Functional Fashion: The Best Leather Motorcycle Jackets

If there’s a piece of apparel most associated with motorcycling, it’s undoubtedly the leather motorcycle jacket. The leather jacket is part of our uniform, but even non-riders search the bins for cowhide when it’s time to dress up for Halloween, or down for any occasion that calls for cool. No matter what you ride, the best leather motorcycle jackets are versatile enough to look at home nearly anywhere, and on nearly anything. A premium leather jacket will never go out of style, and the more you wear a quality one, the more comfortable it will feel – there’s just something about leather that other materials can’t match. Bountiful and ubiquitous, with seemingly endless options to choose from, it would be impossible for us to feature every single jacket out there. So here we’ve gathered a small sampling of the best leather motorcycle jackets the market has to offer, listed in alphabetical order.

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MO Tested: Indian ClimaCommand Classic Seat Review

Every time it comes time to write one of those “Great Motorcycle Developments of the Future” deals, some form of cooling tech always makes it to the top of the list. Usually it’s an air-conditioned helmet. Indian decided to attack the heat problem from the other direction with its ClimaCommand Classic Seat, retro-fittable onto all Thunderstroke models back to 2016.

Heretofore, air-conditioning tech involved Freon, pumps and compressors and things – stuff that’s too bulky and complicated to package in a motorcycle. Now thanks to the new wonder material graphene, none of that’s necessary. For one of many things, graphene is an excellent heat conductor. Indian says it’s “a highly conductive and flexible material that optimizes the distribution of heating or cooling while maintaining superior comfort.” Here are a few more potential uses for the stuff according to Wikipedia.

For another thing, graphene can be formed into a very strong and flexible thin sheet, and that’s what Indian have placed inside their new seat. According to Indian’s Product Development Supervisor for On-Road Accessories, Sam Dando, Indian is working with an outside company to produce the seat. The key to making it work is the solid-state thermodynamic controller in the base of the seat, which controls two different elements, one each in the rider’s seat and one in the passenger section – each with its own little ducted cooling fan.

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Kawasaki Announces Z900RS Cafe For US Market! - Updated

From the moment that the Kawasaki Z1-inspired Z900RS was announced in October of last year, enthusiasts have been saying they wanted the model to go even further into the retro-racer styling. Just a month later, large portions of the rest of the world received the word that their dreams had been made real in the form of the Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe. Naturally, riders in the U.S. market wanted to know why they weren’t going to be allowed to own this strikingly-styled version of the RS.

First Look: 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS

First Look: 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS First Ride Review + Video

Live With It: 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Long Term Review

Well, according to this press release, the wait is over, and the Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe will be available in limited quantities in the American market for $11,499 – that’s only $300 more than the top of the line Z900RS. We don’t know the exact import numbers, but consider this to be a warning that, if you want to buy a Z900RS Cafe in 2018, you better put your money down sooner rather than later. Kawasaki reps said that buyers can begin ordering the Cafe during the first week in June, and the bikes will start trickling into dealerships shortly thereafter.

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8 Favorite Bikes From The Quail

The 9th Quail Motorcycle Gathering took place last weekend, and I was finally lucky enough to attend for the first time. Despite the cold weather, the event more than lived up to my hopes, even if I only had two hours to wade through 350 motorcycles. Our stringer, Geoff Drake, covered the event and the winners that were chosen by people who are experts about historic motorcycles, so you should definitely check that out. This article includes my subjective favorites from the Quail, purely the result of my quirky mechanical tastes. So, let’s see what tickled my fancy.

The Ninth Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering

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Duke's Den – 10 Cylinders Of (Stationary) Power
Lead Photo by: Kevin Vesel

I adore my 1992 Ducati 900SS and 1968 El Camino SS396. They stimulate me in deep and visceral ways, both dynamically and aesthetically, and they share more things in common than simply occupying space in my garage and driveway.

