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Old 26 Nov 2012
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Leathers vs. Textiles

I've read and read and read (with google search) and can't seem to find that many people attempting big trips with leathers. Apologies in advance if I'm not searching right.

So here goes my question:

Last time I had a bike (about 8 years ago), I had cordura textiles . Frankly, the thought of spending 6 months wearing something like that on my trip turns my stomach inside out - they developed a ripe smell pretty early on in their life.

It seems to me leathers would be a far more comfortable way to live life, but have never owned any. My plan is to buy the most comfortable leathers I can find and then buy a cheap army overall goretex suit.

The cons I can see to this scheme are:
(i) it may be cold in Tiera Del Fuego come Feb. but for £100 I can buy a heated undervest thinggie.
(ii) when leathers inevitably get wet despite the rainsuit (or worse a spill destroys the rainsuit), they will stay wet a lot longer than textiles.
(iii) If I shoot north to Atacama, I may regret lack of ventilation.
(iv) fewer pockets

Personally, this seems like a good compromise for me. But have I missed something big? And is there someone who thinks "You have got to be off your rocker, for X,Y,Z reasons". I'd really love to hear if so.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 27 Nov 2012
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Textiles can be thrown in a washing machine. Clean. No smell. Easy. Never got mine to the stage where they smelt? Well not to my nose anyway

Leathers you will have to hand clean. Time you could spend seeing the sights. And you should use special cleaner, those you will have to carry with you, space you could use for something else? Once wet they take forever to dry, mean while you are either stopped, or traveling cold.

All swings and round abouts.

I have both. I travel with textiles. They cope with more climates. The leathers are for day/weekend trips.
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Old 27 Nov 2012
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Leather - ultimate protection from abrasion IF the fit is very good.

Textiles - trumps leather for convenience, air flow, and can add all-in-one water resistance. Yearly weight gain/loss doesn't impact textile function the way it can proper fitting leather.

There's only one textile approved for road racing use - Motoport Kevlar.

Motoport's kevlar is a "special case" in that it can substantively be repaired thus making it 100% restorable. In fact they guarantee that any crash that deems their gear un-repairable will be replaced for free.

For touring, especially if the junctions between convenient services was more than a few days . . . textiles all the way. Leather's sole practical ace, abrasion resistance, is undermined by the lack of comfort from such a close fit (no airflow) and the reality that for many "adventure" riders abrasion is probably second to outright impact threats. While the armor in leather CAN stay in place better than in textiles, due to the close fit, it is otherwise not superior.
Orange, it's the new black.
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Old 27 Nov 2012
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Wear whatever you will be most comfortable riding at normal temperatures in, it is always going to be a compromise and there is no perfect solution. I prefer a leather jacket, armoured jeans and an oversuit but most others seem to prefer cordura or something similar, as with your choice of bike, it is what suits you best.
If gaffer tape doesn't fix it then you haven't used enough tape
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Old 27 Nov 2012
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Had a 2-piece leather suit, when I rode from home to Australia, about 60 north latitude to 40 south, so it's inevitable there will be every imaginable kind of weather along the way. And there was, from nearly wintry to the very hot and humid tropics.

A good quality Gore-Tex suit with adjustability for hot climate would probably have been the best choice, but I took 2nd best, cause I simply like leather more. Think I would go with leather again, although this time I'd take more care of it (the suit was not in a good shape after getting soaking wet a few times, and not all of it was coming from the outside !!)

Remember leathers can be made for colder climate, or warmer (with lots of small holes for ventilation) so on a trip like this, I'd take the latter one, and just deal with the cold with extra layers, rain suit etc. Leather made for colder climate will get you a heatstroke in hot environment!

But yeah, for lots of climatic variations a modern textile-suit of GOOD QUALITY will probably be the 'best' choice all things considered. The cheapest ones aren't up to much regardless of material.

Choose the one you like better.
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Old 27 Nov 2012
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@pecha72 - you've hit the nail on the head exactly! The brain is saying cordura, but the heart is saying leather! It's quite saying something that you would go for leather again - sounds encouraging to my heart

Can you expand on "looking after it" and "the suit was not in a good shape"? Is it because come what may you just couldn't keep it dry for that distance? And what goes wrong with leather - is it just having to travel wet for days on end or does it gets worse?
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Old 27 Nov 2012
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Leather needs that 'grease' stuff put into it regularly, especially in case it has gotten really wet, after drying it is really important to do it. I had it with me, and I did that greasing a few times, but apparently not frequently enough, because around the end of the trip, the leather became very hard, even got 'wrinkles' on it, and basically the suit was wasted. Totally my own fault, though.

Interestingly my missus, who sat on the back the whole time, also wore leather, but hers were in much better shape afterwards. But she always put on her rain jacket, while many times I did not bother. And maybe she didn't get the same soaking on the back.

Most of the trip was very dry, though - we did not have one drop of rain between eastern Turkey and South India, almost 10 thousand kms in between!

Actually you can now get leather suits with Gore-Tex, on those the leather is probably made to last even on rainy conditions. Could be a good choice - only thing I wonder is, how they would be in very hot and humid environments.
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Old 30 Nov 2012
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In the end, I went to Hein Gericke and tried both the leathers and their Touareg suit. Much as I wanted to like the leathers better, I couldn't - the Touareg thingummy had lots of vents and just looked so much more practical and better thought through in terms of function, I went down that path. No doubt not the best quality given what I've read of HG gear, but should serve me well. Oh, and yes, I'm under no delusions re: waterproofness.

Thanks all as usual for all the invaluable help.
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Old 1 Dec 2012
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If you think textiles get sweaty and smelly, why would you want to switch to leather? You can chuck your textile jacket into a washing machine in any laundromat on the journey - you can't do that with leather!
Bruce Clarke --- 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 250R (black)
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