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.

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