First off is the first part of motorcycle – motor – each having engines with 90-degree vees, two valves per cylinder and throaty dual exhausts. The 900SS was born about 25 years after the 396 cubic-inch Chevy, so it brings belt-driven overhead cams to the party while the big-block V-8 uses old-school pushrods. The Chevy counters with liquid cooling to the Duc’s archaic cylinder finning to shed heat.

The architecture and tuning of both motors are intended to punch out torque, with each delivering incredibly strong responses at low revs. Yet the 904cc V-Twin in the SS feels more like a torque pipsqueak relative to the torque monster that is the 6486cc BB Chevy. Each 104.0mm x 95.5mm cylinder in the ElCo displaces 811cc; the Duc’s 92.0 x 68.0mm cylinder yields just 452cc.

Chevy claimed 350 hp from the L34 big-block in my car. Ducati claimed about 84 ponies at 7000 rpm. The 900SS weighs about 420 pounds, while the 396 scales in at about 650. Yes, the cast-iron Chevy motor alone weighs 200-plus pounds more than an entire Ducati!

Riding the 900SS, first introduced in 1990, requires some recalibration if you’re familiar only with modern motorbikes. It truly feels several generations behind contemporary sportbikes, and it’s an experience not dissimilar to barging down the road in the 49-year-old El Camino.

John Burns, as is pleasingly (and aggravatingly) typical, can put into words descriptions of motorcycles that humble my own. Of the pre-EFI Ducati’s cantankerous starting ritual, he once wrote: “…the air-cooled desmo-due Twin demands full choke, followed by half choke, followed by much positive thinking and an attentive throttle hand… We turn a deaf ear on percussive pops and coughs from the airbox. We ignore a stiff clutch pull and a near-stadium-sized turning radius that rakes knuckles against fairing exiting the driveway. To own this motorcycle is to be a master of creative rationalization.”

It’s a similar theme with the ElCo. Imagine how placing nearly 700 pounds of engine over the front wheels of a truckish car can affect steering effort. Then imagine not having any sort of power assist to the steering, which is what the fool who originally bought my car a half century ago chose for himself. I could cut my upper-body workout time in half just by driving to the gym, assuming I actually went to one.

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2017 Triumph Bonneville T100 Video Review

Triumph’s new generation of Bonneville models gets expanded to four with the introduction of the T100 Bonneville, and we were one of the first publications on the planet to take it for a spin.

2017 Triumph Bonneville T100 First Ride Review

Full details of the T100 can be seen in the link directly above, but the condensed version is that it uses the Street Twin’s 900cc parallel-Twin engine in the T120 Bonneville chassis, splitting the difference in cost with an MSRP that begins at $10,300, a $1,200 saving over the nearly identical T120. The two-tone version seen in this video retails for $10,800.

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What To Expect At The 8th Annual Quail Gathering

Saturday, May 14, 2016 will mark the eighth annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering at the Quail Lodge and Golf Club, and while we’d rather be riding than looking at motorcycles, we have to admit, “The Quail” is a really cool event. We recommend you make the journey to Carmel to attend, especially if you’ve never been before. With less than a month to go before the event, let’s take a look at what you can expect at The Quail.

Never been to The Quail before? No worries, we have you covered. Check out our coverage from the 2012, 2014, and 2015 Quail Gatherings to get an idea of the rare bikes and colorful personalities you can expect to see this year.

For the 2016 event, Quail organizers are expecting more than 300 motorcycles to be displayed on the lawn, in addition to the host of vendors, live entertainment, beverage pavilion, kids area and other attractions.

Along with the many motorcycles on the event field, The Quail Motorcycle Gathering has partnered with the Monterey Youth Museum to help raise money. A silent auction will be held with items donated by sponsors, and proceeds will go to the MY Museum.

As always, motorcycling luminaries will also be in attendance. Among this year’s featured guests are Don Emde and Reg Pridmore, the latter of which was also appointed The Quail’s 2016 Legend of the Sport. Emde will be on hand to sign and present his new book, Finding Cannon Ball’s Trail. Pridmore will also be signing his book Smooth Riding the Pridmore Way along with co-author, and MO contributor, Geoff Drake (side note: Drake will also be providing us with a recap of the 2016 Quail Gathering after the show).

