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Tradeoffs - Himel Bros vs. Freewheelers?

JDelage

Familiar Face
Messages
92
Hi everyone - obviously, both Freewheelers and Himel Bros. make top of the line leather coats, with some overlap in materials (e.g., shinki horsehide) and design cues. What do you think are the key tradeoffs between the two?
 

Mich486

One Too Many
Messages
1,582
Apart from Himel offering MTO and Freewheelers being just OTR, I wouldn’t know. Both top tier makers.
 

Cyber Lip

Practically Family
Messages
670
Location
Seattle
Freewheelers also only offer a thick(ish) wool lining w/storm cuffs. Great for cold weather, but not so great for year round. I have a couple and they are my winter jackets. Himel also offers a thicker wool lining, but you also have the option to get cotton drill, plus no storm cuffs
 

Dr H

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,004
Location
Somerset, UK
I don’t have a Himel (came close, but opted for a Dave Sheeley custom instead), but I have owned four Freewheelers. I currently have two: a horsehide Brakeman and a Deerskin Journeyman, both autumn/winter jackets with wool lining.
I’ve retained the stormcuffs in the Brakeman, but had them removed from the Journeyman as this is already very warm.
 

AeroFan_07

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,549
Location
Iowa
I have not owned either of these brands, but they both look very nice to me!

For the $$$$ involved I would want some type of test fit situation before commiting to it. Just my $0.02
 

jonesy86

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,566
Location
Kauai
I picked up a used Heron a couple of years ago, and it is one of my favorite jackets. I never see Freewheelers that would fit me, and it looks complicated buying one from Japan, though I love their designs.
 

Bfd70

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,230
Location
Chicago
I don’t have a Himel (came close, but opted for a Dave Sheeley custom instead), but I have owned four Freewheelers. I currently have two: a horsehide Brakeman and a Deerskin Journeyman, both autumn/winter jackets with wool lining.
I’ve retained the stormcuffs in the Brakeman, but had them removed from the Journeyman as this is already very warm.
Would love to see pics
 

jeo

Practically Family
Messages
679
Location
Philadelphia
I now have 3 Freewheelers jackets and 2 Himel jackets:

FW
1) Brown Caboose (not sure if it's the Rust Brown or the Dead Leaf Brown)
2) Vintage Black Caboose
3) Vintage Brown Mulholland

Himel
1) Shinki Horsehide Medium Brown, Pigment Finish - Frobisher
2) Shinki Horsehide Dark Brown, Oil Tan - Imperial

I can only speak for the specific models and jackets I own.

- Primary difference is MTO vs. off the rack

- FW patterns are not as forgiving as Himel patterns. You definitely need a certain body type to fit the Caboose. The Mulholland seems like it fits a wider variety of body types.

- Both use Shinki, but IMO Himel Shinki is much nicer and easier to wear

- My brown Caboose and my Vintage Brown Mulholland both have a glossy top coat, almost painted on kind of finishes that are shiny (my Caboose is shinier than my Mulholland) and the finishes both chip off instead of fading. The leather on my brown Caboose is what I can only describe as spongy. Doesn't really take creases. Not as bad on my Mulholland, but still kind of spongy. The leather and finish on my vintage black caboose is really amazing! Leather is crisp. Has a perfect sheen to it, not too shiny, not too matte. I haven't worn it enough to say how the color will fade though

- FW jackets are much better made. While the construction my Imperial is very nice, it's not as laser straight like my FWs, although I have seen some flaws in them here and there as well. My Frobisher has many flaws

- FW jackets use much nicer liners. Himel liners, while pretty nice, are thinner and aren't of the quality of the FW liners

- FW hardware is trash. The repro zips that Himel uses are actually very nice

That's all I can think of right now.
 

jonbuilder

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,252
Location
Redwood City, CA
For me, sweetfighs sums it up Himel builds made o order jackets. Unless you see a Freewheel's pattern you can not live without and willing to risk fit issues I would go with Himel. Or course if you are traveling to Japan or lucky enough to find jackets close to your size to try on for fit, it would be another manner.
 

