It hasn’t stopped raining for almost a week now, but taking the view that our collective luck has to change at some point, I thought the time was right to talk about mesh jackets.
Now, in my recent video about what to look for when you’re buying a motorcycle jacket, I did talk about mesh jackets. There’s a chance that I might have come across as a bit dismissive of mesh jackets as a genre. That was not really my intention, although I did suggest that for your average, sub-5,000 mile-a-year, biker a mesh jacket would be a bit of an indulgence.
In over 30 years as a biker, I personally have never worn a traditional mesh jacket in the UK. I don’t commute through the city, and for my road riding I have never felt the need. Yes there have been times when I have been hot, but in common with many bikers I like riding when it’s warm because it makes such a change. And I have always been mindful of how cold you can get on the bike when the sun loses its heat, so I’ve been prepared to compromise. To get a little too hot at times, perhaps, in order to be prepared for the lower temperatures later in the day. The truth is that the mesh jacket as a concept wasn’t really designed for the UK climate. Yes, you can buy them here, but they are really designed for countries with hotter weather than ours.
The principle behind mesh jackets is very straightforward. Traditionally, they have had a very basic Nylon chassis interspersed with panels of mesh on the chest, and sometimes up the arms and on the back.
This construction allows the cooler oncoming air to reach the body more easily. This we call venting, but the mesh panels also allow the body to breathe more easily. When we are hot, we sweat; this is the way the body cools itself down. The sweat turns from a liquid state to a gaseous state. This process releases energy, and this release of energy generates heat. The heat is drawn from the skin, thus cooling the body down. This can happen more efficiently in a mesh garment than in any other type of motorcycle jacket, because the vapour can escape more easily.
The combination of better venting and better breathability mean that a mesh jacket is what you might want in really hot conditions. There’s no doubt about this but, as I have mentioned, you need to be mindful of what happens if you’re wearing a mesh jacket when the temperatures start to drop.
The other concern that we have had, historically, is the level of protection mesh jackets have offered. With the new CE standard, you do now know that a mesh jacket is not going to rip apart as soon as you hit the deck. But you still have to accept that traditional mesh jackets do not represent the pinnacle of protection. I don’t want to come off my bike bike at 70mph, but if it were to happen, I wouldn’t want to be wearing a traditional mesh jacket. And I emphasise ‘traditional’ because there’s a new breed of mesh jackets that has emerged in recent years; and these jackets are much stronger and more protective.
So that’s where we stand on mesh. Mesh jackets perform a function, albeit within narrow parameters. You don’t want to be wearing a mesh jacket when the temperatures drop. And you need to be aware that traditional mesh jackets don’t offer the highest levels of protection.
So let’s talk about five different mesh jackets that we offer here at Motolegends.
This Mistral Evo 2 is the epitome of the traditional mesh jacket. At £129.99, it’s as cheap as chips, although as one customer once pointed out when I made such a claim about another product, the chips in Surrey must be more expensive than they are where he comes from!
It’s a simple jacket. The chassis is a basic Nylon of some description. There are mesh panels down the front, along the arms and up the back. You get adjusters for the biceps, the sleeve ends and the waist. There are two lower, zip pockets on the outside and two zipped, Napoleon pockets on the inside. One detail that we don’t always see on jackets at this price point is that the Mistral Evo 2 has a slightly lowered back. And that we like.
Armour comes courtesy of D3O in the shoulders and elbows; there’s a pocket for a D3O protector in the back.
As we have said, this is a very basic mesh jacket. It’s lightweight, and it’ll do a good job of helping you to stay cool, but you don’t get many bells and whistles. The jacket comes prepared for an airbag vest, but an airbag in a mesh jacket makes no sense at all. If safety is your concern, don’t buy a mesh jacket. And if staying cool is a priority, the last thing you want is an airbag vest!
The Modelo, from the stylish French brand Helstons, is a step up from the Furygan. It is still a traditional mesh jacket, but it doesn’t shout mesh in quite the way the Furygan does. And it just feels a bit more substantial. The mesh is thicker and stronger. It is double layered with a re-inforcing interlining between the two. The Nylon chassis is also heavier duty than the chassis on the Furygan.
You get four pockets on the front and three on the inside. The armour isn’t D3O, but it is super-soft, and in the Modelo you get a back protector as standard too.
We do like this jacket. Whereas the Furygan feels a bit skimpy, feels as though it was made to hit a price point, the Helstons doesn’t to the same extent. The Furygan, in our view, says scooter; the Helstons says motorbike.
You pay a bit more for the extra heft of the Modelo. It’s probably not going to feel quite so light and airy in the hottest weather, but the trade off is a greater sense of security. The Helstons is, without doubt, a more protective jacket.
