Want to buy or sell something? Check the classifieds
  • The Fedora Lounge is supported in part by commission earning affiliate links sitewide. Please support us by using them. You may learn more here.

The Bates Corner

AeroFan_07

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,415
Location
Iowa
Thought I would start a new Bates-thread for those who have, or want to own a Bates jacket.

My Background - The Bates padded Cafe Racer I recently picked up is the first Bates I have handled. It is also one of the first "50's" vintage jackets I have tired that actually fits me, so it seems to be a rare find here. This brand has quite a storied history, and it's neat that it is still out there working and building new jackets in California. I also found a near identical copy of my jacket in Rin Tanaka's book on Vintage Motorcycle Jackets. As I get time to find this again I will input more detail here.

It seems to be that this forum is, in many respects, a slight more accessible version of that book - lots of good information and photos, and very easy to access. I hope we can do the same here for the company of Bates, and I started this thread as I did not find a specific thread on this company. If I simply missed, the Moderators can feel free to merge this into the existing one.

So without further ado, here is the Bates CR I picked up and what I know about it so far:

Bates_01.JPG
Bates_02.JPG DSC_0203.JPG

Jacket Background - As can be seen in the three images posed above, this jacket is quite old. It has also lived quite the storied life, and I am personally under the impression that it has never had a lining to speak of. The two pocket bags are still in solid shape, and there is a slight lining material (not yet photographed) under each of the shoulder pads, which is clearly visible inside the jacket. The elastic straps across the jacket, which meet in the center seam of the back, appear to hold the jacket just a little more snugly on the wearer's back. This is, after-all a "racing shirt". So very little of the detailing is intended to be flashy. It's simply a very basic and functional jacket.

Bates_04.JPG

Leather & Fit - A word about the leather itself. I cannot tell if it's Horse or Steer. What it is, even after 60+ years, is very grainy, supple (after several applications of conditioner) and for the most part, a very usable, wearable jacket today. It is fairly thick - this jacket weighs around 6.0 lbs, which is partially due to being a larger size, but also it was made with thicker than standard leather. While still wearable, this is not for the bike anymore - it's a bit fragile in the upper back, shoulders and upper arm area. One has to handle it carefully for sure. It still retains a great, vintage leather smell. It is not musty, moldy or smoky of smell at all. It is actually very comfortable just to wear around. I hope to take it out in the community some in the coming weeks and simply see if anyone notices it.

Zippers & Hardware -

Bates_05.JPG Bates_11.JPG
The Main zipper
is a rather unusual Conmar and you can see here that the teeth are quite large and shaped differently than most other zippers I have witnessed. I do not know if the brass slider was added later - it's possible, as the rest of this zipper is nickel. There is a break in one side of the zipper toward the very top of the jacket, but that' not a problem as I only zip it 3/4of the way at the most. The main zipper is one of the smoothest-action zippers I have ever tried.


Bates_06.JPG Bates_07.JPG


The pocket and sleeve zippers
are all original and appear to also be Conmar. They all still work correctly and retain their original leather pulls (!) The tape on one pocket and one sleeve zipper are splitting, but the zips are in good working order.

Padding - Not sure if many other jacket companies used pads in this time period, I know Langlitz did, but these pads are still in great shape and still have some give to them.

Bates_10.JPG

Future plans -
Repair nothing, keep it conditioned, wear it carefully as able, and perhaps look at a new Bates in the near future.
 

Attachments

  • Bates_10.JPG
    Bates_10.JPG
    79.3 KB · Views: 26
Last edited:

lina

Practically Family
Messages
994
Location
Washington DC
Such a great jacket, and a nice new thread to have.
I don’t own a Bates but am always on the lookout for one. Mostly smaller sizes pop up unfortunately. What I’d like to find is a straight zip, collared Moto jacket.
 

Kubatu

A-List Customer
Messages
448
Bates is one of my favorite brands just because of their flat track heritage. I don't actually care much for their terminator jacket, but the designs on their racing stuff is very unique.

I owned these two. The black CR was too small, but the second jacket fit great. I still regret selling it.

s-l1600.jpg

s-l1600.jpg


Other cool jackets from Bates:

batesjacket1.jpg

bates+custom.JPG

c1c5cdb9915fe788dd443a3a351a70a6.jpg

bates+options.JPG


As you can see, they did a lot of customization. Stands out in a sea of black leather jackets today.
 
Messages
17,238
Location
Chicago
Bates has always been a favorite of mine. Dont have all the photos anymore but here are a few. The first Bates I bought in around 2002 cost me $850. At that time they were selling for more than a Buco in the used market. Yours looks superb Randy!
IMG_3284.jpeg
IMG_3285.jpeg
IMG_3286.jpeg
 
Messages
16,522
Bates actually is the best. Was, at least but Bates jackets are the best I've seen, handled, worn, had. They're pure equipment. More-so than Vanson.

