Apparel: Modern safety gets a vintage theme

Publish Date: 
Jun 26, 2013
By Beth Dolgner

JUST AS THE rising popularity of café racers has re-ignited a passion for vintage bikes, there has been an upswing in vintage-style helmets and apparel. Some manufacturers call it retro while others prefer the term classic. Whatever you call it, there are plenty of options for riders who want to pair old-school style with modern safety.

The growing selection of vintage styling is more than just a reflection of the motorcycles on the market. The simple designs are also an alternative to the busy graphic styles that have become so dominant.

One of the nice things about simpler styling is that it’s not brand-loyal, so dealers can sell the same apparel to everyone, from a sportbike rider to a Harley-loyal customer. Roger Sgarbossa, product designer for Roland Sands Design apparel, says that a lack of conspicuous badging makes RSD’s apparel more versatile. “People love to be a part of a group, but we can be [in any dealership] and we can cross over because it’s nondescript: it’s just about a great jacket,” he says.

Nondescript style is especially evident in RSD’s Enzo and Ronin (pictured) jackets. Both have minimal extras when it comes to the design, and it was all done on purpose. “You should be able to walk into a bar and not look like ‘that guy,’ and still have reasonable abrasion and impact testing,” Sgarbossa says. “It’s one of those pieces you want to keep forever that will break in really well.”

Corazzo’s Allen Drysdale agrees, saying, “The popularity of our look is growing because of our point of difference in style and the increase in popularity surrounding the classic/retro/custom motorcycle scene. Riders wanted gear that looked just as good on the bike as it did when you got off it.” In other words, some gear is just as cool now as it was 50 years ago and will still be fashionable in another 50. Its ability to reach across manufacturers and riding segments is just another bonus for dealers.

HELMETS. The Speed and Strength SS600 has a Speed Shop design available with gold or silver graphics. The faded, scratched look (pictured) is part of the design, making the helmet look as well-worn as a vintage bike that has been neglected for too long. Tucker Rocky carries sizes XS-2XL, and the retail price stands at $99.95.

The Z1R Jimmy Retro, through Parts Unlimited, takes simple styling seriously. Unlike its Jimmy counterpart, the Z1R logo is gone — and in its place are simple racing stripes (photo at right). The Jimmy Retro has a wide size range, from XXS to 3XL, and has an MSRP of $74.95.

For Bell Helmets, the Custom 500 is a nod to Bell founder Roy Richter, who built his first fiberglass helmet in 1954. Called the 500TX, the helmet was the first to feature a lining and a Snell rating. Today, the Custom 500 has updated safety features but that same throwback design. Artist Series options have graphics that look like something James Dean would have worn. Prices range from $99.95 to $139.95, with sizes XS through 2XL.

JACKETS. Corazzo’s entire line evokes vintage style, but nothing does it quite as well as the 5.0, which is available in men’s and women’s versions. With a single off-center stripe, the 5.0 evokes brawls between mods and rockers, though the Cordura construction and armor are all modern — whether you ride a scooter or a motorcycle. There are a wide range of color options for the textile 5.0, and a black leather option for men. Sizes include S through 3XL, and the ladies version (photo at right) has an XS option, as well. Prices range from $259 for textile to $359 for leather.

RSD earlier this year launched a women’s line, too. The leather Enzo and the waxed cotton Vandal share the same subtle lines. Sizes S through 3XL come with MSRPs of $520 for the Enzo and $350 for the Vandal.

River Road has several retro looks in its Vintage line for men and women. Men have the options of simple black leather or racing stripes. A “rough around the edges” look (photo at right) means the Vintage seems broken in right out of the box. Ladies get the same well-worn look, and both lines include vest and chaps options, too. The ladies Vintage Babe, with minimal detailing on the shoulders, retails for $249.95 and is available in S through 2XL. For the men, the Vintage Hoodlum ranges from a size 40 to 54, with pricing from $249.95 to $289.95.

Joe Rocket is no stranger to bold designs, but it has taken a new tack with the Trixie, a ladies jacket with classic lines and black leather construction. Vents are strategically incorporated to provide airflow without forgoing fashion, and the 1.22mm cowhide leather is enhanced with reflective striping. Sizing goes from an XS all the way to “2 Diva,” which translates to 3XL, and the MSRP is $299.99.

This story originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Dealernews.