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Leathers: How To Get the Proper Fit

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Wearing leathers will probably feel different than any other clothing you usually wear. The reason is your leathers are designed to protect you like an outer shell in case you hit the pavement.

To get the most out of your leathers, you need to push for a proper fit. Again, if this is your first time wearing riding gear, you may have to get used to the snug feel of a second skin.

Basic Styles

Traditional motorcycle leathers date back to World War I. For today's biker, however, traditional styles have been updated. Modern technology has also improved the fabrics and designs to enhance safety and comfort.

One-piece leathers are made from animal hide or synthetic materials like Kevlar. If you are inspired by the European biking culture, then you might select one of the many colorful one-piece designs.

Most recreational bikers wear leather jackets, pants or chaps, and gloves. Leather jackets come in many colors, with the most popular still being black.

Getting the Proper Fit

You will want to try on several different styles of leathers to get the best fit. For maximum protection, your leathers should be snug. Loose-fitting leather will shift during riding and when that happens, the carefully placed protective armor (extra layers of leather and fabric) moves out of position.

When trying on a leather jacket, look for plenty of room in the shoulders because your riding posture will be different than your standing posture. The arms should be long to meet your gloves and reduce wind gaps. Around the neck, you will want a snug fit when zipped; the waist of the jacket should also fit snugly on your hips.

Pants or chaps need to be long so that your boots tuck up inside, sealing any gaps. Tassels may be fashionable on leather pants; make sure the seams, rivets, or tassels don't rub against your skin causing chafing or irritation.

Because your leathers are part of your performance gear, a proper fit includes careful attention to the armor. Strategically reinforced armor is usually found on the elbows, spine, and knees. When you go into a skid and hit the pavement, these parts of your body are most likely to hit the ground. The proper fit for you will place all of the armor on the body parts you mean to protect.

If you plan to wear a layer of street clothes underneath your leathers, make sure you have them with you when you try on your pants and jacket. If the fit is loose, then you need to keep looking. Loose leather will not only flap in the wind, it can also grab when you fall, and usually wears more quickly.

Balancing Performance and Comfort

If you are able to get a snug fit, with armor located in all the right places, then your leathers should perform well, giving you strength, abrasion resistance, and the ability to slide (should you fall).

When you are wearing leathers you also want to be comfortable. After all, your bike ride will take you on vacation, out to dinner, or along a scenic cruise. With a proper fit you can still stretch and breathe in your leathers. Comfortable leathers may have ventilation pockets that also won't flap in the wind. If your leathers are synthetic, you may even wear them over your street clothes to improve comfort both on and off the bike.

You will spend a lot of money on your leathers, but with a proper fit and good maintenance you should have them for many years. It can also be just plain fun to don your riding attire when you're setting out for a cruise, adding to the thrill and ambiance of motorcycle riding.

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