LIKE any other activity, motorcycle riding has acquired its own subculture of fashion and clothing, whether it’s technical riding gear or casual clothing and accessories. If it’s salable, bike related brands will stick a logo on it and ship it out.
And as with any other activity, golf, soccer, there are some items of clothing and equipment that are truly off limits in the eyes of many. In this article, we take a look at some of the most egregious motorcycle fashion faux pas ever committed.
The Top Ten Worst Fashion Bike Fails
10. Replica racing jackets
You can see them at BSB, bike events, car jumbles and motorcycle shows. You can spot them from a mile away because they have bad badges, the “Repsol” font is never quite right, and the leather looks as tough as an MP’s spine. These are, of course, poorly made ‘replicas’ of racing leather. Whether they’re one-piece or two-piece, they’re likely to give you as much protection as a leaking condom and are a surefire way to get a bunch of people laughing at you when you’re out of earshot.
Yes, they are cheaper than the alternative. Granted, you may have been drunk when you clicked the ‘Buy Now’ button, but that’s why our lord and savior Jeff Bezos created a 14-day cooling-off period on the eighth day. 14 days was chosen because that is the maximum time it takes for any human being to realize that this is complete nonsense.
Save money and get the right skin from RST.
9. Lightly apply the ‘Built not bought’ stickers ‘custom’ bicycle
This was rampant a few years ago and you still see it. This sticker is most likely on the engine. More often than not, they’ll be painted at home, using three cans of matchless matte black spray paint, and someone will cut off the muffler – bonus points if they’ve used a heat jacket on the exhaust unnecessarily (see point 5).
The bike will be something like Hyosung’s 15-year-old 125cc cruiser, with a cloned CG125 engine. The driver will wear a fashionable leather jacket (the eagle motif on the back is slightly slanted), camouflage jeans with a wallet chain. On their bonce will be a Nitro helmet with tribal designs on it that looks like it gets kicked down the stairs everyday.
The air filter cover will proudly wear a ‘Built Not Bought’ sticker, with a key separating the top and bottom lines. There will be a bunch of wires crawling out of the back of the same air filter cover that are connected with household terminal connectors, and the chain will be so worn that it will almost drag on the ground.
That’s right, you’re a bike builder now my friend…
8. Jeans tucked into boots
Jeans tucked into boots, why? It has no advantages on a bike, if anything it makes life miserable. Yes, we all know that some motorcycle leathers are tucked into boots, but there are reasons for that, namely extra protection. But when you’re carrying your freshest Primark specials and heading out for a Sunday ‘run’, there’s really no need.
No one needs to see your flashy plastic or carbon shin guards because guess what; nobody really cares.
7. Mismatched leather and bike
I once saw a guy riding down Mablethorpe Street on Valentino Rossi’s full Yamaha YZF-R6 (2010 Fiat era). To be honest, the paint job on the bike was pretty good, and it’s probably a Dream Machine job. The problem was that his skin was an exact replica of Marc Marquez and he even had an MM93 cover like some mismatched cherry on a very messed up cake.
I guess in football terms it’s like those 50/50 replica football shirts you can get, with both teams playing that day on one shirt, split down the middle. In football circles, they are considered the lowest of the low. This particular motorcycle failure is viewed in much the same way.
6. Anodized chunky levers/return settings
I have a friend who smashes bikes and collects motorcycles in general who can’t bring himself to throw anything away. Even bent or slightly battered bicycle parts can find a place in his (eBay) window, and inevitably everything eventually finds a home. However, there is one item that gets removed and thrown in the trash as soon as the bike lands in his workshop, any cheap, nasty, anodized tattoo.
And I’m with him on this, because, what’s the point? And before I get every accessory company in the UK sending me nasty emails; calm down, I don’t talk much about you. I’m talking about the crap you can buy on AliExpress, Wish.com, and pretty much any other shady website. Yes, your bike could be a full seven grams lighter than stock thanks to mounting your new one ‘Super fast #1 best brake lever™’ mobile adjustable jobs. But you’ll 100% look more handsome when that candy cane alloy breaks halfway through a 300 mile drive and you have to get home without a front brake.
