by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
The Joe Rocket Ballistic jacket is this year's perfect 3/4-length jacket for temperatures ranging from approximately 45 to 80 F (7 to 27 C).
It's light weight, very comfortable and fits like a glove.
It also looks great, claimed waterproof, decent armor, good venting, loaded with innovate features...and the price is right.
It's that time of the year again, unfortunately.
The crisp fall weather here in the Mid-Atlantic means it's time to break out the latest and greatest 3/4-length jacket and give it a spin.
And what better way to kick off winter than with one of the originals?
The Joe Rocket Ballistic jacket has been around since, well, let's see...this is version 7.0, if that tells you something.
Go back in time to circa 1998, before webBikeWorld was even born, and I remember trolling through the motorcycle discussion boards, looking for rider pros and cons on the 3/4-length jackets that were available at the time.
People tend to think that the way it is is the way it was, but there just weren't as many choices back then.
The fabrics and technology of only a decade ago now seem rather quaint and crude compared to today's high-tech SuperStuff.
And here's to 10 years hence, when we'll surely be saying the same.
I winnowed my choices in 1998 down to two: the original Joe Rocket Ballistic jacket and the Aerostich Darien (wBW review). The 'Stich won out because it was cool to own at the time and its superior venting was a key factor.
If I recall, the original Joe Rocket Ballistic and many of the other 3/4-length jackets used various types of coated fabrics that were claimed windproof and/or waterproof, but which limited the amount of air flow, which is important in any riding condition.
Well, my Darien is long gone, but Aerostich is still pumping 'em out, and they look exactly the same.
It's a good jacket, no doubt, as many thousands of riders will testify, and there's something to be said for a product made onshore, from a company that offers lifetime support.
You may recall that one of the powerful arguments for purchasing from Aerostich is that the company will fix the jackets if they got damaged in an accident.
That's all well and good, but if I crash -- and survive -- I will be very pleased to reward myself with an entire new outfit, thank you, and I'll hang the damaged goods up in the study to remind myself of what might have been.
And since a Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 can be had for half the price of a Darien ($249.99 vs. $497.00), I'd be ahead of the game, and looking sharper at that.
Not to knock the Darien though; there's no question that some of the Aerostich innovations have, after all this time, yet to be emulated by the competition. Like the Rocket Ballistic 7.0, which has a very Darien-looking vent across the back...?
While we're on the topic, one thing has always puzzled me, now that I think about it. When will the other manufacturers copy the underarm vents of the Darien.
Those vents are one of the best features of the Darien jacket, they work beautifully and they make so much sense.
And, they give Aerostich a competitive advantage. How about it, manufacturers?
One of the things I like about the Joe Rocket brand is their willingness to improve on existing designs.
I support the strategy of taking a basic design and continually improving it, year after year, rather than throwing out the old and starting over, which always seems to make me feel like I have been fooled by the company into buying yesterday's news.
So here we are, in 2007, and the Ballistic jacket is still with us in version 7.0. I'm not sure where I was during versions 2.0 through 6.0, but the company finally got my attention for the 7.0 with their recent marketing promotion.
The first thing I noticed was the styling -- I think the jacket looks great, especially with the BMW-like reflective stripes on the side.
The red shoulders and contrasting black in front give it a grown-up sort of Euro-Enduro look, and the wedge-shaped pattern with lighter colored sides will make any owner look like they've dropped 10 pounds, which is not a bad thing at all for most of us.
Joe Rocket also is going to great lengths to explain (their claim) that the jacket is 100% waterproof; their adverts even show a pressure washer and a link to a video of the "water test".
Although our extended drought hasn't allowed us to verify the waterproof claim, it's an important selling point to some.
The Ballistic 7.0 jacket has several new and innovative features, including:
Laser Cut Fabric: The individual sections of fabric that make up the jacket are cut very precisely with a laser, and I think this helps to give the jacket an excellent tailored shape and fit. The 7.0 fits me like it was custom-made and it never binds or interferes with serious roadwork.
The 630 Hitena fabric used in the outer shell has a soft hand, and combined
with the shaped fit, makes this probably the most comfortable 3/4-length
jacket I've ever tried.
Light Weight: One of the first things I noticed about the Ballistic 7.0 is its light weight.
I'm assuming this is another benefit of modern fabric technology, which has given us textiles with the same abrasion protection, water resistance and air flow using lighter, more flexible and softer fibers.
The Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 in size large weighs 4.5 lbs. with the liner.
The light weight, comfort and flexibility of the 7.0 make it feel like it's not even there when I'm riding, which is just the way it should be.
