Choosing the Right Leather For Your Motorcycle Jacket

Want a big Texas omelet? Then you had better get a bundle of eggs. When you go and buy those eggs at the local grocery store, about the only thing you’re looking for is size. Easy decision, medium, large or extra large. One egg is pretty much the same as another. Four little ones or three big ones – the omelet tastes pretty much the same.

That, however, is not the case with leather. One type of leather is not pretty much the same as another. The type of leather that you choose for your leather motorcycle jacket can make a huge difference in the feel, protection and function of the jacket. So if you want an omelet, buy whatever eggs you want and you won’t go wrong. But if you’re talking a leather motorcycle jacket – don’t be fooled – the type of leather in that jacket can make a major difference in your ride. So let’s talk “leather” so your biking trips will feel great and be comfortable.

It goes without saying; leather is just a “treated” animal skin. Pretty much every mammal has skin that can be treated into leather. However, not every skin gives the biker the results he or she is looking for. For instance, if you want to wear lambskin – you’d better not be on the back of a bike going 60 miles an hour – stick to the boardwalk or the local club scene. This leather looks great – but the protection it provides is purely second class. The best biking leather is either cowhide or buffalo skin. Now, saying that doesn’t mean that those are the end of your choices. Each of those types of skins is treated and processed differently, and creates different results providing different choices. So let’s take a minute more and see what the differences are.

For those who like to go “al’natural,” Naked leather is your choice. Naked leather is generally leather that has little if any chemical processing, and absolutely no “heat” treatments. At most, it is dyed a particular color or tint. Leather motorcycle jackets made with this type of leather are usually blemish and bruise free. Naked leather is normally fuzzy on one side and smooth on the other. This leather is known for its’ extra elasticity, and is ultra soft while at the same time being strong and durable. Absent damage, a leather motorcycle jacket made from naked leather can easily last a lifetime. One of its most popular features is that it “breathes,” so you don’t work up a major sweat while you are on the road in the heat of the day. However, the one disadvantage is that it is not good at repelling water, unless it is treated. If you want naked leather to repel water, use “mink oil.” Pick it up at any horse or farm supply store. Whatever you do – don’t use synthetic leather treatments! Naked leather is generally the leather of choice, but it can hit your pocket book a bit more than other leathers when you’re buying a leather motorcycle jacket.

Plain cowhide is also good, and is generally less expensive. It doesn’t have near the buttery soft finish of naked cowhide, but is plainer in its appearance and feel. It is durable and strong, but the impression is less stylish and the appearance is less “rich” than naked cowhide. If your focus is more function than style, this may fit the bill for a leather motorcycle jacket. More affordable, just as durable, but less stylish.

Aniline cowhide is leather that has been prepared by soaking the skins in transparent aniline dyes in a way that allows the leather to be naturally colored or shaded without obscuring the natural markings or grain features. Generally, the hides are dyed completely and thoroughly without a pigmented topcoat. Some aniline leathers receive a slight surface coating to maintain an even coloring while still achieving a “softer feel.” This leather can be an amazing choice for a leather motorcycle jacket that suits a feminine feel and texture (in other words – great for the “biker babe”), highly recommended for the “soft look.”

The last classical leather used for a leather motorcycle jacket is Buffalo skin. This leather is tough and durable and has that thick and heavy feel to it – when you pick it up you know you’ve got a quality jacket in your hands. These jackets seem to last forever, and this type of leather is used for almost every leather motorcycle jacket style on the market. The texture on this jacket is a plain finish with very small pinholes. Besides, having buffalo hide on your back just has a real “rugged” feel to it. Nobody pushes around a guy with buffalo leather on his back!

So there you have it. The basics of leather – enough information to get you into a leather motorcycle jacket that both suits your tastes and gives you the protection you need. So have that Texas omelet, put on your leather motorcycle jacket, and hit the road knowing the kind of leather you’ve got draped across your shoulders. Ride safe – Ride Free.

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