Carlos840

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,571
Location
London
Personally i think Freewheelers is better made than Himel.
My Himel is well made, better than a Schott or an Aero, but it still has multiple areas where the stitching isn't straight, some empty stitch holes, some folded seams are not symetrical on both sides of the jacket, it's good, but not as good as it should be for the money.
The Freewheelers on the other hand is PERFECT, i can put my laser eye on it and i physically cannot find a single defect on it or a single thing that isn't done exactly as it should be done.
There is a noticeable difference in build quality between the two, i noticed it, @red devil noticed it when he visited and went through my jackets, it is pretty obvious.

Fit wise, my Himel is IMO my best fitting jacket, i don't know how Dave does it, but this jacket feels like it was full bespke when all he did was adjust the pattern slightly.
He really nailed the pattern, the fit, i have nothing bad to say about it.
THe FW on the other hand is a slightly weird pattern. It is designed for the Japanese body and it just doesn't fit me as well as the Himel does.

Basically if i had to rate them, i would give Himel a 7/10 in craftsmanship and a 10/10 in fit.
I would give the Freewheeler a 10/10 in craftsmanship and a 8/10 in fit.

I would probably not order a second Himel if given the opportunity, i feel like i can/should get more for the money. On the other hand I would order a FW in a heartbeat if i was sure it fit me.
 

red devil

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,514
Location
London
Yes, the Freewheeler fit can be quite challenging, also different jackets have widely different patterns, so if you fit in one jacket you won't necessarilly fit in all others.

That is the one reason I only have a single FW jacket, I got it when I was reasonably slim, couldn't fit in it for a few years as I had put on weight. Fortunately I managed to lose the excess weight and can wear it again, which means that I am going to thoroughly enjoy going to their shop and try other models when travel to Japan opens up :D

And, full disclosure, I do not own any Himel but I have handled a few from members here. I considered getting one in the past but ended up going for other options that were more interesting to me.
 

sweetfights

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,042
Location
Canada
These reviews and opinions seem balanced and fair.
Off the rack works for some. Every major high-end jacket maker has patterns that work for some but not all. If you do your measurement research you may save some money. If you have nontypical body dimensions bespoke is the more likely route for a positive result. I would love to find a Mulholland that fit. Freewheeler Jackets looks amazing although what jeo stated about the finish chipping as opposed to fading gives me pause.
 

JDelage

Familiar Face
Messages
92
I'm lucky enough to have very average body measurements so I'm sure I can find something that would fit at FW. My issue is that the choice is limited at any given time and also that I don't need a wool lining. Flannel is fine.
 

red devil

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,514
Location
London
I'm lucky enough to have very average body measurements so I'm sure I can find something that would fit at FW. My issue is that the choice is limited at any given time and also that I don't need a wool lining. Flannel is fine.

Not all of their jackets have wool linings, but the ones you like might
 

Vintagevillagecowboy

New in Town
Messages
4
I now have 3 Freewheelers jackets and 2 Himel jackets:

FW
1) Brown Caboose (not sure if it's the Rust Brown or the Dead Leaf Brown)
2) Vintage Black Caboose
3) Vintage Brown Mulholland

Himel
1) Shinki Horsehide Medium Brown, Pigment Finish - Frobisher
2) Shinki Horsehide Dark Brown, Oil Tan - Imperial

I can only speak for the specific models and jackets I own.

- Primary difference is MTO vs. off the rack

- FW patterns are not as forgiving as Himel patterns. You definitely need a certain body type to fit the Caboose. The Mulholland seems like it fits a wider variety of body types.

- Both use Shinki, but IMO Himel Shinki is much nicer and easier to wear

- My brown Caboose and my Vintage Brown Mulholland both have a glossy top coat, almost painted on kind of finishes that are shiny (my Caboose is shinier than my Mulholland) and the finishes both chip off instead of fading. The leather on my brown Caboose is what I can only describe as spongy. Doesn't really take creases. Not as bad on my Mulholland, but still kind of spongy. The leather and finish on my vintage black caboose is really amazing! Leather is crisp. Has a perfect sheen to it, not too shiny, not too matte. I haven't worn it enough to say how the color will fade though

- FW jackets are much better made. While the construction my Imperial is very nice, it's not as laser straight like my FWs, although I have seen some flaws in them here and there as well. My Frobisher has many flaws

- FW jackets use much nicer liners. Himel liners, while pretty nice, are thinner and aren't of the quality of the FW liners

- FW hardware is trash. The repro zips that Himel uses are actually very nice

That's all I can think of right now.
Sir what’s the price of caboose
 
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