Growing up, my parents despised motorcycles. I didn't care. I needed one. I'd snatch the classifieds from the newspaper every Sunday morning and set to work, shopping for dirt bikes I couldn't afford - let alone ride. Some mornings I ran the highlighter dry circling potential candidates. Naturally, my Sunday afternoon pitches to the parents were never met with a warm reception and after several months of effort I resorted to the next best thing: BMX racing.
Despite the minor disappointment of "no motorbike", I can't complain too much. From a young age I had the privilege of playing hockey. Like racing, it's not an inexpensive sport. It's also something I can't say I would have traded motorcycle racing for - although I also can't say for sure because the two are so different. I really loved the sport of hockey but my love for the game went to a completely new level once I started playing goalie.
After several years of playing in old, unsafe equipment I finally got gear made just for me. I'll never forget the first time I got to order my very own custom pads and painted mask - let alone my first experience with them! I proudly marched into the locker room and showed them off to all my friends. Gone were my boring, black, dated pads and gloves and my old, unsafe cage and helmet. In spite of the new equipment being stiff and new, I earned my team a shutout in that first game. In fact I went on to get a shutout in the next two games as well! This was all about confidence in my gear. I could now move the way I was supposed to. I wasn't catching "stingers" - shots hitting me above the pads and in the bare knee. My mask was lighter and easier to see out of. This stuff was helping me perform to the best of my abilities.
With all of the tangible benefits in mind, there was one added element to my newfound success: I felt like I looked the part. This wasn't just some equipment I picked out of the local skate shop. It was tailor made for me, and I felt that. There was a mental edge attached to the feeling too. When I strapped on my gear and pulled my custom painted mask (which I have tattooed on my body) down onto my head, I locked in. There was an alter ego that took over. I transformed from a quiet, introverted kid to a loud-mouthed, high energy, passionate athlete. I was a beast in my own mind. A modern-day knight donning bespoke armor and a battle axe. And I truly think there's something to that.
Fast forward 20 years: after a few years of racing motorcycles there I was pulling my first custom race suit out of a box, feeling the same rush of excitement that I did at 17 when I unboxed those goalie pads! This wasn't an off-the-rack suit with compromises in looks and fit. I designed it. It was built to my exact specs. This was a piece of equipment that would help me stand out from the crowd but most importantly, keep me as safe as possible. And the first time I dropped my visor while wearing a custom suit I felt that high energy, loud-mouthed kid coming back to the surface.
Over the next couple of years I got more custom gear and realized I had an absolute passion for it. This was my love for custom goalie gear multiplied by my love for motorcycles and racing, and I knew I could make a career out of it.
The birth of Bisonality
I share my hockey story not only because it gives some backstory, but also because I see many parallels between outfitting a goaltender and a motorcycle rider. Both kits require sturdy construction to take years of abuse, yet they need to be pliable and moldable to allow the wearer to move around. They have to be safe. Lastly, they have to look good and if you can get them custom made within budget, that's certainly the way to go!
Our mantra has always been "We believe your gear should be a reflection of you". Since day one I've felt that we could provide a cost-effective custom suit option for street riders, trackday riders and racers alike. Three years in and this has proven to be a successful formula for us. Hundreds and hundreds of Bison suits and jackets have been made and sold, with each one different than the last. Every single item has it's own personality which reflects that of its owner.
A couple months ago while traveling from one venue to the next, Tosha and I were taking advantage of the windshield time and having a business discussion (as we frequently do). We talked about past successes of the brand, the current trajectory, and the future of Bison. A common theme that echoed within the conversation was the "personality" of each custom item we make, as well as the statement these items made for their wearer. Our niche was carved upon the "your gear should be a reflection of you" tagline... but how might we take that a step further and streamline that statement?
Bisonality was born!
What is Bisonality? What's YOUR Bisonality?
Simply put, Bisonality is that reflection of your voice or vision in the design of your gear. It's your personality, born into life via Bison gear. It could be a direct representation of your personality or a projection of the alter ago you assume once the visor drops. Colorful and loud? Dark and unassuming? Classic and timeless? You make the call. Looking for inspiration? Watch the YouTube video here.
At Bison we truly want every rider to be safe, comfortable and stylish. The first two are a given - each item we produce is made to the highest possible standards with top-quality materials. The stylish part? That's where you come in. We start by asking a handful of questions in our Custom Design Profile, then our Gear Customization Specialist works one-on-one with you on a completely custom design draft. You'll be excited when you see the draft, but you'll be blown away when you open the box and see your Bisonality brought to life!
So, what's your Bisonality? Let us know in the comments or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! We'd love to share your story with the community.
Rob Lackey has been a motorcycle gear connoisseur for years, mostly because he crashed a lot there for a while. After spending 20 years in the automotive industry managing service departments with a focus on culture and customer service, Rob decided to combine his passion for making people happy with that of racing and "going fast while staying safe". He founded Bison Track LLC with his wife, Tosha and they now roam the country with their two youngest kids, Edith and Carter, growing The Herd and educating others about the importance of safe riding gear. Every now-and-then he still gets to race.