The most exciting thing I’ve done recently involved a short trip to Barnard Castle to the factory of Scott Leathers. Kindly the folks there offered to make me an appointment during my holidays when the factory was closed to measure me up and talk about what they could make for me.
I’ve known about Scott Leathers for as long as I’ve ridden motorcycles. The riding school that I learned with used David Grieve motorcycles in Buckhaven for servicing, and Dave Grieve stocked Scott Leathers kit. So the first textile jacket and salopettes that I bought in 1995 were made by Scott Leathers. Pouring over their website, mention of “custom fit” caught my eye – obviously made to measure would be too expensive, but the idea of making an existing product to my strange dimensions would be cheaper surely.
This all came about because I trashed my Hein Gericke kit earlier in the year, so I bought another jacket and trousers but these were thinner than my old jacket – and didn’t fit as well. Feeling doesn’t have much to do with safety, and they still had armour in them, but I wasn’t as happy.
I noticed that Scott Leathers were now selling jackets that they had designed for the police. As the Police employ riders in a professional capacity, they have to provide them with kit that meets proper CE standards for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The thing is, go into practically any shop that sells motorcycle clothing and you will find that the only thing that comes with a CE mark is the armour that is added to the suits. That’s right, the jackets, trousers, suits, boots and gloves are not classified as protective clothing – they are just fashion items in an official sense. The only thing that has to be tested is the thing that we have to wear by law – a crash helmet.
Reading up on PPE for Motorcyclists took me to the excellent work website of Paul Varnsverry where he not only trys to explain the long path to the standard for protective clothing for motorcyclists jackets, trousers or suits – EN 13595. The only manufacturer that I was aware of doing textile kit up to the standard was a Scandanavian company called Halvarsson. But reading into it more, I discovered that Paul Varnsverry had had some involvement with the kit at Scott Leathers. Scott Leathers produce a textile jacket that meets level 2 in all areas, seam burst etc.
As well as being a british company, Scotts were reasonably local (3 hours ride / drive from where i live) and their product was around a third to a half of the comparative safety kit. So having swapped a few emails with the nice people at Scotts, I arranged to pop down and see what they could make me and get measured. Mrs AlistairL and I went to the factory and were met by Jimmy Aird, the MD of Scotts. We looked at what they make for the Metropolitan Police and the options of the non-waterproof vented summer jacket or the waterproof unvented version. They can also be either black or hi viz yellow, with or without reflective bands and in short or three quarter length. They can also be either CE approved or not. Although all jackets have armour which is CE approved, these jackets can also be made with a special liner that prevents it wearing through in a mandated time (or at least that is what I understood from our chat). Then I got measured up for my suit – learning in the process that I have the longest arms that Jimmy has measured in anyone in his experience!
So I have ordered a black jacket and trousers, with reflective stripes and CE approved. That has got me thinking about CE approval for my gloves and boots now!! Though it turns out that newer versions of my Altberg boots are CE approved for the relevant standard.
Then we had a chat about development of the standards which Jimmy was involved in, and me showing my ignorance of the illustrious motorcycle racing career of Jimmy Aird – even though the chap comes from Auchtertool which is not that far from where I grew up in Glenrothes. Jimmy was/is a works rider for CCM and is still competing and winning titles at his age of over 50, racing on classic off-road bikes. I even found a video of Jimmy Aird competing this year on youtube – starts from the front, finishes from the front!!
I am really looking forward to getting the kit once it is made up and getting out in it.