For as long as we have been associated with Halvarssons, a mid-length, drop-liner jacket has been at the heart of the Swedish company’s collection. Initially, there was the Prime. Then came the Wien. So popular was it that it was always said that the company was fearful of replacing it with anything dissimilar, in case they got it wrong.
Well, a couple of years ago, Halvarssons was acquired by another Scandinavian company; and so it may be that the new owners are less concerned. Truth be told, we too are concerned. We have in recent years often spoken of the Wien being the perfect jacket for 95% of motorcyclists. The new Solberg jacket is quite different to the Wien. I admit we would have preferred a jacket that was more like the old one, but that ship has sailed, so let us talk through its replacement, and explain what we like about it, and what we don’t like quite so much.
But let us first talk about that darned elephant that sometimes finds its way into the room. In a world that is somewhat obsessed by laminate motorcycle gear, the Solberg is a drop-liner jacket. And so a whole swathe of bikers will dismiss it on the basis that they don’t want to get wet. And this is clearly nonsense. You pretty much won’t ever get wet in the Solberg. Yes in four or more hours of rain, the jacket may become heavy from the water it has absorbed. But how often do you ride for four or more hours in heavy rain? For most of us, it’s once in a blue moon. Put on a waterproof on such a day, and you will have created a jacket that is better than a laminated one.
The more legitimate concern in this regard would be from those who commute more than an hour each way into work. On a really wet day, there’s a danger that a drop-liner jacket might still be damp when it comes time to go home, because of the water it had taken on. A waterproof jacket would still solve the problem on such a day. But, of course, we are talking here about a pretty serious commute.
So, in certain circumstances, a laminate jacket might be required, but it wouldn’t be the right choice for most of us, most of the time. And then there are all the advantages of a drop-liner garment. A drop-liner government will, in most cases, be more comfortable. A drop-liner jacket will be warmer. The membrane in a drop-liner jacket will be less prone to failure because it is not as complex to install. And on a ‘pari-pasu’ basis, a drop-liner jacket will be less expensive.
So don’t turn your nose up at the Solberg just because it’s a drop-liner jacket. For many people a jacket like this will be the way to go. Of course, if all your research comes from the experts who ply their knowledge on the forums, you might think otherwise!
Anyway, let’s talk about the Solberg in more depth.
The most immediate difference between the Wien and the Solberg is that the latter is a shorter jacket. The Wien was longer, and had an elasticated belt at the waist. It meant that the jacket fitted an extraordinarily wide range of shapes, extraordinarily well.
The Solberg has elasication built into the flames of the jacket, but the only adjusters are at the hips. Everyone here at Motolegends has tried one on, and it seems to fit most people well, but only time will tell whether it will work as well at the ends of the spectrum. The super slim, and the super not-so-slim. We will see.
The jacket is made from what looks and feels to be the same material as the Wien; if it is not, it is certainly pretty similar. What the Solberg has that the Wien did not is leather patches on the shoulders and elbows. This may be for aesthetics as much as for added protection, but the jacket rates as highly under EN17092 as almost any waterproof jacket on the market; that is to say that it’s rated AA.
The armour in the elbows and shoulders is Level 2. It’s much nicer than the rather agricultural armour that came in the Wien. The back protector affixes by means of Velcro. Halvarssons does one, but we would avoid it at all costs. We don’t even stock it. We’d go with a Velcro D3O T8. The jacket also has pockets to accomodate Halvarssons’ chest protector. Bottom line? No issues with the Solbeg when it comes to protection.
The membrane is Halvarssons’ longstanding Dryway Plus membrane. It does everything it’s meant to; and certainly with the Wien we almost never had any issues with failures of the membrane.
Venting on the Solberg is pretty decent too. The zips that run all the way up the sleeves will allow a lot of air to reach the body. You also get vents at the side of the chest. As well as a permanently open exhaust vent beneath a storm flap below the neck at the back. The main zip up the front of the jacket is, like most zips, even Rukka ones, only water resistant. But it is backed with a large rain flap, so it won’t let water in.
Now, one of the issues with a drop-liner garment is that the air that enters through a vent has to pass through the membrane. It still works, but it’s not what is known as direct-to-body ventilation, which is what you get with a laminated jacket. The problem with the Solberg is that the jacket has a fixed Outlast thermal lining, and this will further impede airflow. Not a problem most of the time here in the UK, perhaps, but not so good in southern Spain.
Most of the other stuff is largely detail. The jacket has a lowered tail. You get three external pockets. And one inside the jacket. There’s some reflective detailing on the sleeves. There’s obviously a zip that allows you to zip into any Halvarssons (or Rukka) pant. What you don’t get is a storm collar. But Halvarssons do a couple that will work just as well.
We will miss the Wien. It has long been a favourite. The Solberg is a fine jacket. It’s not like the Wien, though; and this we may well just need to get over!
The old Wien was, on a technical level, meant to be paired to Halvarssons drop-liner ‘W’ pant, but that has now been discontinued, so Halvarssons currently doesn’t offer a matching trouser. But for us that is not a problem, because we always paired the Wien with the laminated Wish pant, and we would recommend the same with the Solberg.
Halvarssons think some might want to zip the jacket into the Rinn waterproof, leather pant; and that is also a possibility, if you are so inclined.
At this stage, it is too early to be too effusive about the Solberg. We need to see it in action. But it’s a Halvarssons, and these guys don’t tend to mess these things up.
At the time of going to press, it’s priced at a little under £450; and that represents good value. We would have expected no less.
The only other drop-liner jacket we might put in the same category is the Rukka Comfo-R, but it’s a lot more expensive than the Halvarssons. It’s £280 more expensive. The Rukka is Gore-Tex, and it comes with an £80 back protector as standard. But most significantly it has a six year warranty, as opposed to a two-year one.
Take the £80 back protector into consideration, and the Comfo-R jacket is only £200 more expensive than the Halvarssons. But for the extra £200, you get an extra four years’ warranty. That’s an insurance policy with a £50 annual premium. The Rukka Comfo-R pants cost £560, as opposed to £430 for the Halvarssons Wish pants. You do the maths.
You won’t go far wrong with either combination. If you do less than 10,000 miles a year, the reality is that you will, almost certainly, be better with a drop-liner suit. We see little point in buying a laminated jacket or suit that will be better on one in a hundred of your rides. Surely it makes sense to dress for the other 99?
If you can afford the extra capital investment, then certainly we could make a compelling case for the Rukka. But the Halvarssons outfit is pretty compelling too.
For more information and to buy online, click Halvarssons Solberg jacket.
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