Summer is fast approaching, which means it’s time to put on the leathers, grab the helmet, fill up with fuel, and take the bike out for a ride. Will my riding leathers still be in good condition if they have been stored in the closet for months? How long do motorcycle leathers last?
High-quality motorcycle leathers, or race leathers, will last 15 to 20 years if they are maintained correctly. The leather will begin to lose its oils over time, and applying a leather cream or Dubbin will prevent it from drying and cracking, prolonging its life.
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The Life Span of Motorcycle Leathers
Motorcycle leathers can be a lifetime investment if they are taken care of correctly and if you manage to stay on your bike through the riding season! There are several things you can do to ensure you get the maximum life out of your riding leathers.
Motorcycle leathers, also known as race leathers or road-racing leathers, will last 15 to 20 years before they will need to be replaced. In many cases, motorcycle leathers are handed down from parent to child. There are a few factors that must be considered to determine their life span and know how long motorcycle leather lasts.
What Type of Leather Is Used for Motorcycle Leathers?
The type of leather used for the leather suit is essential, as it will determine the amount of slide protection it can offer. Most quality motorcycle leathers are made with full-grain Cowhide that is 1mm to 1.3mm thick. This type of leather lasts the longest and can take more punishment from regular use.
How Often Are Motorcycle Leathers Used?
How long do motorcycle leathers last? Well, how often do you use them? Look at the photo below, those leathers are 27 years old and still going strong.
A quality set of leathers can give 15-20 years‘ service easily and depending on use and care may last beyond 30 years. If you take care of them and clean and condition them a few times a year, they can last for decades. In the photo below the set of leathers I am wearing is 27 years old, and they are in great shape. The care, amount of use, and of course crash damage will all be factors that will affect how long a set of leathers will last.
The more the leathers are worn, the more they are subjected to body sweat, wind, and typical everyday scuffs and scratches. The main reason for wearing motorcycle leather is for protection, but this is not just for crashes. Protection from the wind is vitally important if you are riding long distances, as tiny dust particles, insects, and small stones will constantly bounce off you. The leather absorbs the stinging blows as you ride, and this will damage your leather over time.
What Is the Condition of the Armor in the Leather?
The armor that is placed inside the leathers is designed to absorb impact force in the event of an accident. Newer motorcycle leathers will have interchangeable armor plates that can be swapped out if needed. But for the older generation leathers, these are fixed in place.
If the armor is not rigid anymore, then it will not supply the intended protection. And if they cannot be swapped out, it may be time for a new set of leathers. The quality of all the materials used in the leather’s components will in large part answer the question of how long do motorcycle leathers last.
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Is Regular Maintenance Done on Motorcycle Leathers?
Over time the leather will start to lose the oils that are naturally present. This causes the leather to become dry and start cracking. You can prevent this from happening by regular maintenance on the leather. Use a leather cream or leather Dubbin and refresh the leather every few months. This will keep the leather supple and hydrated and offer better waterproofing.
Airing out motorcycle leathers is another important step in the maintenance program. This is not just for bad smells; the salt in the sweat can cause the leather to dry out and crack prematurely. So, hang the motorcycle leathers up after every ride to prevent this from occurring.
When To Replace Motorcycle Leathers?
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Motorcycle leathers are an essential part of staying protected while you are riding. So how long do motorcycle leathers last? Nothing lasts forever, not even quality leather that has had regular conditioning and maintenance. Certain parts can be replaced or repaired, but there are limitations to what can be done. Here are a few signs that the leathers have reached the end of the road.
If you have been in an accident and the motorcycle leathers have visible tears, gouges, or deep scuff marks appearing on the suit, they should be replaced. Wearing accident-damaged leathers does not give bragging rights, as the suit may not have the same safety characteristics as before.
Damaged Or Broken Fasteners
Motorcycle leathers will have an array of different pockets and compartments that need to be closed with zips, buttons, or Velcro. Zips and Velcro wear out over time and can only be replaced so many times before the leather is damaged from the alterations.
Damaged Or Worn-Out Armor
It is vitally important to check the condition of the armor in the leathers. Ensuring that they are positioned correctly and in working conditions may save a rider’s life. If an armor piece has been subjected to a blow, it is better to replace it. Suits that do not have removable armor should be replaced if they have been involved in an accident.
Motorcycle Leathers Becoming Discolored
When motorcycle leather starts to lose its color and becomes pale looking, it is a sign of many riding miles under its belt. Conditioning the leather at this stage will be pointless as the oils cannot be absorbed into the leather anymore. Unfortunately, it can only wither away at this point. How long do Motorcycle leathers last? The amount of time they are exposed to the sun, wind, rain, sweat, and more will in large part affect their longevity.
Reflective Patches Not Visible
Being visible on a motorcycle is essential and having reflective patches or studs on the motorcycle leathers improves visibility. These reflective patches wear out as they are exposed to harsh elements. Most reflective components can be replaced, or additional ones can be sewn on, but this can only be done so many times before the leather becomes damaged.
Worn Out Waterproofing
If the motorcycle leathers were waterproof, and they are now letting in more water than before, they should be replaced. We know that most motorcycle leather will leak in rainy weather, but if they leak more than usual, the leather may be cracked or damaged.
Michael’s Summary and Conclusion
Motorcycle leathers will last more than 20 years if they are cared for and receive regular maintenance. Having leathers in their best condition will provide protection from the elements and in the event of a crash. If the leathers are leaking, have broken fasteners, and start losing their color, it may be a sign to start shopping for a new set.
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Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, corporate, and non-profit organizations: