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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.

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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