Nikwax: Waterproofing for motorcycle gear

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Nikwax North America

Expansion into the motorsports market continues

My first memory of Nikwax goes back to 2000 when I searched the web for motorcycle waterproofing products. I bumped into a Concours Owners Group forum with some info posted about using Nikwax products to rejuvenate the waterproofing properties of textile and leather outer gear.

At right: When Nikwax decided to enter the motorsports market in 2002, they stepped up and sponsored an HRC racer in Great Britain

By 2001 I was a convert, treating my boots, gloves, leathers and textile gear with the product each season I rode. But the motorcycle retail market had little idea the product existed. In mid 2001 Sound RIDER! produced an article all about Nikwax and how to use it on motorcycle gear. The only thing missing was a retailer to send people to to buy the product. After speaking with several local dealers it became apparent there was no interest in carrying the line. One shop owner suggested "Why would I sell my customer something to waterproof their existing gear when I'd rather sell them a new jacket or pants." To answer the need of our readers to access the product our magazine opened the Sound RIDER! online store and debuted it with the Nikwax product line.

In 2004 Nikwax, a UK based company, shifted distributors and Chas Fisher, an eager entrepreneur with a background in the outdoor gear industry, headed from Colorado to Seattle to open Nikwax North America. Fisher set up shop in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood and set out to compete against several other waterproofing lines in the outdoor marketplace.

In the meantime Nikwax had enjoyed a bit of success in the motorcycle market and to compliment and build on that success Fisher hired moto veteran Colleen First to talk the talk with motorsports companies. Colleen First may sound like a familiar name to you and that could be in part because she writes a number of articles for Sound RIDER! each year.

Nikwax developed a three panel color brochure to support it's motorsports market sales and added several pages of motorsports application information to their website.

At right: Sound RIDER! office cat, Fox, request that we don't toss the empty Nikwax boxes until he's had his moment with them. He's shedding water nicely thank you.

In 2005 we were slipped test samples of a new product being developed by Nikwax' founder, Nick Brown. The product, called Visor Proof, was designed to be used by skiers on the exterior of their goggles to repel rain as soon as it hit. For us it was a godsend allowing motorcyclists to bead water from their face shields without tearing up the plastic laminates the way that RainX and other glass product competitors do.

After several months of testing we acquired two dozen units of the Visor Proof and sold through it in no time. No one was ready for the demand that the motorsports market would have for this product and availability dried up for several months. Finally in early 2006 new production reached US shores and we were able to pick up the pace again. At that point we developed the Sound RIDER! Ultimate Vision Kit and paired the Visor Proof with two other liquids critical to cleaning and maintaining eyewear and face shields.

In 2007 the major motorcycle parts distributor, Tucker Rocky, took note of what was going on with the Nikwax line in the powersports market and signed a distribution agreement for the line.

It's been a long and winding road for Brown, Fisher and First but with the new distribution agreement 2008 may well be the year the company hits pay dirt in the motorsports market place.

Nikwax Motorcycle Gear Application Suggestions

Textile jackets and pants – Most better made textile pants and jackets can be machine washed in a side load washer. To treat them with Nikwax run the load once using Tech Wash, then repeat the load utilizing TX Direct Wash In. We suggest you treat the gear each season you ride. Pay attention to the side load instructions, the amount of Nikwax you use should be half of what is recommended for a top load machine. Side load machines are much gentler on gear and are the preferred mode.

Above: The Nikwax Fabric Pak and its cousin, the Leather Pak, have been top sellers in the Sound RIDER! online store since their introduction in 2001.

Gloves – Nikwax' Glove Proof adds water shedding abilities to gloves and is formulated to work with leather, textile, or blends of both. But sometimes gloves will still leak. Why? It's important to understand that any gear with leaky seams hitting the wind at 60 miles per hour may still leak at the seam points. If that happens it's simply time to invest in new gloves. For basic water shedding, Glove Proof gets the job done.

Boots – Nikwax' Aqueous Wax provides water shedding ability to leather motorcycle boots. Seams can be treated with the companies Paste Wax.

Leather Gear and Luggage – For leather jackets, pants and luggage it's a two pronged procedure. You clean the gear with Nikwax' Leather Cleaner and follow that with an application or two of the spray on Leather Conditioner which will cause the leather to not only repel water, but recondition it to a softer more supple texture.

Textile Luggage – It unlikely you'd attempt throwing textile luggage in the washing machine, but never fear - TX Direct Spray-on will allow you to treat tank bags, saddle bags, back packs and more.

Beyond your motorcycle gear…

You'll find that many of the products discussed here can be used on many other outdoor garments and gear bags. That's good to know if you're a skier, hiker, snowmobiler or just a trekker.

PT/Winter 2008

Where to buy Nikwax:

Nikwax is available through better Northwest motorcycle retailers including:

Nikwax can also be purchased online at the Sound RIDER! online store

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