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History of Dririder | Riding Gear + Equipment | Tested

If you’ve ridden a motorcycle during the last four decades, there’s a good chance you’ve donned a Dririder jacket. This is how it came to be

An Australian company taking on the big European players in any sector of the clothing industry is rare, but Dririder has been doing just that for almost 40 years, earning its place as perennial favourites when it comes to keeping us safe and warm on the road.

The brand was launched in 1980 by brothers Mal and Col McLeod and quickly expanded into one of the most popular apparel manufacturers in the country.

Dririder is run by a small, dedicated Australian team who live and breathe motorcycles and have a diverse workload
day to day. If it’s not designing new garments, it’s testing new fabrics, then comes the relentless road testing of each prototype, something most of us would take for granted when we wander into our local bike shop in search of some new kit.

“When a new prototype turns up at the office we’re like a bunch of kids at Christmas getting all excited,” explains McLeod Accessories general manager Lincoln McFayden. “Everyone at Dririder and McLeod’s have a huge passion for motorcycling and we all ride… we’re just like the customers that buy our products, basically.   

“I think that’s an important part of what Dririder is – we’re actually passionate about motorcycling and the products.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm and care, and I think that holds true to what Ron and Col McLeod originally did with the brand.”

McFadyen is also proud of the brand’s success in taking out back-to-back Canstar Blue awards for motorcycle apparel. Canstar Blue is an independent research company that takes feedback from consumers about how satisfied they are with a new purchase. And all the big brands participate, which adds credibility to the awards.

“We don’t look too far forward; we usually have a three-year planning period with new models,” McFayden says.

“The process of developing new gear is actually really interesting, because as a team we all share the responsibility of making the right decisions.

“One thing that really helps is that we speak to a lot of people before a new product hits the shelves – and the first point for feedback when we have a prototype is our sales team.

“Over the years we’ve also developed a great relationship with some of our Dririder customers, so we ask them as well.

“Our key retailers also offer great feedback, so by the time any new product reaches a bike shop, a lot of people have given input.

“Also, the beauty of social media is that we receive a lot of feedback on our products there as well. It makes it an Australian-orientated product that tends to work better for Aussie conditions. It’s not just an item out of a catalogue from overseas; the development is highly customised to suit the Aussie rider.

“All these opinions go into the mix and hopefully the output is greater than the sum of its parts.” 

Dririder Timeline

1984 – Dririder expands from its Brisbane base into Sydney and Melbourne, and the product range also expands with the production of more jackets and pants.

1987 – Dririder releases the Alpine jacket, which was to become one of the most popular jackets of all time. Dririder was already competing against international brands, but with Ron and Col’s customisation and pricing, this was the jacket that put Dririder on the map.

1991 – The range is expanded further, with Dririder developing a huge following with its All Seasons jacket. It was one of the first jackets to feature a removable liner that you could wear as a separate piece of clothing.

1996 – The Highlander and Thunderbolt jackets are released at the same time, marking the first time Dririder started using materials other than standard nylon. Protection, armour and abrasion-resistance have become important, with materials such as Cordura and Kevlar appearing.  Ron and Col McLeod sell McLeod Accessories to Alesco.

1998 – The Summit and Arctic jackets are launched, and Dririder expands into motorcycle luggage.

2000 – Dririder releases one of the first mesh jackets in Australia, using a material called DriMesh. It’s a jacket that kept the rider cool and protected, and was especially popular in hotter parts of the country.

2004 – Repco buys McLeod Accessories from Alesco and Lincoln McFayden is appointed general manager.

2006 – Dririder increases its range significantly, filling a 36-page catalogue.

2009 – Dririder releases its first range of Kevlar jeans and the range of boots and gloves is further expanded. Andrew Wright is appointed brand manager.

2013 – Diririder expands its boot range and introduces the urban IRIDE series boot

2015 – Dririder releases its own helmet range, developed completely in house, and enjoys particular success in the cruiser segment.

2018 – An 88-page catalogue is released, which includes 30 jacket styles, 36 gloves and 20 boot styles

TEST Matt O’Connell