SHIFT Dyer Jacket and
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
| Owner Comments (Below)
Summary: The best of both worlds? The
leather should provide good abrasion protection and the textile provides
good air flow. Comfort and good looks at a reasonable price.
Believe it or not, there's an urban legend -- maybe one of
the first? -- that's over 100 years old and still going strong . It's
attributed to Charles H. Duell, a Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office in
1899, who was
supposedly quoted as saying "Everything that can be invented has been
The reason this myth is still alive and kicking is probably
because it's not hard to imagine life at the end of the Victorian era in a
post-industrial-revolution world, where citizens were finally able to
exploit technology in a way that would allow them to enjoy life for the
first time in history.
I often think of that saying, fearing that perhaps
everything that can be reviewed has been reviewed.
On webBikeWorld, of course.
But just when we think it's all been said and done, along
comes a new idea, a new technology, or a new combination thereof. And
here we are, with a marriage of leather and textile in the Shift Dyer jacket
and Havoc pants.
webBikeWorlders have been asking for a review of a "hybrid"
jacket and pants for some time, and the Shift products were suggested by
more than one visitor. I'm not really sure why we never got around to
doing this sooner; perhaps it was because some of the original hybrid
garments we found either didn't seem up to snuff or were uninspiring in
their design and execution.
But our surprise at the comfort and styling of the
Shift "Lodown" jeans we reviewed not too long ago opened our eyes to the
Shift brand, which led us, in a roundabout way, to the Shift Dyer jacket and
Havoc pants that are the subject of this review.
I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical at first -- I'm a
diehard leather fan when it comes to two-wheeled protection, but the sultry
hot Beltway summers require a basic formula: textile + holes = ventilation, and
plenty of it! Can a combination of leather and textile actually yield the best of
Shift Dyer Jacket
First things first: if you want one, act fast. It's the end of the
season for motorcycle clothing, and manufacturers are closing out this
year's production and ramping up for the Next Big Thing.
The changeover happens quickly, as we recently learned in our review
of the very cool
Cortech LNX women's jacket, which was in production when we ordered it
from the retailer but was out of production just a few weeks later when the
review was posted.
The Dyer jacket is Shift's 2007 "top of the line" leather/textile
hybrid, and it proved to be a very popular design. It's still in stock
at some retailers and distributors, so if you're interested, better get a
And there would be good reason to do just that, because the
jacket does fulfill the hybrid promise of decent protection with good air
flow. But the Dyer jacket also includes sophisticated styling that
belies its price.
Another surprise is the fit -- the Dyer shown here in size
large actually fits just like a motorcycle jacket should -- snug, but cut
properly for freedom of movement. So what's surprising about that, you
ask? Well, take a look at your fellow riders the next time you're at
the local motorcycle shop. Most motorcycle jackets are purchased at least
one size too big, and this error is compounded by the poor design and
construction of many garments.
Apparently, the trend towards looser street clothing has made
people feel uncomfortable in anything less than baggy, but for motorcycle
riding, snug means secure. If the jacket doesn't fit close to the
body, it may not keep the armor and padding in place during a fall, and the
loose fabric can catch and cause a tumble as you're doing the pavement luge.
Tumbling is non bon, because it increases the likelihood of a
fracture, rather than an abrasion.
Also, loose clothing can flop around in the wind, and the
results can include unwanted steering inputs and a tiring pounding. I
remember riding behind the punishing windscreen on my late and unlamented
BMW K75, with
the turbulence grabbing at the oversized shirt sleeves of my
Darien jacket, feeling like Aeolus and his Anemoi were thrashing me with a hickory
stick. Not fun.
Most jackets with liners exacerbate the problem; if
incorrectly tailored, the jacket can seemingly grow two or more sizes bulkier with the liner removed.
Dyer is snug-perfect with the liner inside and it becomes
hot-weather-comfy with it removed. Thank the sleeveless liner, which is perfectly fine with me.
I don't need the sleeves it doesn't have.
The jacket is also lined with a nice, red, perforated mesh
that feels softer than most. I've worn the Dyer jacket in everything
from cool 55 degree mornings to 80 degree afternoons and it feels perfectly
The leather covers the outer arms and shoulders, most of the
chest and nearly all of the back, which leaves enough textile on the inside
of the sleeves and the sides of the jacket to allow good air flow. The
inner part of the arm is covered with a stretchy fabric that, in a cute
design trick, allows the jacket to fit snugly yet comfortably while also
providing good air flow to that sensitive region.
