Why Do Riders Wear Black?

Why Black?
Read on to learn why motorcycle leather is beloved in black!

We at Eagle Leather are excited to celebrate the holidays with all our friends and family members in the riding community. One of the big events we prepare for every year around this time is our annual Black Friday event. We’re busy preparing for it now—and more details are coming soon—but the phrase “Black Friday” got us thinking. Yeah – we know what the phrase means in the retail sense, but we couldn’t help but think about how, as a motorcycle gear store, most of our leather is black—so every Friday can be “Black” Friday at Eagle Leather. It’s a bad pun, we know. And we’re only joking—but it still got us thinking more… why is motorcycle leather mostly black? How did black become so ubiquitously associated with the riding community? Our curiosity got the better of us, so we dug around to find out—and what we learned was pretty cool!

In Western culture, black is a color associated with mourning. We see it as early as ancient Roman times, when men in mourning wore black togas. But it’s not a world-wide custom. In India, for example, mourners wear white. Medieval European royalty wore white for mourning. The shift to black was gradual and reached its peak during Victorian times.

Even before the Romans, the ancient Greeks and Egyptians associated the color black with the underworld. The Egyptian afterlife was a happy place (for good people), and the color black had positive connotations of life and protection. But for the Greeks, this meant black was tied to the horrors of Hades, and this sense of evil affects how we “see” black.

We tend to be ambivalent about the color black. It’s associated with evil—the color of the devil—but also with power. As soon as long-lasting colorfast black dyes were available, black became a very fashionable color, associated with sophistication and wealth. In recent times, from the Beatniks of the 50s to the Goths of today, black symbolizes independence and rebellion.

Are any of these subtle, often contradictory, meanings why motorcycle enthusiasts prefer black gear? Maybe.

But the more commonly accepted reason isn’t “woo-woo” or symbolic. It’s strictly practical. When people started riding motorcycles, they had to do a lot of their own repairs. The first machines were not as reliable as we would expect today, and if a rider broke down, there was not quick access to a repair shop. So, because those early riders were likely to be tackling oily, greasy, dirty repairs, they wore black to hide the grime. The answer is really that simple!

Keep an eye out for information on our annual Black Friday event! And wear your black leathers proudly!

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