Motorcycle Leathers, Type and Quality?
The difference between quality and bargain priced leather.
1) Full grain- also called Naked or Aniline- processed without any attempt to hide or cover the natural markings that occur during the animals life like bug bites or scratches. Full grain is soft and pliable between 1.5-2.0 mm in thickness and is the strongest top of the line and best quality to use for motorcycle leathers.
2) Aniline or semi-aniline? Full or pure aniline- only about 5% of the worlds hide supply is considered to be high enough quality to be aniline. This is the process of soaking the hides in transparent aniline dyes which color or shades the skins without obscuring the natural markings or grain of the hide. They are dyed all the way through without any pigmented topcoat. Often referred to as drum dried aniline, it has the wonderful soft touch, and smell you would expect from quality leathers.
3) Semi-aniline- is an extra step beyond pure aniline dyeing which adds a top coating of highly dispersed pigments and dyes to the surface of aniline-dyed hides.
4) Plated leather- when full grain has too many scratches or defects on the surface it is buffed or sanded to remove as many as possible. This also removes some of the natural grain. A pattern is then embossed ,or plated, into the surface and finished with a semi-aniline dye. Also considered to be top quality leathers often used for motorcycle apparel, it is not as strong as full grain.
5) Top grain- to obtain a uniform thickness the hides are fed through a splitting machine with the grain side up. This process yields a natural surface called top-grain. With a thickness of 1.2-1.3 mm, top grain is used in good quality, less expensive, leather jackets, motorcycle vests and chaps. Top grain is not as thick or strong as full grain and will not be able to protect you as well as full grain motorcycle leathers.
6) Split leather- After the top grain has been removed what is left is the split. Having no natural grain it must be artificially added. Split is the least strong and is used in many low priced products, or where protection is not a factor. We call these bargain leathers and recommend full grain or at least top grain if you are going to be actually riding a motorcycle.
7) Leather types- now that you know the difference in the quality lets go over the different types of leathers used in motorcycle apparel. Better motorcycle clothing is from cow or buffalo hide. The good buffalo is from American bison. Cheap and low quality hides are pig, goat and water buffalo. The problem with water buffalo is it never softens and is stiff forever. Lamb skin is a beautiful, soft and expensive hide but is very thin, used for women’s tops purses and skirts.