While in Spain on the 2024 Triumph Street Triple R/RS intro, I crashed during the street portion of the ride. As much as I’d like to let this mishap go down the memory hole, it gave me the opportunity to abrasion and impact test some gear. Let’s set the stage, shall we: By making a series of small mistakes in an S-bend that combined to tuck the front end and put me on the ground at about 60 mph, I landed on my left knee and hip, followed by my torso and the underside of the left arm – all fairly typical of this type of crash. In those few seconds of sliding, the Alpinestars Caliber Jacket did its job of protecting my hide by sacrificing its hide. I won’t get into the specifics of the Alpinestars Caliber Jacket’s construction in this review. You can read about it here. What I want to focus on is how it performed in the crash, how much damage it sustained, the repair process, and why I decided to have it repaired.
Typically, when journalists crash test gear, how well it worked in the incident gets written up, and then, the gear is never seen again. The reasoning is simple: The gear manufacturers want us to show their products in their best light. Yes, they love positive write ups when the gear works in a crash (not so much when it doesn’t), but they’d really prefer that we not show their products in anything but pristine condition. After all, us wearing their gear is a form of advertising. The reality of all but the most well-heeled riders is really quite different. We don’t generally replace damaged gear that isn’t totaled just a couple months after acquiring it. I wore my first jacket for years with the brown scuffs of shame on the arm and torso of the black leather. What I didn’t know at the time was something most racers get familiar with at some point (just ask Troy), gear much more thrashed than mine can be brought back to almost new for significantly less than replacement.
Assessing the damage
In my slide, the Caliber wore through in just three places, none of which were larger than a dime. The first hole was the inside of my left forearm, where the stretchy fabric resides. The other two were on the torso of the jacket in the area of the hand warmer pocket. One hole was caused by the aluminum EarPeace earplugs case, and the other was on the seam around the opening of the pocket itself. While the stitching around the pocket was ruined and there was a lot of scuffing on the front of the jacket, none of the damage affected the structural integrity. There’s a reason why leather has been the go-to material for motorcycle gear for generations.
Call in the experts
While there are many places that offer leather repair services, you need to make sure that those repairs are geared towards motorcycle gear. Additionally, if you’re looking for more than having a patch sewn on, you should go to a place that specializes in repairing and restoring motorcycle leathers. Why restoring, too? Because those shops have the skills to color match the repaired leather to the original leather. When it comes to this type of service, Anthony’s Leatherworks has built a nationwide reputation as being one of the best in the business, to the point that they do factory-authorized repairs for major leather brands and for the MotoAmerica race series.
Once my jacket arrived at Anthony’s, I received an email estimate of all the recommended service the damage required. The physical repair of the jacket would cost just $150 and would consist of a fabric patch of the stretch panel, an internal patch on the pocket, and the restitching of the pocket itself. While it doesn’t sound like much, all of these repairs required that the internal liner of the jacket be partially disassembled to allow for the stitching. Lesser shops will sew right through the liner, and you’ll feel it every time you wear the jacket. Additionally, any seams that were compromised need to be restitched to prevent them from unraveling in the future.
The next step is redying the damaged leather to match the original finish color. While the feel of the leather surface will never be the same and you will be able to see the different texture upon close inspection, a good color match will make the leather look almost new. Also, the redying treats and protects the newly exposed fibers in the leather, preventing premature aging in the damaged areas. For the Caliber jacket this cosmetic repair cost $220, and since this $370 total repair cost reflects 65% of the jacket’s price, it might seem overly expensive since the majority of the cost could be considered purely cosmetic.
Even before my days as a motojournalist, I always invested in the best gear I could afford. While it may offer similar protection, I’ve always found that the fit and finish plus the durability of the products warrant the extra cost. Since I really like the Caliber jacket and plan to wear it for a long time, I consider it worth the extra cost of repair to return the jacket to a condition that I want to be seen wearing. And perhaps, I’m paying a little penance for thrashing a nice jacket so soon after acquiring it, or maybe, I’m trying to avoid constantly retelling people the sad story of my crash on the Street Triple introduction.
Regardless, leather repair is something that all riders should be aware of when the laws of physics send them for a slide. You don’t have to resign yourself to the false choice of either replacing your gear or wearing the signs of your folly literally on your sleeve. Quality leather repair, like that provided by Anthony’s Leatherworks, can have your gear looking almost like new again.
3401 E Coast Hwy
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
How long do motorcycle leathers last?
When properly cared for, leather riding gear can last for decades. Over time, the air draws out the natural oils contained in the leather itself. That is why regular cleaning and maintenance, including treatment with high-quality leather oil is a must. Otherwise, the leather will dry and crack, but long before then, it will have lost much of its abrasion resistance.
How do you treat leather on a motorcycle?
Regular cleaning with a damp cloth will help get the bug guts and other grime off of it. Don’t use excessive pressure, though, or you could damage the leather’s finish. Also, periodic treatment with a high-quality leather oil will maintain its shine, flexibility, and protective qualities.
Can ripped leather be repaired?
You’re at the right article for this! A shop experienced in motorcycle leather repair can make even the most damaged leather look like new. From patching small holes to replacing entire leather panels, shops like Anthony’s Leatherworks can deliver surprising results at less than the cost of new gear.
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