Motorcycling gear made from leather and fabrics – how to maintain practicality and good looks
Leather gear is more than just a fashion statement for motorcyclists, it offers protection from the wind, weather and injuries. That said, leather clothing needs to be cared for regularly to maintain those protective qualities.
Motorbike riding suits have to withstand extreme conditions; they are subject to water, heat, dust, sweat, oil and petrol. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that they regularly require careful cleaning, care and protective treatments.
If you have a leather riding kit, it’s mostly likely made of surface-tanned cow leather, though some are made of kangaroo leather. Both types are naturally durable and water resistant, but they nonetheless require regular care to prevent them from drying out.
Some brands combine leather with other synthetic materials. If this is the case, make sure you pay close attention to what products you can use on your gear.
Cleaning Your Motorbike Riding Suit
Your suit will naturally collect some dust on the road. To make sure it doesn’t soak into the leather, we recommend wiping your gear with a damp cloth, soft brush or sponge after most rides.
If you’re dealing with caked on mud and dirt, however, it’s hard to avoid giving your suit a wet clean.
If you don’t have any special cleaning products to hand, we recommend using a gentle washing up liquid. Do not use any harsh cleaning products or solvents.
The easiest option is giving your gear a gentle clean with specialised products like CARBON COMPLETE, our highly-effective cleaning foam.
The foam comes with a soft applicator sponge. CARBON COMPLETE does more than just clean, it also nourishes the leather and waterproofs it all at the same time!
If you give your kit a wet clean, make sure you wipe it dry with a cloth first and then hang it up to dry in a well-ventilated area.
Note: Motorbike gear should never be left to dry on radiators or in direct sunlight. This will dry out the leather and make it more porous.
Waterproofing Your Motorbike Gear
It’s important to waterproof your leather clothing to prevent rain from penetrating it. Leather grease works to some extent, but you should really treat your jacket with a waterproofing spray or lotion before greasing it. You’ll see, the rain will just run right off!
It’s worth using a high-performance waterproofing spray like CARBON PRO on motorbike gear. This offers maximum protection and breathability and can be used on mixed materials, i.e., gear with leather and synthetic components or water-resistant membranes.
Moreover, CARBON PRO offers long-lasting protection. Treating your gear before a tour can make all the difference.
Special Care for Leather Clothing
All types of leather like to be nourished with moisture and nutrients every now and again. Shoe polish won’t quite do the trick here because the colours can bleed.
It’s better to use leather polish, oil or lotion that is specially made for leather clothing. Collonil’s CARE FOR LEATHER CLOTHING gives leather gear intensive nourishment and ensures your kit will stay shiny, supple and in good condition.
Hand Washing Motorcycle Gloves, Kidney Belts & More
Even though some people say it’s safe, you should never wash motorcycle gloves or kidney belts in the washing machine.
We always recommend avoiding the washing machine when it comes to leather goods. Of course, hand washing requires much more effort, but your gear will thank you – and last a lot longer.
Store Leather Gear Properly
It’s recommended that you regularly clean your gear during the riding season, but also before you store it for the off-season. That way, the leather will remain soft and supple until you get it out again.
It’s best to store your suit in a well-ventilated area. Make sure you avoid storing it in airtight plastic covers, otherwise you run the risk of your gear growing mould!
If you want to store your kit covered, your best bet is to put it in a breathable clothing bag. This prevents it from rubbing against other articles of clothing. If possible, remove any lining and protectors and let the gear hang freely to prevent wrinkles.
Cleaning Textile Motorcycle Gear
Motorbike clothing made of textiles, such as Gore Tex® is pretty low-maintenance in terms of cleaning and care. Generally speaking, you can simply put any dirty gear into the washing machine – just remember to use a gentle cycle!
Make sure your gear is rinsed properly so any residual detergent won’t damage the look or function of your clothes.
Newer washing machines often have an option for a rinse cycle after the normal wash.
If the washing instructions say it’s okay, you can use a dryer afterwards. That said, most motorbike jackets and trousers are quick to air dry.
Waterproofing Textile Motorbike Gear
Most textile gear already includes a water-resistant membrane that prevents water from entering the clothes but still allows condensation to escape.
To help support the membrane, it’s a good idea to treat your gear with a waterproofing spray. This will seal the membrane fibres and increase the protective factor.
You should refresh the waterproofing treatment after every third wash. In addition to protecting your clothing against water, it also helps protect against dirt.
An alternative to waterproofing spray is our Outdoor Wash In Protector. This specially-formulated detergent waterproofs your clothes as they wash, leaving them well-protected and 100% breathable.