Before the war, I remember my father used to wear leg length, soft rubber overboots for his motor cycle. My mother and I used to travel with him in the side car and we went all over the country at weekends and at holiday time in all sorts of weather. The long rubber boots were pulled on over his trousers and shoes and fastened to the waist with straps. Then he pulled on over his head a rubber cover-all that had a flap which came from behind between his legs and clipped with two press studs at the front. A pair of wrist length gauntlets made in leather went over the sleeves which were also press-studded at the wrists. His leather helmet had a sort of skirt so that water would not run down the neck of the over-all, and this clipped and under his chin.
The interesting thing about this rubber/leather outfit, which appeared to be very common at the time, is that it could be donned or removed in a matter of minutes. If we went to visit relatives, my father could appear immaculate in a lounge suit with shiny patent leather shoes simply by removing his cycle gear which kept him completely dry in even the worst conditions.
I now do a lot of motor cycling but I have never found anything so practical or warm as those soft, flexible rubber overboots and the soft rubber cover-all. Even the short rubber overboots that zipped up to the knee have disappeared and almost any motor cycling gear you buy now is, to my mind, cumbersome or difficult to get on and off. Nothing I have seen, could be worn over a lounge suit without you needing to borrow an iron to remove the creases pushed in by the so-called protective gear worn over.
Also, with the appearance of moulded rubber, you are forced to buy garments that have been sewn, glued or heat sealed and after just a short time almost every join will leak. I have tried a heavy loose latex suit which split within a month, a PVC suit that not only gives off an unpleasant chemical smell in hot weather, but leaks like a colander in the rain, and my ‘leathers’ – although comfortable – still tend to leak where the skins have been stitched together.
– T.S. (Cheshire)