Speaking of, you know Vanson's ever popular Bones jacket? Well Bates did it first and Bates' (well, technically, ABC Leathers') version is a work of art! Makes Vanson's look like a blob...

I mean, they even properly crossed the ulna and radius!

The photos are courtesy of @handymike.

e10b0cd5-504a-44a1-bc3a-30efe3228f4d-jpeg.363432

d5fcaa21-3c8b-4435-9cd0-6ca4851eb102-jpeg.363433
 

photo2u

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,075
Location
claremont california
Bates actually is the best. Was, at least but Bates jackets are the best I've seen, handled, worn, had. They're pure equipment. More-so than Vanson.

Speaking of, you know Vanson's ever popular Bones jacket? Well Bates did it first and Bates' (well, technically, ABC Leathers') version is a work of art! Makes Vanson's look like a blob...

I mean, they even properly crossed the ulna and radius!

The photos are courtesy of @handymike.

e10b0cd5-504a-44a1-bc3a-30efe3228f4d-jpeg.363432

d5fcaa21-3c8b-4435-9cd0-6ca4851eb102-jpeg.363433
The original maker of the "bones". I had one set. I do not know where it is but is somewhere in the houses. I remember offering a nice cafe racer for about $140... What I was thinking?
 

Albe64

One of the Regulars
Messages
181
Bates actually is the best. Was, at least but Bates jackets are the best I've seen, handled, worn, had. They're pure equipment. More-so than Vanson.

Speaking of, you know Vanson's ever popular Bones jacket? Well Bates did it first and Bates' (well, technically, ABC Leathers') version is a work of art! Makes Vanson's look like a blob...

I mean, they even properly crossed the ulna and radius!

The photos are courtesy of @handymike.

e10b0cd5-504a-44a1-bc3a-30efe3228f4d-jpeg.363432

d5fcaa21-3c8b-4435-9cd0-6ca4851eb102-jpeg.363433
The Great Dave Aldana was riding in this gem
 

Biff42

One of the Regulars
Messages
195
Bates is one of my favorite brands just because of their flat track heritage. I don't actually care much for their terminator jacket, but the designs on their racing stuff is very unique.

I owned these two. The black CR was too small, but the second jacket fit great. I still regret selling it.

s-l1600.jpg

s-l1600.jpg


Other cool jackets from Bates:

batesjacket1.jpg

bates+custom.JPG

c1c5cdb9915fe788dd443a3a351a70a6.jpg

bates+options.JPG


As you can see, they did a lot of customization. Stands out in a sea of black leather jackets today.
I love the second Bates jacket you posted. I need something like that for when I do my motorcycle jump over the Grand Canyon ;)
 

newtojackets

Practically Family
Messages
694
How are Bates’s new jackets? Can see that they still offer made in US jackets for <$1k. Why aren’t they more popular?
 

Aloysius

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,639
How are Bates’s new jackets? Can see that they still offer made in US jackets for <$1k. Why aren’t they more popular?

I wouldn't assume they're not popular. My impression is that like Johnson they have a steady flow of motorcyclist customers, likely local, which dwarfs the population of TFL.
 

newtojackets

Practically Family
Messages
694
I wouldn't assume they're not popular. My impression is that like Johnson they have a steady flow of motorcyclist customers, likely local, which dwarfs the population of TFL.
It is strange though. I’ve definitely seen chat here about vintage Bates, but nothing about new jackets from them. In fact until today, I thought they were no longer around.

Which makes me wonder if the quality has decline, which is why new ones are not mentioned?
 

Biff42

One of the Regulars
Messages
195
It is strange though. I’ve definitely seen chat here about vintage Bates, but nothing about new jackets from them. In fact until today, I thought they were no longer around.

Which makes me wonder if the quality has decline, which is why new ones are not mentioned?
It's the same with Cal-Leathers. They are still in business, but I seldom hear about new purchases from TFL members. The vintage stuff is what people want here, at least It's what I want.
 

newtojackets

Practically Family
Messages
694
It's the same with Cal-Leathers. They are still in business, but I seldom hear about new purchases from TFL members. The vintage stuff is what people want here, at least It's what I want.
I did not know Cal were still in business lol
 

Aloysius

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,639
It is strange though. I’ve definitely seen chat here about vintage Bates, but nothing about new jackets from them. In fact until today, I thought they were no longer around.

Which makes me wonder if the quality has decline, which is why new ones are not mentioned?

I think it's a different market. Even on their website you can see they make stuff like bike parts–fairly irrelevant for the "workwear" fashion scene, haha, but useful for riders.
 

Aloysius

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,639
I did not know Cal were still in business lol

Cal is still in business but a new CHP from them is nearly $2000, and workwear cosplayers are only okay with that kind of price if it's made in Japan, labeled Himel, or sold at Standard & Strange lol.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
107,565
Messages
3,040,485
Members
52,925
Latest member
shiny hats
Top