How To Properly Care For Your Leather Motorcycle Gear

A few easy steps can make your gear last longer, protect better, and look nicer

I remember the day I got my first real motorcycle leather jacket. The way the box it came in reeked of leather before I even opened it. The heft it held in my arms as I picked it up. The way it made me feel invincible as I zipped it up that first time. The confidence it gave me hurtling down stretches of asphalt I'd ridden countless times before.

The leather jacket is almost synonymous with motorcycles, and the two go together like Stryker vests, cargo shorts, and flip flops. Rightfully so, as it's one of the few other products in the world that mimics the motorcycle in being both incredibly stylish and performance oriented. And, just as our bikes need maintenance to stay in shape, so do our leather products. Luckily, leather care is much easier and faaaar cheaper.

When I first got my leather jacket, I thought that it would last forever. I mean, it's meant to protect me in a crash and slide on the asphalt - it should be good to go until that happens, right?

Wrong. Leather, which is made from animal hyde/skin, requires care just like the skin on our bodies. Without it, the leather discolors, stiffens, and becomes brittle. At best, this means the jacket will just look worse and be far less comfortable. At worst, that the jacket will shred in a crash.

With regular leather care, you can increase the life of your jacket or suit by decades (assuming you stay upright).

How To Maintain Your Leather Gear

1 - Get Rid Of The Salt

The saying "I'd rather sweat than bleed" when gearing up and for good reason—wearing a leather jacket or leather suit is often a pretty sweaty endeavor. And, while the sweat dries, it leaves behind salt that makes the leather stiff, brittle, and stinky.

To get rid of the smell and salt, find a good leather de-salter like this one I love from Anthony's Leatherworks. To apply, just spray it on the jacket and then, using a clean rag, rub it in. You'll also probably want to spray down the interior of the jacket, which will help more with any odors, and you can pull any removable liners out and spray those separately if you're exceptionally thorough.

2 - Shampoo The Dirt And Grime Away

While perspiration is all we add to the jacket, the roads we ride add plenty of their own to your garment. With the salt gone, it's time to get the dirt and road grime off the jacket. To do that, you'll need a leather shampoo.

To apply the shampoo, use a clean rag and first hit any areas that have an excess of dirt or discoloration. Think chest, elbows, and anywhere else with an exceptionally high amount of dirt. Then, use the rag to apply shampoo to the rest of the exterior of the jacket.

3 - Conditioning is Key

While the first two steps are important, conditioning your leather is by the far the most important step in adding to the life and protective qualities of the garment. The first two steps pull things out of the leather, but it's the conditioning that keeps the leather pliable and supple. If you stay on it, and condition your leather regularly (every two to three months), you shouldn't need to do steps one and two more than once a year as it will repel dirt and sweat far better.

To apply the conditioner, spray down the jacket and then work the conditioner into the jacket with a sponge. While you can let the de-salter and shampoo just dry on their own, take a clean rag and buff out the leather once the conditioner has dried to bring it's sheen back and remove any excess conditioner.

You can buy all three solutions from Anthony's Amazon store here, or pick them up individually from their website here.