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Harley Days 2018 – about leather, helmets and freedom

From 2 to 5 August, a noisy and impressive festival “St. Petersburg Harley Days ”, which attracts a huge number of participants every year. Spectators come to be inspired by the beauty of expensive motorcycles and the sound of a chic forward flow, and the participants come for the sake of communication and the atmosphere of motorcycle culture. Oh, yes, of course, there is also a motocross, driving in a column, which makes you feel like a part of the whole, and many spectators ask to ride a deuce with someone.

I also could not stay away, so I rushed to the northern capital to start the morning at the festival with coffee, the smell of heated rubber and new acquaintances. The experience of organizing drift festivals suggested that the most conscientious and responsible motorcyclists / organizers would be on the site early in the morning. I didn’t expect a warm welcome with pompoms, but it was worth trying, because the unofficial part is always the most interesting. The experience did not disappoint.

At motorcycle festivals, you are judged not only by the condition of the motorcycle, but also by the equipment you choose, just as you rate other participants. A mini-investigation has been added to the list of necessary cases. With the naivety of a first-season rider buying a liter sports bike as a training equipment, and the meticulousness of a nerd, I began to ask the participants about the equipment they choose, why they make such a choice and what, in their opinion, prevents beginner motorcyclists from buying a full set of protection.

“I lived in Moscow, then I came to St. Petersburg for a walk and have been walking here for eight years now,” says biker Yegor, who met me in the morning long before the opening of the festival, when I was staring at his Kawasaki. And no, not for a brand new streetwear, but for a model that has already been discontinued. – Outside the motorcycle club, I am building a nuclear power plant in St. Petersburg.

The first to show their warm hospitality, very unexpectedly, were the lovely guys from the Support 81 Word club. Despite the fact that I showed up at the site a few hours before the start, they did not hesitate to invite me to their table and treat me to coffee, hinting along the way about what to do at the festival and what not to do. A clear organization of the meeting, the order at which the motorcyclists themselves with considerable experience control. They also showed the place of action and suggested which of those present at the site is engaged in motorcycle equipment, what other organizations are at the festival.

So is it leather or textiles?

Do not forget that the choice of equipment largely depends on the lifestyle of the motorcyclist, as well as on his self-awareness and style to which he is committed. Of the motorcycle riders in textiles, there was only 1 in a hundred, and that was not on Harley Davidson. Almost all participants and owners of heavy road motorcycles, the cost of which makes you hold your breath near the shiny paintwork, wore leather jackets of varying degrees of protection and elaboration. And if not jackets, then vests. The owners of Harley laconically stood out from the crowd with stripes, once again indicating that they belonged to the class motorcycles.

Ironically, leather gear is often chosen for its resistance to falls at high speeds, such as track suits. And here, to my questions:

– Why leather? But what about the protective inserts, I see that you almost do not have them!

They answered me:

“I don’t go so fast that I need them. The cruising speed is enough for me and if I fall, the jacket will protect me. I am driving slowly, I am not falling high!

The second most popular response among motorcyclists was surprisingly:

– In a leather jacket I’m going for mine!

This was the response of the owners of other heavy motorcycles, no less good and expensive than Harley-Davidson. It turns out that the participants choose leather mostly because of the style, because not everyone had protective inserts.

The argument regarding the lack of protective inserts – they interfere with freedom of movement.

The concept of freedom in the choice of equipment

The discovery for me was the communication with the guys from the Route 148 club.

I tormented them with a question regarding the choice of leather for equipment, it turned out that they themselves are very active and successful in sewing equipment to order. Not surprisingly, this is in demand, as for true bikers, the style that gives them the true spirit of the ghost rider is of great importance. It is for these guys and girls that Icon has a line of leather outfit – Icon 1000, where you can find true jackets, motorboats, motorcycle pants. But not about that. The conversation turned to helmets. The overwhelming majority at the festival were wearing open helmets. And the guys from the club also answered that they are all for the open helmet.

“Open helmet, this is freedom,” they said.

– And, ventilation in the sense, – I guessed, naively thinking technical characteristics.

– No, freedom in the sense of FREEDOM.

And then it dawned on me that, indeed, in an open helmet, although it is more dangerous than others, but more realistic than in it, only with a bare head. A weathered face, and in the old days also in the soot from the motorcycles in front, all covered in dust, like a participant in sand rallies, suffocating at high speeds without a bandana. And most importantly, no narrowing of vision.

– In the integral I feel like a horse, you know, like the curtains on the sides. This shell. And here nothing interferes.

From this point of view, I somehow did not consider open helmets, and indeed, for owners of heavy motorcycles, open helmets are not just a style, but also the concept of freedom in the fullness of this term.

And I also remembered the review of Explosive Mike, when he ran Harley without any equipment and explained this by the fact that he rides gorgeous at low speeds, because this is not a motorcycle on which I would like to turn the trigger all the way. It turns out that there are still motorcycles that create your lifestyle.

Accidents as a reason to wear equipment

“I didn’t have any serious accidents, so I kicked off a couple of cars in the aisle,” the festival participant continues.

Surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of bikers say that they have not had a serious accident, yes, many have friends who rubbed against the asphalt with varying degrees of success (or failure, which side to look at), but there were very few of those who had hard falls … Such, by the way, you can see right away, they were almost in a full set of protection: boots, knee pads, motorcycle pants, a turtle and a helmet, and jackets were additionally adorned on the motorcycle seat.

– Open helmets and talk about freedom, until the first real fall, – the guys from “Parts 4 Friends” competently tell, – a closed helmet is the most reliable. Because in an open helmet after an accident, you have to collect your face with the help of a plastic surgeon. The jaw protects nothing. Generally.

I even shook hands with these nice guys, because during the whole festival they were the first who spoke in favor of a closed helmet, regardless of the style and lifestyle of the biker.

Otherwise, the festival turned out to be quite interesting and colorful in terms of motorcycles, the choice of equipment and visiting motorcyclists.

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