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Tradeoffs - Himel Bros vs. Freewheelers?

dudewuttheheck

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I've owned 2 Himels and I think 7 Freewheelers jackets now.

Himel is indeed quite good with sizing and the customizability of the jackets is a huge plus, especially if you're someone who needs that. You also have a choice of liners which is nice.

Freewheelers is otr so you just need to hope they fit you well or go and get someone else to shorten sleeves or something like that as I had to do on two of my jackets. On the other hand, I think Freewheelers patterns are absolutely incredible. Himel's patterns are great too, but I just adore the way Freewheelers does their patterns. Freewheelers also just puts the jacket together more cleanly. Some people equate RMC with FW in terms of construction quality, but that's just not true. Freewheelers is absolutely the best I have ever experienced in that category. If you really care about that like I do, FW (and Rainbow Country) are the way to go. Freewheelers also has higher quality liners and are insanely detail-oriented. My Caboose jacket for example has one flannel liner in the body, a different flannel liner in the sleeves, a specific lining material for the neck, and then different materials for the pocket bags. All of them are extremely high quality. All these things make the jackets feel extra special to me.

Both make fantastic designs and patterns in my opinion. Obviously, my personal preference is Freewheelers. I have made it very clear that I practically worship at the altar of Freewheelers. Still, Himel makes an incredible jacket. It all depends on what you want. Do you want an absolutely perfectly made jacket? Do you want custom measurements and a more bespoke experience? Which patterns/designs do you prefer? etc...

On another note, I'm going to disagree slightly with someone previously and say that I prefer Freewheelers Shinki to Himel's Shinki, though it depends on which color. I think some of Freewheelers Shinki colors are absolutely incredible, especially my dead leaf brown Caboose jacket. With that said, the medium brown Shinki on my Himel cossack jacket was out of this world gorgeous.
 

jeo

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On another note, I'm going to disagree slightly with someone previously and say that I prefer Freewheelers Shinki to Himel's Shinki, though it depends on which color. I think some of Freewheelers Shinki colors are absolutely incredible, especially my dead leaf brown Caboose jacket. With that said, the medium brown Shinki on my Himel cossack jacket was out of this world gorgeous.

That was me, but I don't see it as a disagreement, just a difference of opinion since we are both specifying our preferences.

Let me clarify and expand on my comment since I only said that IMO Himel Shinki is nicer.

The Shinki that FW uses is amazing. No doubt about it. It has great weight and thickness yet very pliable and easy to wear. It has gorgeous grain and breaks in nicely.

What I don't like about the leather on my jackets is the finish. I don't like the shiny, kind of plasticy looking, painted on, top coat kind of finish that they used. Specifically on my brown caboose. When I touch the jacket, it doesn't feel like I'm actually touching leather. It feels like I'm touching paint. There are two layers. The paint on top and then the raw leather underneath the paint. On the flip-side, on an aniline finish, you're touching leather. It's been dyed all the way through without that surface topcoat paint. My Himel is a semi-aniline which is dyed all the way through and then there's some kind of top coat (not sure if it's for protection or for looks or maybe both). I will say that at least the finish on my brown caboose doesn't hide the natural grain.

Also, it isn't nearly as bad on my vintage brown mulholland. My vintage black caboose actually looks amazing and IMO has the perfect sheen to it even though they are all the same kind of finish. Because of that they all chip more than they fade.
 

Brandrea33

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When you say “chip” do you have a picture of this that we could see? That sounds concerning to me ...
 

jeo

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Freewheeler Jackets looks amazing although what jeo stated about the finish chipping as opposed to fading gives me pause.

I should start off by saying that this is the case with the FW jackets that I own. I have no idea about other FW models, made either earlier or later, and in different colors.

I tried to do the best I can to illustrate exactly what I'm talking about.

This is my brown caboose. You can see where the paint is chipping off.

