Review – Viking Cycle – Ironside Mesh Jacket

The guys at Viking Cycle sent me a summer jacket to check out.
Who are Viking Cycle you ask? According to their website –

VC LOGO (Final)

Viking Cycle is worlds best and renowned Motorcycle attire brand. Shop Best Motorcycle Jackets, Chaps, Vests and Gloves at lowest prices. Viking Cycle takes the highest pride to provide the best motorcycle gear craftsmanship and material in the world.”
Okay, I have to admit I’ve never heard of Viking Cycle and looking over their website they have quite a broad range of gear at a very competitive price point.
So when they sent me an Ironside summer jacket to test it was perfect timing coming into spring and my Joe Rocket summer jacket is getting old and faded and ready to be retired.
I’m a fan of summer jackets. In summer here in Australia it is often in the high 30s and low 40s. So while it’s tempting to ride without a jacket – especially when commuting – it is often cooler with a good summer jacket with max airflow, than have the sun searing on your unprotected arms and your shirt flapping and beating you. Not to mention much better protection should the worst happen.
Looking in my wardrobe I have Alpinestar leathers and Dianese Gore-tex touring gear. I do a lot of riding and I like to have high quality riding gear that is comfortable and works. These days I’d rather spend more and buy stuff that does the job than something that is cheaper requiring compromise. I am also guilty of dismissing cheaper gear as its generally not as good quality, and never fits properly.
So onto the review.


Opening the box I was certainly surprised. A lot of cheaper jackets feel just that … cheap. Pulling it on for the first time it looks well made, it was comfortable, and fitted well. The jacket sat nicely, and all the armor sat in the right place and didn’t dig into you. First impressions were positive.
However, rather than just stopping here and doing a quick write up of my initial thougths, I have been using it for the past month from my daily commute to full day rides so that I can form a users perspective of what I like and what I don’t.


Comfort – for me this jacket fits really well, its cut is good and doesn’t puff out. It is the right length for a summer jacket with an extended rear panel that would suit all riders – even riders of sports tourers and sports bikes.
The armor placement is great and sits well and nothing digs into you and is very comfortable while riding. There’s nothing more annoying than armor digging into you, or having to constantly moving it around when you’re riding.
The only thing that I found uncomfortable initially was the velco neck strap but after a bit of use it quickly softened and was fine.
Armor – speaking of armor, there is all the standard protection on the shoulders, elbows, and a couple of layers of foam back protection.

Ironside armor

picture from Motorcycle House website

Pulling the armor out of the jacket to check it out the elbow and shoulder padding seem okay for the price point and the back piece of foam is fairly thin which is in addition to foam sewn into the construction of the jacket. This is consistent with what you would expect from this price point.


Pockets. They are everywhere.! I’ve never seen so many pockets. As you can see from the picture below there are pockets for everything. It feels like the Swiss army knife of jackets.

Ironside pockets

picture from Motorcycle House website

Personally I’m not a fan of carrying too much in pockets … after all if you go down you’ll end up sliding on it. Be it your phone, knife, keys or anything else you have on your person.
As a rule I try and not keep anything on my person that could stab me.

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pockets for everything

While this may be a good selling point, it may have gone over the top. I’m not sure I need/want to carry my tablet in my jacket.


Ventilation – while this appears to be a mesh jacket it is not meshed lined. Holding the jacket up to the light you can see through it but I doubt much ventilation would get through when riding in hot weather.
For the first couple of weeks the temps were still on the cool side below 20oC (68F) and you could feel the air moving through.
However when I was riding in temps of 32oC (90oF) this week the jacket really didn’t let anywhere near enough air through. This would be even worse when the temps actually get hot, and because of the liner material it will also be hot and sweaty and uncomfortable to wear.
Below are a couple of photos comparing my daughter’s full mesh jacket, my old Joe Rocket jacket, and the Viking Ironside. The big difference between these jackets are that the other two have full mesh linings allowing max air flow. Even my old Joe Rocket which isn’t a mesh jacket but has 6 front zippered mesh vents and 2 rear mesh vents is much cooler as all the air coming in goes straight through. This makes a big difference.


Okay I’m confused by this jacket … it’s a mesh jacket – therefore in my mind it is positioning itself as a full summer jacket but in the blurb about the jacket’s construction on their website it mentions having a construction that is wind resistant –

Our Signature Fabric is a 100% 600D Polyester coated by PU (polyurethane). The 600D Polyester coated by PU, is also wind and water resistant so it will provide great protection against cold wind and rain and it will not sag and creates less wrinkle overtime…

Why have a mesh jacket which is about letting air in and then trap it with a lining?
If only this jacket had a mesh lining.


Thermal Inner – and when coolness isn’t something you want this jacket also comes with a thermal zip-in liner for those days that aren’t as hot. I say aren’t as hot as this doesn’t make it a winter jacket by a long shot as you still feel some outside air moving through the jacket. Riding home after work in the dark with temps below 10oC it was quite chilly and had me thinking I should have grabbed my other jacket.
Having a thermal liner is a nice feature for the jacket.


Summing Up
I’m really torn about this jacket – this looks like a great jacket, as it’s really well made and very comfortable to wear, it’s just not the jacket I thought it would have been.
From a value for money perspective the Australian distributor’s website (Motorcycle House) has it on special for AU$80, this represents a lot of jacket for the money.
However I can’t go passed the biggest issue that I have with the jacket – while it looks like a full mesh jacket it isn’t and there is just not enough airflow. If this is being marketed as a mesh jacket then it needs to be a full mesh jacket – including a mesh liner. This would take full advantage of the outer mesh construction and allow max ventilation. To maintain the versatility Viking could always include the windproof layer into the zip-in thermal liner.
Interestingly I looked back over the information on this jacket and no where did it say ‘summer” jacket, only that it was a mesh jacket with excellent ventilation and breathable design. And this led me to the conclusion that it was a summer jacket…
For me I don’t think the Ironside quite lives up to it’s intended purpose. However, based on the quality of this jacket I would certainly recommend checking out Viking’s broad range of motorcycle gear from Clothing to Saddlebags all at great price. And here in Australia you can check out their range at Motorcycle House.


VC LOGO (Final)

vb

Motorcycle House

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