep buying bikes in those colours, be very careful before you splurge on a jacket or one piece to match your current machine. If you can’t buy a new jacket with each new bike – which is frankly wasting good money – get something neutral that won’t date in a few years.

    Christmas is often a good time to pick up specials and discounts, as is the opening of a new bike shop. Post-Christmas sales are also good opportunities to pick up gear if the dealer is anxious to shift stock. If you’re buying a new bike then try to get the dealer to give you a good price on some gear was well, but don’t let then dump their rubbish stock on you. Have a good look through the racks of gear in your dealerships. You can sometimes find a very good jacket or trousers that’s just never shifted, and get a good discount on it as a result. Dealers are always happy to clear “difficult” stock.

    If you couldn’t give a damn about fashionable colours, then you can sometimes pick up quality gear cheaply – because no-one else wants it. You only have to please yourself.

    Leather Care:

    As we said earlier, leathers are hide and will need to be maintained if they’re going to keep their elasticity and protection properties.

    First off, clean and feed them regularly. Don’t leave miggies and road grime ingrained in them permanently. Use a soft cloth soaked in warm soapy water to remove the dirt, then wipe with a clean (no soap) damp cloth. Always follow manufacturers’ guidelines for cleaning your leathers. There are many good leather care products on the market.

    It’s a good idea to take your leathers to a proper leather repair place / leatherworker. Not the local shoe repair, but a shop that knows how to clean and maintain leathers properly. It’s not just the leather that gets manky, but the inner comfort lining absorbs years of sweat and ends up as a bacteria metropolis. I know one racer who puts his sweaty leathers in a sealed plastic bag, then into his deep freeze, in order to kill the smell-producing bacteria. If that’s even effective I leave to scientists, but be careful before applying deodorisers if you’re not sure as to their ultimate effect. When in doubt, ask the professional leather cleaner.

    If your leathers get soaked in the rain, then don’t use heaters or hairdryers to dry them out. You’ll end up cracking the leather in time. Press out as much of the water as possible using towels to soak the excess, then allow them to air dry. Once dry feed them with leather food or dubbin, to restore some elasticity and their natural water-repellent properties.

    Allow your jacket and trousers or race suit to air out after use. Hang it in an area where natural airflow will air it. You can make a purpose-built wall hanger with a mesh shelf for your helmet above it and hang your gear from it on decent broad and strong coat hangers. It’ll also keep your riding gear in a nice neat spot, where the dog can’t get hold of it.

    If you’ve had a major spill or had the jacket many years, it could be a good idea to replace the internal armour with a fresh set. Hiprotec , Dainese and Knox are good brands.

    I hope this helps you – happy shopping, & safe riding.
    Last edited by blackie; 11-08-2009 at 11:49 AM.
    Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.


  2. #2
    "Master Yoda". Banditman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    East London
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    Region
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    Posts
    3,273

    Default The Noob's Guide to Leathers

    So what's the big deal about leathers? Sure they look cool - always have, always will. They're probably the iconic image of a biker. But why are we still wearing them? Part three of the Noob's guide series will deal with not just why we should buy and wear leathers, but what to look for, how to fit them, what's suitable for the riding you do and other suggestions.

    There are some excellent new types of protective bike gear on the market, but leathers still top the list for most riders and racers. They have abrasion resistance that’s yet to be equalled by cordura/goretex/airflow-type jackets. They can often be repaired after a spill, while textile and other man-made material jackets / trousers are one-use only. A quality set of leathers should be in the possession of every serious rider.

    Just as it is with helmets, we are spoilt for choice these days. Even more so in fact. There are lots of manufacturers out there looking for your money, many are good and many are rubbish. Colours range from good old black to striking, to tasteless. Start by reading the motorcycling press & speaking to other riders about their choices. You'll very quickly discover which brands are trusted and held in high regard & which are good for protecting your elbows from spilt beer in the pub.

    Get on to Motorcyclenews.com (MCN), or try to get back issues from RiDE magazine in the UK. They regularly do exhaustive test on various types of leathers (and other gear) and their test results are held in high regard by many riders, with manufacturers seeking RiDE Recommended or Best Buy tags. If you ever buy gear in the UK you'll notice the green RiDE triangle tag attached to such items. What kind of riding are you going to be doing? What's your budget?


