In which my boyfriend Sean MacDonald outs me as a Gosling-impersonating, couch surfing, safety nagging douchebag

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I first met Wes when he moved into my house to live on my couch. He was a friend of my roommate’s and just needed a place to land while he looked for an apartment. Two things are obvious when you first meet Wes. One, Wes thinks he’s the best thing that has ever happened to the human race. So much so that he loves to share with anyone close to him just how awesome he is every time he’s given the chance a la Schmidt on FOX’s “New Girl” television show. Two, he thinks he knows EVERYTHING. These two traits led to a full “douche jar” on the kitchen counter and daily debates about bikes, gear, style, riding abilities and techniques, and a variety of other things no one really cares to read about.

I had been riding motorcycles for 5 or 6 years by the time Wes moved in and, as the resident hipster, had done so in the steps taken by most 20 something white kids who like overpriced coffee, skinny jeans, and listening to music too obscure to have a fan base. I started with years of buying ‘70s Japanese bikes that “should be bulletproof” and that I spent too much on and didn’t know how to fix until I was finally fed up and took out a loan on a new Bonneville. With a bike that I could finally depend on to start when I wanted it to, I began using my motorcycle to commute to work, for which I was wearing one of my denim or textile jackets, jeans, shoes ranging from vans to high top sneakers, and my ¾ non-DOT Biltwell helmet with a pair of fake $5 Roy Bans glasses.

Sean, before his bromance with Wes went into full swing. Photo: Sherman Thomas

So this Wes guy moves in and sets up shop in the living room and spends most of his time playing on bikes or sitting either on our couch or at the taqueria down the street with his computer “working.” Every day when I’d get home from work I’d walk into the kitchen, grab 2 beers, and throw one at his head while yelling at him to wash his dishes and then we would sit and talk about bikes or how he didn’t look like Ryan Gosling no matter what some girl said on Facebook. Most of the time he’d nag me about my bullshit café racer and that I might as well be riding it naked with how little gear I wore. My bullshit café racer was a huge step from my ‘70s Japanese bikes and I had a leather jacket a friend had given me I wore sometimes, but that I didn’t love wearing and it all seemed like a big step for me compared to what I saw people around me wearing. Plus I have a hard time swallowing advice from anyone who thinks that Grant is the weird one in the duo, so I blew him off. Plus, that shit is expensive.  

Summer turns to Fall and the dude is still on the couch and it’s getting colder outside and I start considering getting some kind of jacket to stay warm on the freeway in the morning and once again I get the lecture about riding gear. Wes’ stuff had finally all made it out to California and with the extra gear around he suggested that I borrow an Alpinestars jacket with full armor that he could spare. My roommate had an extra full face that sounded like a warm idea and was gracious enough to let “can I borrow this to try it out for today?” turn into “can I just keep wearing this because it’s cold outside?” The jacket and helmet felt stifling and claustrophobic at first, but it was warm so I wore it on my daily commute for a week. That weekend we went for a ride and I grabbed my Biltwell and my old leather jacket and headed out with the boys and for the first time, I felt naked. I kept feeling like I was going to smash my chin on something and I didn’t feel nearly as stable without the armor and back protector I had gotten used to; I felt so vulnerable. The next week I started wearing boots on my commute and bought a pair of armored gauntlet gloves to wear and it felt good to be on a bike at 80mph and not feel like some part of my body was exposed.

This left me with one last problem: I looked ridiculous.  This was fine for my commute, I could care less what I look like showing up to work. We live in Long Beach, about 20-30 minutes south of Los Angeles, so the commute to LA is about the same as my commute in the opposite direction to work. I have been blessed to have a social circle that contains some wonderful people, some of which are famous for various reasons, and many of our outings are to fancy events or shows or parties at clubs or nice private residences blah blah blah. I also do some work as a model and use my bike to get around LA after work to jobs or castings and wanted to look cool when I got to them. Us hipsters care about our appearances far too much to let safety get in the way of looking cool and I was faced with a real dilemma (at least to me, hopefully this is ridiculous to you). I began to look for gear that would give me the same protection I had grown used to and finally believed I needed, but that I could wear to some party, event, or casting and not feel lame.

