A quick note about my first armored riding jacket. I had been intending to buy one for some time now. I did a bit of digging around and saw a number of jackets that were available for purchase mostly online and some offline.
The recommendations I got from most were for Alpinestar in India, I think these come mostly from Malaysia, DSG is the company that imports them in India. But when I looked at what was available on the web (also known as www.amazon.com J ) I saw that Tourmaster seemed to be most popular in terms of quality and value.
More on the fundamentals first, there are largely two kinds of riding jackets, the street jacket and the touring jacket.
|My Hyperion Street Jacket|
The Street jackets are the more aggressive variety and fit more snugly around you. Typically these are also made of mesh more often than not. In terms of features these have fewer than the other kind and are meant for use on shorter rides. Many of these have two kinds of removable lining. These are thermal and waterproof. As suggested by the names the two linings make the jacket warmer and water proof. However in a heavy downpour this will usually not be as effective as a touring jacket.
The Touring kind of jacket is made for long rides. It has ducts for ventilation, usually these are zippered in order to provide insulation when needed. The jacket is rarely made of mesh, it is made of durable material, different types. These also come with the same two kinds of removable lining. Though these jackets have vents, they are much warmer than the typical street jacket. These have features such as numerous pockets in convenient locations, such as the sleeve etc. for storing mobiles, keys and what not. These are truly waterproof and the good ones all come with double zippers to ensure this. They also have handy clips for hanging your riding gloves or keys when you are taking a short break.
The common factor between both these types of jackets is the armor that is provided. There are grades of armor and there are classifications and quality certifications that companies talk off. European certification tests seem to be the standard – look at CE certified / EN standard – level 2. A little bit of research seemed to point in the direction of a brand called Knox armor, these guys are the gold standard for making armor for bike jackets (while plenty others will also claim the same and maybe justifiably). Typically the armor covers your shoulders and elbows. The jacket should also have some degree of protection for your back and the front. Some of these come with the ability to pair them with riding bottoms, these have hooks to join the two pieces together.
If you want to read more about armor and the science behind which areas to protect etc. you can check these chaps out
You need to pay close attention to the fit of the jacket, the armor has to fit snugly, there should be no play between your joints / limbs and the armor. It should be a proper tight fit. It is very useful if the jacket comes with adjustable straps and Velcro for you to make the armor snug. If these are not provided then you need to wear it with the same Tee that you would ride in and check that it fits you fine. Again most of the jackets have pockets on the inside within which the armor is placed, make sure these are fine and in good stitch in order to hold the armor firm.
So, having armed myself with some information I decided to go for a street jacket, I am not really going to do very long tours on my bike, they will mostly be short rides, a few hours typically. Also I do feel really warm in any kind of jacket so decided that a street jacket would be more appropriate as it would provide me with the required ventilation. I tried on both kinds and though the touring one sits more comfortably I stuck with my decision.
If you are able to buy these on Amazon.com then you can get pretty good deals. However, since it was my first jacket, I wanted to be sure about size and fit, therefore decided to buy it in a store where I could try it on.
I went to a store called bikingspirit.in, they specialize in touring equipment. They can be found online at www.bikingspirit.in or on church street in the real world. Rishab who is the main man at the store is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. There is no hard sell at this store, these are bikers helping other bikers. He gave me good advice and suggestions. I visited the store twice, the first time around to learn more and the second time to actually purchase. I bought a jacket called ‘Hyperion’ from a company called Spartan Gear, they are based in Chennai and can be found at www.spartanprogear.com
|Front and Side protection|
You can read more about the jacket on their website, here are a few pictures. This one has a leather upper which makes it look quite cool and gives a lot of biker cred to the jacket. There are adjustable straps, zips on the sleeves and protection in the front and back with armor on the shoulder and elbows. There are a couple of pockets in the front, one on the inside and a hook to hang your gloves by if you want to. The jacket is made of mesh and the leather upper third is also perforated for breathability. It has excellent ventilation. It also has a waterproof inner, which you can attach and wear in case you are riding in the rain or in cold weather. It has protection at the back, unfortunately that is the one which made me feel really warm inside the jacket. So, I have taken that out and use the jacket without it.
The store also have their own brand of touring equipment and they stock Tourmaster and Spartan gear. I also checked out Alpine star jackets these are stocked by the Firefox store opposite Forum mall. There is a store on Cunningham road which also has biker jackets, I have not visited them myself, but know friends who have bought from there and are happy.
In terms of budget, I found the Spartan one was the best value for money I found, they had a range starting from 4.5k. I spent 7.5k for the Hyperion.
Here are some pics of the jacket, the folks at Spartan could do a little better with their images of the jackets on their site they could add some helpful comments and labels to the images as well.
Tourmaster has a very good version of the street jacket, you can check it out here, if you are able to purchase in the US you can save yourself some good money.
Finally, riding big bikes on longish rides is not a risk-free enterprise, therefore it is most sensible to invest in a good jacket which can make a real difference if it is ever needed. Next on the agenda are gloves and shoes.
|Good looking …..Jacket ! 🙂|