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Gear Review: 55 Collection Hard Jacket

Product: 55 Collection Hard Jacket Made in: Barcelona Cost: €480 (US $510) Website:www.55collection.com
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…

Respect for Thunder Road

Remember in my previous post I mentioned I've been suffering mild paranoia lately; getting a call from Thunder Road the other day didn't help that. But still I'm glad they got in touch.

For those of you playing along outside of South Wales, Thunder Road Motorcycles is one of the better known motorcycle dealerships in the area. Serving dually as Honda and Suzuki dealers, Thunder Road has two locations: Cwmbran and Bridgend. Both of which are exactly 21 miles from my house.

A while ago, I had decided to check out the Bridgend location and feel out the cost of certain modifications I'm hoping to add to my bike before winter, namely engine bars and heated grips. I figured I'd also check out their gear and try to get a sense of what costs I'll be facing when a full service comes due on my CBF600. So, it was basically a Getting To Know You sort of trip. 

Wales is a small place and when you've got an American accent people tend to remember you. So my relationships with businesses are rarely faceless. When I used to have a car, for example, my mechanic knew who I was as soon as he heard my voice on the phone.

ME: "Hi, I'd like to schedule an MOT for..."
MECHANIC: "Oh, hello, Chris! You still driving that old Peugeot?"

So, as I say, I decided to drop in at Thunder Road to effectively say: "Hi, I'm the American fella you'll be seeing around for the next who-knows how many years."

The shop is of decent size, with a fair mix of both motorcycles and gear. It is clean, there is a cafe upstairs (which does not take cards, much to my hungry tunmmy's chagrin), and, of course, it sells two of the most reliable motorcycle brands there are.

Because I had come intending to make a sort of introductory purchase -- a gesture of saying, "I am a person who will actually spend money at your business" -- I bought a little over £100 of minor things, consisting primarily of a heavy-duty chain lock. But I left, too, with a feeling that I would not return.

Basically, it boiled down to a less-than-stellar customer experience. There were a lot of staff milling around but getting their attention was a challenge (keeping in mind, too, that I am a 37-year-old white dude who rode up to a Honda dealership on a Honda). Once that attention was gained, I was passed from one staff member to another until I decided that I didn't actually care how much engine bars would cost.

A few days afterward, I shared my experience as a review on Thunder Road's Google+ page. And it was because of that review that Thunder Road called me. On my phone. While I was at work.

"HOW ON EARTH DID YOU GET MY MOBILE NUMBER?" was the first thing I found myself thinking, before realising I had given it to them as part of the warranty on the chain lock.

But then my next thought was: Wow. That's customer service, yo.

The person I spoke to, Carol, said it's really important for Thunder Road that its customers are happy, and was keen to see me return to Thunder Road and give them a second chance. She offered to keep me up to date on any open days, so I can get a chance to play on the toys for free, and encouraged me to drop in and speak to her directly if I had any questions.

So, yes, of course, I'll try them again. You can't help but respect the effort they've made.

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