The celebration of motorcycling extends beyond the May 14th event with several partner events. The Quail Ride takes participants on a 100-mile tour through the Monterey Peninsula and is followed by The Quail Motorcycle Dinner, a cocktail reception and dinner that includes guest speakers. The Quail Ride and The Quail Motorcycle Dinner are sold out for 2016, but interested parties are encouraged to reserve their spot early for the 2017 edition.

The 2nd Invitational Why We Ride to The Quail brings motorcyclists together to enjoy a special VIP experience, including special access, parking and activities. The journey begins the morning of Friday, May 13th in Pismo Beach, when the group will depart for a ride to the Monterey Peninsula. A Rider’s Dinner will feature local food, special guest speakers, a commemorative event t-shirt, and other gifts and prizes. The next morning, the group will ride to The Quail Motorcycle Gathering where they will be greeted with premium parking and early entry to the event (an event ticket is included in the package). Discounted room rates at the hotels in Pismo Beach and Monterey are available for participants. Click here to learn more and to register.

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Archive: 1982 Honda CB1100R

Here’s another rare old beast that never made it to America, not officially anyway. Produced from 1981 to ’83, the CB1100R was Honda’s first “homologation” special, meaning a bike that had to be made available for sale to the public to qualify for racing. According to various sources, 1050 were produced in 1981 (CB1100RB), followed by 1500 in 1982 (RC), and a final 1500 more in ’83 (RD). The bike pictured above, owned by our friend and top geezer Grant Hellinger, is CB1100RC number 1500 – the last one to roll off the line in ’82.

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2016 Triumph Street Twin First Ride Review

Wow, this is sort of dangerous ground Triumph is treading with its new Hi-Torque-engined Street Twin: Its all-new bigger, more modern, liquid-cooled 900cc parallel-Twin actually makes, ahhhh, less peak horsepower than the previous generation 865cc unit. That’s why they insisted we journalists ride the bike before the tech presentation, and kept the cocktails flowing the night before. Savvy marketing on their part. Triumph claims just 54 horsepower (at 5900 rpm) for the new motor, which is at least 10 hp less than I’d have estimated from my butt-clench dyno after a day’s spin around Valencia and environs on the new bike.

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Highlights From The Petersen Automotive Museum Reopening

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, arguably the car capital of the world (sorry Detroit), the iconic Petersen Automotive Museum has undergone a massive and comprehensive renovation. First opened on June 9, 1994, the museum’s mission, as set by founders Margie and Robert E. Petersen, was to showcase automotive culture from around the world while celebrating Southern California’s rich history within it. The museum has done a respectable job of accomplishing this mission, but as the automotive landscaped changed over the last 20 years, the museum has stayed largely the same. Obviously that had to change.

Drawing inspiration from, and benchmarking numerous museums from around the world, the new Petersen Museum is distinctive on the outside by its unmistakable stainless steel ribbons that “float” over the red building.

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Heroes Motorcycles: Serge Bueno's Homage to History

Serge Bueno made the trans-Atlantic move from France to California to open an upscale motorcycle restoration business that is making a big splash in the SoCal scene.

Bueno, 47, began his life’s work with motorcycles aboard a 50cc Yamaha TY at age 14, zipping through the historic boulevards of Paris, France. He raced motocross for 15 years, including the 2001 Rally of Tunisia – a 2,000-mile, 11-day desert run where he was one of the 60 who finished out of 300 who started. Serge tends not to quit anything he starts, especially when he comes down to the last correct nut and bolt to finish off one of his restorations.

By 1985 he had opened a motorcycle shop in Paris specializing in unique racing machines circa 1910-1950 and also operated a fully equipped workshop on the Normandy coast, an hour from Paris. His passion for motorcycles saw him scouring the planet for machines of interest, including the hunt for the many semi-unobtainable parts he needed to complete their restorations, now over 100 rare bikes meticulously resurrected.

