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Johnson Leathers custom jacket, new photos

JLStorm

Practically Family
Messages
608
Location
Pennsylvania
Hey all. I figured I'd chime in here since I have some experience with very heavy leather (as a few people eluded to, I'm a heavy leather junkie). I have samples of 5 of Johnson's leathers and have been talking to Alan for about 4 months while we have been searching for a hide that works for me. Johnson has some great hides depending if you want thin and stiff, thick and stiff, thick and pliable, or thin and pliable. They have a very heavy leather like Peacoat said, but they wont volunteer this information without proof your somewhat psychologically damaged when it comes to your leather choices. It took me a few conversations to convince them that I met that criteria.

Their heavier weight cow is a 4 oz and has a nice compromise between stiffness and thickness. When I think of a heavy classic motorcycle jacket, this is what I think of. Its definitely a bit stiffer than a Schott for instance. This leather has a nice subtle grain to it as well.

They have the Japanese cow which is a 4 oz - 4.5 oz and very stiff (think cardboard). The nice thing about the Japanese leather is that its dyed deeply through the leather and scratches with a screw driver (my test weapon) will show, but the color will remain the same.

Their overdyed cow is 3.75 - 4 oz and is fairly supple for that weight of leather and will crease up very nicely with a nice memory characteristic. This leather is a great choice if you want a jacket to show every mark and really build character quickly

The super heavy stuff that for all intensive purposes does not actually exist is a 5.5 oz to 6 oz, which is surprisingly supple for the weight, but extremely thick. The leather is dyed from the top and bottom, but the outer surface is not dyed very deeply. Still, this leather is about the most scratch resistant cow I've seen. Even with a screw driver and a lot of force its hard to scratch it and the color remains despite some serious attempts. On the negative side, while it will develop some character with wear, but is limited making it fairly boring, especially when you take into account the very subtle grain. Even though the weight was right up my ally, the lack of aesthetic appeal was enough to make me pass on it.

Their bison has a nice grain and is extremely flexible, the kind of leather that feels like home after some wearing. The weight is around 3.5 oz - 4 oz and at times can hit the 4.5 oz mark, but its hit and miss at best. I scratch tested my 4 oz bison sample and had to step up to using a serrated knife to see any evidence of scratching. It is very impressive and although it can be cut, I dont think that scratching this stuff with any noticeable result is really possible.

Hopefully that helps some of you. BTW, Johnson is the most accommodating and helpful company I have ever worked with. I havent gotten a jacket from them yet, but we are finalizing the details now. I will report back in a new thread in a few months with my experiences.
 
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ForestForTheTrees

One of the Regulars
Messages
293
Location
Pacific Northwest
Thanks for the leather overview JLStorm. I had no idea Johnson Leathers worked with hides quite that extreem.

As I continue to work through the details of my second jacket from Johnson Leathers I too have ended up spending a fair amount of time on the phone with Alan — truly a great guy (not to mention a very patient person to boot) and I always enjoy the conversations. The last time around found us discussing the virtues of vintage motorcycles. At the rate I'm going, I'm not sure if I'll have my next jacket before the end of the year. (However, I am hoping that there will be some new JL jacket photos posted by way of Australia any day now.)
 

Peacoat

*
Bartender
Messages
6,269
Location
South of Nashville
Yes, Allan is a delightful person. I am going to have to take a trip to SF to get a tour of the shop.

I liked my first Johnson so well, I got another one in heavy leather for motorcycle riding. Some day I shall post pictures of both of them.
 

JLStorm

Practically Family
Messages
608
Location
Pennsylvania
I spoke with Alan again today working on finalizing a jacket he will be making for me and I was pretty shocked at just how many types of hides, linings, furs, etc he has. Another thing that is wonderful about working with Alan is happy to go searching for something he may not have. There are a lot of great manufacturers out there and I certainly haven't worked with them all, but I've talked to the popular few. JL is the first company that isn't put off by going outside their normal materials. Quite the contrary actually. I was working with Alan to see if we could come up with a hide that was heavier than anything available right now, but still thin enough that it could be used in a jacket. When Alan found a solution to our challenge, I'm not sure which one of us was more excited.

At any rate, don't be afraid to ask if he has a certain hide in or can get it. The more we talk, the more he mentions various materials that arent on the website and may not be included in an initial list of options because there are just so many possibilities. Of course there may be additional charges for certain things, but I'm pretty impressed with JL's pricing. In all honesty, I think they could charge 25% more and still be competitive.
 

cordwangler

One of the Regulars
Messages
187
Location
UK
Yep;
My days of paying VAT are over. I'll never buy another new Aero or Eastman.
I had planned on picking up an Aero jacket in Scotland when I visit the continent next year....but no way; still going to Europe but won't be getting a jacket. That allows me more money to spend on Calvados!

coffee

I think you can reclaim the VAT if you buy in person - different rules for mail order - so go right ahead and spend, spend, spend in Galashiels!
 

