When I was a kid, my two favorite stores in the mall were the tobacconist and the leather shop. They just smelled so damned manly. I’d step in to either one just to inhale the heady, grown-up aroma of machismo, chivalry and courage, smells that would transport my 10-year-old self to a world still beyond the grasp of a Toughskins-wearing fifth-grader, a world where guys drank beer out of cans, held doors open for ladies and had a perpetual trace of grease under their nails.
Stops in the tobacco shop usually got me hastily escorted out into the food court, but the guys at Wilson’s House of Suede and Leather had no reason to 86 an innocent kid, unless of course I was haphazardly wielding an ice cream cone. So I’d stand by the racks, inhale deeply and daydream. Sometimes I imagined myself as Reggie Jackson, hitting homers in the World Series to send the hated Dodgers to defeat. Sometimes I was John Wayne, saving the damsel in distress.
But usually I pictured myself as Evel Knievel, my white leather cape fluttering through the air with the greatest of ease and being showered with adoration as I rolled to a stop after defying death with yet another successful motorcycle jump. (Unlike Evel, I always stuck the landing.)
Eventually, I did become a grown up. I haven’t (yet) achieved such great heights as the heroes of my youth, but I’m guilty of indulging myself in the joys of manliness, including a smoke to complement my drink, getting dirt under my nails while fixing broken stuff and the feeling of quietly slipping on a sinewy leather jacket while sneaking out the back after a night of glorious debauchery.
Tobacco ultimately, of course, ended up exposed as more a curse than a blessing. But there are no drawbacks to fine leather. It looks good, feels good and, if you’re lucky, smells downright delectable.
All these thoughts rushed through my brain as the smell of leather hit me smack in the nose when I unwrapped my new Enzo jacket from Roland Sands Design. Thanks for takin’ me back, Roland. In more ways than three.
With its oiled, top-grain 1.2mm thick cowhide leather, the Enzo has a slightly distressed finish that has that worn-in look whether you get it in Mahogany (brown) or Coal (black); even better, the high-quality leather feels worn in, not stiff. It’s soft – darn near plush really, and feels so good you practically want to check to make sure the tags are attached and you haven’t been bait-and-switched for a pre-owned example. This is a key for new riding jackets, which so often feel great off the rack but then crimp and pinch and fold the moment you sit in the saddle.
This ain’t no pretentious, logo-ridden, look-at-me fashion statement, either; simple and sharp, the Enzo is cut cafe-style with a short collar and snug fit in the arms and around the torso. It’s got quilting in the chest, lower back and shoulders that provide protection and texture, and zippered expansion gussets at the waist seams that offer a bit of air, mobility and freedom. Also providing comfort are the corduroy-lined collar and cuffs.
The lining is made of comfortable, lightweight 100% cotton that breathes – a subtle, practical touch so often ignored in modern riding gear. Another practical function that separates RSD jackets from others are the large interior pockets, made of a strong mesh and featuring an elastic mouth that stretches from zipper to side seam on each side. They’re roomy enough to hold pretty much anything, and expandable enough to accommodate more than that, as long as whatever you’re carrying isn’t sharp enough to pierce or tear the mesh. A cap and bandana? Check. FedEx envelope? Sure. Garage door opener? EZ-Pass? Church key? Yes, yes, and hell yes.
The Enzo also features a smaller lined pocket in its inner left lapel that’s big enough to secure a cell phone or wallet. Amusingly, it also has a tiny zippered pocket on the outside of its right sleeve’s forearm that’s too small to hold a smartphone or even a flip-phone but could feasibly conceal a few folded-up bucks for tolls or what-have-you. But mainly it just looks cool. The coated canvas weather flap and zipper gussets keep the seams secure and the front YKK-zippered opening (reasonably) weather-free.
The Enzo is available in sizes from small to triple-XL for $520 at RolandSands.com. A couple of caveats are in order, however. Due to its finish, the Enzo will discolor if it gets wet. Now, a darker shade of brown on a distressed leather jacket still looks cool. Don’t ask me how I know. But persnickety customers should take note.
Also, while the Enzo is designed to take RSD’s ForceField armor, it does not come with it. At this MSRP, some might hope to get a bit of protection beyond some quilted padding, but alas, a set of back shoulder and elbow armor (pads are also available a la carte) will set you back another 90 bucks.
I rode the Enzo on my week-long ride to Sturgis with Victory for the unveiling of the 2014 Indians. Check out numerous pictures of the Enzo in action here.
It’s safe to say that after a week in the high plains, surrounded by orange and black-clad members of Badge-and-Shield Nation, I felt like an individual, as close to the intrepid men of my daydream youth as I am ever likey to get.