I pitched the idea to get some gear to test to Wes (and lied and told him he did look kinda like Ryan Gosling) and he contacted Dainese to see if they would be interested in giving us some gear to review with the idea that we were looking for gear that was extremely functional while still looking nice.  As my role within HFL has grown, I have done a lot more riding, ridden a much wider variety of bikes, and experienced motorcycling in almost every capacity. We have taken big trips, ridden dual sports and adventure bikes off road, and ridden sport bikes all over southern California’s best roads.  If I was going to own gear, it needed to keep up with all of that, and STILL meet my aesthetic expectations.  Luckily for me, Dainese was gracious enough to accept our request. 

I decided on the Dainese R-Twin Leather jacket, Dainese Alien Leather pants, Dainese Druids gloves, and the Torque Race Out boots. Overall, the gear is great. The jacket is fully armored, though I believe the back protector that came with mine must be purchased separately. It has an awesome liner you can put in or leave out to help manage the temperature and the jacket is the warmest thing I’ve worn short of the other Sean’s Roadcrafter (still the most amazing piece of gear I’ve ever seen) while also not being much hotter than my denim jacket with the liner removed and vents opened. The jacket looks very nice and I have no problem wearing it to any event. I thought I would want to try and take a seam ripper to the Dainese logo on the back, but I don’t mind it much in person. The pants and jacket zip together to form a leather suit which works great for road trips or riding in the canyons, and I’ve worn just the pants with a lighter textile jacket when we have ridden offroad.  The boots are great, though it is obvious that they are designed more for racing than anything else and I often prefer to stick with my Icon Reigns for long trips or off road because they are simply the most comfortable boot I have ever worn.

The only negative aspect I have to say about any of it is more of just a personal problem than a problem with the gear.  I have an unusual body size at 6’1” and 150lbs and I wish the jacket was just a little bit longer, both in the torso and in the arms. I find myself always layering a hoodie underneath to add an extra few inches in length and it’s the only bummer with any of the gear.  As with all Dainese’s stuff, the fit can be a little different, so I advise trying the stuff on if you can find it before ordering online or just be prepared to possibly spend a few weeks shipping things back and forth with Revzilla.  I ordered a size 52 jacket (best mix of length and width and it’s easier to take out width than add length), size 98 pant, size 10 boot, and XL gloves because the fingers in Dainese gloves tend to run short.  I also bought a Shoei RF1100 which I’m pretty happy with, though I don’t think it is worth the premium you pay over Icon, AGV, Nexx or Scorpion.

Wes finally moved out but we still have our weekly debates about bikes, gear, and why he isn’t as awesome as he thinks. Since then, I have become a much bigger supporter of wearing gear and as my experiences and adventures now spur on my friends to get into motorcycling, I always stress the importance of buying gear to protect themselves for when shit goes wrong. Not only do I feel responsible as the person who helps get them in to motorcycling, but I also truly believe it’s crucial to riding a motorcycle. The other Sean crashed wearing full gear and was still out for months. I can only imagine what he would have looked like had he been wearing what I used to wear, and he’s a far better rider than I.
 
 I only plan on saying this once in my life, so it might as well be here: Wes, you were right.

  • $Lindz$

    I love my R-Twin jacket, besides having the same complaints as you over length (on any gear, from my race leathers down to a tee shirt, really). I’m 6’2″ ~170 and there is never any “ideal” for us. I ended up with a size 50 jacket, and still feel like taking it in a bit on the sides.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean MacDonald (the other Sean)

      not all of their jackets are as short as the R-Twin. I recently picked up the Dainese Shotgun Textile jacket and, while still not perfect, doesn’t require me to choose between a hoodie or 2/3 inch gap between the cuff of my jacket and my gloves as it’s only about a half inch too short.

      • jp182

        haha i’m 5’11″ and about 175 and I thought I had it bad when it came to ill fitting gear. Had no idea there were plenty of options out there. What kind of full leathers do you find that fit you right? Surprisingly my A* one piece fits pretty well but I need to look at the size.

    • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

      I’m 6’1″ ~ 160 and usually can’t find anything that comes down to my wrists and waist without being twice as big around as I am. You can get pants in tall sizes, but never jackets. That said, the cheaper Dainese Cage jacket, in a 50, fit pretty well in a dressing room. Outside of total custom stuff, they seem to best fit for the lanky.