    Construction:

    The most common base material for leathers is good old cowhide. Kangaroo leather is highly regarded but not cheap, and goat hide is also good but - as posted on this forum by others - small panels don't make for easy large garment construction, as in jackets etc. Kangaroo and goat hide gloves are more readily available.

    So what are you looking for in a good set of leathers?

    There are some basic guidelines to follow. First off, what’s your impression upon a close look? Lots of loose threads and flimsy-looking workmanship or does it look solidly made? If it’s a cheaper jacket, are you sure it’s actually made of leather? Don’t just rely on your sense of smell and the “Real Leather” tag in the collar. There are ways to check which are beyond the scope of this article – Google is your friend, or ask a local leatherworker what to look for.

    You want a jacket that’s ideally made of 1.2-1.5mm thick hide. Take a look at the stitching, because that’s the weak point that’ll fail in an impact first. Seams should be double stitched and have hidden stitching. This means that the maker ran the first stitch row, then folded the leather over and did it again. The purpose is protection of the stitching. In an accident where the rider may slide a long way, abrasion could wear through a stitched seam and allow the jacket to rip open. Hidden seams provide a barrier – if the first row is worn away, you’ll probably have come to a stop before the second does the same. If not you were probably going too fast for any level of protection to matter.

    Next up – a jacket or trousers should ideally have as few panels as possible. Multi-panelled jackets like those patchwork leather jackets beloved in Boksburg in the ‘80s are useless – every seam is a potential weak point. Logos or similar stitched ON to the jacket don’t count. We’re looking for a lot of panels joined together as weaknesses. Colours don’t affect anything but taste. A lot of modern leathers have stretch panels in areas unlikely to touch the tar, like the inner thighs. These are both for stretch and comfort (temperature) in summer.

    Take a look at the zips; the main jacket zip as well as those on the pockets, cuffs, vents, fly and legs. Are they robust and quality (like YKK) or do they look like they’ll last 6 months at the most? Remember a zip is another potential weak point on the jacket.

    What kind of armour and padding protection is provided with the jacket? Can it be upgraded if necessary?


    Type & Choice:
    For the sake of clarity I'm going to use commonly used terms to describe each type & style. Note that you can have leathers custom-made for yourself in any of the following styles if you wish.

    One Piece Race Leathers:
    This is what you see Rossi & company wearing on the track. In fact this is what you see EVERY racer wearing on the track. In their cases they’re wearing perfectly tailored gear.
    Note that you CAN get custom-made leathers to fit you, and it doesn’t often cost as much as you’d think.

    A lot of circuits won't allow you to ride without them, though for track days and riding schools they will allow two piece leathers which zip together. Race leathers aren't designed for biker bar comfort. They're meant for high protection and high streamlining, which is why they're as clean in their lines as possible - even if the occupants often aren't! Designs from roughly 2001 onwards feature a hump on the rider's back to help streamline the gap between his helmeted head and his back. One piece leathers are also very popular with dedicated superbike riders.

    They ideally feature high strength construction, and are often perforated & have stretch panels and vents for the rider's comfort. Full protective armour is a vital feature, as are knee sliders. Race leathers aren't comfortable to walk around in, as they get so hot. This is why you usually see track rider unzipping their suits to the waist, and tying the arms together to keep them from dragging.

    If you're a racer you'll be in one as your work clothes. If you are only going to do high speed breakfast runs and track days then they're what you're wanting. If your riding is mostly commuting, fun rides and so on then they're not going to be comfortable or practical at all.

    Two Piece Sports Leathers: For riders who don’t fit into the above riding category, these are the perfect choice. They’re the modern descendants of the gear worn in the ‘50s & ‘60s, which wasn’t designed to look cool – It was always meant to be practical. Most of these suits are made with built-in zips on the back to connect the jacket and trousers. This is for track riding – to make you safety compliant – because it prevents the jacket from being pulled up in an accident when you’re sliding, which would expose your flesh.

    A good modern two piece suit will have full armour built in. They are streamlined as well, and tend to split into two minor subcategories. One seems to be a divided one piece race suit. The other type is streamlined and sporty, but includes such practical touches as pockets and removable linings. Both types frequently come with knee sliders attached as well. Note that you can get summer and winter weight suits. Remember that a summer suit (with lots of ventilation and perforations) will not keep you very warm in a Highveld winter.

