Bonhams : A set of Geoff Duke one-piece racing leathers
A set of Geoff Duke one-piece racing leathers

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 12
A set of Geoff Duke one-piece racing leathers

£ 4,000 - 8,000
US$ 5,100 - 10,000
A set of Geoff Duke one-piece racing leathers
• Ground-breaking design
• Believed used at the 1950 Isle of Man TT
• Gifted by Geoff Duke to his cousin Des Wright
• Offered for sale by the Wright family

One-piece leather suits for racing motorcyclists have been the norm for almost 70 years. Their introduction is widely credited to one man – Geoff Duke – who got the idea in 1949 while engaged in a record-breaking attempt at Montlhéry, France. Still a relative novice - he had signed for Norton's works road-racing team following the '49 Manx Grand Prix - Duke was teamed with Artie Bell for the record attempt, which was timed to generate publicity ahead of the Motorcycle Show in November. Despite his greater bulk, Bell circulated consistently 0.4 seconds per lap quicker than Duke, who soon realised Bell's better-fitting leathers were the reason why. Duke had his leathers' flapping excess material taped down, and the missing performance was restored.

Although a tighter fit, Bell's leathers were the traditional two-piece type, and Duke became convinced that a further advantage could be gained from an even closer-fitting one-piece design. In his autobiography, 'In Pursuit of Perfection', Geoff reveals that he approached his local St Helens tailor, Frank Barker, to make a suitable pattern: 'But this interested him so much that, having made the pattern, Frank then said he would like to have a go at making up the suit.' The result, complete with a one-piece separate lining, was ready in time for the 1950 Isle of Man TT races. It soon became apparent that the same principles could be applied to the rider's boots, which at this time were of the baggy pull-on variety. Frank Barker made Geoff a pair of close-fitting zip-up boots, and these too would become de rigeur in racing circles. Geoff's innovations proved so successful that soon the bulk of Frank Barker's business was providing boots and leathers for racing motorcyclists.

Wearing his one-piece leathers for the first time, Geoff finished 2nd in the 1950 Junior event and won the Senior race, the second of his six TT victories. Believed to be Geoff Duke's first set of one-piece racing leathers, as worn at the 1950 TT, this suit was gifted by Geoff to his cousin D A 'Des' Wright to wear in the 1954 Clubman's Junior TT race. Riding one of the ubiquitous BSA Gold Stars, Des finished 2nd at an average speed of 81.68mph, setting a new lap record that stands to this day (the Clubman's TT was discontinued after 1956). There can be little doubt that Geoff's knowledge of the TT course and expert tuition played a part in Des Wright's achievement. The leathers appear to have had some modifications during their lifetime, including the addition of leather panels on the shoulders and elbow, presumably as the design was refined and improved. The leathers are offered for sale directly from the Wright family.
A set of Geoff Duke one-piece racing leathers
A set of Geoff Duke one-piece racing leathers
A set of Geoff Duke one-piece racing leathers
A set of Geoff Duke one-piece racing leathers
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For Motorcycles (Lots 201-662) the Buyer's Premium will be 15% on the first £500,000 of the Hammer Price of each Lot, and 12% on the balance thereafter, VAT at the standard rate is payable on the Premium by all Buyers, unless otherwise stated.

Buyer's Premium for Memorabilia and Spares (Lots 1-198) will adhere to Bonhams group policy, the Buyer's Premium is 27.5% on the first £2,500 of the hammer price; 25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2,500 up to and including £300,000; 20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £300,000 up to and including £3,000,000 and 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £3,000,000. This applies to each lot purchased and is subject to VAT. Some lots may be subject to VAT on the hammer price. These lots will be clearly marked with a dagger (†) printed beside the lot number in the catalog.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalog.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Storage Notices

Motorcycle Spares and Memorabilia Clearance
All purchased lots must be cleared from the sale venue by 7pm Sunday 28 April 2019. All un-collected purchased lots shall then be removed to Bonhams storage facility at: Bonhams Oxford Banbury Road Shipton on Cherwell Kidlington Oxford OX5 1JH Lots will be available for collection from 10am Thursday 2 May by appointment only.

To arrange collection please contact the Motorcycle Department +44 (0) 20 8963 2817 or to make an appointment.

All lots will be charged a minimum of £12+VAT uplift and storage at £1+VAT per day per lot.

All lots marked with a ◊ will be charged £30+VAT uplift and storage at £6+VAT per day per lot.

All lots marked with a ◊◊ will be charged £60+VAT uplift and storage at £12+VAT per day per lot.

All lots marked with a ◊◊◊ will require specific shipping and storage arrangements, as they are either extremely large or heavy objects.

Please contact the Motorcycle Department for detailed information in advance of bidding. Failure to contact the department may result in your purchased lot(s) being uplifted to an offsite store at your expense. Shipping Enquiries: For all motorcycle spares & memorabilia shipping enquiries please contact Alban Shipping quoting your client, sale & lot number to discuss your shipping requirements Tel: +44 (0) 1582 493099 email:

Please note Bonhams do not provide shipping neither do Bonhams pack lots. Should you wish to organize collection of your lots via a third party carrier, they must check and pack lots on your behalf upon collection. Shippers or Agents wishing to collect on behalf of the purchaser must provide written instruction from the client before Bonhams will release the lot(s). All purchases are at the buyers risk from the fall of the hammer.