Joe Rocket Phoenix Review
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
I'll take a wild guess and say that something like 97% of motorcycling is done in fine weather.
So one of the mysteries of motorcycling is why does it seem easier to dress for cold weather than warm?
Most motorcycle clothing is heavy, bulky, windproof and water resistant.
It seems designed for the worst-case scenario, like riding in the dark in 40 degree F weather when it's raining.
Most clothing seems like it was designed for the arctic tundra or something.
I don't know -- maybe motorcyclists (or clothing manufacturers) have fantasies that their clothing must be capable of making that cross-country jaunt from Moscow to Vladivostok.
Manufacturers like Aerostich don't even bother to make a warm weather version of their popular Darien jacket (review); you can't get one without the GoreTex lining, which makes it pretty unbearable in the summer.
Nothing against the Darien; it's a high-quality piece of gear and I own one myself -- but once the thermometer goes north of about 75 degrees F, you're gonna roast inside it...and believe me, it doesn't get any better when the humidity rises too.
Sure, the excuse is that the gear has to be heavy so that it can withstand the impact and abrasions in a fall. But hey, this is the 21st century, where modern technology is supposed to help us out, no? So there's got to be a better way to ride comfortably in the warm weather.
We searched around for a combination of what we thought were the best clothes for the hottest weather. This will be a continuing study, as more clothing options become available to us for testing (for example, Joe Rocket has just come out with the Phoenix pants), but we've come up with a pretty good solution for the stickiest hot weather problem, a pair of pants and the jacket.
I'll have to admit that a few years back, when I first saw some of the Joe Rocket gear, I wasn't that impressed. It seemed like it was definitely made to a price point, and the quality just wasn't there.
Someone would inevitably send an email to a motorcycle list asking what others thought of a Joe Rocket piece of gear and they would get shamed out of buying it. But over the last couple of years the quality of the clothing and accessories has really improved.
The prices are still reasonable, but the quality is very good. And the selection is great -- there are literally dozens of different jackets in both male and female specific sizes that can address just about any motorcycling need.
The Joe Rocket Phoenix jacket came on the scene in early 2001. The email lists were abuzz with chatter about this new concept -- a protective jacket that actually let the air pass right through. Joe Rocket was surprised enough by the initial response that there was a shortage of the jackets early on, and they were commanding premium prices.
Before the Phoenix, the only solution to the warm weather issue was from obscure (in the U.S. anyway) manufacturers like the BroshTex jacket made in Israel. The response to the Phoenix jacket has finally got other manufacturers to start thinking about specific designs for hot weather, and this is a Good Thing for Motorcycledom.
Just about everyone that's ever tried a Phoenix jacket will agree -- this jacket is almost too cool!
Air passes right through with no restrictions whatsoever, other than where the soft armor is located. It actually is too cool to wear if you're caught out in the evening or if the sun starts to disappear behind some clouds!
But this is also a Good Thing; a solution for those hottest days where you really wanted to wear a T-shirt but felt too guilty about it. No more excuses for not wearing protective clothing in the summer!
The jacket is made of some type of man-made material that Joe Rocket calls the "Free-Airô Poly/Mesh Shell". The holes in the mesh are about 1mm in diameter.
There is some soft armor on the shoulders, arms and a big piece in the back. Will this jacket protect you as well as, let's say, a Joe Rocket Speedmaster? Probably not, but it's got to be about 1,000% better than wearing a T-shirt.
It has a waistband adjustment made possible by two heavy-duty straps, and two slash pockets, one on each side. The pockets and the front of the jacket have some nice, thick zippers with a pull tab that can be grasped with gloved hands. The sleeves seem a bit long for the sizes; they can tend to bunch up under gloves, but I guess it gives enough room to really stretch out your arms on a Sportbike.
The jacket also has sleeve adjusters at the cuff that can help minimize bunching in this area. The jacket is very comfortable to wear -- it's soft and doesn't bind at all.
