Robert Bates, Final Member to Enter AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame
"After I bought my first real motorcycle, a Triumph Bonneville, the next thing I needed was a Bates leather jacket," said Don Rosene, chairman of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Committee.
"I thought as much of that jacket as I did my new motorcycle. I know Robert Bates made many other motorcycle accessories, but I'll never forget my Bates leather jacket," Rosene added.
It all began back in 1949, when Bates started Bates Manufacturing to service scooters and sell accessories, while also designing and building scooter windshields. When the metal for his windshield rims was no longer available, he developed a plastic rim that he later patented.
The company’s first catalog was published late in the 1950s, featuring motorcycle accessories and leather apparel. In the late 1967, Bates retired and sold his company to Bob Rudolph, who changed the name to Bates Industries.
"Robert Bates founded the company in a 600 square-foot garage, and from there it grew into a business that had a reputation for quality jackets, pants, aftermarket seats, a popular headlight, windshield, fairings and saddlebags," Rudolph remembered.
Bates' great achievement in the 1960s was to turn the all-black raceway gear of the time to bright color. Motorcycle champions like Mert Lawwill, Gene Romero, and Kenny Roberts wore Bates' colorful racing suits in the 1960s through the 80s.
Robert Bates joins off-road racer Randy Hawkins, suspension pioneer Gilles Vaillancourt, champion of riders’ rights Mona Ehnes, motocross pioneers Geoff and Bob Fox, motorcycle safety proponent David Hough, racing director Gary Mathers, and dirt-track racer and tuner Chuck Palmgren.