This week's Gear Guide features a sleek carbon full face from vintage French race-lid manufacturer GPA, deerskin and Cone Mill Denim gloves from Grifter, a toasty warm flight jacket from Alexander Leathers, made to measure selvedge denim from Orijeans, and beautiful hand-turned wooden bar grips.
PRODUCT REVIEW BY THE BSMC'S ROSS SHARP - GPA CARBON PURE FULL FACE
Of all the gear we review, helmets are probably the item most discussed. Who’s got the latest one, in which paint scheme and what features would we add if designing a dream lid. An important consideration for me is noise. Like many of you out there, I suffer from tinnitus, pretty badly. This affects my helmet choice, open face options may look great but don’t exactly cut through the air efficiently. And some folk prefer the secure feeling of their chin being shielded from the road by something more robust than a beard. On a recent road test I noticed one of the French journos sporting a tasty looking carbon lid, with a fancy visor and super clean shell shape, made by GPA.
So, who are GPA? Well one thing is for sure, they’re not new kids on the block. Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost, Gilles Villeneuve & Nelson Piquet, heard of them right, well they all wore GPA helmets during arguably the most dangerous period in Formula 1 history. In GP motorcycle racing Christian Sarron, Patrick Pons & Gérard Choukroun entrusted their noggins to the GPA shells and interiors, all made in GPA’s Italian factory, using their own tried and tested moulds. They also make lids for the world’s best dobbin wranglers, but we’ll keep things engine related for now.
Apart from the gorgeous weave of carbon fibre, the first thing that drew me to this GPA Carbon Pure was the internal visor hinge, a signature feature, and lack of external vents. Well, the lady journalist underneath was pretty too. There are meshed chin vents, closable from the inside, which look purposeful and keep one’s moustache correctly aerated, she didn’t have one of those. The smooth, clean shell without wind-noise inducing appendages is clearly a modern shape but doesn’t look out of place on more up-to-date new-wave customs and is certainly a different style to the track inspired offerings from the Japanese mainstream.
The interior utilises a slightly different, modern fabric from the norm, which wicks away sweat and doesn’t bobble like the old fashioned black felt stuff. Italian cows have also given up their outerwear to offer a degree of decadence to the edges of the lining. With this raw carbon version of the Pure, the liner is bright red, a nice contrast. The visors come in clear, iridium and black which are all secured by press studs making a swap between tints very quick, without that feeling of forcing intricate parts into place.
At around 1250g the Carbon Pure feels incredibly light and a welcome change from polycarbonate and composite heavyweights I’ve been used to. The visor fits snuggly against the seal and only slight misting occurred during city commute on a chilly morning, although I blame my moisture retentive facial hair for that. At speeds that would have the Gendarme reaching for their ticket-book only a light whistle was audible, which my ears thanked me for. Big speeds weren’t an option as my recalcitrant motorcycle collection offered only small capacity options.
These days £200 helmets aimed at style rather than performance can leave one wishing they’d spent a bit more. The Carbon Pure is around £350 and available in the U.K. but currently through overseas distributors, this might change soon. For a lightweight, full carbon lid made in Europe that doesn’t seem bad especially if you are in the market for something a bit different but are not ready for the full-on retro styling of a Bell Bullet, Premier Trophy or Biltwell Gringo S. If you’re still not sold there are open face versions which we will be testing for the Gear Guide in the coming weeks.
PRODUCT REVIEW - ALEXANDER LEATHERS - B6 FLYING JACKET
I hate the cold with a vengeance. Being cold on a bike is like no other kind of cold, it gets in your bones, and it freezes your soul. I'm sick of winter blasts that are ruined by my plummeting body temperature.
This winter I invested in an Alexander Leathers B6 flying jacket. Although not strictly a bike jacket, it's perfect. It's short length stops it bunching up, and the two two side zips pull it tight to the waist. The collar pulls up high creating a perfect seal around the neck and the cuffs snap tight. The entire jacket is lined in shearling, and is ridiculously comfortable and warm. It's soft and moves easily, so doesn't feel constricting like other lined leather jackets I have.
As with all Alexander jackets the attention to detail is key, their military sheepskins are individually handcrafted by their sheepskin specialist Julie, who has over 20 years experience of not only re-creating the originals but also restoring all types of original military sheepskins of the era. This is an exceptional reproduction of the rare WW2 classic in 25mm sheepskin, using only the highest quality raw materials and hardware, and built by one of the top sheepskin artisans in the country.
Alexander Leather Company was formed in 2012 by a team of seasoned master craftsmen with collectively over 262 years of experience in a workshop in Selkirk, Scotland. Their method of manufacture is very labour intensive, each and every jacket is individually hand cut and crafted.
The team at Alexander Leathers share "...a passion for authentic vintage leather jackets, our primary focus is to recreate the classics of bygone eras using only the best materials available and employing traditional manufacturing techniques coupled with outstanding attention to detail. Our focus is to meticulously produce high quality vintage inspired leather jackets."