    • will

      I’m 6’4 ~164. I don’t think a leather jacket exist that will fit me

      • Adam Green

        I’m 6’3″ ~175 and just got a Tourmaster Intake 3.0 textile jacket in large-tall (went with TM since they’re the only non-custom guys I could find that make jackets in tall sizes. Looks good, fits great. If anything the sleeves are half an inch too long.

      • adam Hoff

        Likewise, I’m 6’4″ 185lbs. It’s hopeless.

        • BMW11GS

          now that we are all doing measurments: 6’2 and 185 but I am a little more stockily built. Finding leather jackets is hopeless but my textile 3/4s and aerostich 44L do the trick.

  • zero

    The feeling naked thing is spot on. I feel the same way riding without full gear as I do driving without a seatbelt on.

  • tomwito

    You wrote what I’ve beed thinking the whole time I’ve been reading this site. Except about the gear, I always wear my gear.

  • Ben Brody

    Being both vain and terrified of losing all my skin, I use locking side cases to stow my gear when I arrive somewhere. Works good even on a lil Kawi Versys.

  • Triman023

    Still visiting my friend Bill in the hospital. He has been in for 50 days after a head on with an SUV. He was on his 72 Honda 360. He had jeans, tennis shoes, a non armored leather jacket and a jet style helmet. He broke both legs and arms in multiple places. His head was turned when he hit the car, if he had hit face first he would have been killed. He has a lot of brain bruising, can have a conversation now but gets off track, no short term memory. His recovery is going to be a long one. After his crash I tossed my jet helmets in the trash and I wear armored pants, boots and jacket with a full face helmet. Its hot but I cant wear anything else now.

  • ike6116

    You definitely owe Wes and your roommate a debt of gratitude that you didn’t have to realize the error of your ways the hard way.

    But I appreciate the shit talking anyways.

  • Edward

    Good-looking bonneville – is that the same bike that Jamie borrowed for Robinson the episode of RideApart?

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean MacDonald (the other Sean)

      yessir.

      • Edward

        I have to say, though, that the half-helmet and t-shirt still looks cooler on that bike. I generally wear a jacket and gloves around town (and suit up entirely when getting out of the city), but it’s a struggle to wear motorcycle boots or pants for trips in town. I should be better about it, but it does come down to calibrating the risk to the type of riding. That being said, it’s not like speeds don’t reach 60-70 mph around town either.

        • Triman023

          I thought that speeds around town were low enough to skimp on the gear too, but my friend was going down a residential street at about 40, unfortunately the SUV was also going 40, he got 80mph worth of impact. The paramedics thought he was dead. All the protection all the time.

          • BMW11GS

            I used to think I was better than other motorcyclists who got in accidents because you know I was uber cautious, didn’t drink, and kept my speeds in check. I would get away with less than optimal gear. Two things changed, I realized that I am just as likely as anyone else to get in an accident at any time, no matter what. Secondly I got my aerostich which makes it real convenient and easy to always ride armored to any destination, wearing whatever I want underneath.

        • Holden and Annette

          I ordered an Aerostich Roadcrafter Light this week (six-week backorder — must be on a slooow ship from Vietnam), and I’m psyched for it to arrive. The Tourmaster overpants that I wear are so gauche. The ‘Stich should make the troublesome-pants problem go away.

          The boots? I guess people will think whatever they want to think about one’s footwear. When I envision the tops of my sneakers going from 60 to zero on pavement, with my feet inside them — no, thanks. Boots, please.

          • cdeforrest

            Ahem, Aerostich makes their stuff in the US. http://www.aerostich.com/our-story

            I’ve had my Darien pants for 9 years, they’re awesome.

            • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

              Ahem. The RC Light is an exception. It is not made in the US.

  • http://theseironlegs.tumblr.com/ IronLeg

    Enjoying the ninja title change. A+

  • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

    “I could care less what I look like showing up to work” doesn’t mean what you think it means. See David Mitchell for more details and a graph supported explanation.

    Great article nonetheless but i’m pretty surprised with your choices, your gloves and boots are pretty technical looking. Wouldn’t icon 1000, Vitesse or Gasolina’s products be more what you were looking for?

    • AHA

      +1 on those brands. Rev’it also &, dare I say it here, Roland Sands?