IMG-6142.jpg




With enough chipping, it can potentially start looking like a fade. As shown below (same jacket)

IMG-6143.jpg




This is my vintage brown mulholland. Same type of deal.

IMG-6153.jpg

IMG-6155.jpg




This is my vintage black caboose. Same thing.

IMG-6156.jpg




In comparison, this is my Rainbow Country jacket. Looks a little more like a fade rather than chipping paint.

IMG-6148.jpg

IMG-6150.jpg




This is my RMC Wayward. To me this is the worst example of a painted on finish. On the second picture I'm pinching the leather and you can clearly see how if it got dry at all, the paint looks like it could start to flake off.

IMG-6144.jpg

IMG-6145.jpg
 

Brandrea33

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598
I should start off by saying that this is the case with the FW jackets that I own. I have no idea about other FW models, made either earlier or later, and in different colors.

I tried to do the best I can to illustrate exactly what I'm talking about.

This is my brown caboose. You can see where the paint is chipping off.
...
With enough chipping, it can potentially start looking like a fade. As shown below (same jacket)

...
This is my vintage brown mulholland. Same type of deal.

...
This is my vintage black caboose. Same thing.
...

In comparison, this is my Rainbow Country jacket. Looks a little more like a fade rather than chipping paint.
...

This is my RMC Wayward. To me this is the worst example of a painted on finish. On the second picture I'm pinching the leather and you can clearly see how if it got dry at all, the paint looks like it could start to flake off.

Thank you for this, and interesting information to have.
 
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TREEMAN

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That chipping or flaking of the paint as you call it would seem to be ruff to the touch.....Don't much care for that.
 
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dudewuttheheck

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That was me, but I don't see it as a disagreement, just a difference of opinion since we are both specifying our preferences.

Let me clarify and expand on my comment since I only said that IMO Himel Shinki is nicer.

The Shinki that FW uses is amazing. No doubt about it. It has great weight and thickness yet very pliable and easy to wear. It has gorgeous grain and breaks in nicely.

What I don't like about the leather on my jackets is the finish. I don't like the shiny, kind of plasticy looking, painted on, top coat kind of finish that they used. Specifically on my brown caboose. When I touch the jacket, it doesn't feel like I'm actually touching leather. It feels like I'm touching paint. There are two layers. The paint on top and then the raw leather underneath the paint. On the flip-side, on an aniline finish, you're touching leather. It's been dyed all the way through without that surface topcoat paint. My Himel is a semi-aniline which is dyed all the way through and then there's some kind of top coat (not sure if it's for protection or for looks or maybe both). I will say that at least the finish on my brown caboose doesn't hide the natural grain.

Also, it isn't nearly as bad on my vintage brown mulholland. My vintage black caboose actually looks amazing and IMO has the perfect sheen to it even though they are all the same kind of finish. Because of that they all chip more than they fade.

Interesting. My Caboose doesn't really feel like that at all, though that is that jacket in my collection that I have worn the most so maybe it used to be more like that and I simply do not remember that anymore. I like the initial shine, but it does start to fade into more of a nice, glowing sheen rather than actual shine. Freewheelers finish the leather on their jackets from what I understand, so that likely accounts for the difference. I don't know if Rainbow Country does. They are made in the same place, but my guess is the finishing process is not the same for both.
 
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Blackadder

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The thing is, RM has been around much longer than FW and RC. In fact, owners of FW and RC were working at RM back then.
RM first started making leather A-2s then other leather jackets but have switched production a few times from not shiniki made in NZ to not shiniki made in Japan then shiniki made in Japan then adding the time they put in experimenting with different shiniki finish.
At the very beginning leather military jackets were sold under RM own brand while the cloth military items were sold in collarboration with Toyo Enterprise under Buzz Rickson's (Toyo later took over the whole of BR).
FW and RC has the benefit of coming in much later. FW owner was brought in when RM moved into the workwear and motorcycle market . RC owner was brought in probably around the time they stopped using the NZ supply, I am not sure. So with RM, it depends on what year your jacket was made in. I think there is a whole batch of brown JH-1 with the ugliest shiniki there is. Most were sold as seconds at Inazuma Fest some years ago.
We see RM is still experimenting with other leather e.g. Dude's new printed leather jacket.
 

