Hot Bike - - Closet - - van­son­ - leeparks­de­

In the early days of rid­ing and rac­ing, pro­tec­tion was much sim­pler. No hard stuff, just top-qual­ity leather and maybe a lit­tle bit of foam. Prod­ucts were made to fit and made to last. These prod­ucts here are all made in the United States for a few spe­cific func­tions: to look good, to last for­ever, and to keep you safe and com­fort­able on your mo­tor­cy­cle. Smaller com­pa­nies you can call up and or­der di­rectly from. You got a prob­lem? Call them back; the num­bers are on their web­sites, and the per­son who picks up is go­ing to be able to help you.

Bates Leathers was started in 1939 in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where the com­pany still op­er­ates. Mak­ing race suits, gloves, boots, mo­tor­cy­cle seats, and just about any­thing else as­so­ci­ated with mo­tor­cy­cles and leather, it’s de­vel­oped a cult fol­low­ing among vin­tage en­thu­si­asts, but its prod­ucts are also still used by se­ri­ous rac­ers. Bates’ boots are all hand­made in the Socal shop. If you call to or­der, you’ll talk to Dawn or Dana, who will help make sure you mea­sure your foot ac­cu­rately to get the best fit. You can’t just go on­line and or­der a pair, but they’re still $20 cheaper than a pair of Red Wing moc toes.

Van­son Leathers was started in 1974 in Fall River, Mas­sachusetts, where ev­ery piece is still hand-cut and sewn. The yel­lowand-black Van­son badge has adorned some of the best rac­ers in his­tory—from drag rac­ing to su­per­bikes to the street—and tons of nor­mal joes too. This here is the Model A—the com­pany’s first jacket ever, still made the same as it was in ’74. There is no im­pact pro­tec­tive ar­mor, just in­cred­i­bly thick leather. This thing squeaks when you move. It’s go­ing to be a while be­fore it’s bro­ken in, but isn’t that part of the fun? It’s tough. It’s clean. It’s rigid. It’ll do its job when it needs to and look good do­ing it.

Many of you prob­a­bly know Lee Parks from his To­tal Con­trol book and DVD series, which has taught thou­sands of riders proper tech­nique for high-per­for­mance rid­ing, but he’s got­ten into the gear busi­ness as well. While Lee Parks De­sign hasn’t been around as long as the other com­pa­nies, his Deer­tours and Deer­sports gloves are re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to the ones used in Amer­i­can road rac­ing in the ’70s and ’80s. Made with the same at­ten­tion to de­tail and qual­ity com­po­nents, Parks’ gloves are sim­ple, well-en­gi­neered and built to last—not to men­tion fit.

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