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TRD Leather

Guppy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,287
Location
Cleveland, OH
TRD is a custom leather maker in Cleveland that has occasionally received mention on these forums. TRD stands for The Real Deal.

My first "real" motorcycle jacket was a TRD that I picked up for $225 at a motorcycle show in 2002. It was exactly what I had been looking for, for a few years, and it remains my all time favorite jacket. I've talked about it a few times on the Lounge.

Sadly, I lost it at a bar about 10 years ago. I went back to TRD and had them make me a replacement, but it just wasn't the same. The old jacket fit me perfectly, even though it wasn't made for me, and the new one didn't fit me at all, and the leather they were using at this time wasn't as good as the stuff they made my old one out of. I ended up selling it at a loss, and gave up on TRD, disappointed that they couldn't duplicate the perfection that they'd achieved with my first jacket.

I don't like to bad-mouth them, anyway, because plenty of people have good things to say about their jackets, and I don't think my one bad experience should be taken as representative of their quality. Still, I wouldn't put them on the same level these days as the usual brands we talk about here. They're at a more affordable price point, around $400, and their focus is pretty much cruiser riders, Harley guys, and they have a bit of a cowboy/western vibe.

Looking for a new jacket was how I ended up discovering TFL, a good 5 years ago or so. Despite the dozens of jackets that I've bought since, and love, I still think it's too high a price to discover this community. I really miss that one I lost, dammit.

So when one popped up in the Finds and Deals thread, I snapped it up. My old one was a perfecto-style cross-zip, with side laces, a full belt, and a long kidney panel in the back, epaulets, and no yoke. This one has similar styling, but is a center zip design in the front, and doesn't have the coin pocket or left breast pocket that a traditional cross-zip has, and no epaulets. But according to the auction listing, this jacket was made in the early 2000s, same era as my beloved.

It was delivered today, and I do believe that this is a worthy sibling to that fabled jacket of legend that I still hope to be reunited with, whether in this life or the next. The leather is thick, medium hand, supple, full grain naked cowhide, the same type that is used in the heavy Natal/Natel/Walter Dyer jackets that I like, only somehow nicer. Maybe it's personal bias, maybe it's something undefinable that I can't put my finger on.

The other differences between this jacket and my first TRD are numerous:

- The old one was a 42, this one is a 44. Both fit me perfectly, though.
- Hardware on the old one was brass, this is silver. Good, heavy duty YKK zippers.
- The old one had a removable vest liner, this one has a non-removable diamond quilted nylon/polyester liner.
- The old one had a hang chain inside, this one lacks one.
- The old one had a single horizontal slot inside pocket on wearer's left. The new one has a vertical slot inside pocket on wearer's left.
- The old one had a W-shaped collar and a classic cross-zip front. The new one has a center zip front with a mandarin collar, giving it a cafe racer look from the front. But it has the same back, and side laces, although it lacks belt loops or a belt. The style of the side laces is my favorite type, different from what I've seen in most jackets. Schott, Vanson, Cal, Langlitz all use a different type, and I'm not knocking any of them, but this is the type that I think looks best.

I couldn't be happier with this one, and having it has renewed my interest in finding the identical twin of my old one.

The fit is incredible. Sleeves are exactly correct, not too tight or too loose, exactly the right length, sleeve zippers tighten around my wrists exactly the right amount. Through the shoulders, chest, and waist, everything is exactly where it should be. God, what a fit. Like a glove! Like a second skin. The gusseted shoulders give perfectly unimpeded full range of motion, perfect execution on the design.

