CUSTOM LIDS - ONE OFF CUSTOMIZED HELMETS Whether it’s a crow, a rose, a moth, or a revolver, Malta based Custom Lids are offering some of the most distinctive and striking helmet designs currently available off the shelf. Jeff takes standard Biltwell lids and uses them as blank canvases for local artists to create stunning one-off designs. Each helmet is hand painted with an individual composition and no two lids are the same. The star of his stable is the talented artist Rebecca Bonaci. The quality of the work is impeccable, each helmet painted with fine intricate detail. These helmets are safe and ready to use, being DOT approved, although technically they're not approved in the EU - but that's a long story. So they’re not just gallery pieces, they provide practical and handsome protection for your head. Several different designs are available for sale on their website both in the open face Bonanza and full face Gringo styles, and individual commissions are taken on request. Jeff and Rebecca will be exhibiting a selection of their helmets at the the Bike Shed III event on May 24th and 25th. http://www.customlids.bigcartel.com/ PRODUCT REVIEW - PIKE BROTHERS 1935 MECHANIC'S BIB Dungarees are perfect for working on bikes. Durable, roomy and comfortable, they spare the world from the spectacle of the mechanic’s crack (the biker version of builder’s bum) and provide numerous pockets for stashing tools and bits. They also look pretty good splattered in oil. Pike Brothers have built the aptly named 1935 Mechanic Bib, and these are the finest pair of dungarees I’ve owned by a long way. They’re made from 11 oz raw selvedge denim with strong zinc buttons and buckles. A loose straight leg fit, they’re a deep indigo blue finished with honey yellow stitch. Like all of Pike Brothers gear, these are premium quality and authentic to traditional designs. These are tough, and are up to the job in the garage, able to cope with the inevitable abuse. I also like riding with them, as they eliminate that drafty gap between the hem of your leather jacket and the waist of your jeans. They’re also great for just loafing about in. Pike Brothers are an old company, founded on Portobello Road in London in 1930. Initially a tailor shop, during the Second World War they specialized in the production of uniforms for the US Armed Forces, combining European craftsmanship with the unmistakable profile of sturdy American menswear. This is a tradition they carry today. They produce authentic outdoor and workwear from the early to mid 20th Century using traditional manufacturing methods using premium materials to rigorous standards. Pike Brothers have close affinity to hotrods and motorcycles, and their gear embodies the vintage and custom ethos. Pike Brothers have an unwavering commitment to style without ever losing sight of functionality, and this is clearly demonstrated in the 1935 Mechanics Bib. Like anything made of raw selvedge denim, these just get better the more they’re worn and the harder they’re worked. http://www.pikebrothers.com/ EL SOLITARIO - RASCAL LEATHER MOTORCYCLE PANTS Whether it’s dirt-tracking in the Galician badlands, or bombing up Dalston Lane, the Rascal leather pants from El Solitario are the business. David Borras and Valeria Libano, the founders of the magnificently maverick El Solitario, describe their motorcycle builds as “Eclectic, one of a kind, bold and anthromorphic”, words that could be accurately applied to the Rascals. Not content with creating jaw-dropping builds, they’ve turned their hands to equally stunning gear. Inspired by the cut of vintage motocross pants, these are functional, tough, durable but supple, using Top Grain goat Nappa leather tanned in Italy. These top quality hides are hand cut and sewn by a small local family leather-works in very limited runs. Lined in cotton plaid and reinforced at the hips, they feature knee pockets for protection if so desired. The zips are tough YKK. Fitted at the waist via adjustable leather straps and held up with cowhide suspenders, these slim fit pants are low cut with two front zipped pockets. The Rascals are a welcome contrast from the generic mass produced leather bike pants, and look terrific on a tracker, a bobber, a crosser, a brat, and of course on their stunning creation The Impostor. They also do the business on the salt flats. In keeping with the lone-wolf genius of El Solitario’s bikes, the Rascals embody David and Valeria’s commitment to bold design, exquisite craftsmanship and unwavering attention to detail. The Rascal are available in beige and black. I want both. http://elsolitariomc.com PRODUCT REVIEW - JOHN CHAPMAN LTD RUCKSACK A strong, durable backpack is key if you ride a bike for anything more than a Sunday blast. You want to secure your kit close to your back and not have it wobbling all over the place, especially when you’re filtering in the wet on the Euston Road in rush hour. Finding one that fits well and is up to the inevitable battering is no easy task. I’ve had my Chapman rucksack for over two years and worn it through two winters. It’s still intact, and looks great worn in. The straps are thick so they don’t bite, and stay taught. It’s a perfect size, holding a 15in Macbook Pro snugly with room to fit plenty more without being too bulky. It has two deep front pockets that zip tight, and a drawstring opening. The materials are what make these bags fit for the job. Chapman use waterproof and multilayered cotton canvas, traditional Scottish tweed, military specification cotton webbing (originally used for WW2 parachutes), solid brass fittings and British made leather. The bags are built in Carlisle, using traditional hand crafted manufacturing skills, including hand cutting from original patterns, hand machining and finishing and traditional saddlery work. The combination of traditional manufacturing skills and high quality, natural materials produces a unique finish quite unlike mass produced items. With its origins in making rugged fishing and game bags, Chapman use the highest quality materials, sourced wherever possible in Britain. A traditional unfussy design gives it a heritage feel, and it’s refreshingly free of flappy straps and shiny bits that populate your average backpack. Mine has many years life left in it, and like a good leather jacket it gets better with age. https://www.chapmanbags.com PRODUCT REVIEW - COL. LITTLETON’S THE ORIGINAL BRASS NO.1 KNIFE For me the single most critical tool for a biker is a pocket knife. A locking pocket knife. Now that can sometimes lead to problems with the peelers as a lock knife is technically not exactly legal here in the UK (and in some other parts of the world). A knife that doesn’t lock is a liability, and a sure-fire way to cut the end of your digit off when trying to fix your ride on the side of the street. Blood all over the engine casing is not a good look and a bitch to clean off. Col. Littleton, the Tennessee based leather-works have the answer. The Original Brass Number 1. This tiny knife is built like its big brothers - sturdy, sharp and true.The blade locks secure in position ready for work. It’s small enough to fit comfortably in the ticket pocket of your jeans, and even the most boorish of cops would have a hard time convincing anybody it was an offensive weapon. It’s diminutive size has the added advantage of allowing you to navigate through the nooks and crannies of your bike. The Original Brass Number 1 is built to the highest specifications from professional tool grade components. It’s 2 1/4 inches closed with an 1 3/4 inch folding blade. Col. Littleton, the ‘Purveyor Of Fine Accouterments In The Americana Tradition’, was founded in 1987, from the Colonel’s personal desire to make traditionally inspired handcrafted products that can be personalized and passed down in families. Based out of Lynnville, Tennessee, the company are famous for their Southern hospitality. They manufacture an eclectic array of products, including luggage, shaving kits, belts, home goods and of course knives. Check out their superb Bowie knife. As the Colonel says: “Three of the most pleasing things in life: A good woman, a good dog, and a sharp knife.” Can’t argue with that. http://www.colonellittleton.com
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