Finding Moto Gear At The Rose Bowl Flea Market
Over the weekend my chick and I decided that a day at the RG Canning Rose Bowl Flea Market would be a wise decision. For those of you outside of Southern California, the Rose Bowl Flea Market has taken place for over fifty years and takes over the parking lot of the iconic stadium in Pasadena on the second Sunday of each month. The venue is divided into categories like new merchandise, arts and crafts, and vintage items. The vintage section of the market had over a hundred vendors with spaces that were full of old clothing that no doubt came from Goodwill and Salvation Army raids. After a few minutes of pounding the pavement and flicking through racks of vintage band shirts alongside LA cool kids, I went on the hunt old-school moto items. The idea came after I saw one vendor’s yellow Suzuki EZ-Up that came with the purchase of an RM in the early 2000s and proceeded to explain how cool those were to my wife. The goal of the day was to find anything from AXO/Sinisalo/Bad Boy Club It didn’t take long to find more MX merch…
This Answer Racing jersey was the first and easiest find, as it was displayed on the front rack of one merchant. The piece was from Answer Racing’s Force collection in 1995 and was well-worn, evident in the holes around the right shoulder. The tag in the collar said “Answer Racing Valencia, California” which reflects when it was owned by Eddie Cole. My wife was surprised to feel the heavy cotton and see the tight cuffs around the sleeve and necks, which is much different than the lightweight material current kits are made from. I put this on my Instagram story and almost instantly had a response from Justin Bogle that said he would wear this design today. So Randy Valade, maybe Answer could make a limited run of this for JB19. As always, Tony Blazier has images of the other colors this set was offered in along with a full write-up with Steve Matthes on Answer Racing in the 1990s, which you can read at Pulp MX.
This O’Neal Element jersey from the early 2000s was on a rack just a few feet away from the Answer Racing jersey. I remember Mike LaRocco wearing this style or one very similar on his during his days in the early iteration of the GEICO Honda team, except his kits were complete with Dr. Martens and Journey’s logos. Like the Answer Racing jersey, this one was made of thick cotton and had the cuffs and collars that were standard up until the mid 2000s. Maybe my internet searches are misleading, but it seems like O’Neal took longer than some other brands to switch to polyester materials for their jerseys.
Surprisingly enough, I saw very few casual wear items in the dozens of racks that I browsed through. Sure, there were hundreds of Harley Davidson shirts to select (that’s what happens when every single shop thinks they need to put out of full line of merch with their name and tribal patterns, all of which were printed on black cotton), but this Thor MX shirt from the early 2000s was the only piece that I found in my hours of hunting.
On the way out of the gates, I noticed these two O’Neal jerseys hanging from an EZ Up and stopped in my tracks. During the 1970s and 1980s it was common for motorcycle manufacturers to partner with gear brands for official apparel and few had the popularity of Hondaline. The white jersey was a waffle knit, which actually looked like it would have breathed well for that era and the cut at the collar probably was done for a little more airflow. The yellow jersey was made from a much thicker cotton and would have looked great with a Suzuki. My interest in the two pieces was high and I asked the seller (who was wearing a cutoff Bad Boy Club shirt, another piece I was on the prowl for all day) for the price. Asking price for each individual item was sixty bucks, but he told me that he would sell them together for a hundred. I passed up the offer at the time, but have his Instagram account should my mind change.
In addition to the O’Neal pieces, the Bad Boy Club-clad merchant had a pair of Fox Racing 360 pants from 1994. I didn’t notice these at first, as I was still shocked by the Hondaline O’Neal shirt, so my wife pointed these out. Of all the old moto gear that I have seen and worn in twenty something years of riding, I’m most impressed to see how much pants have changed. These 360 pants had the mesh support liner and Kevlar knee panels, but had no ventilation and were straight-legged, with no pre-curved knees that mimic the riding position. I can’t remember the asking price for these, but looking at more of Blazier’s write-ups I noticed that the MSRP of them in 1994 was $139. Adjusted for inflation from 1994 to now, that price would be about $236.
So, did I actually buy any of the aforementioned items? No, actually, because I have a lot of MX shit piled up in my house and didn’t feel like paying fifty bucks or more for jerseys with holes in them. But that’s not to say that I left empty handed. While my chick browsed through one retailers massive assortment of clothes, she found this wool and leather Fox Racing jacket that was my size and in excellent condition. This thing is bad ass and for forty bucks, I had to have it. A text to swap bragging about my find resulted in a reply that he had the same coat at some point in the past. This thing is currently at the dry cleaners but I’ll wear the hell out of it once the temperatures ease out of the triple digits.
Driving home from the flea market I decided that I’ll need to go back in a few months to see if any more items are hidden and can be saved from being part of some Silver Lake resident’s ironic wardrobe. I also thought that this segment might need to become a regular part of our website, especially because we all have old ass moto items that deserve to come out of storage. If you decide to browse through your storage and find something cool, send it my way with a quick story. If enough people reach out to me (INSTAGRAM | @michaelantonovich), I’ll post your memories on the site in the next few weeks.