Summary Comfortable jacket works surprisingly well in warm
The wild "Rasta" colors are also highly visible and the jacket is available
with several other unique graphic patterns.
If you're a smaller motorcycle
clothing manufacturer competing with the big guys, what do you do? Don't follow -- lead!
It's a story that has been repeated time and again.
The little company
makes a name for itself by taking a few chances and ends up hitting on a formula
As it turns out, this is a perfect strategy if you're making motorcycle
clothing, because motorcyclists like edgy designs, so there's a high probability
that a styling hunch will make it big.
I'm not privy to the Shift Racing design philosophy, so it's not clear if the
paintbrush-gone-wild colors are a way of pushing the envelope or not.
But Shift has now become recognized for radical colors and wild graphics,
which is certainly one way to throw down the gauntlet.
Take away the colors and graphics though and what's do different about the
Avenger? At the most basic level, every motorcycle jacket starts out with
pretty much the same basic canvas. A jacket has to have a body, sleeves, a
zipper and armor.
The same goes for other motorcycle gear; pants have two legs (on this planet
anyway) and gloves have five fingers.
It's what you do with that canvas -- how you spread the paint, so to speak --
that makes the difference. Of course, in the real world it's not that
simple. There are many other factors, like the quality of the materials,
the ingenuity of the design and how it all comes together in final assembly that
make the difference.
Speaking of paint (you knew where I was going with this, right?), how about
this new Shift Avenger jacket? The Shift catalog simply calls it the red,
yellow and green Avenger jacket. But this particular color pattern has
come to be known by its street name: "Rasta".
The design looks like some Shift staffer's kid went wild with a paintbrush
but the side benefit is that the jacket is highly visible, due to the
combination of the colors and the pattern. Surely the Avenger looks much better than any
of those "plain" yellow high-viz jackets, which suddenly look much too
industrial and antiseptic in comparison?
Shift has been advertising the heck out of the red/yellow/green Avenger in the
print magazines, so when it came time to choose one for a review, the Rasta
color was a no-brainer.
The choice wasn't easy for sure, because the Avenger comes in a few other
patterns that are just as wild as the Rasta version -- here's a sampling:
Photos courtesy Shift Racing.
Besides the red/yellow/green, I'm also rather partial to the second Avenger from the right, which I can only guess
is called the "Cartoon" or "Graffiti" pattern or similar. It's covered
in black-and-white reproductions of decals, signs and other wacky scribbling.
But in the end, the outrageous colors won the day, and I'm diggin' it.
The Shift Avenger Jacket - Details Wild colors look cool, but it's the entire package that counts of course,
and the Avenger passes the test. One of the hallmarks that is also a
paradox of Shift clothing is the way they combine unpretentious design and
structure with the in-your-face style.
The Avenger jacket is a good example; strip away the colors and at first
glance it appears to be a pretty standard motorcycle jacket.
The shell is constructed from a fairly typical 600 denier nylon; it has two
outside pockets, an inside zipper pocket in the placket, a zip-in vest liner and
a removable back pad. CE-approved (claimed) armor in the elbows and
shoulders, a zipper up the front with a hook-and-loop neck clasp and that's
Animation: Close-up photos of the details on the Shift Avenger Jacket.
Most noticeable by their absence is the missing air vents in front.
Other than a couple of cool-looking shoulder scoops, there are no front or rear
air vents on the Avenger jacket, zippered or otherwise. But, as it turns
out, that's not a problem at all, as I'll explain in a minute.
But first, back to the design. Take our stripped-down Avenger jacket
shell, which at first glance seems to have some rather basic specifications.
Then start adding in the small details that are easily overlooked at first
and you'll find that we end up with a winner. The details are easily
overlooked at first -- it took me some time to even see some of the
features through the camouflage that is the "Rasta" color pattern!
Besides the shoulder scoops, which are very much functional even though they
are placed right over the shoulder armor, the other interesting features include
details like the raised "SHIFT" logo across the front and the "S" on the
The logos are "3D" style, raised off the surface of the jacket. We put
together a slide show (below) which features close-ups of all the little details
that make the Avenger special.
The raised logos are constructed from some type of rubbery-feeling vinyl, and
they add a nice character touch to the design and look much richer than any
simple sewn-on logo would or could.
