As a business owner, asking clients and potential clients for feedback is a good habit. At Bison, we've been incredibly fortunate to have an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers in regards to all aspects, from the initial purchase process to the comfort and protection they enjoy in their finished product. At times though, we hear something that raises our eyebrows and makes us realize maybe we didn't know our potential clients as well as we thought we did!
Now I'm not too proud to admit I've been wrong a time or two. That's why I ask for client feedback after all. But when I asked ten people one question and six of them answered the same way - which by the way is not at all what I expected to hear - I knew it was time to rethink the way we approached the initial ordering process. Like any other business, our job at Bison is to produce what the community wants, but here's the kicker: almost all of the items we produce are bespoke, built just for the client. The person buying the product understands they can make it exactly how they want it, and they typically understand that our quality is excellent. As such, our job here at Bison quickly became understanding as best we can how to make the process as customer-centric as possible.
So here I am, "Mr. Yep-I'm-The-Guy-You-See-For-Custom-Leathers". I know my target demographic because I am my target demographic after all: a blue-blood motorcycle enthusiast with a passion for going fast but staying safe, and doing so without spending a fortune. Having ordered several custom suits from multiple companies myself prior to founding Bison, I knew the hardships and anxiety that might come along with ordering a custom suit. For me, the primary issue was the measurement process. Oh the stress, the anxiety of getting accurate measurements. "That's it! If we can make the measurements process easy and painless, we'll put the client's mind at ease and BAM they'll order without worry!" So we produced an excellent YouTube video that walks you through it. We brought aboard several Authorized Measurement Centers across the US. We even video chat to walk you through the process live. This is it right? Custom suit anxiety cured?
Turns out, I was only half right. Over the past few months I've been surprised to find that many of you are intimidated by the design process more than the measurements process! Okay, wow! I'll be honest it took me some time but I have finally come to grips with the fact that many of you are very intimidated by the process of creating a set of leathers that looks as good as it performs. With that in mind, let me walk you through key elements that will help you visualize the kit of your dreams - even if you have no idea what the kit of your dreams looks like!
- Primary color
Start by determining what primary color you want to use for your suit. White? Great for visibility, makes for a fashionable base and as an added bonus it reflects heat much much better than black. Black, however, is very tough, doesn't show crash damage nearly as much as lighter colors and it's a timeless look. A color like red or blue as primary makes for a few different challenges, namely the whole "matchy matchy" thing (because that Yamaha blue suit won't look so great with next season's red Honda) and the fact that colored hides simply won't look as good for as long as a well-cared for black suit. If you must go with a color, red or blue are typical drum-dyed hues that tend to age well.
2. Secondary color
Your secondary color should be the primary color in your head. As you may have gathered from the paragraph above, my personal recommendation is a black or white base, then the primary color as your first accent. You could also use a pattern here such as camouflage. The good news if you choose a pattern: we at Bison do not upcharge for digital printing as many of our competitors do. We can even design one from scratch. Tell us what you've got in mind and we'll make it happen.
3. Fluorescent colors
These days fluorescent or neon colors are all the rage. It seems everyone wants the brightest, craziest colors possible whether it's Rossi's signature neon green or Repsol neon red and orange. We have all the most vibrant fluorescent colors from the best tanneries, unfortunately these types of colors are not drum dyed, meaning the color is printed over standard leather rather than dyed through the hide. In the event of a crash, or even as it rubs on the tank, frame, or gloves/boots, your fluorescent colors will wear off and show the natural (whiteish) hide beneath. We love fluorescent colors, but we want you to know it does have it's durability limitations.
4. Printed patterns
Again, a quick note here as prints are much like fluorescent in the sense that they are very fashionable, yet not very durable. All patterns are digitally printed and therefore not colorfast. We try and keep these patterns off of areas that may see repetitive contact or crash impact. And again: We do not upcharge for printed patterns like many of our competitors.
5. Secondary accent colors
A good opportunity for neon colors, or something like reflective foil silver/gold. Just something to add a little "pop" and maybe tie in that wild helmet or boot design you've got.
6. Logos, names, race numbers
We don't upcharge for logos unless you have an extensive amount! But first we want you to focus on that primary design. Send us your custom logos, or request common sponsor logos (we have almost all of them on file) and we can apply them once your template and colors are close to finalized. Need a racer logo? We can design one for you at a minimal price!
7. Overall pattern
Speaking of the design template, we have several to choose from as starting points. Although we can make a completely unique pattern for your leathers, using one of our 15 templates as a starting point is generally a great idea and we can change, add or omit any of the design elements to make it completely one of a kind. But here's a great tip: Look to your favorite race bikes or even race cars as inspiration!
Hopefully these seven points help put your mind at ease and get the creativity flowing. The most important thing to note: YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN DESIGNING YOUR SUIT! We have a great, talented group of designers available at (again) no extra charge! Simply choose your colors and pattern, send us your logos and let the Bison design team create some awesomeness. We'll have you looking like a million bucks for, well... substantially less than a million.
Go fast, be safe,
Rob Lackey, Co-Founder, Bison Track LLC