Call us hoarders if you will, but I prefer to think of motorcycle enthusiasts as collectors. We collect extra seats, windshields, all types of motorcycle luggage and random spare parts. Right now, my mother’s barn has 2 stock exhaust systems, mirrors, handgrips and random other parts from bikes dating back many years. In fact, it was not too long ago that I had a tail box lid for a 1982 Honda Goldwing Interstate tucked away in her barn.
We also tend to collect riding gear. I’m an all the gear all the time rider, which means when I ride I not only wear a helmet, I wear gloves, boots, a jacket and riding pants or 1 piece suit. Right now I could probably scrape up 6 helmets around the house and at least that many pairs of gloves (probably twice that, yet I only wear one brand and one style…ever!). I have 3 different pairs of riding pants, a 1 piece Roadcrafter suit and I would guess about 5 jackets. That does not count the 2 old BMW riding suits I recently gave my son-in-law and 3-4 others still packed away in crates. Over the years I’ve owned dozens of riding jackets, including: BMW Savannah, Motoport, Aerostich Darien, Tourmaster, Firstgear, Klim, Rev it’ and Clover. In my closet right now is a Klim, 3 Rev it’ jackets and a Tourmaster, all of which see regular duty. Oh and don’t forget the red Stich.
The same people who ask me why I own more than one motorcycle also wonder why I own so much riding gear. Well, the answer is the same; different tools for different occasions. I have jackets that are 100% waterproof but are a little stiff and don’t breathe well. I have jackets with removable waterproof liners, which can be a pain, but they are lighter and breathe better. I have jackets that are warmer in winter and others that are cooler in summer. I have touring jackets and around town jackets. There, see? Makes perfect sense!
So when the folks at Motorcycle House approached me about trying one of their Viking Cycle jackets, I was more than happy to oblige. Just to be clear, I did not purchase the jacket; it was sent at no charge for my review.
The jacket that showed up at my doorstep this past week was the Ironborn Textile Jacket. The jacket body is black and comes in several accent color options. I asked them to send me the jacket in black/black. I’ve never been accused of being flashy! They were out of that combo in a medium, so I was sent black/green. Green? That made me a bit nervous. I was envisioning Kawasaki Lime Green! Anyone got a Ninja H2R they can loan me? When the package came I was pleasantly surprised to find that instead of lime green, the accents were more reminiscent of Hi Viz yellow. I can do that.
My first impression when I pulled the jacket from the packaging was, “This is nice looking jacket.” The Ironborn is a short, sport style jacket. Most of my gear is 3/4 length, but as I said, there is a purpose for every style and there are times when a short jacket is more appropriate.
One reason I like 3/4 jackets is because of the storage. They have lots of pockets. Well, the Ironborn was like a spy coat…it had pockets tucked away everywhere. Aside from the two outside zippered pockets, it had multiple pockets inside, including a phone access pocket, MP3 pocket, sunglass pocket, and random other pockets. Heck, it even has a way to route headphones inside and up to your collar! But the coup de grace is the 10″ tablet pocket inside. No kidding, this thing will hold an iPad Mini! I put my iPhone 6 inside and never felt it once.
Those of us who wear riding gear do so for specific reasons, the main one being protection. For a piece of riding gear to be of value it has to do the following things: protect you from harm, shield you from the elements, be reasonably comfortable, be somewhat versatile in regards to climate, be durable and it doesn’t hurt if it looks good too.
Protection is number one in my book. I’m happy to say that I did not “test” the Ironborn in this regard! The outer shell of the jacket is constructed of Rock Tex 600 and is complete with CE approved shoulder and elbow armor. It also has a back protector pocket and comes with spine armor in place.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Ironborn has a waterproof treated outer shell. We have been experiencing pop up showers here in the Midwest for the past several weeks, but in my 400 miles of weekend travel, I never felt a drop. I guess I could have tested the waterproof claim of the jacket by standing in my drive and letting my wife spray me with a hose…but I think she would have enjoyed that too much!
I wear a size Medium in all the jackets I own. The Ironborn medium was a little roomy on me. I think I could have worn a small. There are adjustment straps on the sleeves, as well as take up straps for the body. I pulled all of them as tight as they would go. The jacket felt good on. It zipped up nice, I pulled the velcro tight on the cuffs, put on my gloves, and off I went. 50 miles down the road and I had not given the jacket a second thought. That’s a good thing. It means it is comfortable. The neck closure was secure, no flapping, no chaffing, no bunching up anywhere.
The Ironborn even has a zip out, full sleeve, insulated liner…which I promptly took out. After all, it is 92 degrees in Kentucky right now and the humidity is through the roof. No liner needed.
I was fairly comfortable riding around locally, until I stopped for some photo ops. I got hot quick. I’m not faulting the jacket for that though; I would have been hot standing around in any of my jackets. Once I got back on the road, I did a quick, 30 mile blast down the Interstate just to make sure nothing odd happened while encountering a higher rate of speed. Before I did that though, I opened up the front chest and shoulder vents, as well as the rear exit vents. The high-speed ride, cooled me off quite nicely, thank you.
If I were guessing, I would call this a 3 season jacket. In fact, I think it would be very comfortable in the Spring and Fall, my two favorite riding seasons. I don’t know its degree of warmth for a northern winter, nor how well it would cool on a Florida July. But to be fair, I don’t know of any riding gear that feels all that cool on a Key West summer or warm on an International Falls, Minnesota winter. As for looks, I think the Ironborn is an attractive jacket. The green might have clashed a bit with my KTM orange, but so does my Arai helmet with the Union Jack on the front!
The only thing I really couldn’t test was durability. We motorcycle riders are pretty hard on our gear. We wear them in the hot sun and the pouring rain. We wear them in the cold, and even in the snow when fate fails to smile. We lay on the ground in them, change oil and tires in them and sometimes we even sleep alongside the road in them. Our gear has to be tough. The zippers need to be strong and the seams sound. Only time will tell how the Viking Cycle Ironborn jacket holds up to the test of daily use. When I find out, you will be the first to know.
Overall, I have to say I was quite impressed with the jacket. That is especially true when you realize that it retails at Motorcycle House for $69.99. No, that’s not a typo. $69.99. I’ve got jackets that I paid 3 to 8 times that much for. Are they 8 times better? I don’t know, but I do know this; I’ve had $500 jackets break zippers within the first few months of ownership. What I can say now is, if you are looking for a sport style textile jacket that provides protection and comfort and don’t want to break the bank, you should give the Viking Cycle Ironborn a look. You just might be surprised.