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Leather Conditioning

At some point in a riders’ life he, or she, will acquire some leather goods. There’s nothing that compares to the feel and smell of leather. Whether it be a riding jacket, a pair of pants, chaps, boots, or a full-on riding suit. I find the more passionate you are about riding the more you’re willing to invest your hard-earned money on quality equipment for yourself, your safety, and your bike. I’ve seen plenty of riders spend a lot of cash on leather accessories and neglect to take the proper steps to prolong the life of the leather. If you’re going to spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, on your leathers and leather accessories for your bike, you should take the time and diligence to care for them properly. If you take care of your leathers, they’ll take care of you… and could last a lifetime.

There are simple ways to clean and protect your leathers that don’t take much time and should be done when necessary. All you need to do is keep your leathers clean and conditioned. It may take a little bit of time but it’s worth protecting your gear and prolonging its life.

When you wash your bike, just spend a little extra time to clean and condition your seat, saddlebags, and any other accessories. The same should be done for your gear. I check riding leathers once a week or every other week depending on how much I’m riding and the conditions I’m riding in. The most difficult part of the process is finding the right product. Something that won’t stain your leathers, be too oily or leave any unwanted residue.

First, we clean. I like a cleaner that’s not too harsh or caustic. If your leathers are filthy you could use something caustic like saddle soap, but you have to remember to rinse the leather thoroughly. You want to get all that soap off your leather before you begin the conditioning process. Then you want to let it dry. Make sure you leave it to dry out of the sun or any heat source. Make sure you don’t let the leather fully dry to the point where it begins to harden. You want the leather to be a little damp when you apply the conditioner. If you can’t get to it before it dries completely, that’s okay it’s not the end of the world. Just carefully condition the leather before you wear it or sit on it. As you condition the leather, you will begin to see the rigidity lessen. It will become soft and pliable again. It is, of course, best to apply conditioner before the leather fully dries, so try to make time and plan ahead.

After I condition, I like to set the leather somewhere warm, not in direct sunlight or heat, for about an hour. I find a warm environment helps the conditioner to penetrate the leather better. Then I just buff the leather with a soft cloth or microfiber towel. If you use the right product you should have no oily residue or feel to your leathers. It should have a soft dull sheen to it. That’s it. It’s not too hard or time-consuming and it’s well worth the effort.

Like I said earlier, the most difficult part of the process is choosing the right product. Out of the few companies I’ve tried, I’ve always had great results with Zaino, Chemical Brothers, and Skidmores. I can never find them in stores so you have to plan ahead and make sure you have enough product. I love that Zaino and Chemical Brothers have separate products for cleaning and conditioning, whereas Skidmore is a one and done product. I usually use Zaino for my cars. They have a full interior/exterior detailing package that is awesome. I like to use Chemical Bros on my bikes seat and bags. I reserve the Skidmores for my riding leathers, boots, belts… pretty much anything I wear that’s leather. It has a great smell to it and it conditions really well. You really could use any of the products on anything leather that you want. They are all amazing at what they do.

Hopefully, you’ve gotten some valuable information from my experience and find what works best for you. Now get out there and treat that leather!


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