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The next time you head out on the road, don’t leave without these essential items…

There’s so much to plan when you decide on hitting up a road trip, it can be easy to forget even the simplest of things. Before you leave without your helmet on, take a look at this list of slightly out-of-the-box ideas that will make your road trip that much smoother:

Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs

Hours of driving on the road can be tiring on your ears. The deafening roar of the traffic and the road beneath your wheels may well be part of the joy of taking a road trip, but drive for long enough and you won’t be able to hear anything once you take off your helmet. Don’t submit yourself to undue deafening, be kind to your ears!

earplugs

Originally designed for use by musicians and concert goers, this pair of relatively inexpensive earplugs do a great job of filtering out the background noise of traffic, whilst leaving you with enough fidelity to listen out for any engine issues or a call coming through on your phone.


Bluetooth Headset

Of course, you’re not even going to be able to hear your phone ring (let alone answer it!) without the help of a Bluetooth Headset. Although many bikers have sworn against these kinds of gadgets, claiming that they defeat the point of getting out on the open road; for a younger generation, they’re a must-have gadget.

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Although this slim-line gadget may well come with a hefty price tag, this really is an essential purchase and it’s bound to improve your trip tenfold. Easily communicate with other riders, talk to your phone and control your Sat-Nav using this one simple piece of equipment.


Mobile Battery Pack

You’re not going to be able to use your fancy new headset for very long without an easy, effective method of charging your phone. Although there are a few options for charging electrical goods on the move (more on that later), a good-sized mobile battery pack is something that you have to consider when undertaking a long distance road trip.

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The best ones hold enough power for 6 full charges and charge in just an hour or so. With battery packs it’s another case of ‘you get what you pay for’, there are budget products which you can buy at your peril – but this is far and away the most efficient option.


DC/DC Power Converter

There’s a reason why the mobile battery pack (above) may not be the one solution to your power needs. After all to charge the aforementioned pack you are still going to need a decent power source, which will most likely be found at a hotel or service station – not ideal if you want to keep on the move. Alternatively, you can look into investing into a something a bit smarter.

converter

You may need to shop around for the right one, but once you’ve found the ideal DC/DC Power Converter for your ride, you can rig up your bike to charge a battery pack (and any other appliances like laptops or cameras) whilst you’re on the move.


Road Map

Yes, I know we’ve now got better 4G coverage than ever. With your mobile battery pack, power converter and headset; you’re more than prepared to face the open road in any civilised continent and purposefully drive anywhere, as if you’ve ridden every road in the world. But what happens when the signal drops?

road-maps

A physical road map may take up precious space and feel archaic in today’s modern age, but you will be so glad to have one when you need it. They work just like the digital versions, although the zoom-in function has to be done manually with…your hands.


Visor Cleaner

Lastly, comes the least glamorous of all these items. It’s a problem that has faced every long-distance rider at one point or another, but is usually something to be ignored rather than treated immediately. If you’re taking a long trip out on some dusty roads, your visor will get dirty – continue to ride and you risk impairing your vision – endangering yourself and other road users.

visor-cleaner

There are plenty of decent options on the market but the guys at Muc Off have kind of cornered the market on bespoke cleaning goods. Their 250ml bottle is a good option for a long road trip and should cover the needs of a small group of bikers, there’s a smaller 30ml option for solo riders.…

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There’s no better time to be biking.

If you’re willing to brave the roads sans leathers, you can enjoy the best of the British Summer Time, whilst feeling the wind through your jacket and jeans – looking like a total badass.

Of course, any journey on a motorbike without wearing the appropriate protective gear is something that I could not wholeheartedly recommend. But, between the two of us, it is something that I indulge in on an annual basis. Sod’s Law would entail, that this one day in 365 would be the one where I meet with a grisly RTA and lose 80% of my skin. However, so far this has not occurred and I remain remarkable intact – considering the years that I have spent on motor bikes.

