In the 1949, Bates Mfg. Co. was established by motorcyclist and saddleseat craftsman Bob Bates in Los Angeles. In the beginning, Bob thought of it not as a leather company, but as a motorcycle accessory company like Buco ansd Beck. He made and sold foot pegs, windshields, saddleseats, and leather ashirts. They remained a small company through the 1950s; Bob retired in 1967 and sold the company to the second owner, Robert Rudolph.
Rudolph changed the name to Bates Industries, Inc. and moved to Long Beach, California. It was a good era for the company; Rudolph was building the "Bates kingdom" by the late 1960s.
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. Nothing other than Bates suited sunny days in California. Moreover, Bates developed a high-performance racing suit to match rapidly evolving motorcycle performance beyond the mid-1970s.
Bates Leathers has since changed hands several times and is now in the ownership of dynamic sister duo Dawn and Dana.