No, I haven’t gone completely over to the brown side, but I confess that I do love a brown leather jacket and when I was offered the chance to test this Retrograde jacket from Icon’s 1000 Collection – which is available in black or brown – the slightly distressed brown was the obvious choice.
- Colours: Black or Brown
- Sizes: S – 3XL
- SPR: £630
- Supplied by: Parts Europe // www.partseurope.eu
And it arrived at exactly the right time, just before heading off to Biarritz on the new Fat Boy at the height of a heat wave that couldn’t possibly last, because it was possibly the perfect leather jacket for the trip.
I wasn’t absolutely sure that it would be as I navigated out of my hometown, heading to a gig in London – already running late having been thwarted by unexpected roadworks on all exit roads – remembering that I hadn’t called by the workshop to pick up my FXRG waterproofs. But what could possibly go wrong?
A half hour detour back through roadworks traffic lights or two thousand miles in a summer jacket? I pointed my front wheel at the M6 and carried on.
A summer jacket?
Well, a three season, warm weather jacket. It’s got more perforations than a Tetley T-bag, and as soon as you’re doing more than 20mph, you can feel their benefit. At seventy on a motorway on a hot day it’s absolutely wonderful: not a lot different to wearing a mesh jacket, although they do give more benefit at lower speeds.
On a hot day, you unzip the gold SatinCore vest liner and get a double benefit, and despite that offering little benefit for your arms, where a large number of the perforations are, refitting it at night when the temperature dropped was more than enough to counter any cold. I figured that it was because my chest was still warm and my heart was pumping warm blood, and just got on with the journey.
You do need to keep an eye on the pockets in the liner because as well as giving access to a pair of mesh cargo pockets in the outer jacket’s liner, it has three of its own and it’s too easy to leave stuff in them when you remove it and stuff it into a small space in your luggage. Don’t worry, they zip-up so everything is nice and safe, but that’s little consolation when you’re looking for the security fob for your bike, which is in the perfectly sized, button down pocket at the top left of the liner. You know it’s somewhere near, because the bike starts, but where??
It’s not quite as bad when you put it back in, covering one of your inside jacket pockets, because at least you can get access to that reasonably easily … as long as you remember that’s where you left the missing item.
Like all Icon riding jackets, the back protector pocket comes with armour fitted, as well as the pockets at the elbows and shoulders – in this case the pliant D3O armour that is unobtrusive until you need it, and fully CE compliant – all of which is inside a very well put-together select grain 1.1-1.3mm leather ‘chassis’.
Designed in Portland, Oregon, it has some unique features.
Externally, as well as the alloy plates at the shoulders that are matched to the colour of the jacket – the black jacket gets black plate, the brown gets something like bronze – the waist pockets are as roomy as I’ve ever known on a bike jacket, and I’ve got big hands.
Inside, I haven’t yet tried all of the pockets, which includes a couple for credit/membership cards, or even removed the complimentary Icon keyring that hangs from the wallet pocket’s zip, but I think I might have reaped the benefit of a leather-tethered St Christopher within, and his relationship with whichever deity is in charge of the weather. We only got wet twice – ferrying luggage in three trips through the middle of Biarritz from the station café to an AirBnB, and the first twenty-five miles of the journey home.
They were the only times when I considered myself to be cooler than I would have liked but not enough to regret leaving the waterproofs at home. It might have been different if it had been a thousand miles under a black cloud – literally and figuratively – but while the perforated leather makes no claims to be waterproof, it does keep the worst out, and any breaches dried quickly thanks to the perforations allowing warm dry air in afterwards.
As good as it is as a motorcycle jacket, it is also more than acceptable in social situations where the soft armour doesn’t pull at the tailoring or otherwise deform the leather; and the only impact of those thousands of miles riding into the sun and out of the rain is that it looks a bit more weathered, giving it even more character than when it landed.