It weighs in at 6.25 lbs, and I think its a bit lighter than I remember the old one, but not by much. I think the old one, being a cross-zip, with a collar, had more material to it, which could account for the greater weight, but the thickness is about the same. Perhaps the old one was marginally thicker, but it's so long gone now, it's impossible to say. The panels on this one aren't as perfectly matched to each other as on my old one. If the old one was a perfect 10 (and, damn it, it absolutely was), this is probably an 8, in terms of matching grain, and a 9 in all other aspects of the leather. Yes, that's a highly subjective, biased rating based on my memory of my perfect, long lost jacket, and if you put this up against your favorite leather, I'm sure you'd prefer yours over this. It's no CXL, or Comp Weight, or the stuff Langlitz or Lost Worlds use. But if you've owned a good, thick Natal/Natel jacket, you know what I'm talking about. Thei leather and build quality and construction is very similar also to California Creations, maybe even on par with Johnson Leathers of San Francisco. The only major mismatch with the grain is on the wind flap, which is of course completely hidden when zipped up. The kidney panel has a slightly coarser grain to it than the rest of the exterior panels of the jacket.

Oh, and as for condition, this doesn't appear to have been worn a whole lot. It's in great shape, clean, no bad odors, no damage or much in the way of noticeable wear, really. The metal hardware is a bit dull, that's about it. I think the listing said it had only been worn during one season, and spent most of its life in a closet, and I can believe it.

Unfortunately now that we're in the winter months, it's too dark too early for me to get some good fit pics until the weekend, as it's dark by the time I get home from work during the week.

Here's the listing pics, which will have to suffice for now. I'll get some close up detail photos sometime tomorrow, and do some fit pics this weekend.

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Messages
17,212
Location
Chicago
I was watching that one too. Looks fab. The wind flap reminds me of my Jimbo. Just a huge rigid piece of hide. Looking forward to your pics!
 

roadking04

Practically Family
Messages
938
Location
The Rock 'n Roll Capital
Great write up Guppy!! Very well done. I have been in TRD a few times. My thoughts are about the same as yours. I bought a vest from them awhile back. The owner was a pretty cool guy. I remember their stuff having a Native American vibe to it (fringe, tassels, conchos). I remember a really badass cross zip hanging on the wall. I was gonna try it on, but it was a darker brown. It had to be all of 4oz, heavy leather.

I am glad you found something close to what you once had. I am looking forward to your pics coming up!
 

Guppy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,287
Location
Cleveland, OH
Great write up Guppy!! Very well done. I have been in TRD a few times. My thoughts are about the same as yours. I bought a vest from them awhile back. The owner was a pretty cool guy. I remember their stuff having a Native American vibe to it (fringe, tassels, conchos). I remember a really badass cross zip hanging on the wall. I was gonna try it on, but it was a darker brown. It had to be all of 4oz, heavy leather.

I am glad you found something close to what you once had. I am looking forward to your pics coming up!

Yes, in fact the owner IS native american, so they do a lot of that with their stuff.
 

AeroFan_07

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,395
Location
Iowa
Very nice write up there Guppy! Glad you're almost "partially" re-united - at least with that long lost Leather Love. Sure hope you eventually find the Cross-zip one or one just like it too. I also personally really like the cafe-racer style with the side laces, just give it a little more "edge." Definitely a keeper, will look forward to fit photos on it later on.

Side note - have to admit when I saw "TRD Leather" I immediately thought about Toyota Racing Development. My mind, anyway... :)
 

Guppy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,287
Location
Cleveland, OH
Very nice write up there Guppy! Glad you're almost "partially" re-united - at least with that long lost Leather Love. Sure hope you eventually find the Cross-zip one or one just like it too. I also personally really like the cafe-racer style with the side laces, just give it a little more "edge." Definitely a keeper, will look forward to fit photos on it later on.

Side note - have to admit when I saw "TRD Leather" I immediately thought about Toyota Racing Development. My mind, anyway... :)
Toyota REALLY makes it hard to search for a TRD jacket on eBay, which makes it harder. They do not come up very often, and most of what does isn't close to my old jacket in style or size. But maybe some day....
 

Guppy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,287
Location
Cleveland, OH
Another TRD jacket appeared on eBay yesterday. I'll talk about it here to contrast a bit with my words above.