    These types of leathers are a much more sensible all-round buy for riders of modern machines, whether they’re sports bikes or cruisers, and provide good protection.

    Two Piece Traditional Leathers:Think of Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” or just about every Harley rider you’ve seen. You get two types of traditional leathers – the ones which are made as exact reproductions of the originals (like Lewis Leathers) and the modernised versions which have all the style of the originals coupled with modern construction and features like armour. It’s possible to find versions giving the looks of the ‘50s right up to the ‘80s. Like the previous category, as long as the construction is of the same quality and has the same features they will provide similar levels of protection.

    Some riders, especially of machines like vintage bikes and Harley-Davidsons, have a preference for the really old school style jackets and trousers which have no padding or armour. As good as the construction is you really should ask yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice armour protection for absolute vintage authenticity. In this regard the chaps beloved of many Hog riders may be better than JUST a pair of ordinary denims, but they’re not the best protection you can get. The jury’s also out as to whether they make middle-aged men & women look bad-assed or just camp.

    Jackets and Trousers:Traditional and sports two piece leathers can often be bought separately. In truth you don’t need a matching jacket and trousers as you may find that Maker A’s jacket and Maker B’s trousers are a better fit for you.

    When buying an individual piece of kit, make sure that it will “interact” well with your other gear. Trousers that don’t go over or inside your boots and jackets that catch on your helmet strap are not going to help you much – they’ll just frustrate you – and it’s better to find this out before you make a dent in your bank account.

    As above, look for the same standards and features.

    Fashion Leathers:There are a lot of shops, usually not proper bike shops, that stock lovely looking “race” or paddock jackets complete with logos and colours. You also find them in leather goods sellers’ stands at upscale flea markets.

    They are NOT proper bike jackets. The leather is not of the right thickness, nor is the construction of the right quality. They’re often softened and pre-stretched for comfort. A proper leather jacket or trousers is not cut and stitched for comfort when walking around the mall, but to be comfortable when you’re in a riding position on the bike.

    They’re better than a nylon jacket or windbreaker, but don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re proper ATGATT items.


    Choosing the right Leathers:

    Decide which type & style of leathers are best suited to your purposes. Start by being honest about the kind of riding you’re going to be doing. A Rossi-replica suit may look good with your Rossi-rep paint-jobbed ’09 R1. I say “may” because if you only ever cruise to the News Café & are 45 with a beer belly then you’ll just be uncomfortable and look daft. If you’re seriously into track days and speed then you’re better off sacrificing the traditional biker look in favour of maximum 1-piece protection.

    Regarding colours – leathers will last a long time – sometimes a lifetime if looked after. They also cost a lot of money. Be very sure you’ll still happily wear that white jacket with the pink & green flashes in 5 years time before you spend the cash. Black, and traditional racing colours, are timeless.


    Getting the right Fit:

    When you buy any new riding gear, it’s a smart move to go to the shop and try it on together with your existing gear to make sure there are no clashes. Never get anything based on looks alone.
    Before we go any further don’t forget that leather is made of hide, in other words skin, and it stretches with age. Any new leather bike gear will be stiff. A snug fit now will be a lot looser in a few years time, but a tight fit now won’t necessarily be loose enough in a month.
    Start with the jacket, once you know what you’re after. Zip it up properly. Are you comfortable with the fit? Can you operate the zips easily or are they a pain to use? Can you use them while wearing your gloves? What about the pockets? If you’ll use it year round, does it come with a removable lining? It SHOULD be snug – too loose and it’ll flap or buzz at speed. Bike jackets have short waists and streamlined cuts because they’re designed to be worn while sitting down in a gale-force wind. They’re descendants of cowboy and early pilots’ jackets. That’s part of the “cool” factor to leathers – they’re genuinely honest clothes, unlike flimsy fashion nonsense, but I digress. Sit on a bike in your usual riding position - preferably yours. Still comfy? Try it with your helmet on and fastened. Does the jacket in any way interfere with your head movement? Wrap your arms around yourself – do the sleeves ride up excessively? Are the sleeves too long for you? Can you get your gloves over/under the cuffs (depending on how you wear your gloves)?
    Looking at trousers how’s the fit around the waist, groin, knees and calves? If it’s far too tight in a sensitive spot now, how would it feel by the time you’re in Graskop? Like the jacket, try them on and sit on the bike –or at least get into a crouching position to check comfort. Does the knee armour or padding cause pain or pinching, or restrict blood flow? Put on your riding boots to see if they work comfortably together.
    The thing to keep in mind when buying leathers – one piece, two-piece or whichever – I that they need to fit and be comfortable and offer protection when ON YOUR BIKE, not walking around the shops or nightclubs.

