Classic Leather Motorcycle Jacket
the Mods and the Rockers? No, not a rock
group, but the young British rebel gangs of the 1960's.
For some reason, as soon as I saw this jacket I thought
it would be just what a
modern-day Rocker would wear.
For those of you not
old enough to remember
Gene Vincent, here's an interesting history of the
Mods and Rockers movement.
Many of today's designers seem to be looking
to the past for inspiration. You can see it in
cars, clothes and even appliances.
certain motorcycle clothing style from the past that has
never gone out of style: the various iterations
of the classic motorcycle jacket from the '50's, made
popular by Marlon Brando in "The Wild One". In
fact, authentic vintage leather jackets are currently
all the rage, and can go for big money in chic Manhattan vintage
But if you'd like to
stand out from the crowd with a touch of "post
modern industrial retro" (or something like that), this
"Diamond Plate" buffalo hide leather jacket from AKA
Motorcycle Accessories may be just the ticket.
Now I'm not really your
typical cruiser material, but I am fascinated with the Rocker look.
Grab any copy of The Classic Motorcycle or
Classic Bike magazine off your local Border's
bookshelf and take a look at the wonderful photos of
classic bikes and their riders to see
what I mean.
The owners take great pride in their period
garb, complete with "pudding bowl" helmets, goggles, engineer boots
and rolled-up jean legs to set the mood for the
reviews of vintage equipment.
Everyone has their own
favorite look, but the '50's and '60's low bar, goggles
up style does it for me. And as an owner of a
modern Triumph classic (a '99
Thunderbird Sport), I figured I needed a slightly
modern version of Rocker style, and this jacket fits the bill.
Diamond Plate jacket offers a sort of "Mad Max" take on
the classic leather motorcycle jacket by adding a
few details that give it some extra flair. The
most obvious of these is that the jacket is made up of
hundreds of patches of gen-u-wine buffalo hide (water,
that is) . This gives the jacket both its
unique look and its "Diamond Plate" moniker.
Each leather patch is
sewn to its neighbor using a zigzag stitching method that's unobtrusive
but also adds a bit of zing to the mix. Wear
this baby down to the local pub and you'll get lots of comments like
"whoa!", "cool", "wow" and you'll
likely get lots of fingerprints from touching hands. People seem fascinated by the look
and want to know more.
The jacket has some other
styling touches that help give it a "modern retro" feel. The
obligatory zippered slash pocket over the left hand breast is
cool but also very functional. It opens to hand
width at about 130mm (5-1/8") wide, and is a useful 20cm (~7-7/8")
Two front hand pockets
have 120mm (~4-3/4") wide openings and are about 150mm
(~5-7/8") deep (Here's a tip: in playing the part of a Rocker,
do yourself a favor and don't be caught with your hands
in your jacket pockets!
A slouching glare and
hands in your jean pockets is de rigueur). All zipper ends have leather
pulls on them, making it easy to find the zippers and
open 'em up.
zippers themselves seem to have come from the factory
with a bit of an edge to each of the zipper "teeth"
glossary of zipper parts) that mesh together. All of the zippers were a bit balky at first
but after stroking them back and forth a few times, the
edges wore in, making them much easier to use. All
of the hardware, including the zippers, have a matte
finish that also adds to the vintage look.
There's an extra pocket
down on the front left-hand side that I'd guess I'd call
a coin pocket. It adds some style, but it's not
really designed for use with gloved hands. This
pocket has a flap which includes a snap closure, and it has about a 70mm
(~2-3/4") opening and is 120mm (~4-3/4") deep.
Two more zippered
openings in the back of the jacket add more style,
but they're for looks, not function.
The zippers work, but directly underneath lies the jacket's
taffeta liner, so the openings don't really work as jacket
vents. The back of the jacket is longer than the
front to provide some extra kidney protection when leaned over
those club racer handlebars, and the two epaulets finish
The right side of the
jacket has a wide flap that tapers from about 60mm wide
(~2-3/8") at the bottom up to 150mm (~5-78") wide at the
top. This flap serves to block the ingress
of air through the slightly canted zipper. But
since this style jacket is usually worn with an open collar, the
width of the flap also helps to protect
against the breeze when you're stylin'.