Now, I haven't handled the jacket in question, so you'll have to bear that in mind. So I won't say much about the stuff that you can only assess in person -- the weight of the leather, the hand, that sort of thing. But from the pictures, unless I miss my guess, I'd have to say that this looks more typical of their more recent product, from around 2010-11, which is when I bought my second jacket from them, the one I didn't think held a candle to my first.

One thing I notice immediately about this specific jacket is how long it looks. It could be this was made for someone well over six feet tall, like a NBA forward, but it just looks extremely elongated. To me, it looks out of proportion from what an average person would wear for a jacket in the traditional cross-zip biker jacket would wear. Indeed, it looks to me like there's about 2 inches of extra space above and below the slanted breast pocket, and again another extra 2" below the coin pocket. It gives the jacket a very elongated look. I also note that there are 6 eyelets on the side laces, which, is an extra set from the 5 on my jacket, leading me to believe that this is all but certainly a jacket for a guy in the neighborhood of 6'4"+ in height. Which, if it is, and it fits that frame well, the above shouldn't be taken as a criticism. But if it's intended for a person of more average stature, then it seems overly long to me, by probably at least 4 inches, if not more.

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Also visible in the above photo, I see substantial grain mis-match on the (wearer's) right side of the collar, which to me is unsightly.

From this close-up of the sleeves, it looks to me like they are using a printed grain or corrected grain leather now.

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If it's like the second jacket that I purchased from them, it's probably quite thick and heavy stuff, but probably feels spongy, stretchy, and not as stiff or resilient as what I had in my original jacket from them. It also appears that the grain of the leather on the sleeves is a good deal more pronounced than the grain on the body panels.

As I find more examples of them, I may update this thread with more info.
 

AeroFan_07

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,395
Location
Iowa
Bumping this thread back to life. This "Size 48" Perfecto - styled TRD leather just turned up at my place yesturday. It was in the "deals" thread and was indeed quite a deal. Everything Guppy talks about with these is indeed very true of this model. Soft, yet suprisingly heavy cowhide leather. Solid brass belt buckle (chrome plated) and quite nicely constructed for thier price point. TRD claims on thier webaite they are willing to do custom work as well.

This particular jacket is not a bad fit overall, just a bit short of perfect in terms of sleeves & torso length for me. The sleeves really zip down Tight. The softer cowhide makes it easy to zip the sleeves 100% shut, nearly impossible on a competeion weight Vanson or FQHH Aero. The back appears spot on length wise. A little room to layer. Heavy duty YKK nickel hardware. Apart from one surface scrap in the kindney panel on the back, this is nearly NOS as far as condition. Obvioulsy "printed" cowhide - meaning that a texture has been applied, it's quite nice of appearance overall. It is not as "spongy" of feel as some of the Fox Creek leathers I have sampled in times past. It is not really going to be a "break in" piece such as a Vanson or Schott in their standard Cowhides. It does squeak somewhat in use.

Features:
  • Fixed mid-weight quilted lining
  • Nickle YKK zips #10 main
  • Inside pocket with no closure
  • Heavy - 8-9 lbs total
  • Laced sides
The only possible liability of this jacket is the front "half belt" that really does not tighten the jacket up. The side lacing is for this purpose. Personally, I would forgo the "half front belt" altogether as well as the associated loops to provide a cleaner appearance at lower cost for production.

Ok, enough talk, here is what this looks like:

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And the fit is pretty decent for this sort of jacket too:

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Hope this is helpful - it's a nice jacket at the asking price - even better used for a discount. Well worth a look for somone just wanting a simple, USA made Motorcycle jacket.
 

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Guppy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,287
Location
Cleveland, OH
I'm glad to see it found a home with a fellow lounger. Looks good on you, and you got a good deal on it, too. I was sad this one wasn't my size.
 

BlueSteel

One of the Regulars
Messages
118
Bought the jacket pictured above by AeroFan_07 from him (thanks again!)

Very happy with the quality - these are great value jackets with an incredibly solid and heavy build.

Now just need to await the cooler weather to get some wear on it!
 

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