Soooo, I got a black leather jacket. The story played out like a TFL cliché. "I don't need a jacket, I'm gonna wear what I have more, maybe next year." Let's just browse the forums a little.... I hold several of you responsible. Lotta good looking posts in the WAYWT thread in the past few months. The itch started. My personality doesn't really do a mosquito bite itch, more like rolling around in poison ivy. I jumped in. Ok, I'm going to buy a jacket but which? Let me think. Color: Black, definitely black. Why? Well, I've got a Dark Seal 1930's half belt from Aero that I really like and don't get to wear as often as I like. It's a nice shade and plays tricks in the light. Sometimes it looks egg plant. Not a brown always brown but I think it covers the base. Side note: about 3 years ago when I discovered TFL I told my wife I was going to buy a leather jacket. I asked her if I should buy brown or black. She replied "Brown, you're too old for a black leather jacket." I'll show her! New or Used: Hey, I like to save money! A used jacket that doesn't work is a $150 try on. A new one can easily be $400. Style: Double Riders are out. The J-24 is my favorite style to look at here. Maybe in descending order I like the LW, RMC, Aero, and Eastman, but I like looking at them all. But I mostly like looking at them zippered up. I don't like the way the leather meets at the chest when the jacket is unzipped. Also, I just feel a little self conscious wearing them. I considered a car coat. The 1/2 belt is a great jacket for late spring and early fall. I knew this time out something I could wear in a cooler temperature range was a priority. Car coat would certainly handle that. Read LW description of the Hemi. Hyperbole? Sure. But it certainly reads well. Still, in the end, the car coat suffers from the same shortcoming as the double rider. I'm just not that guy IRL. The jacket would wear me. Ditto for anything with too much of a military vibe. I determined that while not the most exciting a classic center zip waist length jacket was the correct choice. Features: AKA things I like. Not all total deal breakers, but the sum needs a passing grade. Must have a collar (not mandarin). I prefer button cuffs. Hand warmer pockets. Zipper substantial enough that I can zip in the dark when I'm leaving for work. Finished hem. That's probably it.?. Custom or Stock: I have no design eye. My favorite self deprecation is that I see things like an eight crayon box not the sixty-four. Remember that thread a while back "The collars of Aero" they really all looked the same to me. I couldn't pick one from a picture on the screen to decide which I would prefer. I would literally need two jackets in front of me. Because of this I think it makes the jacket OCD more acute. When you design a jacket with choices and you're 85% happy with it, you keep thinking "man if only I'd..." When a jacket is off the rack, or pre-owned that doesn't bother me. It's just the way it came. OCD takes a nap. I also appreciate that if a stock jacket arrives and I'm not in love with it I can just send it back. Therefore I'd strongly lean towards stock. Sourcing: "If a stock jacket arrives and I'm not in love with it I can just send it back." However, at what cost and effort? Freewheelers has several offerings I like. However, I'm not willing to deal with the shipping from Japan to the U.S. only to find that it's a size too small and then send it back at great cost and watch the tracking not move for three weeks. It would need to be something with a local presence or a label I've had positive previous experience with. As a side note I can't believe several of these brands don't have more of a US presence. I know that' typically egotistical thinking but the US has a large population. I think there is a market. Anyone want to start a business? Fit and Function: I would like enough mobility to be able to scratch my head or hold a phone without feeling like I went to the gym. It doesn't need motorcycle mobility but it would certainly be a bonus. It needs to fit in such a way that I can wear a heavy shirt underneath. Ideally this will be accomplished without appearing too much like I'm wearing a jacket 1 size too big when I just have a tshirt on. It should have some mobility. When I wear my half belt with just a tshirt the fit is spot on perfect for going for a walk or leaning on a pole watching the world go by. I don't hold the wheel at 10 and 2 when I drive but I couldn't in this jacket if I needed to. It's too tight at the top of the arms. This segway's into a brief near miss story. I sourced a used FQHH premiere highway man. I REALLY liked the jacket. I thought it looked boss. It pretty much checked every box feature wise. With a t-shirt the fit was again great but the sleeves were 1.5" too short so I moved it on. I could replicate that jacket.To fit a sweatshirt some numbers would need to be played with. This is where I got nervous. Messing with inches in one area but not the other can throw the ratio off. I've been here long enough to have read the "fails." "I added 2" to the chest but took the shoulders in 3/4" while tapering the waist to the square root of PI...." I fear the Frankenjacket. Wow, I'm really rambling. Let's get to it. I took all of the above, spent too long online, threw it all in a blender. Out came an Iron Heart 54. Let's talk about what I love about it, like and what I can live with. Leather: Horsehide "super soft chrome tanned horsehide from a tiny tannery in Himeji." Love it. Deep black with a nice initial shine. Teacore (which I like) per the forums. Soft doesn't begin to describe it. It's considerably softer than significantly used Horween I've handled (which I also do like #Chicagoproud). Huge grain potential. Style: Like. It is a bit moto. I was not necessarily going for this. It's not overwhelming but if I could make a few tweaks like deleting the pocket and sleeve zippers I would. I prefer the aesthetic of a more plain back but have ultimately decided that the trade in mobility is worth it. I never see the back of the jacket anyhow. Workmanship: I'm not a big stitch count guy and can overlook a few wobbles but this appears to be quite good. Zippers: Like. YKK. They function well. The main is a tad big in the moto style but prefer a tad big to vintage correct small. The fact that it's a two way zipper is a HUGE win. I know it's a moto thing but more jackets should consider this. I wore this horsehide jacket for the first time in the car and with the two way undone to mit stomach there was zero push up. Total game changer. On second thought let's change this to a love. Pockets: How can they appear regular sized on the outside and yet be so roomy inside? Bending the laws of space and time. Love. Sleeve: Like. Vansons are too big at the bicep. These are much trimmer and look better. They are SLIM at the forearm. May be an issue for some. For a higher end jacket I'd think that someone would start to think about using a thinner leather at the gusset. Lining: Nothing to see here folks. Sufficient but pedestrian. At least use a contrasting color. Can live with. Function: Love. Off the charts. The m.c. design provides shoulder room for functional mobility but also has the added benefit of allowing layering room. The m.c. design in this case also features side gussets. The waist on this jacket is trim. in a size small opening the gussets gives you nearly 3" extra room. Again so key for layering. Purchase: Love. I dealt with Iron heart directly. They promptly answered my many questions. They offer fast free delivery and free returns. Their website posts all the necessary measurements and they measure the actual jacket they are sending before they do and let you know of any discrepancies from what is posted. Highly recommend. Pictures.