Men's Vented Leather Motorcycle Jacket
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
Olympia Phantom One Piece Suit |
AST Jacket |
Olympia Recon Transformer Suit
This article was first published in 2004. The
Vortech jacket has since been discontinued, although a
few can still be found at various retailers.
is back! Leather motorcycle jackets have been
around forever, but they've been collecting a bit of
dust on the racks over the last few years with the rise
of textiles as the most popular motorcycle jacket
that DuPont's Cordura and other high-strength nylon
based materials could do wonderful things for motorcycle
The material is cheaper to source, it's
easier to cut and sew and it can be made to order in an
infinite array of colors, shapes and sizes.
It's also easier for the
designers to fashion textile fabrics into stylish
designs. For the rider, the use of textiles means
that owning a windproof jacket that paradoxically offers
better air flow is now possible.
require less maintenance, and the material can be made
waterproof. Mix in a dollop of fashion to add a coolness factor and
we now have more riders than ever wearing good protective
gear. All thanks to our eternally exploited
But what about leather?
Leather has endured, and it has an allure of its own.
Leather is also one of the most protective materials
available for motorcycle riders.
Thanks to Bos
taurus, it works great as a second skin for humans. The
lessons learned in the design and manufacture of textile
motorcycle clothing is now being applied
to leather, generating a new interest in this classic
The Olympia Moto Sports Vortech men's leather motorcycle jacket is a good
example. It has it all -- the style, function and
features of textiles but with the protection that only
leather can offer.
Does the Olympia name
sound familiar? Walk into any motorcycle shop and
you're likely to see an Olympia glove display rack.
Olympia has been protecting the digits of motorcyclists
for many years with a vast array of gloves of every
shape and size. It's a natural for them to
capitalize on their brand equity with a line of
clothing, and they did it in a unique way.
Olympia entered into a licensing agreement with RPM Gear,
Inc., to form Olympia Moto Sports, which
resulted in the introduction of this new collection of
Olympia Moto Sports is the vision of veteran apparel
designer Kevin Rhea, who is a life-long motorcyclist and
who has also spent the last couple of decades designing
technical apparel. Kevin has experienced the same
frustrations with motorcycle gear as the rest of us, but
the difference is that he has the knowledge and skills
to do something about it.
"Over the course of 30 years as an avid motorcyclist and
20 years designing fashion and technical apparel, I was
acutely aware of the many improvements that could be
made in protective motorcycle gear. Based on my own
rigorous standards, I set about creating smart, new
designs for myself and fellow riders that offer the
perfect balance of comfort, function and form.”
Kevin has some strong
ideas about what works and what doesn't, and he's
focused his talents on doing this right.
The entire line of both leather and textile apparel
offers a unique set of features, style and utility that makes
it worth a look. I met Kevin at
the recent Dealer Expo in Indianapolis and I checked out
several examples of his work. The Vortech jacket
caught my eye and Kevin sent us a sample for this
Leather's popularity had
waned with motorcyclists for a couple of reasons.
When it's not done right, leather is too stiff, too confining and too hot.
Racers don't have a choice, but for the rest of us, this is
bad news, since
most motorcycle riding is done in the summer.
good news is that the Vortech
Airflow Sport Jacket proves that leather can
be the equal of textiles in terms of fashion and
function, while still providing the protection only leather can
The difference is in the quality of the materials, the
structural design and the hardest part, the attention to
all the little
has a sophisticated look that doesn't scream "boy
racer" with the use of overdone graphics and logos.
My amateur photos don't do it justice, but the jacket
looks sleek and professional and it won't go out of
fashion by next season. But style is nothing
without comfort, and satisfying the two sometimes
conflicting goals isn't easy.
A leather motorcycle
jacket must be uniquely flexible in all the right
places, thus it isn't made from a single piece of
leather like its street jacket cousin.
takes careful design in the way the leather
panels are cut and sewn together. Even the type of
stitching can make a difference. Joining the
panels together to create both style and function
is a black art, but the Vortech is successful on both
It doesn't seem to bind in any
direction, the shoulders don't bunch up, and there's
ample room in the arms and waist. I've noticed
that the jacket seems to disappear into the
background of my consciousness when riding. This
is as it should be; when hammering about on a
motorcycle, the fewer the distractions the better.
The Vortech uses 1.2mm
thick leather, lined with an attached open-weave mesh
fabric that allows full ventilation when the liner is
not in use. The outer arms, sides, portions
of the back and the
upper chest (yellow areas in photos) of the Vortech are perforated to allow cooling.
The perforations definitely work; I found that the Vortech provides
almost as much air flow as a summer mesh textile jacket,
but I feel safer with the leather between me and the
asphalt. The leather panels are sewn together
using a mixture of double and single row stitching, and
the stitches are perfectly aligned with no extra loose
threads anywhere. The silver areas of the jacket
have a cool-looking carbon fiber appearance that also
add to the style.
The jacket comes with a zip-out full
sleeve Thermolite liner that's a quality notch above the normal
fare. It has an interesting shiny mesh interior replacing the typical black quilted look that's the norm with
motorcycle jacket interiors.
