Leathers & Riding Gear

This page is going to be broken up into several subsections. The first part is about my thoughts on Helmets, the second is a compilation about Leathers I took over several web forums of various riding demographics from street riders to club racers about a decade ago so the info is dated, but still interesting. From what I have gathered I believe it is easy to say that the racers who know their ass is on the line look for safety & value as prorities whereas the street riders tend to go with whatever is cool & basically thrown in their face from a marketing stand point regardless of price.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a decent helmet & yes I consider $500 a lot of money for a brain bucket.

I've owned, used, abused, crashed, rashed and retired many many helmets over the years.


They all had their pros and cons, but ultimately I buy helmets for protection and I am always looking for deals as I know as some point it has to be replaced whether from age and use or because I crash tested it.

The ones that I have stuck with are are the Scorpion, Suomy and SHOEI brands.

All my SHOEI's have been noisy, but I like the way they fit. I tend to buy the cheaper ones so they are always heavy compared to the more expensive lighter versions. I just deal with it. The linings get dirty quickly and are not easy to clean and the internal support that makes them fit tight wears out pretty quick as well.

The Scorpion products really impress me. Probably the best value for the dollar in my opinion. Good build quality, nice paint, fit & finish is always nice and they are both fairly light & quiet with good sealing shields and a soft, form fitting interior that stands up to use better than the SHOEI does.

The Suomy not so cheap, but it's like wrapping your head in a silk scarf. I love putting my Suomy on. The feeling is as close to having sex as you can get with your leathers on I can also attest that they crash pretty well. I suffered a concussion last time I crashed in a Suomy, but the helmet looked like it had been through Afghanistan twice so I felt pretty lucky to escape with just a headache and some lingering dizzyness. The linings hold up pretty well against the sweat and dirt etc, but the form fitment is the best I have used. They never seem to break down and start to lose their tight fit.

The Vemar was the best anti-fogging helmet I have ever used in rainy conditions. Outside of that respect I think it was a pile of shit with plastic vents busting off with the slightest nudge and decals you could feel under the clearcoat etc.

ARAI's are super nice helmets for people with A. super nice bank accounts and B. a particular head shape. I have neither of those...

Fulmer & HJC had always served me well over the years, but they were always more of a backup helmet for me rather than a mainstay of my gear still I cannot really say anything bad about them.

My wife is a huge AGV and SHARK advocate she has used both extensively for years. The AGV is the better helmet, but the value of the Shark helmets is not to be taken lightly either especially if you don't mind buying closeouts or care what color scheme etc to get the really good deals.

Solely because people keep asking: I've not tried any of the new Bell helmets, but I have heard good things about them and would love to get my hands on one for testing. I have a hunch they have really upped their game and deserve the marketing hype that has been put on them lately.



Top 10 brands of leathers preferred by Street Riders:

Hein Gericke
Frank Thomas

Top 10 brands of leathers preferred by Track Only Riders (many are WERA racers):

Barnacle Bill
RS Taichi
Joe Rocket

While doing this research study on leathers I learned a couple key points that are pretty simple to comprehend, but had never crossed my mind before as criteria:

Two major things to look for when buying a suit are:

1. Exterior seams. Anytime a seam is visible then that is a weak spot in the suit. Many maufacturers use lots of smaller scraps of leather which make up many "unneccessary" panels in the suit. This leads to exposed stitching, edges of material to snag & ultimately the propensity for the suit to come apart in that key area. This also includes exterior pockets for armor.

2. Number of stitches per inch. When you sew textile fabric the stitches bind into the weave of the fabric, but when you sew leather every puncture you make with a needle weakens the leather. Kinda like the perforations on paper to tear off checks or portions of a bill etc. 6-8 stitches per inch is generally more than adequate, but some companies use up to 15 stitches per inch which is just asking for the leather seam to rip out when put under stress.

Personally after owning & crash testing several brands over the years I went with the Barnacle Bill's custom suits because I know beyond any shadow of doubt that as many times as I have walked away from a crash unscathed while wearing one of his suits that I have made the right choice.

I just had new BB suit delivered last month (February 07) and while they are not the most stylish looking leathers on the market, his suits cost less than most off the rack leathers & way less than any other custom made set. Most importantly though Bill knows how to build a suit to take a beating & protect the rider!

I've had the red/white/blue suit below for almost 10 years, when I am instructing it is not uncommon to have to ride in the pouring rain many weekends out of the season, I have sweated in it profusely & it has survived numerous crashes. I have not had one repair made to this suit nor does it so much as have a single stitch coming loose (except on some patches I ground down while sliding across the track & one barb wire fence...

Me, my BB leathers & Darth's RC

My new ones


More to come later