Saturday, February 09, 2013

BMW Airflow 4 Jacket review

I have previously owned three dedicated summer jackets but never been really happy
with any of them. The first jacket was a $99 clearance bin item made by Dryrider that I purchased 10+ years ago. This was a very light weight item with minimal protection but maximum cooling. I expected to use it for a limited time until I found something better however I still have this jacket and was using it on the very hottest days each year until this summer.

The second jacket I purchased was a Cortech item that was supposed to do it all.
The base was a combination of mesh, textile and leather with lots of armor. To this
you could zip in wind and water proof liner and thermal liner. Instead of doing it all
it really did not work well for anything. Heavier than my full leather jacket it was
simply too heavy and hot to wear on a summer day and with the liners in I remained cold on a winter day so I actually threw it away recently.

In the USA caught out by the 40+ heat I purchased a full mesh jacket made by River
Road and this was perhaps the best of the three but it was very light weight with
simple foam padded armor and like the Dryrider would offer less protection than a
regular jacket in a crash.

This summer I decided to finally get a summer jacket that worked but with
good protection. I have been very happy with the BMW pants I have so I decided to
investigate their jackets.

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The BMW Airflow 4 Jacket is actually very expensive (in Australia) if you
were looking at it full retail price. I happened to walk in to my local dealer when they
had a 40% off clearance and even at a reduced price it was at the upper envelope of
what I would be prepared to pay. Fortunately with eBay, Amazon, Google shopping
etc you can seek out items worldwide and hopefully avoid paying full retail. Or if
travelling then email a BMW dealer where you are going about price as retail items in
Australia are marked up huge amounts compared to overseas.

Ok with that out of the way I can say the jacket itself is excellent. I purchased it a couple of months ago but so bad has the weather been that it has taken two months to get two solid riding days completed. Instead of open weave the jacket has sturdy construction, full complement of BMW’s armor and uses ventilation panels at specific locations. I was at first a bit sceptical about the ability of the panels to flow enough air but reviews seemed good so I decided to try and indeed the jacket works very well. The front and rear panels flow air in and along and around your arms and body and back out the rear panels to cool you effectively without resorting to a open weave type construction. An added feature is the jacket is a pale sand colour which does not hold heat like a black item and last weekend despite being a summer day the jacket did not get that heat build up as much as black does.

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I don’t want you to think I said this was good because of the brand as I actually do not like the brand itself per se as I find like Harley, BMW has too much elitism attached to it and funny enough like Harley rates low in reliability surveys too however their clothing line seems to be quite good albeit super expensive. If full price I would never buy as can buy quality brands like Alpinestars for much less however on sale it represents reasonable value.

Update 2014. Ok well I find the jacket on a fairing bike falls a long way behind the mesh type jacket I have. It really works well on naked bikes flowing heaps of air but on a fairing bike I find the mesh works far better with the limited air flow so I don't recommend if you ride a tourer. 

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Go your own way

I think that was a motorcycle slogan once. I know I have said it before in this blog somewhere but today the thought came to me anew not recycled from the past.

I was riding my old favourite loop into NSW via Mt Lindsey, Summerland way, Kyogle, Uki, Numinbah and was thinking what a great ride this is and I should call it, and todays post, old faithful. But that sounds like riding is not so special and that could not be further from the truth.

Any time you get on a motorcycle to go somewhere it is an event. Add a fine Sunday morning with clear skies and a series of scenic and fun roads and you have the ingredients for a soul invigorating day out.

So today I was grinning away under my helmet all morning just happy to be doing my thing. Riding my own pace, enjoying cool morning air, taking some side roads just to see what they revealed, stopping as long as I wanted to take photos with no timetable whatsoever. At one point I noted nearly every 2nd car was some shiny new lumbering 4 wheel drive and it crossed my mind that it is nice to be at a stage where I know what I like and care zero what anyone else is doing or thinks of me.

Anyway today’s ride was well overdue for me. Been a long time since I got out on the bike for a number of reasons but mostly since the weather has been so poor. Instead I have been indoors planning a few overseas motorcycle rides for later this year, so while looking forward to them I was relieved to turn the alarm off this morning and be blinded by the sunshine when pulling back a curtain.

After a leisurely start I took some time to enjoy Mt Barney in super clear air with little to no haze. Did not help my photography efforts as I still struggle with the 90mm (equivalent) portrait lens.

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Mt Lindsey was relatively free of debris from recent cyclone and a joy to ride as usual. For all the people who still only think to ride the Lions Road then you are missing two of the best bits of road around by skipping Mt Lindsey and Summerland way. By all means try the Lions once every couple of years for a change but seriously it is the most overrated bit of tar that I know of.

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Of course at the moment there is a lot of damage to roads from the cyclone and the massive floods that Kyogle and surrounds suffered were easy to see today. Riding back north to Uki I was surprised the road was in not too bad shape considering much of it would have been flooded.

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I am still disappointed the Uki cafe closed down, so hung out at the pub for lunch and a rest. The CB always draws a few questions from other riders when I stop there.

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I cut across the back of Murwillumbah at Bray Park and was not aware until Chillingham that the road ahead was closed, lucky they had additional signage there as the road was cut 1km south of Natural Bridge so I would have had a long ride back if I had not noticed. I presume a landslide as the road in that spot was cut by slip previously as well.

Currumbin range road was in good shape with very little sign of damage so I made good time and then just slabbed it back on the M1. Some people say they cannot ride the M1 but probably riding bikes with clip ons, high rearsets and hard seat, which limits range and usefulness. I find it very easy way to get home quick but won’t deny it is boring.  

Great day for a ride, very mild actually for February, enjoyed it immensely.