The Vortech shown
here is a size XL; my guess is that it's the equivalent
of about a U.S.A. men's size 44-46. It fits
slightly tight with the liner inserted and slightly
loose with the liner removed, which is just about
perfect for its intended use.
Above 65 degrees
Fahrenheit or so, the jacket flows lots of air when
riding a naked bike, and it's also comfortable when
riding behind a fairing. Unfortunately, the liner
isn't windproof, so once it cools off, you'll need some
extra protection from chilly breezes.
On a 58
degree (Fahrenheit) day there was a bit too much air flow
for comfort, at least on my naked Triumph. But
vented jackets are meant for warm weather use, so the
simple addition of a thin windproof sweater or the
Comfort in Action windproof underwear to the
wardrobe is all that's needed when the weather turns
The liner attaches to the
inside of the jacket using buttons at the
liner's sleeves stop about 40mm short of the end of
the jacket's sleeve to prevent bunching. The
sleeves have a 170mm (6-5/8") zipper and a leather tab
to tighten the cuff. The tab is wider than normal,
which may add some flair but is hard to fit under
certain types of gloves with narrow gauntlets.
The liner also attaches
to the inside of the jacket with a
single button under each of the armpits. Buttoning
the sleeves to the inside of the cuffs isn't too difficult (tip: button 'em
up before zipping in the liner) but the armpit button
holes are too tiny for my fingers to grab, so I leave
them be and it doesn't seem to affect the security of
the liner one way or another.
The Vortech has two
outside slash pockets. Each pocket uses heavy
nylon zipper teeth and kudos go to Olympia for providing
nice, sturdy plastic zipper pulls make
the zippers easy to
use with gloved hands.
The pockets open to 180mm
wide (7", all conversions approximate), with a roughly
triangular internal shape.
They're each about 150mm (6") deep.
There are no upper chest or underarm vents, and none are
needed, due to the efficiency of the perforated leather.
Two internal chest pockets are located just inside the flaps
of the jacket. Both pockets close with a
zipper and open to a nice, wide 160mm (6-1/4") and are a
useful 140mm (5-1/2") deep.
There's also a bonus
mobile phone pocket in the right upper chest area of the
liner, which closes with a "hook and loop" flap.
This pocket is 125mm deep by 80mm wide and has expansion
panels on each side which allow the pocket to fit
approximately a 30mm thick
One of the unique
features of Olympia Moto Sports' leather garments are
the use of "Action Flex" panels in the places where it
This is a stretchy material that's used
under the armpits stretching down to the inner elbow,
and there are also small panels of the material in both
sides of the jacket at the waist. These provide
extra flexibility, which helps make the jacket feel more comfortable.
The Vortech also has a
concealed leather belt that acts as a waist cinch.
It's permanently attached to the back of the jacket, but
enters through a slit at the sides and is secured by
"hook and loop" fastener inside the jacket. This
is a nice design touch, giving the Vortech a sleeker
The jacket also has a narrow (30mm or 1-1/8")
fabric inner flap under the zipper that helps to keep out the breeze.
A metal snap that closes
the jacket at the waist and a small piece of "hook and
loop" fastener is used to close the top.
The Vortech also has an 8" YKK zipper that can attach to
Olympia Moto Sports' Nitro pants. The zipper works
backward from some other brands of pants, so you'll have
to either purchase a pair of the Nitro pants or find a
Another nice feature is
the Vortech's rolled neck collar. It's
covered with Neoprene and has a small amount of internal padding, making
this one of the most comfortable necks I've experienced
on any motorcycle jacket. It passes the
two-day-old beard growth test without a pull or pinch.
Nice-sized sections of
removable CE-approved "Retro Flex" injection molded
armor are used in the
elbows and shoulders of the Vortech. The Retro
Flex armor feels substantial and it's form-fitting, but
it isn't obtrusive.
The back of the jacket uses
removable CE-approved "Motion Flex" armor, and it covers
the spine from below the jacket's collar all the way
down almost to the tailbone.
Motion Flex armor has
an interesting and unique construction that sets it
apart from the normal piece of wimpy foam that's usually
offered in this market segment.
It's composed of
horizontally and vertically articulated segments,
designed so that each individual segment can flex
independently of its neighbor. This provides lots
of freedom of movement and is very comfortable and
There's also some extra padding under the
leather on the shoulders and upper back and also
covering the tailbone.
The Vortech is finished
with touches of 3M Scotchlite reflective piping that
add a nighttime safety factor.
Olympia Moto Sports
currently has three lines of clothing. Their
Cruise and Tour Leather, Sportech, and All-Weather
Cordura product lines all have a unique set of features
and a style that make them stand out from the crowd.
These are distinctive, high-quality leather and textile
motorcycle riding jackets and pants with great styling
and utility, and they are a step above the ordinary and
definitely worth a look. The products are sold
through many retailers; visit the
Sports website for more information and for a list
of local retailers.
Review: Olympia Vortech
Airflow Sportech Jacket
Retail Price: $299.00
Note: For informational use only. All material and
photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC - 2000-2011. All
rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld®
page. NOTE: Product specifications, features and details may
change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read
Terms and Conditions!
►Your Comments and
Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details
). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.