Also made from the same type of raised vinyl are the "V" strips along the
front sides of the chest. Look carefully at the photos of the front of the
jacket to see them; those white accents are actually raised, with a black vinyl
Fit and Sizing
The articulations on the arms and in back of the shoulders, and the general cut
of the panels add to the comfort of the Avenger, but you may notice that the jacket in the photos
appears to be about one size too big
Well, it is, and here's why. Before I ordered the Avenger, I pulled out the
Shift Dyer leather hybrid jacket (review) to try on, just to make sure a
size large would fit. It was then that I realized that
either the Dyer jacket had shrunk (not likely), or I had expanded a bit.
Or a combination of both? In any case, I ended up ordering
the Avenger in size XL.
But my mistake was that I should have tried on the
Shift Streetfighter jacket (review) instead and used it as a guide, because
it fits perfect in size large. So the good news is that my waistline
hasn't expanded -- at least as much as I thought.
No problem though, because the slight extra room in the XL Avenger actually has
a benefit; it allows the warm air of summer to circulate inside the jacket as I
ride. The Avenger has been surprisingly comfortable in temperatures that have so
far ranged up to 85 degrees F or so (29 C), and the reason for the surprise is
there are no vents on the Avenger jacket.
By the way, the XL fits just like an XL should, with about a 44-45" chest and
a 35" or so sleeve length.
The Shift Avenger uses a porous type of non-mesh fabric
that provides excellent air flow.
The excellent air flow is a result of the very porous fabric used for the
Avenger, as you can see from the photo above of the
jacket being held up to the studio light. The air flows very nicely through the
arms and the chest and the larger sizing helps circulate the air around the inside
of the jacket and it flows
out the back through the material.
The fabric used in the Avenger is not mesh, mind you, but it has just enough
porosity to keep the Avenger cooler than many other jackets I've worn that do
have dedicated vents.
Whether this was another deliberately ingenious but subtle design trick by
Shift, or whether it happened serendipitously I don't know, but it does work
and, in fact, makes the Avenger one of the most comfortable jackets we have in
The sleeves on the XL may also seem too long for my 34" arms -- until I'm leaned
over on the bike. Then the extra length becomes perfectly suited for
The lower section of the sleeve is fitted with a dart, which allows the hook-and-loop
cuff fastener to snug things up nice and tight, allowing the cuff to fit under
any glove gauntlet.
Although the jacket looks a bit on the puffy side for me, the armor stays in place.
This may be because the armor is generously sized, with the elbow sections
covering most of my forearm.
The shoulder and elbow armor does not appear to be removable, but the back
padding is and could easily be replaced with a smaller SAS-Tec or other type if
desired. It would be nice if more motorcycle jacket manufacturers
partnered with Forcefield, Knox, SAS-Tec or others and offered the option of a
Level 2 or better back protector to fit.
The Avenger includes a vest insulating liner that zips in to the shell along
the front and also has loop and snap fittings on the sides and at the neck to
keep it securely inside the shell. The zipper attachments for the liner in
front are a nice touch, because many other jackets of this type use snaps
The Avenger weighs just about 2 kg (4.5 lbs.) with the liner. The jacket
also has a short zipper in the rear to attach to Shift pants, or the added half
of the zipper can be sewn on to other pants if desired.
The front zipper and the pocket zipper teeth are made from a heavy type of
nylon, and the zipper pulls are unique, with a fabric that looks like a James
Bond NATO-style watch strap, stripe and all.
The two hand pockets on the outside are semi-hidden behind the seam where the
black fabric meets the colored fabric on the sides of the jacket. The
pocket inside the left placket is also covered by a zipper and it's handy for
stowing a wallet.
The inside of the placket on the right and the collar are lined with a type
of soft fleece-like material for added comfort, and the "Avenger" logo collar
tab secures across the top with hook-and-loop. It's there more to keep the
zipper in place than to secure the neck.
The jacket also has waist adjuster tabs down at the hem on either side, which
offer a good range of adjustment.
The Shift Avenger has to be one of the most unique
looking jackets available, but it's also highly functional. I find it to
be surprisingly comfortable in warm weather because of the "flow-through"
ventilation of the porous fabric. This obviously makes the jacket
non-waterproof, but you can always buy a
Shift Streetfighter jacket (review) for wet-weather riding.
Probably the biggest benefit of the "Rasta" color pattern is that it looks
great but also provides very good visibility, a good alternative to anyone not
fond of the industrial look of plain high-viz yellow.