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Posts Tagged ‘FXRG’

motorcycle fashion historyNo one can deny the huge impact that the American motorcycle and biker sub-culture has had on the fashion industry.

Motorcyclists spend a great deal of money and effort to find protective gear that looks fashionably good, but there is a small minority who tarnish the sport.  You know the type…  stick-on bunny ears on the helmet or the camouflage trousers and the faux Mohawk that should’ve stayed with the 90’s punk bands.

I’ve been on a clothing hiatus for a while, but back in 2009, I blogged at length about motorcycle fashions with… Limited Edition Clothing; Motorcycle Style; Dressed For Summer and the FXRG Jacket Road Test.  For all the hype fashion gets, it’s truly irrelevant and a way for the untalented to stand out.  Because if you’re talented, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?!

This week my friends over at Bennetts provided me an interesting visual graphic on the Evolution of Motorcycle Fashion & Clothing.  Check it out HERE and take a tour through motorcycle clothing history.  Who knows, it might even help you distinguish between clothing features that are pure fashion and those that have some genuine protective merit.

If however, you wake up in the morning with the desire to stick on a Mohawk or those bunny ears then it’s probably best that you hand over your motorcycle keys because you are about to make a motorcycle fashion faux pas.

Photo courtesy of www.bennetts.co.uk

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Canada & Glacier Road Test Route

Canada & Glacier Road Test Route

Previously I provided an in depth review of the Harley-Davidson FXRG® Perforated Leather Jacket HERE.

My experience in the initial post was primarily from short trips around town and I was looking forward to a longer road test of the jacket.   I planned to wear the jacket on an 8-day trip through the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park in Montana which you can read about HERE.  More important to the jacket road test was the trip saw temperatures from 47F to 107F degrees and allowed for an extended trail while fleshing out it’s features across a broad spectrum of weather conditions.   View this post is a follow up to the original review.

First off I got a chuckle whenever handing the jacket to people and watching them nearly topple over when they try and lift it. It’s not just a leather jacket – it’s riding gear and a bit heavy because of it. The nice thing is that all that thickness and weight will be between you and the road should you ever go down.  And as the saying goes, ride wearing what you want to crash wearing.

FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket - Road Test

FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket - Road Test

The temperature sweet spot, at least for my body type was 65F to 85F degrees.  There was plenty of ventilation to help me stay cool during the hotter parts of the day and during the lower temps I would wear the removable windproof liner that features the Gore-Tex® Windstopper® technology.   In fact, after a long day of riding I wore that liner out to dinner which saved space having to lug yet another fleece or light jacket on the Road King.

However, any extended riding with temperatures below 60F degrees and you experience a ‘wind chill’ effect.  I found myself searching for a rain jacket to provide extra wind block from the cold.   For example, our morning departure out of Banff, Alberta was 47F degrees and wet.  I had a long sleeve t-shirt, windproof liner, perforated jacket and windproof rain coat.  Everything was zipped high and tight.  I was cool during the ride, but not too cold to function properly.  This cold weather was not anticipated, but you never know what you’ll ride into.

FXRG Jacket - Under Rain Coat - Glacier Nat. Park

FXRG Jacket - Under Rain Coat - Glacier Nat. Park

On the hot side of the temperature gauge spectrum… Perforated Leather is only “uncomfortable” when you’re not moving so my suggestion is never stop!  With temperatures up in the mid-90F’s I was actually pleased that the jacket provided significant ventilation and helped me stay cool.   Anything above 97F degrees and I don’t care how many deflecting diamond plate patterns supposedly deflect sun or how much “CoolMax” “breathable liner” you have on — it’s too damn much!  I had to remove the jacket.  When the temps top 100F, you experience this ‘convection oven’ effect. You really notice it riding at 107F which was the temperature in Wenatchee, WA on the day of our arrival.  And the faster you ride, the hotter it feels. So, I stripped down to a t-shirt.  It would not offer much protection going down, but I didn’t need to ride all day with that high of temperature.  Had I needed too I would have worn long sleeve t-shirts and a leather vest.

All the zippers on the jacket from the front, sleeves and pockets worked flawlessly.  I especially liked the quick access to cell phone and sunglass interior pockets.  The jacket was very durable and held up well to abrasion as it was tossed about on the bike at fuel stops or in motel rooms.

In summary, the FXRG Perforated Leather jacket is a very solid jacket.  It looks tough but at the same time is smooth and streamlined.  It’s heavy enough for cold weather riding and has built-in blow-through venting for hot summer riding. The protective armor along the spine, shoulders, and elbows gives you added physical security if not some extra peace of mind.

