I haven’t worn a leather jacket on a bike in at least 10 years. I switched to textiles mainly due to the availability of high quality, multi seasonal protection. I started riding on the street in 1984 wearing a US Navy Pilot’s jacket given to me by my father, a retired USN Deep Sea Diver. That leather jacket was a year older than me! It was the only jacket I had ever seen him wear. Well cared for, completely broken in and just buttery soft, it was the coolest jacket in the world to me. Now, wearing the scars from a couple of minor “offs“ over thousands of miles and the silent witness to more things than I’ll admit, the jacket is retired and living the good life.
Recently I was offered the opportunity to sample and review a new VikingCycle leather jacket from Motorcyclehouse.com. I decided it was indeed time for some hide in my motorcycle life again and being a fan of the classics chose the Angel Fire Motorcycle jacket. You know the style. Think Brando in ‘The Wild One’, The Ramones or even Schwarzenegger in ‘The Terminator’. The iconic biker jacket. If I’m going to wear another leather jacket on a bike it’s going to be the standard. Decision made.
Pulling up the jacket’s page at Motorcyclehouse.com I followed the instructions on the Fitment & Installation tab. Falling between sizes, I chose the larger, an XXL. The jacket was ordered and it arrived 2 days later – fast. Well packed in corrugated brown paper, I excitedly dug my way into the box pulling out the jacket. First impressions were good. Nice grain and uniform color and stitching. I pulled it out of the plastic protector bag and unzipped to try it on.
Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.
Now, I’m 5’9” & 225 pounds, kind of broad chested and a bit of table muscle, but I used REAL measurements and their sizing tables. The jacket was not going to encapsulate me; the zipper had a 2” gap and there was no room to move my arm & shoulders. I emailed Motorcyclehouse.com about the issue and was contacted immediately. A replacement jacket sized XXXL was shipped and I was emailed a shipping label to send the original jacket back, easy enough. I dropped the smaller jacket off at FedEx, the larger jacket arrived 2 days later and out of the box was just as impressive as the first. And it fit really well, no sucking it in to zip and fasten the belt!
Slipping it on you notice it does have a bit of weight to it and it’s nicely put together. All the seams are straight and tight, the YKK main zipper is smooth operating and substantial as are all the pocket zips. All the snaps are tight and the belt fits well with good slack management so it won’t whip in the wind. There’s 2 big inside pockets, 2 hand warmer pockets, a breast pocket and a smaller pocket with the snap low on the front just a little too small for an iPhone 6. The sleeve openings, however, are huge. So much so that I don’t need to unzip them to don or doff the jacket and allowing the sleeves to hang down completely over my hands. It’s better on the bike. Arms out - grabbing the bars the sleeves fall right at your wrist but then they act as big scoops for cold air if not tucked into (big) gloves. This is awkward and a little uncomfortable because of the amount of excess that’s crammed into the glove gauntlet and being squeezed against your arm. You feel really cool, though. Way cool.
Another minor issue I found was the liner irritated my skin at the crook of the elbow. It felt as though something was poking me but I found nothing when I ran my hand up the sleeve. This was noticeable on both arms and it could not be felt when I wore a long sleeve shirt. I’m not sure if it is the lining material or maybe the thread stitching it. Guess I need to just suck it up and quit being such a wuss. I can always wear a long sleeved t-shirt underneath; nobody will suspect I’m a poser with delicate skin.
Off the bike it’s a rather comfortable jacket. There’s more than enough storage for my phone, keys & a couple Dominican robustos. The past couple weeks have seen temps from the low 20s to about 70 with wind and rain. Wearing it daily, much to the chagrin of my wife and 17 year old niece, I’ve been plenty warm and really appreciated the wind protection on the blustery days. It feels really cool too, did I mention. Time to ride.
The weather cooperated and I was finally able to try the jacket out on the bike. I even wore my black leather chaps, boots, and gloves. Yes, and long sleeved t-shirt. Captain Jeff, full-on biker dude. A rolling stereotype if you will. Once on the road, I realized how well this jacket worked. Comfortable, everything is covered, no wind down the neck blowing up like the Stay Puft marshmallow man. Plenty of room to move without pulling the jacket up getting that stupid Igor look with the shoulders of the jacket at ear level. You know - those kinds of things. 300 miles later, I’m digging it, totally forgot about the jacket it was so comfortable and just enjoyed the wind. That’s a good thing as ole Martha says.
Here I should tell you I am a firm believer in ATGATT. All my other riding gear is armored, chosen to protect me and used EVERY time I ride no matter the temps or conditions. I must, however, point out; there is no armor or even a pocket for adding any in this jacket. It felt a little odd at first. I will not ride in anything I don’t trust to protect me from harm, regardless of its source or cost. I truly believe this jacket would stand up to an “off” protecting me from the dreaded rash and I’m willing to accept the possible injury the lack of armor brings. Something you should consider for yourself as a rider.
In summary the Angel Fire motorcycle jacket features:
- Nice leather, fairly heavy weight.
- Well put together with nice stitching.
- Sturdy YKK zippers and quality snaps.
- Good storage, many pockets
- Makes you feel really cool.
A couple places for improvement would be:
- Sizing inconsistencies.
- Shrink the sleeve opening a bit.
- Add pockets for adding armor to the elbows, shoulders, and back.
Overall, I would absolutely recommend the Angel Fire as a great leather motorcycle jacket for use on or off the saddle, it’s an incredible value. Nice leather well put together with good hardware that should last for years with a little care. Even my wife has come around and now likes the look, the niece not so much. And it just looks and feels so cool. Like, hit the jukebox and your song plays kind of cool. You know what I’m saying. Looking good Billy Ray! Feeling good Louis!