As I was saying, I can not – in good conscious – tell you that riding without leathers is a wise idea. However, for just one short (extremely carefully planned) journey you can make the most of the weather and tear up the proverbial highway in style. Now, what to wear if you’re not clad in your leathers? This is the one time of the year that you can indulge in your inner badass biker and show absolutely everyone what you’re made of.

My advice to you? Don’t half-ass it.

It can be far too easy to get lazy and just wear your casual clothes. Saddle up in jeans and a t-shirt, and not only will you not look badass – you’ll look positively uncool. Obviously, your choice of attire will be heavily influenced by your biker style and the bike itself.

Below are just a few recommendations based on a few classic motorbike designs, feel free to use these as templates or simply starting points, so you can ride with confidence on just one Summer’s day:

70s Chopper Style

 

1970s-digger-chopper

A timeless mixture of leather waistcoat and slightly flared cords. This is a great vintage look that still exudes a biker image, whilst reflecting the laid back nature of the mini-Chopper. If you’re lucky enough to own a bike such as this one, then I highly recommend at least trying out this well worn, but classic biker style.


60s Biker Gang Style

 

60s-bikers

Although it might feel frighteningly familiar, sometimes the old ways truly are the best. A decent leather jacket will not provide the protection you need, but have it open like these fellows, with a Ralph Lauren polo underneath and you’ll look super fly. Pair up with some leather daps and make sure you ride with a gang for maximum effect.


30s College Boy Biker Style

 

30sbiker

Not for the faint-hearted, this last look require real class to pull of. Beige chinos pair with suede cardigan and stiff-collared shirt. A railway’s cap tops it off and calf-height leather boots complete the look. Undeniably chic and sure to turn an eye – this is a bold and brave style that will reap dividends in cool points if you manage to pull it off.

Summer is nearly over, so I urge you to take advantage of the weather while you can and enjoy riding for one day looking like a badass.

Just remember, soon it will be cold and raining again. Then we’ll have to go back to wearing our boring practical protective gear again.

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pinkHaving just arrived back from the 2016 Northampton Biker Jam, I’ve had loads of time to ride and have a think about biker fashion and its relationship with the colour black. At Northampton, surrounded by hundreds of gleaming veh
icles of all shapes and sizes, I was struck by the wide spread lack colour throughout our community. The intimidation factor of biker culture is something we’ve discussed before (see: Bobble Hats & Fur Gillets) but the fascination with the colour black can be considered as something separate.

Think of your classic British biker, and you will no doubt imagine him in black leathers. These are a staple of our culture, but why? Thought about logically, in order to avoid accidents it would be wise to wear brighter colours, all the better to be seen. Why blend in with the road at night, when you could be boldly standing out, announcing your presence to the rest of the road users? The answer is simple, and the causality stems from the very reason many of us became bikers in the first place: to be cool.

Black is, and always will be, cool. In a toss up between a jet black Armani suit and a bright red one, the choice is obvious. Step away from motorbikes and tread into the world of sports cars. Take a look at these ridiculously sweet Tech-9 Porsche parts and you’ll be faced with a similar crisis. Your 911 Carrera needs a new interior: cream leather or black? You know what will feel cooler, but what will look cooler? The purchasing decisions of a biker are constantly fraught with these questions of aesthetics, much more so than any other sub-culture. But if the motorbike is already imbuing us with a high base level of cool (much higher than, say, a remote controlled car enthusiast) then we should take more risks when it comes to our choice of colours.

bike kill

If we approach this from a pop culture angle, and look at some of the most iconic biker looks over the years, not all of the most famous bikers have been wearing black. Take Uma Thurman’s Bride in Kill Bill Vol 1. Bravely matching her bright yellow Kawasaki ZZR with her similarly lurid leather jacket, the look is emblematic of the film’s cutting edge style, it’s astounding that this trend hasn’t caught on. Just imagine it, at the next Northampton Biker Jam, hundreds of bikers are protected in stunningly bright leathers. Countless hues of reds, blues, yellows – the spectrum only matched by the similarly vast array of motorbikes. We own the bikes, we own ‘cool’ and its up to us to set the tone for biker culture for years to come. Lets step out of the shadow of black – and enter a new era of technicolour.…