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean MacDonald (the other Sean)

      don’t need the graph, a simple reflection on the words in the phrase reveal you are obviously correct.

      you’re also right about the gloves and boots. Dainese didnt have better looking boots at the time and i COULDNT care less about the gloves because I take them off and toss them in my helmet when I get to my destination. their still really arent boots I like outside of my dr. martens.

      don’t love the rev’it stuff. Roomy has the Roland Sands jacket and it’s definitely on my wish list. I have a pair of the gloves which look really nice, but won’t be nearly as safe in a crash.

      • http://www.racetrackstyle.com Racetrack Style

        The Ronin & Domino are choice, but I can’t tell if they have a zip in/out liner from the RSD site.

        Glow in the dark stitching on the back somewhere would be good too and it doesn’t need to affect the aesthetic.

        Appreciate the gear updates, especially insisting on form because there is too much gear that not only fits poorly, but looks a mess.

  • IAimToMisbehave

    First off …. the very fact that you’re admitting to being a ‘ Hipster’ automatically disqualifies any and all opinions you might chose to express , relegating said opinions to the Hipster Suburban Urban Wanna Be trash heap … which is growing by the minute .

    ( I mean seriously. You would really pay that much for a lousy pair of Jeans because of the pretentious label sewn on it ? And I thought Fashionistas were clueless ;-)

    Second – So now we’re all left wondering….. who Is .. the bigger douche bag ….. you or Wes :o)

    Third – No one is as awesome as they think . Including myself .

    Fourth – The only person on the entire planet Earth that really does know everything …. is myself . And since I Know that I don’t ( know everything ) No One does . End of Story !

    Finally .. a word from that great American Sage …. Popyeye ;

    ” I knows what I knows … what I Knows I Knows Well but I Knows what I Don’t Knows and I Knows I Don’t Know … Everything ”

    ( sorry but an article this silly is deserving of an equally silly response )

    • MotoRandom

      Oh come now Thom, bashing on hipsters is so 2009. Get with the times.

    • http://www.racetrackstyle.com Racetrack Style

      that was Popeye? sounds like Rumsfeld.

  • Roman

    Looks at Sean’s sweet ass Dainese kit, looks at self’s rashed up Heine Gericke jacket. Has a sad.

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

    I’ve seen pictures of what I used to wear riding (“Seriously, four-years-ago me? A jean jacket, doc martens, and work gloves?”), and I shudder. I think we all owe a lot to our more experienced friends who have half encouraged, half scared-the-shit-out-of us into wearing proper gear.

    Cool article, way to pay it forward. And make fun of Wes, ‘natch.

    • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

      +1. Early-edition moto me was textile jacket, jeans, entry-level gloves and actually-not-terrible boots. Still have the boots. Haven’t worn the rest of it (on the bike) since I got a better grasp on crash consequences. Most of my gear is Dainese – the D-store is not far from my residence and it has had a crippling effect on my wallet. “I’ll just get my car washed real quick and see if they have anything on sale…”
      I’m less put off by the branding than the HFL crew and I like the fitment. YMMV.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

      Same here, Mark. When I got my first bike many years ago, I knew nothing of safety gear and my MSF course really didn’t talk about it beyond “HELMET GLOVES AND LEATHER JACKETS!” So, I had a cheap pair of gloves, a hand-me-down helmet, and a fashion leather jacket. I’m unbelievably lucky that, combined with my terrible riding skills at the time, I didn’t kill myself.

  • gjhowe

    Nice article. I only have one question and you seem like maybe the man to answer it. How does one avoid helmet hair? Seriously. I mean I wear a helmet anyway, I was just wondering if you have some secret trick.

    • Fizzy Fox

      Shave your head.

    • Nathan

      Yeah. Seriously. I do a number 2 all around right now, but I’ve been thinking about growing it out. How you make your hair so pretty Wes?

    • NewOldSchool

      I had a Scorpion EXO 700 and the stupid top pad left a 3 indents in the top of my head front to back that made me look like some kind of dinosaur, so I shaved my head.

      • metawill

        +1 hahahahah “some kind of dinosaur”.

    • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

      @gjhowe: This was a question on Wes’s ‘ask me anything’ on Reddit. He responded at length.

    • Ben NYC

      Keep a clean, classic cut and use a strong pomade like layrite. Just go to any bathroom, wet your comb, and one stroke through cleans it up.

      The longer your hair gets, the worse it is, so keep it neat and tight.

