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Archive for July 23rd, 2009

Hwy 97 near Shaniko, OR

Hwy 97 near Shaniko, OR

Like most riders, I’ve tried on every type of jacket I could get my hands on over the years. Deciding what to wear is a combination of the riders personality, fashion, who they ride with and for some it’s also about motorcycle safety.

My primary riding jacket is a Harley-Davidson “Rocker” classic with a fold back-collar, a snap-removable thermal insulation lining along with an assortment of pockets and zippered sleeves.  The style was made famous before my time in the “Brando” days of The Wild One, and more currently with the Ramones who played a lot of clubs.  That H-D Rocker jacket is one of the best I’ve ever owned.  It is exceptionally comfortable and has endured more than a decade of serious road use proving to be most reliable.

FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket - Front

FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket - Front

Harley-Davidson is known for quality bike clothing and recently I had an opportunity (thanks Laura!) to evaluate one of their new FXRG® Perforated Leather Jackets.  I’ve been thinking about a lighter weight (2-season) riding jacket and I thought how timely!   Historically I’ve shied away from the Motocross or Motorad style jackets which are popular in sport bike circles, but now I would have a chance to try one out.  When it comes to motorcycle garments I’ve defaulted toward the old-school functional vs. new technology.  That isn’t to say I’m so arrogant as to think there is nothing over leather or there are no other reputable manufactures who can build quality jackets.   There are many options, but for me it’s difficult to find an “off the rack” quality leather garment which can accommodate both a fit that’s right for riding and walking around vendor booths on a cool autumn day.

FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket - Back

FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket - Back

The Marketing Stats: the FXRG® Perforated Leather Jacket is designed to enhance comfort and rider performance. It has a heat and sunlight deflecting diamond plate pattern that supposedly deflects up to 80% of sunlight allowing the rider to stay cooler longer. The jacket has a reinforced Cordura® mesh backing for additional durability and abrasion resistance.  It also includes a fixed CoolMax® lining and a removable, windproof liner that features Gore-Tex® Windstopper® technology.  It also has removable, CE-approved lightweight body armor at the elbows, shoulders, and back. The jacket has a Mandarin collar, YKK® Finguard® front zipper with a newly designed zipper pull and a removable kidney belt. It has pre-curved sleeves with zipper cuffs, two zipper hand-warmer pockets and an assortment of interior pockets.  For added safety there is the 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material piping and the jacket comes with a 5-year warranty.

FXRG - Mandarin Collar

FXRG - Mandarin Collar

My Initial Reaction: FXRG® stands for “Functional Riding Gear” and the jacket certainly fulfills that promise.  The logo branding is understated by design which likely broadens the appeal beyond H-D loyalists.  My reaction in removing it from the shipping box was the weight — its heavier than I anticipated for a summer jacket, but once I removed a couple of optional items it was less of an issue.  The jacket has a semi-tailored fit.  It’s not tight, but not baggy or does it have a restrictive feel.  I was impressed by the quality of the leather as it is softer than my Rocker.  The jacket comes with a combination of linings designed to be windproof and to stabilize temperatures across a range of riding conditions.  According to H-D the lining has “membranes” or pores which open as the level of body moisture rises.  The wicking properties of the lining help keep the body cool in the summer months and during cold weather the membrane condenses to retain the heat.  The northwest has been under a heat advisory for several days and “comfort” is relative when the temperature is in the 90’s!  It was a bit of a mental challenge to put on a jacket being a t-shirt and vest person.  I can say that my pools of sweat were kept to a minimum after reaching 35-40 mph.  The large perforated panels or mesh design allowed the air to freely flow through the jacket and cool me down.

FXRG - Understated Branding

FXRG - Understated Branding

In addition I found the jacket packed with cool and useful features. The Kidney Belt provided additional back support and I liked that it could be easily removed.  The interior pocket system included two zipper pockets, a cargo pocket, Velcro-closure cell-phone pocket, and my fav was the eyewear pocket with lens wipe.  Sweet!  My iPhone was a snug fit with the rubber protective cover, and the Velcro-closure headphone cable “routing tab” was a nice touch.   An indicator of the attention to detail that was taken in the design of the jacket.  The Mandarin collar may take time getting use too.  It is short and does not fold over.  When riding with the jacket partially unzipped, the collar (does have a soft lining) had a tendency to rub or interfere with the bottom of my helmet or chin strap.  Not a deal breaker, but it was noticeable compared to a collar style jacket.  I’m planning to wear this jacket during an upcoming Canadian Rockies trip and will have a chance to evaluate it across a broader spectrum of weather conditions.  I’ll update the post with findings later in August.

As a crusty cynic I was impressed with the comfort and functionality of this jacket.  Before you conclude that I’ve been somehow anesthetized by H-D Kool-Aid, I suggest you take the time and ride down to your local dealer and try one on for yourself.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

More jacket information HERE.  Product Code: 98521-09VM — MSRP: $625-$645 depending on size — Typical internet pricing: $499.95

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