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Gear Review: 55 Collection Hard Jacket

Product: 55 Collection Hard Jacket Made in: Barcelona Cost: €480 (US $510)
It’s likely you’ve never heard of 55 Collection; the Barcelona-based leather goods company is relatively small and has only been on the scene for a few years. So, allow me to introduce you to a company that’s making some of the best-looking and unique motorcycle jackets out there at the moment.

Adopting the “non serviam” nonconformist attitude that seems to run through a lot of Spain’s motorcycling culture (check out the crazy/beautiful custom works of El Solitario MC, for example), 55 Collection’s jackets may split opinion because of the company’s willingness to make jackets that are fashionable – that is to say, jackets that have a strong fashion element. The old dudes will decry hipsterism or some such thing. And indeed, I’ll admit that when company founder Aitor Gonzalez offered me a chance to try out one of his jackets I naturally defaulted to the most conservative of his offeri…

Crazy things I do: Quit drinking

My financial woes are an inherent (and endemic) part of this whole motorcycle journey. Lack of money is greatest of my frustrations because it is so difficult to resolve. Unlike other life obstacles, money cannot be cajoled into being.

That's a view that no doubt reflects a certain amount of arrogance: I have a tendency to feel I can will things into being. With ego and bull-headedness, I feel, I can get my way. I really do believe that most things are achievable if you're willing to keep banging your head against the wall, and able to keep hold in that concussed mind a focus and desire to eventually break through.

It's a very American mindset, I suppose, and one I don't see as often from people here. In Wales – the UK region in which I live – nothing has happened entrepreneurially or culturally since the late 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher shut down coal mines. People here got knocked down; they still have not picked themselves up because they lack self-belief.

I'm digressing from the theme here, but one of the (myriad) reasons I've given up on the Welsh-language community is the fact that any new idea is met with a resigned shrug of the shoulders and a comment along the lines of: "Oh, that would be nice but we're too small/too poor/too oppressed by the English," or some other weak excuse. The Welsh possess infinite ability to identify their own flaws but no willingness to correct them.

Having lived here 6.5 years, I'll admit some of that thinking has infected my own. On the whole, however, I still believe you can overcome any challenge if you really put your mind to it. And when I look at the things standing between me and getting on a bike I think: "I can do this. Maybe."

The "maybe" is because of money. I can go through the licensing process, I can get my wife to warm to the idea of motorcycles, but money – that's a harder thing. I'm trying, though. And lately I've taken to tightening my belt in any way I can. For example, recently I decided I would start taking my bicycle to work. But the most drastic thing I've done is quit drinking.

Think about how much money you spend on booze. In my case, I wasn't a heavy drinker but I was shelling out at least £10 (US $15.84) a week. Add that up over a month and you've got enough to pay for bike insurance and a little bit of petrol.

My wife says a motorcycle is a luxury. Maybe. But so, too, is alcohol. And if I'm going to be forced to choose, you can expect to see me at the pub drinking water.


  1. So, two questions. Is your wife Welch? Is that perhaps why she is so negative on the motorcycle? The overwhelming pessimism of her culture. . .

    Second question: Why on earth would you believe, for a moment, that you can't will money to appear? I do it all of the time! Truly. I say out to the Universe, I'm ready for that money I have coming to me and often money, unexpected money, just appears. I declared that I wanted money to take Highway on a trip in Dec 2011. A week later I get a letter saying that my lawsuit against my homebuilder settled. This lawsuit had been in process for 4 years, had 100 other homeowners invovled, and we were all told it would be another 4 years to settle. Then out of the blue - $$$. I had all of the money I needed. But this isn't a one time thing. Happens to me all the time. Just live as though the money is coming, believe it is coming, that the motorcycle is coming, that your wife will understand, and it will happen. Don't be a pessimist. Life is so much more fun optimistic!

    Sweet Rides,

  2. No, Jenn is English. She's a very positive person, actually, but seems to have some sort of deep issue about motorcycles. My guess is that she may have had a friend or boyfriend at some point who put her on the back of a bike and scared the hell out of her with bad riding. So, I imagine she has a mental block about it -- anytime I mention bikes, she sees herself being forced on the back of one and me behaving terribly. But I am confident that with time she'll ease.

    The money. Well, I'll do my best. It seems you have a better "in" with the universe than I, so if you want to will me some cash, t'would be appreciated.


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