Dr H

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This is the Freewheelers Jet Black Shinki deerskin, which is one of the best hides that I have owned.
Great depth of colour and a subtle fade with wear.
 

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jeo

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Interesting. My Caboose doesn't really feel like that at all, though that is that jacket in my collection that I have worn the most so maybe it used to be more like that and I simply do not remember that anymore. I like the initial shine, but it does start to fade into more of a nice, glowing sheen rather than actual shine. Freewheelers finish the leather on their jackets from what I understand, so that likely accounts for the difference. I don't know if Rainbow Country does. They are made in the same place, but my guess is the finishing process is not the same for both.

Interesting indeed. My brown caboose is second hand so I don't know how old it is. I've worn it a fair amount, but who knows, maybe that overly shiny look may eventually fade into something more like the glowing sheen you're describing on your caboose. This is also all very subjective. What you see as a glowing sheen may look plasticy to me and vice a versa.

One thing I do know is that we do not have the same year/model caboose. My label says "Neal Cassady Railroad" and has a plaid lining. Your label says "Union Special Overalls" and has a solid color body lining. I know that there are two different brown colors when it comes to the caboose. Rust brown and dead leaf brown. Yours I believe is the dead leaf brown. I have no idea what mine is. Our jackets may have completely different dye jobs/finishes. Maybe that's the difference?

It would be interesting if you could take a zoomed in pic of your cuffs. I'm sure you have enough wear on them to give some kind of indication of how it fades.
 

jeo

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The thing is, RM has been around much longer than FW and RC. In fact, owners of FW and RC were working at RM back then.
RM first started making leather A-2s then other leather jackets but have switched production a few times from not shiniki made in NZ to not shiniki made in Japan then shiniki made in Japan then adding the time they put in experimenting with different shiniki finish.
At the very beginning leather military jackets were sold under RM own brand while the cloth military items were sold in collarboration with Toyo Enterprise under Buzz Rickson's (Toyo later took over the whole of BR).
FW and RC has the benefit of coming in much later. FW owner was brought in when RM moved into the workwear and motorcycle market . RC owner was brought in probably around the time they stopped using the NZ supply, I am not sure. So with RM, it depends on what year your jacket was made in. I think there is a whole batch of brown JH-1 with the ugliest shiniki there is. Most were sold as seconds at Inazuma Fest some years ago.
We see RM is still experimenting with other leather e.g. Dude's new printed leather jacket.

As always, good stuff man! Thanks for sharing!

What you're saying aligns with what the RMC folks told me at inspiration a couple years ago. It was very difficult to communicate with them but all in all I gathered that my RMC Wayward was roughly 10 years old at the time. Horsehide from Poland that is not tanned by Shinki, finished by RMC and made in Japan. They had a very worn-in black Wayward hanging on the rack that looked amazing! Hopefully my Wayward will eventually look like that.
 

sweetfights

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Interesting. My Caboose doesn't really feel like that at all, though that is that jacket in my collection that I have worn the most so maybe it used to be more like that and I simply do not remember that anymore. I like the initial shine, but it does start to fade into more of a nice, glowing sheen rather than actual shine. Freewheelers finish the leather on their jackets from what I understand, so that likely accounts for the difference. I don't know if Rainbow Country does. They are made in the same place, but my guess is the finishing process is not the same for both.

Do you have any indication of this chipping on any of the Freewheelers you have had dudewuttheheck???
 

jeo

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That chipping or flaking of the paint as you call it would seem to be ruff to the touch.....Don't much care for that.

