"Icon," a brand conjured up by motorcycle parts wholesaler Parts Unlimited, has the above ad on page 31 of Cycle World. A black leather jacket with large, doofus skulls on the front and sleeves, Icon calls it their "Skull Motorhead Jacket." Numbskull Motorhead Jacket would be more appropriate. Note also the subtle imagery of the big pipe at the guy's crotch. Oh yes, wear this jacket and you'll be tough, a stud. Just as you always imagined, women you have never met before will want you. Icon has their name emblazoned in red above the main skull. Nice touch for all those who find their personal identity in a clothing brand.
Women will want you if you wear this jacket. Trust me.
Racer replica jackets are one thing if you are indeed a race fan, a Harley logo is one thing (but usually over done too), but ridiculous half skulls on a $600 jacket are just dumb. This may be the ultimate poser jacket. I hope I never run into some guy wearing one of those things because I know I'll laugh and then he'll decide he has to live out his poser fantasies and try to kick my butt and he'll probably succeed because I'll be laughing too hard to defend myself. It won't matter of course 'cause he'll still be a dumb poser in a silly $600 jacket.
So I've been shopping on and off for a few months searching for a replacement for my old Spartan riding jacket. After 20 years of use the front zipper is on it's way out and worse, the jacket has no features. My gosh, how can you have any kind of riding jacket these days without features? What kind of motorcyclist am I?
Ah, features... features like pockets big pockets that would make Captain Kangroo proud. Pockets specifically for cell phones, endless zippers, fabrics that are stronger than leather -- lighter than cotton, warmer than wool, cooler than a cucumber -- zip out liners, zip off sleeves, enough armor to protect a rhinoceros, and a price tag that would make you think it was all spun from gold. And lest we forget: Style! Oh yes, style. Blazing colors, slashing colors, exotic stripe patterns created in shabby tattoo parlors or by people learning to do bad imitations of Von Dutch. Then last but not least, the ultimate feature: The jacket maker's name emblazoned everywhere.
OK, of course some of those features are actually good things which is part of the reason for me shopping for a new jacket instead of getting the old repaired. My old jacket lacks certain features that I can no longer live without.
The tattered Spartan, which by the way has exactly one small logo on the cuff of the sleeve (where it would be under a glove when riding), is a little lacking in the pocket department. It also has no vent zippers, a feature that I miss when a day starts out below 50° and winds up in the 80's which is not uncommon here in Arizona. The jacket that works so well for cool-to-cold weather quickly turns to a denier nylon cooking bag as the sun climbs in the sky.
So shopping we go...what to buy? The challenges are many. First, I want vent zippers on the sleeves, chest and back. That leaves out the vaunted Kilimanjaro Jacket which lacks the sleeve vent zippers. At least the ones in stock at the cycle accessory store lacked them. I tried on the Kilimanjaro and liked the fit, the Capt. Kangaroo pockets, it's reputation for keeping people warm and dry. Very nice but again, no zippers where I wanted zippers. Fairly tasteful logo usage though. I was tempted. $249. Within budget. Decisions, decisions. Where to compromise on features? Should I compromise on wanted features?
The local Cycle Parts store carries tons of the Frank Thomas brand stuff, stuff to which I have an aversion because Frank's name is all over everything and my name doesn't happen to be Frank Thomas. OK, I admit it, I liked one of the Frank Thomas designs real well, it met all my criteria but the weight of the outer shell which seemed a bit light for colder weather. Despite what you might think, it can get darned cold here in the desert in the winter.
The price of the jacket was right: $169 marked down from $199. I actually pretty much talked myself into the FT jacket but got sidetracked yakking with another rider who was also there shopping for a jacket. He was a late forties guy riding a red limited edition Hayabusa and looking for a flashy red jacket to go with it. In talking to him it seems that he possesses more throttle restraint than I; he'd had the 'Busa for several months and not been pulled over yet or even worried much about having only gotten the big Suzuki up to 130 mph on one occasion. You have to admire a man with that kind of discipline. For me it would be "Buy a 'Busa, go to jail." As Dirty Harry said, "A man's got to know his limitations."
So Frank made a sale to the Hayabusa guy with a little help from me (just because I don't like something doesn't mean that nobody else should). I suppose if I rode a red Hayabusa I might get flashier too. No wait, I rode an even flashier red Aprilia Falco and I remained just as stylistically boring as ever. Anyway, I talked to the other guy long enough that in the back of my mind I also talked myself out of the solid black version of the FT jacket like he was buying. I left Cycle Parts to jacket shop elsewhere. Sorry Frank.
Up the road a ways is a mega store bike dealer, just the kind of place where I hate to spend money but they do often have a good selection of accessories. Into the chrome and glass candyland I went to see what was to be had today. Much to my delight they had some jackets on sale including Tourmaster's Cortech GX touring jacket in an assortment of colors and including my preferred black/gray non-color. Much to my surprise they even had one that fit me. I'm built sort of odd and getting a jacket to fit is a chore. Just an FYI: the FT stuff runs 1 size small and the Cortech 2 sizes small unless you're skinny or have biceps like Barney Fife.
The Cortech jacket is heavy textile, zippered vents on the sleeves and body front and back and zippered cuffs too. The gray patterns on the jacket were barely ok, not too over done but not as understated as the black and gray Kilimanjaro I'd tried on. Marked down from $249 to $149 the Cortech seemed the way to go, something of a bargain in fact, so I did.
A rubberized 3D Cortech logo is sewn to each sleeve, the collar flap, and the back of the jacket and I don't much care for them but at least they are not garishly done like the Joe Rocket stuff or someone else's name that isn't mine (you-know-who). The logos might even be reflective so there might be a useful safety aspect to them.
Jacket purchased, I tossed it in the car (raining today, no bike), and headed for home. Arriving at the palatial 40onTwo Estate I looked the jacket over for cleaning instructions and then I realized that our Cortech friends had actually out Frank'ed, Frank Thomas. Egad. How did I miss that? Every blessed zipper has a nice strong zipper pull on it just as it should but every zipper pull is clearly the Cortech logo. Count them.... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...mutter, mutter....14..FIFTEEN freaking Cortech labels adorn the jacket! Fifteen! Tourmaster, was that really necessary??
Why friends, cannot manufacturers show simple pride in their work like Spartan did with their single label on the sleeve? Why do they think that every motorcycle rider out there wishes to be a rolling billboard for every company from whom they buy an accessory or article of clothing? It's absurd. Hey, motorcycle clothing people, why don't you put your corporate annual report on the back too?? Your stock prices?? Maybe pictures of your wife and kids and cat? I'm sure lots of idiots would buy it. As H.L. Mencken famously said "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."
Before I counted all the logos I had tossed around the idea of cutting of the main Cortech logos just out of orneriness. After realizing Tourmaster's attempt to turn me into something resembling a Cortech Christmas tree with little logos dangling from every limb, I'm not only going to remove the main logos but every zipper pull is going to get removed and replaced with something else even if it's just an expired dog license tag from one of my dogs. I'd rather wear my furry friend's name than some ego maniac corporation's logo.