Why is bike leather care important?
Your bike leathers are some of your most important kit. The stronger they are, the safer you are, and that’s why taking care of them is so important. Most leathers are covered with a thin, protective, polyurethane layer, and this gets broken down as you ride (and get hit by all sorts of bugs and dirt!) making your leathers more absorbent and prone to weakening. Your focus when cleaning should be delaying the degradation of your leathers, making sure they last as long as possible. Many cleaning techniques can make your leathers deteriorate sooner, so we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when caring for them.
How should you care for your leathers?
DO use a gentle cloth or soft-bristled brush to clean your leathers in a circular motion. Make sure you avoid scrubbing or using any cloths (such as micro-fibre) that keep hold of the dirt.
DO let your leathers dry naturally. Rushing the drying process by putting them on a radiator will remove a lot of your leather’s natural moisture and cause it to harden more than it should.
DO store your leathers somewhere where they can hang up and circulate with air. Keep them somewhere without moisture in the air to make sure they don’t start to grow mould. Not sure where to put them? You could always have them on display like this.
DO choose some leathers that have a removable inside, if you haven’t bought them already. If you have, and the inside isn’t removable, try airing them out and adding a little air-freshener to the inside before looking at professional cleaning options. Whatever you do, DON’T put them in the washing machine unless they are able to be removed from the leathers first.
DO clean and condition your leathers before they begin to dry out and crack. This varies depending on your leathers and how often you ride, so keep an eye on them. Use a conditioner such as the Nikwax Conditioner for Leather.
DON’T use leather cleaners made for other items, like furniture or car seat covers. Your bike leathers will be PH neutral, meaning any acidic or alkaline cleaners will likely damage them. If you’re on a tight budget, you could potentially use a neutral soap, but we recommend buying a product that’s made for the job, like the AUTOGLYM Leather Cleaner PH Neutral and Care Balm Clean and Protect Kit.
DON’T put your leathers in the washing machine. Leather should not be soaked, so if they’ve gotten really filthy on the inside as well as out and need a thorough wash, you should send them to a professional. It will be worth it in the long run!
DON’T oil your bike leathers. Remember that thin, protective, polyurethane layer we talked about earlier? It’s made to protect the leather underneath, and adding oil will only make it sit on top of them. If it does soak in, all you’ll be doing is damaging the protective layer! Leave the oil for your engine, and stick to cleaner and conditioner for your leathers. If that doesn’t work, leave it for the professionals to clean.