My jacket isn't rough to the touch. If it gets dry though, I can see it getting really rough and the paint starting to flake off. I've seen and felt this before on other jackets.
 

dudewuttheheck

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Interesting indeed. My brown caboose is second hand so I don't know how old it is. I've worn it a fair amount, but who knows, maybe that overly shiny look may eventually fade into something more like the glowing sheen you're describing on your caboose. This is also all very subjective. What you see as a glowing sheen may look plasticy to me and vice a versa.

One thing I do know is that we do not have the same year/model caboose. My label says "Neal Cassady Railroad" and has a plaid lining. Your label says "Union Special Overalls" and has a solid color body lining. I know that there are two different brown colors when it comes to the caboose. Rust brown and dead leaf brown. Yours I believe is the dead leaf brown. I have no idea what mine is. Our jackets may have completely different dye jobs/finishes. Maybe that's the difference?

It would be interesting if you could take a zoomed in pic of your cuffs. I'm sure you have enough wear on them to give some kind of indication of how it fades.
Yes mine is Dead Leaf Brown. Yours does look different than mine. I'm not sure if the color designation is different or if it just is different because it's from a different production cycle.

Here are a couple of quick photos:
1uhshWE.jpg

NyGWrFw.jpg


Here's one of the elbow:
YakUate.jpg


It's fading much more smoothly on the elbow overall. I personally love how this is developing/aging, though it helps that the contrast between the top finish and the core are not overly drastic.
 

Seb Lucas

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I should start off by saying that this is the case with the FW jackets that I own. I have no idea about other FW models, made either earlier or later, and in different colors.

I tried to do the best I can to illustrate exactly what I'm talking about.

This is my brown caboose. You can see where the paint is chipping off.

View attachment 298452



With enough chipping, it can potentially start looking like a fade. As shown below (same jacket)

View attachment 298456



This is my vintage brown mulholland. Same type of deal.

View attachment 298457
View attachment 298458



This is my vintage black caboose. Same thing.

View attachment 298459



In comparison, this is my Rainbow Country jacket. Looks a little more like a fade rather than chipping paint.

View attachment 298461
View attachment 298463



This is my RMC Wayward. To me this is the worst example of a painted on finish. On the second picture I'm pinching the leather and you can clearly see how if it got dry at all, the paint looks like it could start to flake off.

View attachment 298467
View attachment 298468

Isn't this normal for top coated leather? I have certainly owned a number of jackets which did this. My second Five Stars looked exactly like this. By contrast, if a jacket is aniline dyed, it goes right through the hide and never acquires quite the same scuffed look.
 

jeo

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Yes mine is Dead Leaf Brown. Yours does look different than mine. I'm not sure if the color designation is different or if it just is different because it's from a different production cycle.

Here are a couple of quick photos:
1uhshWE.jpg

NyGWrFw.jpg


Here's one of the elbow:
YakUate.jpg


It's fading much more smoothly on the elbow overall. I personally love how this is developing/aging, though it helps that the contrast between the top finish and the core are not overly drastic.

That first pic of your cuff looks pretty similar to what I posted. But that elbow area clearly shows more of a fade than chipping. It looks really nice man! Thanks for taking and sharing these.
 

jeo

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Isn't this normal for top coated leather? I have certainly owned a number of jackets which did this. My second Five Stars looked exactly like this. By contrast, if a jacket is aniline dyed, it goes right through the hide and never acquires quite the same scuffed look.

Yes, I definitely think it's normal for the color to come off in some way for top coated leather.

My post was just trying to show the difference of what I meant when I said chipping on my FWs vs. fading on my RC vs. potential flaking on my RMC.
 

dudewuttheheck

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That first pic of your cuff looks pretty similar to what I posted. But that elbow area clearly shows more of a fade than chipping. It looks really nice man! Thanks for taking and sharing these.
Yeah similar at the cuff for sure. I mean, my RMC also chipped in a similar way so I'd say overall, most pigments would probably be fairly similar even if they're not exactly the same.
 
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