The price is £149.99, and in our view that still isn’t expensive. We think it’s worth the extra £20 over the Furygan, especially as it comes equipped with a back protector as standard.
Talk Belstaff, and you can’t help but think that prices are going to be through the roof. And you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. The Temple costs £275, and even we think that’s a lot of money for a mesh jacket.
But, as we have often pointed out, the words Belstaff and value don’t belong in the same sentence. Nobody buys into Belstaff because it is cheap. Belstaff is the epitome of motorcycle chic. Motorcycle gear doesn’t get cooler or more stylish.
Some people hate the fact that you don’t get a lot for your money with Belstaff. But, for others, that exclusivity, and the fact that it doesn’t appeal to everybody, is part of the attraction. And there can be no doubt that, as a brand, Belstaff is a bit special.
The Temple is beautifully styled; a lot of care has gone into the detailing. The jacket has the same upper, patch pockets that you would find on the wax cotton Mojave, Crosby or Trialmaster jackets. You get four pockets on the outside of the jacket and one more inside. There are popper adjusters at the waist and at the ends of the sleeves. All of the buttons are rubber covered. The zips are by YKK.
What annoys us a bit about Belstaff is their propensity to cut corners and do things on the cheap. It’s not acceptable at this end of the market, and at Belstaff’s prices; it demeans the brand. And nowhere is this more evident than in the armour that Belstaff has put in the Temple. This is a jacket that screams for D30 Ghost, but Belstaff has equipped it with a cheap and nasty, bog-standard armour. That’s a shame.
As a jacket, the Temple differs from both the Furygan and the Helstons. It features less mesh. The jacket is going to be very light and easy to wear; indeed, in hot weather it’s going to be about as comfortable as any jacket out there, but technically it won’t flow as much air as the other two jackets. By the same token, you won’t get quite as cold in it. But it’s probably the lack of mesh panelling that makes this a nicer or smarter jacket to wear off the bike. You could wear the Temple into a stylish West End restaurant and not look out of place. The same cannot be said of any of the other jackets in this review.
The Belstaff is not going to be for everyone. If I was in the Sahara, it wouldn’t be my first choice of outerwear. But if I did a lot of urban riding, and if I wanted a jacket that was cool in both senses, I’d have to look at the Temple. Cost be damned!
The original Forsair came onto the market a few years ago; the Forsair Pro is an evolution of that jacket. The original marked a significant step up for the mesh jacket concept.
The jacket is made from a material called Cordura AFT. Basically, on the Forsair this is a 650 denier Cordura, and this is a very respectable weight. It’s a heavier weight than you would find on many traditional textile jackets. But on the Forsair, the Cordura has been knitted rather than woven. This does not weaken the fabric, but the construction allows the material to flow nearly twice as much air as would be the case if the Cordura had been traditionally woven.
What marks out the Forsair Pro is that the entire jacket is made from Cordura AFT. And so every single panel of the jacket flows air. There is literally no other mesh jacket on the market that flows as much air. Yet the Forsair is so much stronger and abrasion resistant than any mesh jacket. We’ve seen the result of accidents when the rider was wearing one of these, and the jacket stands up well. It’s very impressive.
On the shoulders and elbows, there’s a double layer of Cordura AFT for extra strength. In terms of impact protection, you get Level 2 vented D3O armour, again in the elbows and shoulders. There’s a pocket to take a D3O back protector.
There are two pockets on the outside of the jacket; one on the inside. You get adjusters at the hem and at the ends of the sleeves. There’s a crotch strap to stop the jacket riding up. As this jacket is made by Rukka it comes with a zip that allows the jacket to be connected to any Rukka pant. Coincidentally, this means that the Forsair can be attached to any Halvarssons pant. Or if you use Halvarssons’ ingenious Waist Zip, you can cleverly zip the jacket into any jeans.
The Forsair Pro is in a different league to any traditional mesh jacket. It flows more air, it is more abrasion resistant, and it comes with better armour. Of course, being a Rukka you might imagine that the Forsair would be expensive; and at £399.99 you’d be right. But this is no ordinary mesh jacket. It’s a favourite with high-mileage commuters who might have a waterproof Rukka jacket for the cold and the wet. These guys would then equip themselves with a Forsair to wear as an alternative on hotter days, and when commuting into the city in a laminated jacket would be unbearable.
This is a mesh jacket, but not as we know it, Jim!
The Klim Marrakesh is a variation on a theme; that theme being the one composed originally by Rukka with their Forsair. Like the Forsair, the Marrakesh is constructed from a material that flows air such that, again, air can pass through every single panel of the jacket.
