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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…

Victory's European line is better than I thought

I was checking out Victory's UK website earlier this week and spotted something I had previously managed to overlook: Victory is offering ABS on more than just one cruiser.

If you've read more than two posts on this blog you'll likely have picked up that I am aggressively dogmatic about the importance of anti-lock brakes. It's my quirk. Anyway, Victory has made ABS available on its baggers and tourers for a few years now, but had until this year left its cruiser riders out in the cold. That fact had annoyed me for quite some time.

Then, at the Intermot Show back in October, Victory announced that the forthcoming Gunner (which had not yet reached European shores) would be ABS-equipped when it arrives in March of this year. It turns out, though, the Gunner will not be alone. Also receiving the ABS treatment in 2015 will be the Judge, the Boardwalk, and the Vegas Highball. The Vegas 8-Ball, the Hammer 8-Ball and the Hammer S will apparently, for now, keep their standard old-school braking systems.

You know, I can't help thinking that Victory should perhaps invest in hiring a press guy, rather than just hoping someone like me will stumble upon and promulgate all its news. As far as I can tell, I was the only person to write about ABS coming to the UK Gunner. After that, I was the only person to make note of the bike's price being slashed by £400

And I bet I'm now the first to draw particular to something fascinating about the new Judge and Boardwalk models in Europe. See, hitherto, it had generally been my impression that we here in the Old World were getting Victory's American sloppy seconds. That is to say, I assumed that the bikes showing up in UK Victory dealerships were just bikes that hadn't sold in the United States -- that this year's European-spec bikes were last year's U.S.-spec bikes.

I had thought this based on the 2014 Judge I rode last April. It had the mid-peg ergonomics of the U.S.-spec 2013 model. I knew, though, that these were not the ergonomics of the U.S.-spec 2014 model. I had read a U.S.-based article saying Victory was changing the ergonomics for its 2014 Judge, giving them forward pegs and more pull-back handlebars (a). That this 2014 model I was riding in Britain did not have these things is what made me think it was just a year-old machine.

I was wrong. The Judge was dropped from the U.S. line-up for 2015, but it is still part of Victory's offerings over here. And unlike old U.S. versions, it has ABS brakes; unlike old U.S. versions, it has mid-placed pegs; and, it has a blue paint scheme that was never available for the Judge in the good ol' U.S. of A.

In other words, it seems the Judge is alive and well in Europe. That's awesome. In your face, America! We get something you don't. And it appears the same is true of the Euro-spec 2015 Boardwalk (b). It, too, was dropped from the U.S. line-up but remains a part of the European one; it, too, has ABS as standard; it, too, is being offered in a paint scheme not before seen.

Huzzah. Go Team Europe. And huzzah for Victory, who have effectively put the Judge back on my What I Want list. All I need do now is find £11,700 (US $17,695).


(a) I'm pretty sure this is what killed the Judge in the United States. Without its ergonomics, the Judge lost its uniqueness.

(b) That thing has to be one of the best-looking motorcycles in the world.


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