I'm 5'10" tall with a, uh, 36" waist (when I hold my breath!) and a 30" inseam. I take a man's size 43-44 coat jacket. The Phoenix size large fits me like it was custom made! As you can see from the photo, it also has some reflective bits on the sleeves and the zipper pull.
The Phoenix also has a short section (8") of zipper in the back so that it can be attached to Joe Rocket and other brands of riding pants.
The photo shows the jacket's zipper (above) and the matching short zipper of the pants (below). You can also see the full-circumference zipper on the pants below the short section. The only real drawback we found was that if you don't attach it to a pair of pants, the jacket does tend to ride up a bit in the rear.
If you were wearing the jacket with only a pair of jeans (you wouldn't do that, right?), you're probably going to minimize its ability to protect you in a slide.
Depending upon the severity of the crash, it seems like the jacket could easily ride up and expose your stomach and/or back to the pavement.
But that's a problem with any short jacket when they aren't secured to a matching pair of riding pants.
Speaking of pants... pants that are comfortable in hot weather are probably the hardest thing to find. I'm guilty of just throwing on a pair of jeans when it gets really hot, but I never feel right about it.
I have a pair of Tourmaster over-pants that I really like a lot, but when the thermometer starts crossing about 75 degrees F, they're just too hot to wear over a pair of jeans, mostly because the Tourmasters don't let any air through. That's the problem -- most manufacturers make their jackets and pants to be rainproof, and the linings that they put in just don't breathe.
Yes, that includes Gore-Tex; my personal opinion is that Gore-Tex and other similar fabrics are somewhat over-hyped; they're supposed to "breathe", but I've always found them to be very confining and about as comfortable as rubber. In any case, they certainly aren't designed to let air pass right through like the Phoenix jacket is.
Anyway, back to the pants; our feeling is that proper riding pants are probably the most neglected piece of gear in motorcycling. In the summertime U.S. anyway, it's rare to see someone in full protective riding getup. Part of this may be that there just aren't many choices when it comes to warm-weather pants, so we've been on the lookout for solutions. Joe Rocket came to the rescue again with their "Blaster" perforated pants.
The Blaster line is one step down from their "Speedmaster" line of race track wear; they don't have the knee pucks that you won't use anyway. But they are very heavy-duty, 1.4 mm thick drum-dyed cowhide pants, with plenty of removable dual-density armor in the hips, knees and shin area.
They are perforated over most of the surface, making them work well for hot weather use. They have kind of a mesh liner down to about the knees, so they're comfortable to wear with just a pair of undies or shorts underneath and you don't get that sticky leather feeling.
The size 38 pants fit me just about perfectly; snug enough around the waist and hips so that the armor will (hopefully!) stay in place in case of a get-off. This pair has an inseam of exactly 30", which is long enough to fit nicely under my Dainese riding boots. The only complaint I have -- and I'm not sure it's because of the pants or my boots -- is that the thick leather pants make for a pretty tight fit under my boots.
Once I get the boots zipped up, everything is ok -- except that for some reason the right side pant leg zipper ends just at my ankle, and the pressure of the boot on the zipper tab can make it hurt. So I either have to rotate the right pant leg a bit when putting on my boot, or hike up that pant leg so that the zipper tab is above my ankle.
It may be the boots -- they're a touring style, rather than a sport/race style, which usually have more room at the top to tuck in leather pant legs. It's not a big deal, but if you do have a pair of boots, you may want to bring them along to make sure they will fit over the pants when you try them on.
The Blaster perforated pants are definitely not as cool as the Phoenix jacket, but you can certainly feel the air passing through them. They are much better than un-perforated leather pants for sure, and also much cooler than the Tourmaster-type overpant over a pair of jeans. I'd say that when the temps start to drop below 70-75 degrees F, you may get too cool in the Blaster perforated pants also. The armor over the knees protects this sensitive area from cool windblast, so they serve a dual purpose.
The pants have a full-circumference zipper so that you can attach them to other Joe Rocket jackets, such as the Speedmaster. But there's a short section of zipper that's ideal for attaching the Phoenix jacket. That makes this pair and ideal setup for hot weather; you can ride feeling a bit safer with the knowledge that you've maximized your protection while still being comfortable enough to ride.