The collar looks great and
works fine when it's open. There are collarbone
snaps to hold down each of the two
collar "points", and two more snaps for the lapels.
The jacket can be zipped up with the collar fastened,
but there's no provision for securing the outer jacket
flap (yellow arrow, photo
It can be tucked up under the collar and stays
put via friction only. The solution is to make sure you bring along a scarf
(not Burberry, please!) for your "ton up" tryouts after dark.
But hard-core Rockers don't zip up their collars
jacket was a bit stiff when it first came out of the
box. I'm guessing that this was due to the
leather finishing process. The Diamond Plate model has a shiny finish, and the
method of leather processing that leaves it this way
probably accounts for the initial stiffness.
a bit worried that it wouldn't get that nice leather
feel (aka "hand"), but my worries were unfounded.
After wearing the jacket for just a couple of outings, the
leather quickly became much softer.
This jacket also has
that cool leather crunchy sound as you move around in
it, which is part of leather's mystique. Buffalo
hide seems to have a slightly different feel than cow
hide; it's hard to describe, but it feels a touch softer
and more delicate and it apparently is quick to develop a nice
broken in feeling.
jacket has a thin zip-in vest liner; I'm not sure that
it adds much insulation, but it does add some cushioning
and comfort, and it can be easily removed to add a small
amount of extra room if necessary.
A full-length taffeta
lining makes it easy to slide the jacket on and off. We weren't sure what
size to order at first, but this "Giovanni Navarre" styled jacket (AKA Motorcycle Accessories model # GFMOT)
apparently runs exactly true to size. I take a men's
U.S. size 43/44 dress jacket, and the size large Diamond
Plate fits perfectly. It was just a touch tight at
first, but it fits great now that it's broken in.
are 5-hole string adjustments on each external side
of the jacket, which add some style but also serve to
adjust the waist. Unlike the '50's originals, the
shoulders on the Diamond Plate are articulated, and this
provides some nice stretch room and also helps improve
the overall comfort. I'll never figure out why the
jacket designers of the past never thought of this
If you do remove the liner, there's one more right side
internal breast pocket that's about 130mm (~5-1/8") wide
and a huge 20cm deep. Unfortunately, it doesn't
have any type of closure, but it should be deep enough
to hold just about any size wallet.
When worn, the jacket doesn't feel cumbersome or too
heavy; although the AKA Motorcycle Accessories website
lists it at 8 pounds, the weight seems to be well
distributed. Many people who haven't owned or worn a
leather jacket of any type are sometimes surprised at how
heavy the leather can seem compared to fabric equivalents.
But the leather's heft correlates to some degree with
its level of protection. Some of the thick leather clothing designed for
motorcycle racing can feel downright ponderous, and if
not properly designed, the
weight can end up stretching the leather towards the
bottom, resulting in a
wilted look. We're guessing that the puzzle-like Diamond Plate
leather patches will distribute the load and help this jacket keep its
shape, which is an added benefit.
If you're into retro,
vintage or classic styles, AKA Motorcycle Accessories
has a ton of jackets, clothing and other accessories
that you may want to check out. The prices are
great -- this jacket lists for only $104.95, which is a
bargain. The quality is decent for the price;
there are a few minor nags like extra thread lengths
here and there that you might want to carefully trim, but overall
this is a very serviceable garment that should last a
while and will definitely improve with age.
Now all you need is a
'54 AJS Porcupine, a pair of engineer boots from
bowl" helmet and you're ready to take on the Mods on
their wimpy scooters!
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Review: Diamond Plate Genuine Buffalo Leather Motorcycle Jacket - Giovanni
Retail Price: $104.95 for sizes 34 - 46;
$112.95 for sizes 48 to 52
Comments: Unique style and features; very
reasonable price; the patchwork leather look gets loads of
comments. AKA Model #GFMOT.
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