On the Marrakesh, the core material is a 1000 denier Cordura infused with Elastane for a 4-way stretch capability. That makes the jacket even stronger than the Rukka Forsair, but with its stretch component, it is incredibly comfortable to wear. Indeed, we would venture to suggest that this is the most comfortable motorcycle jacket of any description that you will ever wear. It is amazing to ride in.
In the margin, we would contend that the Rukka will flow marginally more air because the Cordura is knitted rather than woven, but that the Klim is nicer to wear and more protective.
There are four pockets on the outside and two on the inside. You get adjusters on the forearms and zips at the ends of the sleeves. The Marrakesh supposedly has a waterproof coating, but we wouldn’t be too swayed by that. This is not a jacket that you want to be wearing in anything more than a very light shower. You also get black 3M Scotchlite for increased visibility at night. The package is completed with a full suite of vented D3O armour in the shoulders, elbows and back. Although it’s Level 1; not the Level 2 you get in the Rukka.
The Marrakesh jacket differs from other mesh jackets in that it very much comes out of an adventure and off-road riding background. We still like it for wearing on the road, but the stretch in the fabric means that if you do need to be moving around on the bike when you’re in the rough stuff, the Marrakesh will be more than up to the job.
One thing that the Marrakesh doesn’t have that the Forsair does is a connecting zip. But if you do like the idea of connecting, we can add a connecting zip into the Marrakesh that will enable you to connect to any Halvarssons or Rukka pant, or to a pair of jeans if you use Halvarssons’ Waist Zip.
So much do we like the Marrakesh that we often use it as the basis for a four part system that will enable you to have the ultimate riding outfit whatever the riding conditions, whatever the weather conditions. As we know, no jacket does everything, but with the set up we are going to talk about here you really can make yourself comfortable in all climatic situations.
On its own, with nothing but a thin base layer underneath, the Marrakesh will look after you in the hottest conditions. For when it’s a little chilly, you might wear beneath it Klim’s super-thin windproof jacket called the Zephyr. This is an amazing layer that can be worn under any jacket to stave off the effects of wind chill. It’s a brilliant bit of kit in its own right. Never in the field of motorcycle riding has something so small and light done so much for so many!
For when the temperature drops further you might want to wear a down jacket over the Zephyr, but under the Marrakesh. And here we’re thinking of the Rukka Down-X or the Klim Maverick. Thus equipped you will be able to cope with the very coldest weather.
But you won’t be protected from the rain, so if the heavens open you would put a Scott waterproof jacket over the top. With this, you will access levels of waterproofing that potentially exceed the performance of a laminate jacket because, when it stops raining and you take your Scott off, the Marrakesh beneath it will be bone dry.
All of this is going to set you back a little under £800. Nobody is going to suggest that this is a paltry sum, but we’re talking about the best of the best here. You could pay much more than this for a jacket from Rukka, Stadler and a number of other brands, but there’s no jacket out there that will give you the full four-season protection that you’ll get from this little combo.
Yes, you will have to stop at times to put things on or take them off, but frankly that’s the price of always having the right outfit for whatever conditions you’re riding in. Okay, so we admit that you could apply the same principles to any of the mesh jackets here, but when you take into consideration protection, comfort, wearability and air flow, we think the Marrakesh works best!
So there you have it; our take on five quite different mesh jackets. There are loads more mesh jackets out there, but we think the ones we have spoken about are representive of the spectrum of jackets on the market.
The Furygan is the archetypal basic mesh jacket; it does a job.
The Helstons Modelo is a step up; a better looking, better made, stronger, more wearable kind of mesh jacket.
The Belstaff Temple combines Belstaff style with reasonable levels of air flow; it’s a jacket that both looks cool and keeps you cool.
When it first came out, the Rukka Forsair raised the bar as far as mesh jackets are concerned. It’s incredibly strong and flows more air than anything this side of a string vest. It has always been the go-to for all those guys who commute from here into London throughout the hottest days of summer.
The Klim Marrakesh is a revelation. Motorcycle jackets don’t get nicer than this in terms of comfort. The Rukka might, in the margin, flow more air, but in most other respects it is trumped by the Klim. It’s what most of us here prefer to wear when we are riding in really hot conditions. And as the basis for our all-season system, it is just about perfect.
At £370, it costs a bit less than the Rukka, but add a Rukka back protector and the Forsair ends up being virtually a hundred pounds more expensive. That having been said, the Rukka would have Level 2 armour; the Klim, Level 1. We try to be objective with our reviews, but we simply cannot disguise our preference here. We love the Marrakesh. We think it’s brilliant!
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