If clothes make the man, then a leather jacket makes the motorcyclist. Every rider should own at least one hide coat for stylin’ on sunny riding days, a classic symbol of our two-wheeled heritage that keeps your top half warm and protected, especially after it breaks in and becomes your second skin.
Since I tend to wear water-resistant textile apparel for long rides in changeable weather, my preference in a leather jacket these days is for a simple waist-length cut with a Mandarin-style collar and no lapels or epaulets—think classic dirt-track leather jacket, or maybe Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. With the right cut, this style is functional on the bike, and (assuming it’s free of dead bugs) looks sharp and fashionable elsewhere, too.
My last beloved, do-everything leather jacket like this was left on the back of a chair at an airport, and I didn’t notice that it was AWOL until I was munching free pretzels at 35,000 feet. The new Bristol from Roland Sands Design is even nicer, however, since its “buff” finished, top-grain 0.8-0.9mm cowhide has a mildly distressed look and feels soft and mostly broken-in from new, and the optional CE-approved armor for the back, shoulders and elbows ($25-$35 each or $90 for the kit) fits more snugly and sleekly.
Rotated, pre-curved sleeves, a dropped back and relaxed collar opening help the Bristol fit comfortably in any riding position, and foam-padded quilted accents on the shoulders, elbows and lower back give it a semi-tough dirt-tracker look. Stretch nylon panels in the sleeves—barely noticeable on the black jacket—allow more freedom of movement along with power stretch (accordion) back shoulder panels. Gusseted cuff zippers are where they belong on the outside of the sleeve, and the collar has the requisite snap closure, with a thoughtful retaining snap inside for the strap. Side adjustable waist tabs let you trim up the fit.
The Bristol jacket is lined with a comfortable stretch mesh, and both of the handwarmer pockets outside and the interior wallet pocket inside are zippered and lined with luxurious satin poly. If I have a gripe, it’s that the handwarmer pockets are a bit too far back on the sides of the jacket to reach easily, but that location keeps the zippers mostly hidden. Overall the fit and look are too cool for school, and the weight of the Bristol makes it suitable for riding in moderately cool (low 60s) to warm weather.
Roland Sands is famous for his custom bike builds and accessories, which are painstakingly designed and crafted with great attention to detail, much like the Bristol jacket. It comes in black or brown in sizes SM-3XL for $580.
For more information: Call (562) 493-5297 or visit rolandsands.com.