Recently, I was shocked to run across a conversation concerning motorcycle vests, specifically about the question of whether or not they served any use other than that of a fashion piece or a place to sew on badges and patches.
The fact that this discussion took place on a site that gives ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) a lot of weight is one of the things that I found to be the most fascinating aspects of it. However, when it came to leather vests, they decided that they were more of a fashion statement than providing any protection, and many of them said that they would rather not wear a jacket at all than wear a vest. All of the posters were in favor of wearing protective clothing at all times when they were on their bikes.
In order to put this into perspective, let’s first discuss what a leather biker vest really is. And how does it stack up against the complete leather jackets that these men apparently wear every time they go on their motorcycles?
First, create in your imagination the idea of a conventional, ordinary leather jacket, and then cut off the sleeves. What do you find yourself with in the end? It seems to me that doing this will result in you getting a vest.
Therefore, if a vest is nothing more than a normal jacket that has had its arms chopped off, does this suggest that the only part of your body that a typical jacket protects is your arms? Or are you of the opinion that maybe, just perhaps, it also offers some protection to your torso and body? Have you ever seen road rash? It is awful enough when it is on the arms and legs, but do you really want it when it is on your back or stomach? Put that behind you, and if you have to sleep on your face while you wait for it to go away, best of luck with that.
As a result, the question that remains is why so many ATGATT guys don’t consider vests to be much more than a fashion statement. They fail to see that all these vests really are is a way to protect your body from injury without having the additional heat that is provided when wearing a full jacket. This is only a guess on my part, but I’d hazard a guess that they feel this way because leather vests are so commonly associated with the law-breaking biker that they fail to see that all these vests really are is a way to protect your body from injury.
To me, a biker vest is first and foremost a safety equipment, and only secondarily an article of clothing or accessory.