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Review: Royal Enfield leather riding jacket

Below are details of the decision making process, the shortlisted jackets, the armour that I used and my initial impressions of using a leather jacket in Cochin.

BHPian neil.jericho recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Like most other purchases of mine, any riding gear purchase, is predicated on a lot of research, repeatedly trying out the shortlisted options in stores, getting long term feedback from fellow riders and searching for reviews on forums etc. I have a mesh jacket for city usage (Revit Eclipse) and one for touring purposes (Royal Enfield Khardung La) and hence there was no real need, or want, for another riding jacket. But this very informative post from my buddy deepfreak15, opened my eyes to the option of owning a leather jacket in Indian conditions. Later, an email popped up with details of Royal Enfield's riding gear sale, which included a 10% discount on their leather jackets.

Below are details of the decision making process, the shortlisted jackets, the armour that I used and my initial impressions of using a leather jacket in Cochin. Since there are lots of pictures, I will split all of this into separate posts to make readability easier.

Why another jacket? That too leather!

I am not one to fall for these marketing emailers, but out of curiosity, I began to browse through Royal Enfield's site (as if I haven't done it a 100 times already!). The prices on the leather jackets were mouth-watering and I pinged deepfreak15 to ask for his updated feedback on his leather jacket and it was all positive praise from him. I shortlisted the Spirit jacket which was available in both black and brown colours as well as the Cafe Racer jacket which is what deepfreak15 owns. The Royal Enfield site provides hardly any information on these jackets and I learnt more about the jacket from deepfreak15's post, than Royal Enfield's own website!

Spirit Jacket - Black & Brown

Cafe Racer Jacket - Black

The same jackets were available on Amazon and there, I could see a few more details on each jacket. On the Spirit jacket it says,

A classic motorcycle leather jacket that's ride-ready with armour pockets on shoulders, elbows and back so you look good both on the saddle and off it. Fit: Cafe racer fit Outer Layer: 1.2mm leather; Vintage patina finish; Protection: Pockets available for armour at elbows, shoulder and back; 4 pockets: 2 side cargo pockets, 1 chest pocket, 1 inside pocket; Abrasion Resistant: Reinforced quilted shoulders and elbow patches; Double stitched seams for added strength; Genuine YKK zippers; Wash & Care: Hand wash only.

IIRC, there was a similar write-up on the Cafe racer jacket page as well, but I can't find it now. The advantage of buying the leather jacket(s) from Amazon is that there is a 10 day return policy and I get an additional 5% discount on a particular credit card. So a 15% discount on these jackets with 10 day returns made for a mouth-watering combination.

Please do keep in mind, that I do own a full leather suit that I have used on the track, for a grand total of 2 track days, so this is not the first time that I have used a leather jacket / suit.

Both are nice. But which one to buy?

I reached out to deepfreak15 once again and not surprisingly, he suggested that I order both jackets, since they aren't available in local Royal Enfield stores, to try on. If I don't like the fit, I can always return one or both. Something in me, tells me that deepfreak15 was hoping that I would really end up liking both jackets and wouldn't return them! Needless to say, every bit of information that deepfreak15 shared with me, was very useful and without his inputs, I wouldn't have purchased the jackets. So a big thanks to him for taking the time out to respond to all my questions and for guiding me through this purchase (this is my get out of jail card, in case the Home Minister reads this post!). I took his sound advice and placed the order for both the jackets. This is the first impulse buy of riding gear that I have done, but the option of hassle free returns gave me some peace of mind.

What about armour?

I had L2 shoulder, elbow and back armour from my recently retired 1.5 year old Rynox Air GT3 jacket and I had a back protector from my A* jacket that I retired in 2020. So, I thought that I was covered on this front. But I would only know this for certain, after the jackets were delivered.

Won a lottery? 2 leather jackets must have cost a bomb, right?

You will be surprised, but the combined cost for 2 leather jackets, with the discounts, came to below Rs 20,000.That is a helluva deal, if there ever was one!

For context, the best VFM touring jacket in India, the Royal Enfield Nirvik jacket costs Rs 15,000 and a mid-range mesh jacket from Revit, costs Rs 18,000. Here, one leather jacket, costs around Rs 10,000 after discounts.

So, same same? Or are there any differences?

In terms of build, the two jackets share a lot of similar elements but they have three major differences:

  • Style wise, the Cafe Racer jacket looks simple, smart and elegant. This is a leather jacket that 30 year old me would love to wear on a ride, or at a cafe. With it's quilted elements, the Spirit jacket is what 45 year old me would love to wear on a ride, or to a pub.
  • Ventilation wise, the Cafe Racer jacket is like a leather suit that is chopped in half. All leather, no fluff. The inner liner is also not perforated. On the other hand, the Spirit jacket takes a more balanced approach towards making a leather jacket usable for daily use. It has massive perforated leather section at the armpit, which enables a good deal of air circulation. The inner liner is also perforated.
  • The size and placing of the back armour in both jackets is completely different. The Cafe Racer jacket takes the smaller armour and it sits quite high up on your back. This leaves your lower spine exposed. The Spirit jacket, on the other hand, has a much bigger slot for the back armour and it perfectly takes in the armour from the A* jacket. To be clear, the L2 back armour from the Rynox jacket is much smaller than the A* armour and it won't fit the Spirit jacket. And vice versa. The shoulder and elbow armour from the Rynox jacket, fits perfectly in both jackets.

Here is a picture of the back armour that fits the Spirit leather jacket (left) compared to the one that fits in the Cafe Racer jacket (right).

Front

Rear

Delivery

The two jackets reached me within a few days and were delivered in a huge carton. Each jacket came in a plastic cover.

Thoughts after 10 minutes:

Positives:

  • Felt like it was a more snug fit than the Spirit jacket.
  • Looked far more stylish than the Spirit jacket

Negatives:

  • No perforated armpit areas.
  • No perforated inner lining
  • The back armour sits way too high for my comfort

TBHPian deepfreak15 has already done a great job of covering the jacket in his post.

I was really torn between the two jackets. At below Rs 20K for two leather jackets, a part of me wanted to keep both! Needless to say, deepfreak15 enthusiastically approved of such a thought process (second get out of jail card)!!! But the exposed lower part of the spine, on this Cafe Racer jacket, was a deal breaker for me.

Long Story Short

  • if I was looking for a stylish leather jacket for non-riding use, the Cafe Racer jacket was the clear winner.
  • if I was looking for a stylish leather jacket for riding use but without a back armour, the Cafe Racer jacket was the clear winner.

Unfortunately, I was looking for a stylish leather jacket for riding use, with a back armour. That meant that I had to sadly return the Cafe Racer jacket.

I still have my eyes on it, as a regular jacket for travelling or something. Maybe I will pull the trigger at the next Royal Enfield sale.

Continue reading neil.jericho's review for more insights, information and BHPian comments.

 
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