Waterproof (Claimed) Zippers: The jacket has Rev'it-like bonded, stitch-free (claimed) waterproof zippers on the hand pockets, across the large rear lower pocket in the back and in the upper rear vent.
The rear lower pocket and vent also have a Hitena flap that covers the
zippers and metal snaps to keep the flaps secure. The two vertical chest
vents and the vents on either sleeve are also covered with a fabric flap
and have a secondary (claimed) waterproof zipper underneath.
Venting: The flap that covers the rear horizontal vent can be tucked up and secured with hook-and-loop to expose the vent and allow maximum air flow.
The flaps covering the zippers on the upper arm vents can also be folded back and secured with hook-and-loop to form air scoops.
The two vertical chest vents are covered with a waterproof-type zipper on the outside; underneath is another waterproof-type zipper which opens the liner on the inside.
Each vent has a separate section of fabric inside with a snap, and these sections can be pulled across the chest and snapped together, which serves to keep the vents open if desired (see photo below). Very ingenious!
Wind Blocking Waist Skirt: The Ballistic 7.0 has another interesting and unique feature hidden inside, below the waist.
The attached inner (claimed) waterproof liner has an elastic-equipped wind blocking waist skirt that can be pulled around the front of the rider's waist and attached with two metal snaps (see photo below).
The elastic in the skirt hem keeps it flexible and the skirt helps prevent
air flow from underneath the jacket, which can be a problem on other 3/4-length
This is definitely one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" features and it really works. And the skirt secures to the inside of the jacket with matching snaps on either side when not in use.
Neck: The neck is lined with a very soft and comfortable fleece-like material extending down into the neck farther than most other 3/4-length jackets, which usually only use a soft lining around the top of the collar.
The collar does not have any stiffeners, which also makes the entire
upper neck nice and soft and comfy and helps prevent helmet interference.
Front Zipper: The zipper in front has large Nylon teeth and a metal runner.
A flap covers the zipper and the front of the jacket secures with the same big King Star metal snaps that are used on the Made2Race Rally Cross Evo jacket (review).
By the way, the gray-colored stripes on the sides of the jacket are made from reflective material.
The jacket has CE-approved protectors in the shoulders and elbows, and because the jacket fits so well, the protectors feel like they'll stay in place if needed.
There's a much-better-than-average back padding in a removable pocket inside the jacket, and Joe Rocket has an optional CE-approved back protector that will fit also.
The arms have an elastic cinch strap to keep the loose material from flapping in the breeze.
A potential downside of the tailored fit is that the arms are slightly narrower than most of the too-big jackets out there; remember that a snug fit is better.
It keeps the material from blowing around and tiring the rider and it helps keep the armor and protection in place if needed.
Joe Rocket is known for its "surprise and delight" features, and if the innovative vents and wind-blocking skirt weren't enough, the Ballistic 7.0 also includes a motorcycle helmet visor pocket on the inside of the right placket.
The pocket is covered with a zipper, and a spare visor can be slipped inside, curved around from front to back on the inside of the jacket.
And speaking of pockets, don't forget that big pocket down in back, which comes in handy for storing a bottle of water or a sammich.
The Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 jacket is available in an expanded range of sizes, from S to XXXXXL (5XL); S Tall to XXXL Tall; and S to XXXL regular.
And finally, the jacket includes an 8" zipper attachment for Joe Rocket pants and two big hook-and-loop waist adjusters and an elastic cord at the hem at the very bottom of the jacket to cinch it up even more, if desired.
OK, unless something radical happens in the next 7 weeks, it sounds like the Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 jacket is on its way to fame as a webBikeWorld pick for "Motorcycle Product of the Year" (see our 2005 and 2006 picks).
Is it perfect? Almost... I've used the jacket in temperatures ranging from 45 degrees F to nearly 80.
Once it gets below 55 or so, I wear a cotton T-shirt, a Duofold long-sleeve crew neck (I basically put a Duofold on in the fall and don't take it off until Spring -- I love 'em!), a cotton turtleneck and the Rev'it Scoop windproof vest (wBW review).
When it gets below 50, the Ballistic jacket does feel a bit thin around the upper arms.
A windproof shirt, like the Biker's Comfort in Action windproof pullover (wBW review), is needed.
By the way, as of this writing, we're also in the process of evaluating the new Tourmaster Synergy heated vest (and gloves), the revised Jett battery heated vest (wBW review) and a yet-to-be-announced innovative battery heated clothing line from Europe.
The Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 should be a perfect match with a snug-fitting heated vest or liner; not many other layers are necessary, giving the rider as much freedom of movement in the winter as in the summer.
So here's the single nit I have to pick: The only feature I really miss is having an outside vertical wallet pocket on the left upper chest.
The jacket does have a wallet pocket inside the placket, but I have to undo everything up top to reach my wallet at the gas pump. If the jacket had a pocket on the outside instead, it would be perfect. I know, I know -- pretty nit-picky, right?
The Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 jacket is my new favorite 3/4-length jacket for the 50- to 75-degree range of temperatures.
I still bring out what I consider to be the ultimate cold-weather 3/4-length jacket -- the Rev'it Cayenne (wBW review) -- when the weather gets really nasty.
With its multiple windproof, waterproof (claimed, not verified) and insulating liners and it's bug-in-a-rug sealing, there's no better. But the Ballistic 7.0 should serve as a very worthy and good-looking all-around jacket for a majority of riders.
Regarding the water test, we did not evaluate the claim that the jacket is waterproof.
Joe Rocket told us that the jacket was tested with one set of zippers fully closed, and the other side had the secondary zipper totally open. "We brought the pressure washer really close to get some extreme force behind the rain hitting the zippers.
At one point the force began to unzip the zipper slider as we were so close (though one would have to be riding in a hurricane to get this force, which I do not recommend)!!"
They also sent this information: "Also, a part of the this system that no one would know unless they cut apart the jacket is the drain tubes. Just in case rain manages to get past the first zippers on the outer shell somehow, the secondary vent zippers are offset to the side. The rain that snuck by is then stopped by this fabric.
To prevent any moisture from pooling up in there (should someone leave the front zippers open and collect a lot of rain) a drain tube is attached. This drain tube empties out at the bottom of the jacket on either side of the main zip.
You can see some grommets on the inside. All trapped rainwater will drain onto the riders rain pants."
|wBW Review: Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 Jacket|
|Manufacturer: Joe Rocket||List Price (2007): $249.99 to $269.99|
|Colors and Sizes: S to 5XL -Black/Black/Black. S Tall to 3XL Tall - Black/Black/Black. S to 3XL - Gunmetal/Gray/Black and Red/Gunmetal/Black.||Made In: China|
|Review Date: November 2007|
From "B.K." (8/10): Response to "P" Below: "My jacket also leaked and was purchased from New Enough as well.
I contacted Joe Rocket in Canada and they sent FedEx to pick the jacket up and said they will fix it or most likely replace it and because they didn't have any left they would give me a new model. Talk about unsurpassed customer service.
This will allow me to always buy and support Joe Rocket."
From "S.C." (9/09): "The Joe Rocket Ballistic jacket is fantastic! I just spent the last two days riding in a hail/rain storm through the Rockies, Nelson to Calgary. It kept the water out but the surface material stayed wet for a long time after the storm.
I didn't have the liner zipped in so I was a bit cold at 100km/h in the rain.
My favorite part is the left chest wallet pocket. It's between the zipper and the snapped part. Great for not having to unzip the jacket to get your wallet out, but the rain flap snaps over the pocket to keep it dry."
From "P" (8/08): "I feel I must add my comment to your review of this jacket. I bought it after reading your review but Iím sorry to say I was less than satisfied with the jacket.
Firstly as already mentioned, the collar fastening is rather tight with no adjustment. There is no inside pocket to keep documents in (a small complaint but most other bike jackets have one).
But worst of all is that despite the report of the jacket being waterproof against a power jet wash, mine leaked from new at the biceps on both arms.
I fiddled with zips and everything to make sure they were secure but sure enough during the next bit of rain it leaked again at the upper arms.
Perhaps my jacket was defective as the claims made about itís waterproofness are totally opposite to my experience.
I bought it from New Enough and they gave me a voucher for the full amount when I sent it back so full marks to them. Iíve ordered a Firstgear Jaunt jacket from them (again after reading your review) so Iíll see how that goes."
From "M.M.": "I found your article on the Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 Jacket good enough to buy one. With the temperature here getting up into the hi 40s, lower 50s, I decided it was a good day to try out my new purchase.
I find it to be very light with great wind protection although with my neck gaiter on, I couldn't snap the collar. No matter because the gaiter kept everything out!
Even though it has a large rear compartment/pocket, I would have preferred a couple of larger pockets on the front of the coat and more inside.
But I guess the face shield pocket will suffice. Lastly, it would have been nice if the main zipper were 2 way. It's nice to be able to unzip the last couple of inches for comfort.
All in all, a great coat and I don't regret the purchase. Keep up the great work."