Harley-Davidson is known for quality bike clothing and their new FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket delivers.   The one negative that I can offer for this product is that the Mandarin collar, YKK® Finguard® front zipper takes some getting used to.   When riding and 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.  I learned to fold it a bit which relieved the issue.

Lastly I want to provide a shout out to H-D and Laura for providing the testing opportunity.  Thanks!

Photo courtesy of H-D and Google maps.

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Canadian Rockies

Canadian Rockies

If you’re into snow-capped peaks, breathtaking mountain passes and twisty roads mixed with the occasional waterfall… riding to the northern Rockies by way of Rogers Pass and the Canadian Glacier National Park should be on your short list.

It was a warm morning departure for our 8 day adventure of ~2000miles.  We rushed an obligatory breakfast at Elmer’s and set out leaving the city by way of the Lewis and Clark highway.

Maryville Winery

Maryville Winery

We headed east on Washington State Hwy14 (SR14) and enjoyed the sweeping views of the Columbia River before heading north on Route 97 (US97). US97 is a 322-mile route through Washington state which traverses from the Oregon state line at the northern end of the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge in Maryhill, north to the Canadian border in Okanogan County near Oroville.

Wenatchee By Moonlight

Wenatchee By Moonlight

We tried to stay cool traversing the major cities of Goldendale, Yakima, and Ellensburg through a northwest heat advisory.  Our arrival in Wenatchee was greeted with short gasps to get air as the sweltering heat set an all-time high of 107 degrees!  The day also recorded Seattle’s hottest day (103) in its history.  We’d had enough of the triple digits and elected to cool off before continuing. Note: I had the FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket on all day, but once the temp hit 97 degrees I stripped clothing to a t-shirt.  I’ll provide more on how the jacket faired during this trip in another post.

The next morning our early departure was met with temperatures already in the mid-70s.  We wanted to get some miles under our feet before high temps set in for the day.  We headed north on 97A which runs right along the west side of the Columbia river and then rejoined US97 at Lake Chelan.

VLBA Radio-Telescope

VLBA Radio-Telescope

Between Brewster and Monse, WA I was reminded of the movie Contact starring Jodie Foster.  Remember the scene where she is sitting atop her car hood under the Very Large Array of satellite antenna’s listening to space?   Well on the west side of the river dotted with farm tractors is a Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) station.  It looks like a secret “military” base, but is really part of a ten radio-telescope antenna system, each with a dish 82 feet in diameter and weighing 240 tons.

Canada Border Crossing

Canada Border Crossing

Others are located from Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The VLBA provides astronomers with the sharpest vision of space compared to any telescope via radio waves!  It’s funded by The National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education.  In fiscal year (FY) 2009, the NSF budget is $9.5 billion, which includes $3.0 billion provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  A list of “shovel ready” ARRA funded projects at NSF is located HERE if you’d like more info on how the $$ are being spent.  But I’ve digressed…

FXRG Jacket Testing

FXRG Jacket Testing

By the time we rolled through Oroville the temps were again in the high 90’s and the air was hazy with smoke.  Before heading towards the Alaska Highway at the Yukon border which is known as British Columbia Highway 97 (BC97) we were “processed” by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers.  After a long wait due to a large number of RV’s we were subjected to several difficult questions meant to trip up any unsuspecting armed terrorist… “Where you from?”, “Where you going?”, “How Long you gonna be here?”… you get the drill.  After a hour long process I couldn’t help but think that if the CBSA ran Apple Computer we’d all be running Apple II’s, having to insert an identity card every time we booted up and required to surf at dial-up speed  — yeah, it was that painful!

Kelowna, BC - Bridge

Kelowna, BC - Bridge

After the “land of poutine” passed us through the international border crossing we made our way through Oliver, Penticton and along the western shore of magnificent Okanagan Lake for many kilometers to finally arrive in Kelowna, BC.  A thick haze filled the air as a reminder of the tinder-box conditions of the province and the hundreds of fires.  The local newspaper proclaimed “Wildfires Scorch BC” with thousands of evacuee’s and sad tales. In fact, seeing across the street was a challenge and breathing reminiscent of sitting around a camp fire about to extinguish itself.

After  a couple of days riding we enjoyed refreshments and some Montana Cookhouse baby-back ribs then headed down to the marina to take in some of the local nightlife and Okanagan Lake experience.

The 107 to 47 Journey – Part Two HERE; Part Three HERE; Part Four HERE

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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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