We think you'll find that the combination of the Joe Rocket Phoenix jacket and Blaster perforated pants, along with a good pair of gloves and riding boots, can give you some of the best protection you can find at very reasonable prices.
Yes, there are probably combinations of pants and jackets that offer better protection, but if they aren't comfortable enough to wear when the temperatures rise (and when most riding is done), they aren't serving any purpose at all. The Phoenix/Blaster combination is many, many times better than a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, which unfortunately way too many motorcyclists in the U.S. seem to think is proper riding gear.
The only things left to complete the hot weather ensemble is to find a pair of gloves that are cool in hot weather but also offer good protection, and a pair of boots that don't cook your feet. We'll be on the lookout for those and report back to you when we find them. In the meantime, enjoy your summer riding!
|wBW Review: Joe Rocket Phoenix Jacket and Blaster Pants|
|Manufacturer: Joe Rocket||List Price (2003?): Blaster Pants $249.99; Phoenix Jacket $139.99|
|Review Date: 2003(?)||Made In: Unknown|
|Colors: Black, Grey, Red, Blue, Green and Yellow; all with black trim|
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From "M.H.": "When I went down, I went down in my Phoenix Jacket. My hand hit first at the palm (my glove is a bit scuffed) and then I slid on my left arm.
The armor absorbed the entire impact and slide. My jacket has two frayed
areas in the mesh, but it held up and did not disintegrate. I still wear
the jacket and the damage is almost unnoticeable. The wrist snaps stayed
securely closed and the armor did not flex out of the way. The arm snaps
stayed secure (I have its napped as far as it will go, I wear the menís
jacket). I had no bruising or soreness to my arm or elbow and I didnít even
realize I had hit in the area until I looked at the
This is also a wonderful mesh jacket and ventilates very well. The windproof liner is very windproof. I wound up wearing it with liner on a warm day that turned cold during the night and made the twenty minute ride home in 36 degree weather. It was very cold and uncomfortable but the high throat closure and the windproof liner helped me make it home.
The liner is a bit larger then the jacket and the jacket can feel a bit strange with the liner in it, however there is plenty of room to flex and unlike the ladies phoenix jacket (which I also have) it has enough room across the bust."
Editor's Note: M.H. was also wearing Oxtar TCS boots during the crash, see her feedback in the comments section on the Oxtar TCS review page.
From "E.G.": "I purchased a Ballistic Jackets and a pair of Phoenix gloves based on advise from a friend who took a spill and, except for some bruises, walked way from the accident. I'm very happy with the product and am looking into purchasing riding pants as well. I do however have a little concern pestering me in the back of my mind being that the mesh is made of polyester. Is this material, even remotely, fire retardant?
Not that I'm expecting for this material to hold up as well a leather. Don't get me wrong, I just want to know what I'm up against should a fire situation occur. Based on this insecurity I took a lighter to a small portion of the jacket and was surprised that it lit up rather easy. I just think that we should know where we stand with the gear we purchase..."
Editor's Reply: I don't really know about whether or not there are any fire retardant claims made by Joe Rocket regarding the polyester fabric used in the mesh clothing. I hadn't really thought about it to be honest... Many motorcycle garments are made from various types of polyester, but to be honest, I've never heard of a motorcyclist being injured due to fire, although it may have happened.
From "J.R.": "I got the black Phoenix 2.0 for $89 + $15 shipping. It sells for $99 but the guy ended up giving it to me for $89. It has the zippers for zip-in liners, too. I live in hot Georgia and the air flow makes it feel like I'm riding with a short-sleeved T-shirt. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants protection and a cool breeze blowin' through."
From "D.M.": "...Just bought this jacket and love it. The jacket has good protection and will be a great summer jacket it, flows real well. It is light and not as bulky as leather and it's comfortable. You can get them at the Helmet Shop for about $120 - that's the cheapest I've seen it. I'm not really aware of the abrasion resistance since I haven't road rashed it yet (don't plan on it either), so I'm not sure on that."