Motorcycle jackets, suits, gloves and boots represent a significant financial investment. And, like any investment, you need to take care of it, ensuring you get the highest return. Luckily, with leathers, that’s easy. Here’s how to clean, protect and weatherproof your leather motorcycle gear.
Wait, I Need To Maintain This Stuff?
Yes. It always surprises me how few of my friends take care of their leathers. And how often readers express surprise that you’re supposed to do this. That’s crazy, with a little TLC, leather can last a lifetime and the process described here will improve the looks of any item while also weatherproofing it. Yes, a leather jacket can keep you dry in a rainstorm, if you’ve oiled it. The product will fill the pores in the leather, preventing water from doing the same.
Neglected leather will weaken over time and eventually split and tear.
This works whether you’ve got a fancy Dainese suit or a humble black leather jacket. It also works on imitation or vinyl-coated leather, like the kind your boots are probably made out of.
Pick up a huge bargain-size bin of unscented baby wipes. Any brand will do. But, do try and find the unscented kind so you don’t leave faint whiffs of diaper in your wake.
Leather is skin, so it needs the same type of care — cleaning and moisturizing — as your own hands and face do. If you don’t bother, it’ll have the same problems. It’ll dry out and eventually crack.
To keep your leather goods in decent shape, just give them a scrub down with those baby wipes whenever they’ve gotten dirty or wet or after a long trip or just when you feel like they need it. With time, you’ll develop a sense for when your leather needs a little maintenance.
Types Of Leather And What To Use On Them
Top-grain or oil-tanned leather: this is “real” leather. It’s what your jacket, suit, pants and gloves are made out of. You can see the leather texture on the surface. On it, you can use any leather conditioner, oil, cream or other product.
Imitation leather or Lorica: If you have a pair of modern motorcycle boots, they’re probably made from Lorica, which is just a name brand for imitation leather. Just use those baby wipes or soap and water.
Vinyl-coated leather: know how military boots can polish up to a mirror finish? That’s because they’re treated with a vinyl top coat.
Step One: Clean It
If your leather apparel has taken a real beating, you’ll need to give it a good clean before applying the dressing or lotion. Get a bucket or bowl and fill it with warm, soapy water. Use a mild soap, like you’d use in the shower. Again, don’t over think it, just use regular soap, but try and avoid dish detergent or other really harsh stuff. Grab a wash cloth, go sit on your porch or somewhere else you can make a mess and give everything a good scrub. Try and get all the road debris and pollution and bugs off. Hang it up to dry, then move to the next step.
Step Two: Condition It
Grabbed the right product for the job? Sit on the floor with the leather item in your lap and start rubbing it into the leather with your hands. Starting with the small panels before moving onto the bigger ones works best.
Don’t bother with a cloth or sponge, just use your hands. It makes less of a mess and is more effective. Really try and work the product into the leather with a good, firm massage. Apply enough product to generously coat each panel, but there’s no need to go overboard.
Your leathers will initially feel greasy. Once you’ve finished massaging the product into the entire item, put it on a hanger and hang it up somewhere that it’s not going to transfer that grease to other clothing. Leave it overnight and by morning you’ll have a piece of leather gear that looks better than new, is stronger than before and should be capable of keeping you dry in a rainstorm for an hour or more.
Doing this also maintains the patina your item of gear has developed over time, as well as makes the leather healthier, stronger and more supple. There are only positive results and no downsides to this routine, so don’t hesitate, start maintaining your leathers today.