Sloan1874

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,418
Location
Glasgow
Given that VAT's 20 per cent: if you bought, say, an A-2 at around $800, with VAT knocked off the cost, you'd get it for $640, that's under £400, which is a serious bargain.
 

tblay

One of the Regulars
Messages
167
Location
Bmore
Reviving this thread to ask a question that I may get kicked for, but...have any of you that have bought JL jackets for riding asked them to put armor pockets in? I'm in my fifth year of riding, and I've never ridden with armor (I rely on my Aero Cossack). However, a couple months ago, a cyclist ran into me (yes, you read that correctly), and I had my first "get off." I usually like getting off (sorry—couldn't resist), but it's spooked me a little, and I'm wondering if I'd like to transition into wearing some armor. As far as I can tell, JL is the only high end, custom leather jacket maker that will build armor pockets into their jackets. So, if I end up going that route, I definitely will have them make me something. However, my fashion brain is having a really hard time agreeing to walking around with humongous shoulder pads and a thick center in the back. I'm wondering if there's a way to build a jacket that would look just as good with some armor pieces in it as it would without. But maybe I can't have my cake and eat it too, since it probably just depends on the size of the armor.

And I know that many, many riders rode for decades without armor, but I feel like it's worth noting that there weren't any texting drivers, iPod'ing drivers, etc., during those decades. Course, a cyclist took me out, so what do I know?

Any thoughts on fashion versus protection, or whether it's possible to reconcile them, maybe via JL?
 
Messages
15,563
Location
East Central Indiana
You know tblay...I think it might be best to email JL and talk it over. Perhaps he would have a try-on armored jacket that he could send you to get a feel for it.
I do know that Insurrection sends try-ons...and are very MC dedicated. They would have info on various armor ideas. Both companies seem great to work with.
HD
 

1911 Man

A-List Customer
Messages
350
Location
Utah
I am also looking into the idea of armor for riding, but I think I would rather keep the jacket unarmored for the same reason you mention, ie, fashion conscious. I'm thinking I would just buy an armored shirt to wear under the jacket, that way I could keep the jacket for wear when not riding.
 

Worf

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,172
Location
Troy, New York, USA
I know for a fact that Vanson in Mass. makes armour lined jackets of all stripes... I visited last year... I watched em make em. So if JL doesn't do it for you, and I'm sure they can, the Vanson will fill the bill

Worf
 

tblay

One of the Regulars
Messages
167
Location
Bmore
Thanks for the input, guys. 1911, I just ordered this Bohn Armored Shirt. I was worried that the added bulk in the shoulders and back would stretch my Aero jacket, but Bohn customer service claims that the shirt doesn't add bulk, and that the armor in the shirt conforms to the wearers' body. I'm just not sure I buy that yet. But I hope it's true, as I'd love to save the money and keep wearing my Aero. The armored shirt will be delivered today, and I'll report back with fit details.
 

ForestForTheTrees

One of the Regulars
Messages
293
Location
Pacific Northwest
I'm most intrigued by the Forcefield Body Armour sold by Johnson Leathers. Not sure if I'd go with something like the Extreme Harness to go under the jacket, or perhaps just send my Langlitz to them for pocket installation to accept the Forcefield product since I only wear the jacket for riding anyway.
 

tblay

One of the Regulars
Messages
167
Location
Bmore
I'm most intrigued by the Forcefield Body Armour sold by Johnson Leathers. Not sure if I'd go with something like the Extreme Harness to go under the jacket, or perhaps just send my Langlitz to them for pocket installation to accept the Forcefield product since I only wear the jacket for riding anyway.

Would they be okay with doing that...? I would feel odd saying, "I didn't ask you to make this for me, and instead went to one of your competitors, but would you amend it in a way that you could've taken care of had I asked you to make it in the first place? But I guess business is business...

The Bohn armored shirt fits nicely, by the way, and it goes under my Aero easily. But the shoulder protectors don't cover any of the back of the shoulder, and I'm not sure I want to do that much shirt changing in the parking lot.

I went through Thurston Bros for my Aero, which I love. At that time, I'd decided not to ride with armor. Still can't quite make up my mind, but it just seems to make sense to prioritize my body.
 

Vespizzare

A-List Customer
Messages
445
Location
Santa Monica, CA
Once again I'll stick my two cents (which used to be real money) worth in. I'd rather switch than fight. I have a great, well armored, roomy enough for two layers underneath, vented enough for if it gets warmer, Vanson Teton. But sometimes when I'm riding to a gay, bright, sophisticated lunch in a restaurant, etc., I'd prefer not to wear something that is in the "safety equipment" category. On those and similar occasions, I have two unarmored albeit thick hided jackets from Johnson Leather: nylon lined and fleece/quilted lined. (Actually the warmer one is in the pipeline. It got delayed, but hopefully there'll still be some colder weather before summer.)

P.S. All that said: I can't believe that Johnson Leather won't be able to give you exactly what you're looking for, whatever it is.
 
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tblay

One of the Regulars
Messages
167
Location
Bmore
Once again I'll stick my two cents (which used to be real money) worth in. I'd rather switch than fight. I have a great, well armored, roomy enough for two layers underneath, vented enough for if it gets warmer, Vanson Teton. But sometimes when I'm riding to a gay, bright, sophisticated lunch in a restaurant, etc., I'd prefer not to wear something that is in the "safety equipment" category.

P.S. All that said: I can't believe that Johnson Leather won't be able to give you exactly what you're looking for, whatever it is.

I hear ya. The past couple years, I've ridden in just a t-shirt during the summer. It gets so unbelievably hot here (Houston) that riding in a jacket during the day feels a little dangerous. But it's also hard to argue with ATGATT from a safety perspective. It's increasingly a tougher and tougher call for me.

That said, I will definitely contact Alan at JL and talk some things over with him. Thanks for the input.
 

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