The jackets are made to order on the basis of the customer's specific measurements, creating a unique jacket that will last for decades.
I wear mine with a kevlar liner, which sits comfortably under the sheepskin and gives me that extra later of protection.
Thanks to Ben Curwen for the images.
PRODUCT REVIEW - GRIFTER ONYX RANGER LINED GLOVES
In a world of generic near identical bike gloves, Grifter stand as a refreshing and bold alternative offering up a refreshingly different take.
Unsatisfied by the mass-produced quality of the gloves on the market and bored of the tired styles, "....we set out to make gloves that represent who we are when we ride, while simultaneously respecting those individuals who made them. We couldn’t reconcile good workmanship with a fresh look from other brands so we considered making our own.
This led them to the appropriately named Gloversville, New York.
Gloversville at the turn of the twentieth century was known as the glove manufacturing capital of the world. The community was defined by its industry for decades, just like so many mill towns across the United States. But as time passed, the market demanded its goods fast and cheap, factories closed and jobs moved overseas. When the prices dropped, so did the quality.
The old ways of making quality leather goods are still a part of Gloversville, and "....there we’ve partnered with a glove maker who is bringing our vision to life. The high quality leathers we value are still tanned nearby, so close we hand select them from the tannery weekly. And, most critically, the glove makers themselves are still there. Every set of gloves we sell was hand-sewn by a skilled American."
Grifter state "Moto culture doesn’t have to be limited to black leathers and a soft-tail bagger (though if that’s what you’re into - fine by us), and we’ve noticed female riders haven’t been given much to work with for gloves.
" These gloves are as stylish as they are practical.
The Onyx Ranger is lined with wool, and mixes American Mills Cone Selvedge Black Denim and Black Deer Skin. The cuff is longer and scalloped to keep you warmer and provide added flexibility. It's not an outright winter glove, but works well in the cooler autumn months and early spring.
They're comfortable, fit well and are tactile. The deerskin is soft and pliable, but much stronger than cow leather. The wool is soft and the denim tight woven so insulates well. The build quality is impressive, delivering a high quality glove for a good price.
Grifter are unashamedly tailored to the new wave wave custom scene, these are designed and worn by like-minded bikers.
PRODUCT REVIEW - ORIJEANS TAILORED SELVEDGE JEANS
I like denim. I love raw selvedge denim - the original and uncompromising work wear that has served generations of bikers. Selvedge denim has become increasingly more popular, with a proliferation of small niche brands offering some interesting and innovative low volume high quality jeans, that stand as a welcome contrast to shit quality mass produced sweat shop products. The cost of decent denim can run high, but when you can get them made to measure it's a good investment.
Orijeans offer an interesting take in an increasingly crowded market. They produce selvedge jeans that are made to order - you design and customise and choose a fit that work for your body type. Orijeans began as a kickstarter campaign to produce individually hand-crafted jeans from raw, selvedge denim, delivered at an affordable price.
"Most folks cannot afford made-to-order clothing. OriJeans changes that. You choose the fabric and details and then jeans are tailored to you. We deliver your “dream jeans”. Raw denim is unwashed and unfooled around with — see it as your blank canvas. Let the denim learn who you are, form to your body, and naturally fade and wear.
You go to their web constructor and follow the easily explained steps, choosing gender, fit, the denim, the waist size and position, the hardware, the thread colour and the front and back pocket configuration. They ask for a number of different measurements, and work out the cost. Then you order, simple as that.
I went for a mid/low waist slim fit in a lovely vibrant blue 10oz Kaihara Japanese raw denim with red stitching, deep front pockets with a ticket pocket, and large back pockets. Orijeans contacted me querying my me measurements as they didn't seem right, and lo and behold they were right. I remeasured and gave them the correct measurements, and a couple of weeks later they came back a perfect fit. If you're like me and not a standard size, this is impressive.
These are a lovely jean, and the cut works well on the bike. They're more expensive than high street jeans, but the price is reasonable for a high quality pair of selvedge jeans. And like all good denim these will only get better with wear.
Photography by Ben Curwen.
GEDRECHSELTE WOODEN BAR GRIPS
There are numerous different rubber, plastic, aluminium and even copper bar grips to chose from out there on the inter-web, even ones with glitter in them (much to my delight) but when Franz from Gedrechselte contacted us it was first time I'd come across wooden grips.
These are all individually turned to order. The customer briefs Franz on the style, dimensions and choice of wood and he gets to work. Franz crafts in pear, beech, bubinga, walnut, cherry, zebrano, african ebony, mahagoni, padouk, to name but a few. Once turned, they're sanded up to two thousand times and then sealed and lacquered with four coats.
The grips can be further customised with lazer etching.
These look absolutely terrific and in a crowded world of custom accessories, these will give your bike a standout look, and as is the joy with wood, each grip will be unique.
Check out Franz's work at www.gedrechselte-unikate.de