I  am going to have to disagree with Dave G here. I started proper biking aged 26 in 1979.

I bought a Lewis Leathers Double zipper and a set of Belstaff thornproof trousers 2nd hand off an ex-biker mate in the army for £20. Never been seriously wet or cold in the body ever since. Like Dave, before I joined the army I wore a cheap leather that had no waterproof qualities and Levi’s, I was young and stupid.

The ex-biker had happily married his RSM’s daughter on the basis that apart from all else she loved going on the back of his Norton 850 Commando. Two weeks after they got back from the honeymoon she told him that bikes were unsuitable for married men with a serious career in the army.

You cannot divorce the RSM’s daughter.

I bought the gear off him after helping him recover his newly purchased three wheeled maggot, which had collected the inevitable open top conversion at the first tight corner.

However cold was another matter. I already knew how to use the layer principle but cold feet and hands (and face until I learned the benefit of a decent screen/fairing) were horrible.

Cold feet I was used to, as would be any squaddie who remembers boots DMS (made from blotting paper) with bandages on top to stop your legs from fraying, but cold hands are dangerous. I remember paying £75 in 1985 for some top quality German (Weise) gloves that guaranteed to keep your hands warm at -45C. They just didn’t say for how many nano seconds. I eventually gave them away in ’93 to a mate’s girlfriend who had just passed her test.

I  ended up carrying 3 sets of gloves on any long journey and still always carry a spare pair just in case and have needed them twice when kindly landlords have offered to dry my kit out for me.

In case you didn’t know, DO NOT put wet leather too near a form of heat like a bloody radiator. Let them dry naturally.

Still they were both over five years old and I do not pay anything like £75 for gloves even today. Anything over a Pavarotti makes me wince.

And as I now have KTM hand guards on my lil’ Breva wind abrasion and wind/rain chill are much cut down.

Until I discovered Altberg, the best boots I ever used were some East German motorcycle cop boots from Silverman’s. They were a cheap copy of the genuine jackboot at less than half the weight and only £12.50 in ’95. They were worn every day, completely waterproof and they lasted till 2000 so no complaints there. By the time I threw them away the soles were paper-thin, as was the leather on the left boot where I changed up. Vastly superior to some snazzy looking racing boots from a well-known English biking gear manufacturer I’d purchased ten years earlier.

I have a pair of the genuine German Jackboots I swapped for a pair of Dock Martens in 1978. I know the real reason the Germans lost both world wars, the damn things weigh a ton.

I think the definite moral here is that price is no indication of ability to do the job.

An aside is that my superb cut to fit Albert Dann leather trousers cannot be sealed against the rain when wearing my Altberg Classic Despatch boots but my cheapo Just Bikers leather jeans are just fine. And just as waterproof. And still wearable after fifteen years.

Oh yes and I recognise that I have never been a despatch rider but in the army always found being cold far more debilitating than being wet.

Ride Safe

An ancient Guzzisti

Ian Dunmore

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