  • paulo

    Great article, I like the fact that you owned up to giving a damm how you look, lots of people say ‘I don’t give rats arse about look’ but yet they still make aesthetic decisions everyday whether it’s choice of bike, paint colour, choice of mirrors whatever type of mods be it a cafe seat for a hipster CB or decals for your repro racer. Even what colour bandanna they have to match their assless chaps is a fashion choice. (whether they want to admit it or not..) Nothing wrong with wanting to look sharp or at the least looking less stupid and I’ll settle for looking less stupid if I can do so and keep a good level of safety in the equation. Cheers!

    • richard gozinya

      Why does everybody always call them assless chaps? All chaps are assless, it’s part of their design. If they had asses, they’d just be crotchless pants.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

        Two reasons. First, the word “assless” is funny. Second, it irritates people and that can be a little amusing, too.

  • wwalkersd

    Man, what’s with all the hating on Wes from guys named Sean around here lately? Did you guys get screwed in the RideApart deal?

    OK, that has to be the strangest lead-in to a gear review I’ve ever read. +1 on ATGATT.

    You tall, skinny guys need to find a custom leather shop (sadly, I believe San Diego’s Thurlow Leather World is no more). Or maybe spring $1600 for an Aerostich Transit leather suit, available in Long sizes. Oh, wait, you’re young and broke. Still pretty cheap health insurance, though.

    • http://hivelosangeles.com Sean Smith

      MacD didn’t.

  • Gene

    Man, I’m so lucky to have Syed Leathers just down the road, and so sad I can’t afford it.

  • Hamfisted

    Hey, this reads just like an infomercial, but it’s not because it’s from my friends at HFL. Ooooh you crazy guys fooled me again!

  • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    You briefly mentioned something I also feel: “I didn’t feel nearly as stable [without the gear]”

    On the rare occasion I slip out of the house without my Stich, I feel much less confident on the bike. Without the full protection, I’m more cautious, less steady. With the full gear, I’m much more focused and confident. It improves my riding.

    • Roman

      Ever ride in full leathers on the street? Rode in my track leathers once, just for the hell of it. Felt like Superman.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I like articles that make fun of Wes.

  • The Lawyer

    Wes still thinks he’s god’s gift to earth even after the bashing on Wired?

    • aristurtle

      Getting yelled at by the Wired comment horde is more of a mark of honor.

  • aristurtle

    The helmet, gloves, and jacket can be easy to deal with but protective pants can be irritating. Still, after my little crash (wasn’t serious, but without the overpants I was wearing it would have been) I never go without them.

  • Triman023

    The Olympia Mesh Tech pants are comfortable and the silver ones are so weird looking they are sort of cool.

  • John

    ……. not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

    Thanks for the article, it’s nice to hear a honest view!

    (Not speaking about you) I have friends who got into motorcycles purely for the fashion, and I don’t think that’s invalid. No matter how we got here, we all learn along the way and those who stick with it always have an epiphany and start wearing good gear. Unless they have a 1% sticker.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean MacDonald (the other Sean)

      i agree completely. and as someone who is surrounded by people who wear good gear, Wes was the only one who let me figure it out and ask questions and try stuff instead of just beating me over the head from his high horse.

      it doesnt matter how we got into motorcycling, just that we keep getting better and safer.

  • MotoEnthusiast

    That “bullshit cafe racer” looks sick! What type of bars does it have? Also, I was wondering why you didn’t just go for the Thruxton?

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      first of all, it was way cheaper to buy the stock, secondly, i didnt like the thrux seat or mirrors or bars. i wanted the same aesthetic but done my own way. i liked the idea of doing it myself and having a bike that, while def not original, was my own version of what i wanted and not the same as everyone else who bought a stock cafe. not sure what the bars were for that ride, think they were just clubmans.

      • MotoEnthusiast

        Awesome, thanks for the response.

  • http://twitter.com/threefour Victor Lombardi

    Great piece. But it’s confusing trying to figure out who is telling the story because the headline is written from the POV of one person and the story from another. Maybe revise it to something like, “Wes Siler outed as a Gosling-impersonating, couch surfing, safety nagging douchebag.”

  • TheBoatDude

    Out of curiosity, is that the same Bonneville that Jamie Robinson took to Sequoia NP?