Monday, January 9, 2012

The jacket

I consider a jacket, helmet, and probably eyewear to be non-negotiable requirements of getting a motorcycle.  These items help cover some of the functional differences between a car and motorcycle that many take for granted. The helmet is obviously important and required by law for the military as well as many states.  Depending on your style of helmet, eye protection is also necessary (imagine catching a wasp in the eye at 60 mph). I got a basic helmet back when I thought I was going to have my basic riders' course in December and the Army has provided me with plenty of ballistic eyewear options. This post is about my jacket.
Steve McQueen with Helmet, Eyepro, and Jacket.   Photo from 40 Years on 2 wheels.
There was an extended phase back at Pitt in which I tried to get as much free stuff from the internet as possible. This probably began freshman year when someone on my floor discovered that anyone can order as many "shipping supplies" as they want from DHL. Several hundred boxes arrived addressed to "Space Pirate" and we had some fun.
Pictured: not me
From then on I always kept an eye out for free promotions and contests online, getting all kinds of free samples and trial magazine subscriptions sent to my dorm and friends' apartments.  It was in this context that I came upon this Schott NYC leather jacket giveaway at Art of Manliness.  For the price of giving away one jacket, some clever marketer got over a thousand people to scour the Schott webstore for their 'perfect' jacket. I played right into that plan, hoping to win a model 585. Despite my relatively good 1-in-1,000 odds, I did not win, but I did remember the jacket and learned a fair amount about leather garments.

Fast forward to this spring when I started getting serious about finding a motorcycle.  I was really most interested in classic looking bikes and would want a jacket to compliment that. When we had internet on the deployment, I started shopping around for a suitable jacket. I don't need sportbike armor or Power Ranger colors; I wanted brown leather, thick cow or horsehide in a style I would wear in a non-motorcycling setting as well.  I flirted with this German Pilot style jacket on ebay and the appealing Aero Leathers from Scotland, but decided I wanted to try things out in person.  Antler Creek Cycle Leather in Austin carries a lot of different brands and styles, so it seemed like a good place to start.

The owner's daughter was really knowledgeable and helpful; I tried on several jackets, but the Schott 585 they had in-stock was definitely the best.  It was a Large and a bit too broad in the shoulder for me, but they ordered a Medium for me that we picked up the same day we got the Bonneville.

It's pretty perfect and the good folks at Antler Creek gave me a nice discount for the holiday season and another discount for my military service. I've been wearing it as often as can to break it in. It's a protective garment, but also a long-term wardrobe investment because the style and craftsmanship will last.

Monday, January 2, 2012

First Real Motorcycle Monday

Sarah broke the news already, but this deserves some special attention.
Back in December, I was browsing the used motorcycles listed online for every dealership in Texas Google could  find.  This was how I came across the Royal Enfield in Dallas, but two days later I found a more exciting used bike in Austin.
It's a 2007 Bonneville with goodwood green paint, a brown sixty8 seat, factory saddlebag kit, windshield options and a mere 831 miles on the odometer.  This was the only picture posted, and after some brief deliberation decided to contact the dealer.  Since it was for sale on consignment, they could only hold it for me with a deposit.  I made arrangements to pay it from Kuwait with my card, but the 2 weeks they'd promised to hold it would expire shortly after we were scheduled to return to Texas.

Well Sarah and I got down to see it before the 2 weeks were over and I finally got to inspect and sit on it.  It wasn't as pristine as internet shots and the odometer suggested, but still good value and pretty much exactly what I was looking for in model, age, color, and options.  The dealership folks and owner were understanding about my lack of license and Army riding requirements, so the let me send a check and were willing hold the bike until I could go pick it up and ride back to Temple.  Well the beginners' course I had signed up for in Kuwait was apparently grossly overbooked and most of my company was bumped.  I was told I could take the class January 9th, but when I followed up on that, it seems I won't be able to take the class provided by Ft. Hood until sometime in February.

Frustrating, but there are lots of people returning from deployments trying to take classes.  Luckily, I got a friend of mine in the unit who has a motorcycle trailer to drive down with me to get it last Wednesday.  I don't know how to ride yet, but the bike is finally sitting in our garage here.