5. Exhaust gas jacket when there is really no need
This has become more widespread as café racer culture has flourished, but fitting an exhaust pipe wrap to a bike that doesn’t need it is a bit like wearing jodhpurs and a riding helmet while doing your weekly shopping.
On a real bike, the exhaust shroud has a practical purpose. It can prevent you from getting leg burns if the exhaust duct is tight and can prevent the heat from the exhaust from damaging the fairing or transferring to the mechanical parts of the bike. The thing is, there’s no fairing on your otherwise standard Triumph Thruxton, you’re Chicken drumsticks are not in danger, and the clever person at the factory has already designed the bike so that the heat from the exhaust has no detrimental effect on the engine.
Not only that, fiberglass wrap can also destroy the bike’s exhaust system if you’re not careful. The water soaks the coating, which then sits on the pipe and breaks down the metal. There is also a chain of thought that the insulation provided by the sheath is sufficient to cause the metal to fatigue and crack, since the heat cannot escape fast enough.
4. ‘Decent’ vests
Okay, I’m going to sit behind my laptop now, because not too long ago we posted about this on social media and it caused quite a discussion. The ‘POLITE’ vest (printed in a very similar font to ‘POLICE’ and surrounded by checkered stripes) is one of the most versatile items of motorcycle gear or clothing. Above all, it will stir the pot and create (mostly) fun banter between bikers.
It is on one side of the fence ‘so it doesn’t hurt, does it?’ crew. Their argument is that it is a free choice to wear what you want so leave them to it. Then there is “Oh my God, what a douchebag, ‘Hey Kev, look at this doll.'” many, who simply find them a source of amusement whenever they are noticed. We finally have, though ‘under arms – they must be shot/hanged/arrested’ posse, who bang that impersonating a police officer is a crime and must be punished.
I’m not sure where I actually rank on this list, but that doesn’t stop it from being on the list. Purely and simply because I’m writing this damn thing. I’m curious though, if you combine a POLITE vest with an ex-Police R 1200 RT and a white Arai RX7, is filtering through London any easier?
3. Using scrubbed sliders you bought on eBay
Look, I’m not pointing fingers, but it happens. I just searched eBay and there are countless used sliders for sale, not to mention the jobs of ex-famous racers. It’s just worn out skates!
What confuses me about these is that they are literally pointless. I take it apart as follows. You’re not fooling your friends, they all know how you ride, so they know you can’t/won’t/haven’t knelt down yet. This means that the only people you have to go out to impress are the people out there you don’t know. Strangers, random people, people you’ll never see again. The stupid thing is that no one really cares.
2. Double pair with fully matched equipment
Nothing screams ‘BMW dealer really saw us coming!’ like a touring couple wearing fully matching motorcycle gear: textiles, boots, gloves and cover. The whole scheme.
There aren’t many couples who would walk around dressed exactly the same on a night out. Why would you do that when you’re out on your bike? The closest thing I can compare it to is couples who share a Facebook page – as soon as I see them I think ‘okay, which one of you cheated?’
Furthermore, motorcycle gear is a very personal choice. One brand may produce lids that fit like a glove, while others are very uncomfortable and cause an instant migraine. There’s a good chance that one of the people in the duo is riding together in gear that isn’t as comfortable as they’d like. The only thing they’re keeping quiet about is that it cost an extra £3,000 on top of the bike and they’re too scared to mention it.
1. Glue the ears, ponytail, mohawk
The act of sticking fur ears and mohawks on motorcycle helmets appeared at the end of the last century, and it was funny, for about a week. You could (and still can, amazingly) order any number of brightly colored embellishments from cat ears, fluffy dog ears, fox tails, mohawks and ever afros to your sliding lid, and I’m sorry if I sound boring, but just don’t get it .
One of the old Visordown editors summed up this type of riding gear perfectly a few years ago. He said: ‘Coming for a ride in this is like turning up to the pub in your girlfriend’s underwear and expecting everyone to find it funny. It’s so weird. What are you playing?’
What more can I say?
Editor’s Disclaimer: This article is made for entertainment purposes only. No actual disrespect is meant (except for numbers 10 and 3 – you wrong ones). If you have been affected by the problems outlined in this article, go to a quiet place and sit down, you will soon feel better.