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Classic Looks, Modern Protection: The Roland Sands Tracker Jacket

Motorcycle gear tends to be very intense. It screams from across the room, “PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT MY MOTORCYCLE.” Logos, scoops and bright peacock colors grab attention in all the wrong ways if you’re just trying to hang out at a local dive bar instead of careening through corners. In response, many motorcyclists turn to more classically styled gear that blends in with the crowd.

However, most jackets may not have the armor you need while on a bike. This presents a problem. You want the look that you just stepped out of the 1960s, but need the protection the new millennium has given us. Roland Sands Design (RSD) has just the product for you.

RSD is known more for its custom bikes than its apparel, but last year, RSD took the plunge by offering retro styled motorcycle apparel with modern protection. With his bikes, he takes modern machinery and turns back the clock just enough to give a retro feel without the pitfall of trying too hard to look cool. This design ethos has been transferred to their gear offerings as well.

The Tracker jacket is a perfect example of this. Before dirt bikers started wearing exposed armor and billowy blouses, the likes of Steve McQueen would blast around the dirt in boots, Levi’s and thick cotton/canvas coats. The Tracker jacket brings this style back.

Many people think of leather when a motorcycle jacket is brought up, but the Tracker eschews leather for waxed cotton. Why is waxed cotton better than leather? For protection, it’s not, but leather often makes you look like you are just trying way to hard to look cool. Also, the fit and construction of leather make it tough to flatter your figure. More often than not, the result is you looking like the Fonz instead of Marlon Brando. However, if you really want leather, RSD has those too.

Custom touches also give the jacket an heirloom feel. Some examples are the gussets and satin interior lining that harken back to an era when you would repair an article of clothing rather than toss it away. Plus, you’d be hard pressed to find just who made it since the only logo is embossed on the sleeve in a matching brown tone. You could easily get away with telling people its an heirloom piece, but please don’t do that.

But waxing nostalgically won’t keep you safe on a bike. Asphalt does not care that your jacket was designed from a different era, or that that chick at the concert was into it, but that’s wear the armor comes in. The Tracker jacket can be outfitted with armor in the shoulders, elbow and back. This is a huge step up from some other vintage styled jackets that offer only leather as a protection.

That being said, the waxed cotton won’t have nearly the same sliding resistance of thick leather or Cordura, but should fit the needs of those riding on the street. Plus, $390 is right in the thicket of quality motorcycle pieces.

So, skip the yuppie motorcycle gear that only looks like it can protect you, fire up any vintage bike of your choice, and don the Tracker Jacket. With style out of the 1960s, it definitely answers the question, “What would Don Draper ride with?”