The importance of being leather

So, the other week I had a mare … I split a zip on my leathers. Not the flies, which would imply too many pies (and as Chef proved you can ride for years with a busted fly and no-one notices), but the calf zip! I blame training for cycling the London to Brighton next month building up too much muscle.

After a few days of riding with reams of cellotape and my boot holding the leg together, I got fed up of having to cut myself free on arrival everywhere and so tried my old textiles which I have not used since getting my 600SS 2 years ago.

That was when I realized just how much I love my leathers. They are race leathers, by Alpinestars, and they are the most comfy, moveable, breathable trousers I think I could ever find for on a bike. There is a huge amount of protection provided – given that the leg is solid from above the knee right down to the foot I figure I couldn’t do more to prevent leg injuries in the event of a spill, and yet there are patches of lycra-type stretchy fabric in all the right places to maximize comfort and ease of movement.

In comparison, in the textile trousers I found myself slippery on the bike, with not half as much grip, feeling hotter in traffic, and much less comfortable than in the leathers. This in turn gave me a weird sense of unease when first getting on each time. Whilst on the move, I admit there was not so much of a problem as I tend to just enjoy the bike so much, but still … not being happy before getting on is not a great way to start a motorcycle journey.

So, I had to find somewhere to fix them. Now there was a mission. I never would have thought it could be so hard to fix a zip! Apparently normal tailors have to buy fancy machines and extra strong needles so weren’t keen, and a couple of bike gear and leather goods shops offered to send my leathers away but it would take well over a week, which I was not keen on either.

Then Onyerbike in Aylesbury pointed me in the direction of a one-man enterprise in Thame by the name of “John the Stitcher”. Genius – he was able to replace my zip with no problem at all, lightning fast, and I only had to pay for the length of zip used (I think it was the princely sum of £12). Bargain. On talking to John, it appears he does a lot of work for the bikers out there, including leather panniers, seats, and clothing.

So … top tip to anyone in the bucks/herts region, definitely get over to Thame if you have an issue similar to mine, rather than paying to send off your gear into the unknown!

And even if you are never going to go near a race track in your biking life, I would still recommend race leathers to anyone – especially if you are going to ride sportsbikes as lets face it, it is often tempting to just open that throttle a bit more, or take that corner just a bit more leant over than normal … I’d always say it is always worth having the best gear on in case the worst happens 🙂

Posted by Jamie Wilkins. Posted on: May 14, 2009 at 12:00 am