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Scrambler Slam: Ducati Vs Triumph + Video

What’s a scrambler? In decades past, a scrambler was a street motorcycle stripped down and optimized for off-road use by way of swapping-in high-pipes, wider handlebars, semi-knobby tires, and differently styled fenders, seat and tank. Sometimes, it was an unmodified street model given a scrambler or street scrambler designation. In essence, it’s a cool name meant to convey agile sportability regardless of the bike’s dirt or street intentions.

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Island Magic

Grab a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a cold beverage. It is Australia Day weekend over here and the biggest classic bike event Down Under is on. Time to soak up the atmosphere and fumes of the largest historic motorcycle racing festival in the Southern Hemisphere.

Vintage, historic, classic or retro. We all come from different generations, but one thing that us motorcyclists have in common with each other is a soft spot for the machines that kept us awake at night or dreaming about back in the day. The bikes we sketched drawings of in our schoolbooks. The bikes we saw on the street, out of the window in the back seat of our parent’s car, or from the back of the school bus. Most of us have a motorcycling moment. A smell. A sound or a vision of something special from our youth that is forever ingrained into our minds.

As we grow up as much as we are ever going to as motorcyclists (say, 21-years-old mentally), we often want to revisit those moments or that special place within our memories to help take us out of the daily grind and responsibilities in life. Me? I like to head down to my garage after my kids are asleep and tinker with my 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750, 1995 Honda CBR900RR or 1985 Yamaha RZ.

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2015 Mecum MidAmerica Motorcycle Auction

Miles south of the Vegas strip, the South Point Casino and Exhibition Hall rises from the desert like a giant sandstone monolith. At first sight, just one word, despite its constant misuse and triteness, comes to mind: Awesome.

Thus it was the perfect venue for the 24th annual Las Vegas Antique Motorcycle Auction. The anniversary tag is conferred by the recent merger of the Mecum classic car vendor with MidAmerica, its motorcycle counterpart. (The Antique descriptor is no longer accurate, although the same can’t be said for some of the sellers and bidders…) The new moniker is MidAmerica Motorcycles by Mecum Auctions. Welcome to the new mastodon in the gymnasium.

More than 800 motorcycles would cross the stage, flogged by the loud, staccato, non-stop hollering of the auctioneer before the final gavel sounded. Compared to the Bonhams’ Downton Abbey style of propriety, this is the genuine down-home American livestock auction format: DO I HEAR SIX, SIX, NOW! BLAMALAMA-RAMALANGA-DINGDONG! FIVE, FIVE THOUSAND! Most of the wise veterans in the audience were wearing earplugs.

2015 Bonhams Motorcycle Auction

The top-dollar award, $132,500, went to a 1952 Vincent C Rapide. Number two was a 1918 Henderson Four at $87,500. Given the voluminous inventory, the Mecum auction stretches from Thursday afternoon through Friday and into Saturday. By Saturday morning the fatigue is apparent among both buyers and sellers. Most of the good stuff is gone, but back-lot negotiations for unsold machines are underway. There were a number of bargains among Japanese bikes and older dirt machines. Scroll down to see some of the highlights. Complete auction results are available at

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2015 Bonhams Motorcycle Auction

We all know the real meaning of that coy slogan about what happens in Vegas. It really means that what stays in Vegas is your money. It should read: “To play in Vegas, you gotta pay in Vegas.”

The early January auctions in the desert have become an annual pilgrimage in the last 20 years. Now condensed to two major houses, Bonhams and Mecum, the events draw sellers, buyers and the just plain curious from across the country and the world. This year nearly a thousand motorcycles were up for bid, and most of them sold – many at fair prices, and some at stupefying sums. But as they say, value is simply what someone is willing to pay.

Las Vegas is clearly the costume capital of America, and even the most outrageous outfits are considered routine. Revealing is the word most often used regarding cocktail waitresses in the casinos, and, much like the rise in collectible motorcycle prices, the cleavage contest at these auctions has risen accordingly. Some amazing examples of anatomical engineering are common.

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