Last summer at the Boise RA rally the mesh jackets were just flying off the racks. (I believe three of us in the local club bought three different brands.)
I must confess that since 1998 when I bought the second hand zip-together leather suit that I still use, I thought I had the ultimate in protection and, other than rain jacket and pants, which I bought at the Spokane MOA rally, no other outer riding clothes were necessary.
OK, sometimes that leather jacket was a bit hot, even though I was trying to get some evaporative cooling. But last summer in Idaho when it was really hot and I learned there was no way to create vents in my old leather jacket, I decided it was time for a mesh jacket. (I believe many others in line for those mesh jackets had ridden in with Aerostich, Joe Rocket, etc. fabric suits which, while probably more versatile than my leathers, had their limitations in hot weather.)
The price at the rally for the jacket I bought was $100. (I believe Martin Hobbs bought a less expensive jacket and someone else bought one that might have cost more.) But fit and feel are everything when it comes to clothes. Quite possibly we all got the best product for each of us.
This was the best fitting and looking jacket for me, of the three, though the options just keep increasing. (In a Whitehorse Gear catalogue that arrived recently I see a Firstgear Mesh-Tex 3.0 jacket that seems identical to mine for $130.)
There is elbow, forearm, shoulder and back armour, which is removable for washing.
Two Velcro straps on each arm and one at the wrist allow for adjustment.
There are two Velcro waistbands.
Also two zippered outside pockets and one inner pocket.
There is a comfortable collar when you completely zip up the jacket – which you may want to do at any temperature.
Just a glance through the fabric and you know that whatever air makes it past your windscreen and fairing will reach your body.
But what about the cool mornings or evenings?
This jacket has a thin removable nylon liner – with absolutely no suggestion that it sheds rain. It is very compact and essential if you use this jacket for riding in any temperatures even on the cool side.
There are 7 attachment points:
one snap at top, two snaps at the bottom, a snap at each cuff, and two zippers. Mercifully, you don’t have to use any of them.
Just pull the liner on over your shirt or electric vest, hang on to each sleeve as you push the hand down each sleeve of the jacket, pay a little attention to the front before you zip up the jacket, and you are away. When the day warms up, removing the liner is as simple as taking off a shirt.
I suspect that getting a new jacket properly adjusted – even if you have made a great decision – takes some time. But then you just put it on and ride. By all means ask to try on ours, if we are similar in build, and you can’t wait to get to a major rally before making a purchase.
You should also be aware that there are jackets similar to mine but with Goretex or similar liners which purport to do it all – keep you dry in the worst rain, but with liner removed, keep you cool in the worst heat.
They are all a lot more expensive, but if they work, and installation of the liner is simple, it would mean you don’t have to carry rain gear on a trip.
Incidentally, I found that on my bike the leather pants actually keep me cooler in the summer than riding in jeans.
They insulate my legs from the engine heat and aren’t unpleasantly warm for some walking around. I
did have to invest in a set of heavy-duty suspenders to keep them up ($20) when I am using the mesh jacket because, of course, the zipper in my leathers don’t match the zipper in the new jacket.
So many choices!
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