At less than one hundred miles off my route, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the good folks at Held USA — the importers of the fine German gloves I’ve used since starting my trip more than three years ago. Sadly, all of my Held gloves were ripped off at the Port in Derince near Istanbul Turkey when my bike was ransacked of nearly everything of any value that I had chosen to leave on the bike for its transAtlantic voyage.
Tommy and Elissa Kincaid, the couple that own and run Held USA, had sent a pair of gloves to my brother’s place so I wouldn’t be without Held gloves for my ride across the States. Operating out of a mid-sized office and warehouse in a modern industrial park in Conover, a smaller community just outside of Hickory, North Carolina, they’ve been importing Held since 2001. The German-based company has made gloves and other products for generations and the gloves have been imported into the U.S. for more than twenty years. When the Kincaid’s started importing Held products, another west coast company had an exclusive deal for the gloves. But problems with that importer meant good fortune for the Kincaids and in 2006 they tacked the Held line of gloves onto their catalog.
Mickey, Tommy and Elissa run Held out of a modest warehouse in Conover, North Carolina. A true down to earth small business run by passionate hardworking enthusiasts.
I was surprised to discover that Held’s catalog was packed with much more than simply gloves.
I ended up spending most of the day with the Held folks. Later Mickey and Tommy provided me with maps and recommendations for my next day’s ride.
To be sure, I had no idea they made anything else. But walking through the warehouse I was surprised to learn that they make riders’ apparel, full leather racing suits and an impressive line of luggage and tank bags. Who knew? We shared stories of business and motorcycle travel over lunch and the conversation continued back at the office where I met their right hand man and sales guy Mickey. The best thing about hanging out with the Held folks that afternoon was watching them truly enjoy their work, smiling, joking and getting business done.
Tommy offered to replace my classic Held Steve gloves, my winter gloves and silk liners. But I didn’t leave there without spending some money. Never a type of rider that used a tank bag, I listened to Tommy as he passionately demonstrated why the Held bags might be something worth looking at. I’ve never liked a big towering bag that would bump my thighs or groin when standing up on Doc while riding through rougher terrain. But this Held tank bag seemed it would solve a problem that’s nagged me since leaving — my digital SLR camera. Always hard to get to and locked up in my top case. To use this camera I had to stop, get off the bike, unlock the case and and finally retrieve it from under whatever else I’ve thrown in there. My fellow rider through Bolivia and northern Argentina, Jeremiah, used to keep his camera in a tank bag. But even his bag was too big. This new Held can hold just about my Canon 20D and a lens. Though Tommy suggests that I get some sort of padding to add to the existing padding just to be sure the camera doesn’t bang around on rough roads.
Slowly but surely I’m getting back to nearly 100% of my core gear and supplies that I carried with me. Though I can’t wait to do a quick analysis of the gear that I started with on my trip and the gear that I ultimately carried all the way around the world with me — that is before much of it was ripped off. It will be an interesting lesson and I’m sure proof that the old adage: pack everything you think you need, but before you leave, get rid of half of it. Even then, later down the line you’ll find a post office and send even more of it home.