How to take care of your Motorcycle Leathers
Leather is a most beloved material. With it comes a sort of identity, like that intertwined with motorcycle culture and history, as well as the general air of tender-toughness. Owning good leather provides us with a special armor, but it's easily taken for granted. After a couple years of wear and tear, a once beautiful jacket or pair of riding gloves can seem to deteriorate suddenly.
A few things weaken leather's overall durability, particualry stress and dampness. Overtime, these cause rot and infiltrate or worsen already broken hide. Keeping your motorcycle leathers in strong condition isn't just an act of vanity (though that is our favorite part). When the time comes for leather to be protective, you'll want it to stand up to more than just scuffs. Dry and cracked gear simply doesn't do the job quite right.
Basic yearly maintenance includes cleansing salt out from the surface and crevices of your garments.The salt from sweat and winter roads are a major culprit and lead to the chapped and bleached look of poorly cared for vintage. For newer pieces especially, throw any removable inner-linings into the wash and hang to air dry as needed. An extremely light treatment of a one part vinegar to two part vinegar cleaning solution once a year or so, should do just the trick on accumulating moisture.
Leather shampoo can be used once or twice a year to cleanse dirt and grime, bugs, gas and smoke residue, as well as rubber from the pores of the hide. Lightly damping a microfiber towel or soft flannel cloth with about a grape size of leather-specific cleaning agent: massage the leather in gentle, circular motions. While you want to rid your jacket of any filth, being too harsh or making the material too wet can cause mold and mildew, and stress imperfections further.
When cleansing, pay extra special attention to the shoulder and knees, the elbows, chest, and zippers or buttons. These places are particularly susceptible to the impacts of moisture.
Conditioning can be done more often, and is the most crucial step to leather care. For the most dedicated of riders, treating leathers with a quality balm every two to three months would be plenty. Skidmore's Biker Leather Cream is one such option, and includes an added water-repellent. Really, any leather conditioner you'll actually use every three to six months is the best option out there. Bonus points if it'll work on your seat and bags, too!