Women Riders

Leather Care for Lasting Wear

Written by  September 30, 2006

I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to let go of summer. The outdoor pools are sadly empty and closed, children gather at the bus stop in the early morning hours, and the weather is somewhat nippy as we begin a morning ride. We are jumping into fall with both feet and Christmas will be here before we know it!

Of course fall is a beautiful time to ride with the crisp autumn breezes, virtual oceans of glowing pumpkins and lush blooming mums in all the glorious colors of fall. There is an abundance of fall festivals in every town we ride through, and there is one every weekend through October in Kansas City.

The leaves begin to change, apple orchards are aplenty and hot apple cider warms our innards on a chilly evening. We replace the tank tops with long sleeve shirts, turtlenecks and leather jackets. That’s what I love about living in Kansas City—the season changes. I hear others who live in Florida, Arizona or California brag about how they get to ride year round, and at times I’m a little envious. But for a lot of us, we’ll sacrifice that for the beauty of seeing the changes of spring, summer, fall and winter. Plus, if we lived in year-round warm climate states we wouldn’t get a chance to wear all our cool leather riding apparel. That brings me to a conversation I recently had with fellow riding divas on how to care for our leathers and other riding accessories.

Here are some tips and suggestions for getting the most wear out of your leathers:
Leather should be treated every 3-4 months. If you notice your leather getting dry or stiff, it’s time to condition them. Improper care of your leathers or applying conditioner to wet or dirty leather can cause leather to deteriorate due to the moisture, dirt and bacteria being trapped in the leather.
Before performing any conditioning application, always test a small amount of leather conditioner in an inconspicuous area in order to be sure that the results will be what you want.
For smooth leather use a damp cloth or sponge to clean the dirt, bugs, and road grime before conditioning them. Let them air dry completely before applying the conditioner. Mild liquid detergent or saddle soap and water may be used to remove stains that are more serious.
Water will bead on finished leather, but will spot on unfinished leather. If a suede leather garment gets a spot, try using a suede brush to remove.
The type of product you use is a personal preference. Some people like a liquid oil, others prefer a paste. Or you may want to try both, experiment and decide what works best for you. There are many products on the market; Harley-Davidson Leather Care, Aussie Leather Conditioner, Montana Pitch Blend, Regular or Glycerin Saddle Soap, Mink Oil Paste or Leather Wipes. Again, whichever you use, always do a patch test first.
You can waterproof your leathers by using mink oil or silicone spray, but take heed, in doing so it will likely darken your leather. Test a small area first!

For the application, spread a small amount of conditioner on a soft cloth and gently work it into the leather. Allow it to sit for half an hour to absorb the conditioner, and then give them a second application if necessary. Be sure to wipe away any excess conditioner with a soft cloth.

Here is another good tip: How many times have you pulled your jacket or vest from a saddle bag or touring pack and it’s wrinkled beyond wrinkled? The best way to get rid of wrinkles is to hang then in the bathroom while you shower and let the hot steam remove the wrinkles. If that does not work, try using a blow dryer, without putting it in direct contact with the leather. A last resort for stubborn wrinkles is to use an iron, but DO NOT put the iron on the leather. Use a cotton cloth between the leather and the iron. Do not use high heat and do not leave the iron on the leather very long. And if all the above does not work, seek a professional company like Arrow Cleaner, a specialist in dry cleaning of leathers.

To store your leather for the winter months put them on a shaped or padded hanger and store in a cool dry place. Do not store in plastic; if using a garment bag, leave it partially open for ventilation. To prevent mildew, keep the leather protected from extreme humidity and store away from direct sunlight. For boots and shoes, use shoe trees to help maintain their shape. Fill empty purses, fanny packs, and backpacks with tissue paper.

Riders spend a small fortune on leather apparel, so it’s very important to maintain proper care, which in turn will give your leather jackets, vests, chaps, saddlebags, boots and motorcycle accessories a long wearing life. Neglected leathers can dry and rot while well cared for leathers will increase in beauty as they age. You want your leather to be supple and repel water and dirt which can break down the longevity of your leathers.
I hope these tips help you in preparing for the winter months. If you have other products
or ideas to share, let me hear from you and we will pass on to our readers.

Have a fabulous, safe and fun fall riding season!

Goldie Arnold

“Never rider faster than you angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: Don’t allow yourself to get cold on a bike. Hypothermia can impair your judgment and abilities as much as alcohol or drugs. Layer, Layer, Layer clothing!

***DON’T FORGET Daylight Savings Time changes October 29…Fall Back.