Product Evaluation: Rider Gear River Road Vintage Leather

Gearing up for a ride, I sometimes feel like I’m playing a part in a stage production. All the apparel and accessories we bikers wear can rival some of the elaborate costumes more commonly found on Hollywood Boulevard. I choose my gear not only according to the weather conditions, but, more importantly, to match my mood and the style of motorcycle I’m riding.

This summer, I plan to ride a Victory cruiser from the AMA Women In Motorcycling Conference in Nevada to my first-ever Sturgis bike rally. It’ll be two solid weeks of riding and exploring some of the most beautiful parts of this great country. And, of course, I need to look the part for my big adventure.

Conjuring up images of old spaghetti Westerns, I went online in search of some new leathers that I could imagine wearing while playing the role of vagabond biker. I didn’t have to search long, as one of the ads in a recent RoadBike stuck in my mind. River Road’s Drifter line of vintage-styled, distressed leather jacket and chaps fulfills the outlaw image I was looking for perfectly. Instead of disappearing amongst the sea of black at the upcoming bike events, the brown hue is sure to stand out without losing any cool points.

As a budget-friendly leather option, the medium-weight buffalo leather gets its worn-in look due to the lighter brown scuffed seams and edges that highlight the dark brown-dyed leather. The leather itself feels tough without being stiff, and breaks in easily. Light scuffs only enhance the distressed look, so no need to handle with care.

The Drifter jacket’s simple design sports lots of zippers, though they’re all hidden in the seams. Two zippered hand warmer pockets disappear into the front panel seams. Two horizontal zippers on the chest double as intake vents and pockets, while two vertical, zippered outtake vents are located along the two back seams. Another zippered pocket on the interior right front panel opens vertically, my choice for storing a small wallet. Side-zippered waist adjusters on the jacket help the fit, and the main YKK zipper has an oversized pull for easy use. All these zippers are treated in dark bronze finish that works beautifully with the brown jacket.

The jacket includes a full-sleeve, zip-out, insulated quilted liner that’s color-matched to the brown leather. A single interior pocket on the removable liner is generously sized to accommodate an iPhone or a large wallet. A duplicate of this pocket is located on the interior left panel of the jacket, too.

The jacket’s tab collar is closed with a single snap button. This is the one thing I don’t like about the jacket. There are times when you want a collar to be more or less snug, depending on the temperature. The snap gives you only two options: open and closed. And although I love this contemporary look to a classic, folded collar, the tab collar’s edge is stiff and tends to irritatingly poke at the back of my neck.

The Drifter chaps are made of the same dyed-brown, medium-weight buffalo leather, matching the jacket perfectly. All the hardware is color-matched like the jacket’s, but the two full-length, side YKK zippers are heavy duty with extra-large zipper pulls. The belt offers five buckle eyelets in front, and the back has an additional amount of adjustment by securing a leather lace through 12 eyelets.

A smooth, nylon lining covers the interior to well below the knee, preventing your jeans from cinching under the chaps and making them easy to get on. The bottom 12″ of material includes four snap closures, which help the fit over your boots. Initially ordering a size too small, I was concerned when the second pair  also felt too tight. But they broke in almost immediately and after the first ride, fit perfectly.

To complete the ensemble, I ordered a pair of River Road’s Outlaw Vintage gloves. They definitely enhance the outfit, sporting the same distressed brown leather look. The perforated, lightweight leather is perfect for a hot, midsummer trip. Comfort gel pads in the palm area offer a little extra protection from excessive vibration and long days in the saddle.

All these styles are available for men and women. Distributed by Tucker Rocky, look for River Road gear at your local dealership. —Tricia Szulewski

River Road
Drifter jacket, $249.95 – $289.95
Drifter chaps, $149.95 – $159.95
Outlaw Vintage gloves, $29.95