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il_fullxfull.398598071_fjsrMost motorcycle enthusiasts are proud of their hobby, their way of life. Their biker persona is often strengthened by them wearing their leathers everywhere they go. For example, a group of mid-40s British bikers might stop off on a long haul at a service station. They’re stopping off for a good couple of hours to do some shopping and grab some dinner so they have more than enough time to peel of their dusty leathers and have a stretch in some more comfortable attire. But do they? A recent survey taken of this demographic of bikers discovered that, even when stopping for up to 3 hours, 80% of riders would rather parade in their leathers, than get changed into an outfit that is more comfortable and practical.

I propose that we attempt to challenge these social conventions that the majority of biker conform to. Leathers are a vital part of our protective gear, and I’m not suggesting that we stop wearing them any time soon. However, black leather and dark visors admittedly carry threatening connotations. You only have to take a glance at pop culture over the last three decades to see that a new stereotype of leather clad faceless biker villain has emerged. Films like Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and The Matrix: Reloaded only serve to perpetuate the cliché of the dangerous biker who’s protected from recrimination by their black out helmet visors.

Understandably, there will always be a certain deviant minority who revel in the menacing quality of their appearance. But for those wishing to subvert the stereotype, I have an outlandish yet practical solution. Whilst not every bike has a convenient storage space to keep extra clothes, there will always be room for a clothing item that can be compressed, such as fur! By replacing the leather jacket with a fur (or faux fur) gilet, the average biker can instantly transform his ‘off-bike’ persona into something a lot more striking and, most importantly, friendly. The helmet can similarly be replaced by a woolen hat with fur pom pom. The prevalence of these fur based clothing items grew sizeably last winter, and trend is ripe for re-purposing within the biker community. Why not give it a go? There are plenty of designs and styles to choose from all manner of retailers both online and on the high street.

Be Bold, Be Beautiful, Be Badass.

Chip Whittley

Fashion Editor, Cruiser Motorcycle Clothing

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There are thousands of motorcycles on the roads of Great Britain, and for each bike there is a rider. There’s no such thing as an unfashionable biker – the simple act of riding a motorbike imbues the rider with an inherent coolness that can’t be diminished, however it can be accentuated. Through careful accessorising and planning you can take a pimply moped riding teenager and turn him into the embodiment of badass. If you’ve just bought your first ride, or are perhaps considering buying your first one, then this blog will help you formulate a new style and persona to go along with your chosen vehicle.

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But first, a little about myself. I’ve been riding and maintaining motorbikes, trikes and mopeds for the entirety of my professional career. Working in small, bespoke workshops I’ve helped design and mod hundreds of vehicles and throughout this time I’ve notice something. There is often a great disparity between the style and feel of the vehicle and its owner. For example, the owner of a 700 pound Harley Fatboy might enter the shop wearing a MotoGP sponsored set of leathers and a Shoei helmet. To him, the protective gear he wears is just that – protective. He has taken no thought of how disjointed his appearance might be, let alone what other bikers might be saying behind his back.

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The motorbike community is a multifaceted one. Across all the continents it divides itself into many subcultures, some more recognisable than others with the American biker culture (made popular by series such as Sons of Anarchy) often shaping real life biker fashion and discourse. The one ideal that unite bikers across the world is freedom. Freedom to ride whatever you please, wherever you please. Of course, this freedom extends to how you choose to dress. With safety in mind, there are still limitless options when it comes to protective gears and ancillary accessories and far be it for me to tell any biker definitively what they should and should not wear.

There are some great new biker looks on the horizon this year, as ever. As we push our culture ever further into the 21st century – lets try and push the boundaries of what biker fashion can be and challenge the stereotypes and cliches that have been falsely attached to us!

Chip Whittley

Fashion Editor, Cruiser Motorcycle Clothing