We essentially began our business nearly ten years ago by replacing zippers for shops and suppliers, and it's still one of the regular jobs we carry out each week. A broken zipper can spoil a road ride or ruin a trackday, so it's important to look after them.
Zippers allow us to get in and out of our leathers. They also hold the garment together, so every main zipper on any riding apparel should be regarded as structural and fitted accordingly. This means it has to be securely fitted into the structure of the garment with a suitable thread and not just glued or top stitched. This applies to not only centre front and waist connection zippers, but the ankle and wrist zippers as well.
We see quite a few zippers that have been incorrectly replaced, often by regular tailors. We strongly recommend having any zipper replacements carried out by someone who specialises in motorcycle apparel.
Failure can be caused by damage or wear to any part of the zipper, but more commonly it's either the puller, the slider, or the teeth of the zipper itself. Some simple parts can be replaced, some require a whole new zipper with matching slider to be fitted.
Many failures are preventable with a little care. Owners should take note to:
a) Keep the teeth (also known as the elements) of the zipper clean.
b) Occasionally apply a little wax or silicon lubricant to the teeth in order to reduce wear.
c) NEVER force the zipper if it appears to be stuck. It may close up but you can cause irreparable damage to the teeth which will mean a full replacement will be on the cards.
If the zipper jams, gently pull it back in the other direction. If it's completely stuck, you can try to manipulate the garment up and down rather than tugging directly on the puller. Have a look, maybe there's an obstruction caught in the slider, maybe there's a damaged tooth that can be straightened out.
Zipper replacement Alpinestars TZ1 jacket
YKK is often regarded the benchmark of zippers. They are at least, the world's most familiar zipper, although there are other brands who are well known in the motorcycle garment industry. None of the major apparel makers manufacture zippers themselves, but some will use custom pullers with their own logo. Less reputable manufacturers may use branded pullers but cheap zippers to reduce costs. As always, you get what you pay for.