    Buy Wisely:

    Look for special offers and end-of-line sales. I bought a Rhino jacket on sale in London in 2000. Got full armour including back protector included, all for R1100.00. By my count, the jacket’s done 220000km of all-year all-weather riding and has protected me in three offs. Apart from some loose stitching, scuffs from wear and new pull tabs for the zips (which are still working perfectly) the jacket’s still going strong. I call that a good investment.

    I said at the beginning and I’ll say it again – black jackets never go out of fashion. Unless red or blue is your favourite colour and you’re going to keep buying bikes in those colours, be very careful before you splurge on a jacket or one piece to match your current machine. If you can’t buy a new jacket with each new bike – which is frankly wasting good money – get something neutral that won’t date in a few years.

    Christmas is often a good time to pick up specials and discounts, as is the opening of a new bike shop. Post-Christmas sales are also good opportunities to pick up gear if the dealer is anxious to shift stock. If you’re buying a new bike then try to get the dealer to give you a good price on some gear was well, but don’t let then dump their rubbish stock on you. Have a good look through the racks of gear in your dealerships. You can sometimes find a very good jacket or trousers that’s just never shifted, and get a good discount on it as a result. Dealers are always happy to clear “difficult” stock.

    If you couldn’t give a damn about fashionable colours, then you can sometimes pick up quality gear cheaply – because no-one else wants it. You only have to please yourself.

    Leather Care:

    As we said earlier, leathers are hide and will need to be maintained if they’re going to keep their elasticity and protection properties.

    First off, clean and feed them regularly. Don’t leave miggies and road grime ingrained in them permanently. Use a soft cloth soaked in warm soapy water to remove the dirt, then wipe with a clean (no soap) damp cloth. Always follow manufacturers’ guidelines for cleaning your leathers. There are many good leather care products on the market.

    It’s a good idea to take your leathers to a proper leather repair place / leatherworker. Not the local shoe repair, but a shop that knows how to clean and maintain leathers properly. It’s not just the leather that gets manky, but the inner comfort lining absorbs years of sweat and ends up as a bacteria metropolis. I know one racer who puts his sweaty leathers in a sealed plastic bag, then into his deep freeze, in order to kill the smell-producing bacteria. If that’s even effective I leave to scientists, but be careful before applying deodorisers if you’re not sure as to their ultimate effect. When in doubt, ask the professional leather cleaner.

    If your leathers get soaked in the rain, then don’t use heaters or hairdryers to dry them out. You’ll end up cracking the leather in time. Press out as much of the water as possible using towels to soak the excess, then allow them to air dry. Once dry feed them with leather food or dubbin, to restore some elasticity and their natural water-repellent properties.

    Allow your jacket and trousers or race suit to air out after use. Hang it in an area where natural airflow will air it. You can make a purpose-built wall hanger with a mesh shelf for your helmet above it and hang your gear from it on decent broad and strong coat hangers. It’ll also keep your riding gear in a nice neat spot, where the dog can’t get hold of it.

    If you’ve had a major spill or had the jacket many years, it could be a good idea to replace the internal armour with a fresh set. Hiprotec , Dainese and Knox are good brands.

    I hope this helps you – happy shopping, & safe riding.
    Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.


  3. #3
    Evil Biker Scum Sardine's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
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    Suzuki DR650, Yamaha TZR125 (naked version)
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    Thanks very much, Banditman!
    Just have one thing I'm not clear about regarding the snugness: is it better to just go for a snug fit, and live with it if it does stretch a bit? Or should one go for the tightest fit, provided it's still comfortable?

    Thanks again!

    Think Bike
    It's easy to miss something you're not looking for
    When I die, make sure I have a kickass funeral with good music and luminous colours!

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