I find that cool air flowing over my outstretched arms is
one of the secrets to keeping cool, and the Dyer
helps enforce that formula to good effect.
The leather is beautifully grained and feels soft and
broken-in right off the rack. The leather and textile patterns are
very nicely cut and styled and the stitching is first rate. And by the
way, the hybrid leather/textile combination is claimed to weigh 25% less
than if the same jacket was made from 100% cowhide.
No, this isn't a full race jacket with stiff 1.8 mm cow hide, double-
or triple-threaded seams and blind stitching, and it wasn't meant to be.
I think it has a sophisticated, modern "Euro" look that offers good street
or touring protection without looking too Boy Racer. It should appeal
to the sportbike, sport-touring and touring crowd, and even the metric cruiser
types; styling for a range this broad isn't easy to do, so kudos to the
The hand pockets have semi-hidden zippers and the jacket
includes zippered pockets on both plackets inside, which are super-handy for
storing a wallet. The vest liner is easily removed with its wraparound zipper
and the Dyer jacket also includes both a full-length and shorter zipper
attachment for some Shift pants; the jacket also has belt adjusters at the
And finally, the jacket has CE-approved armor in the shoulders
and elbows. Bonus: the armor is adjustable up and down! The
jacket also has a section of removable back padding in a pocket in the
liner, which I think will fit one of the nice
SAS-Tech Level 2 back
protectors and I'm going to try this soon.
The Shift Dyer jacket has quickly become my favorite waist-length jacket,
with a solid combination of multi-season wearability, good looks,
protection, air flow and fit.
Shift Havoc Pants
The Shift Havoc pants are technically a match for the Dyer jacket. The
pants have a short zipper attachment in the rear and they have the same
hybrid leather and textile styling.
But the combination is slightly schizophrenic, as the snug fit of the Dyer jacket seems a little at odds
with the looser jeans-like fit of the Havoc pants. The photos of the
Havoc pants shown here and on the Shift Racing website illustrate the point.
But the pants are pretty comfortable and they do
indeed fit like a pair of jeans. They're designed to be worn over a
pair of boots, so the slightly loose leg fit is designed in. The legs
zippers along the bottom to allow a bit of freedom when lacing up,
and a small Velcro tab holds the cuff closed. I sort of wish there was
some adjustment to snug up the legs a bit more, but that's just me.
And don't forget that motorcycle pants need to be about 2"
longer than normal to fit correctly when riding, so although they may look
too long in the photos, they're actually just right.
The hybrid leather and textile approach works well here
also; the pants do not have a thermal liner, but they do have a permanent
full-length mesh lining, accordion-like pleats at the knees and in back of
the waist and elastic fabric in back of the knees for comfort.
The pants have two slash hand pockets, each with a zipper
and a single leather-covered cargo pocket over the left thigh. The styling and the stitching are just as
nice as the Dyer
jacket, with leather covering the lower legs and knees and nearly the whole
seat and back of the thighs.
The Shift Havoc pants have removable CE-approved knee armor,
but, typically for me, the armor is too low for my short legs, so I removed
it and I wear the Bohn
Cool-Air Bodyguard Adventure armored underpants instead. I'm used
to it -- I have to do this on almost every pair of motorcycle pants I own,
because my legs seem to be an unusual length.
Not a problem; the Havoc pants do not have hip armor, and
the Bohn pants do. I actually like wearing the Bohn armored underpants
because they fit well and I know the armor is where it should be for the
The Shift Havoc pants are surely better than no-protection
jeans and the looser fit is perfect for both long-distance and adventure
touring. They work especially well when riding the upright
and they're also a perfect match for my favorite
So other than what I think might be a slightly odd pairing
of a jean-cut pants with a snug fit jacket, which is purely subjective on my
part, the Havoc pants are perfectly fine, with the same quality and
attention to detail as we've seen in other Shift garments.
Although there is one more thing -- the waist on the Havoc
pants uses only two snaps to keep it closed. I would much prefer an
attachment that used a metal
hook and a Velcro belt that could be doubled back over the snaps, which I think might
offer a more secure arrangement.
The Shift Havoc pants are comfortable, nicely styled and perfect for touring
or cruising. While not designed to attract the race crowd, they're a
much better alternative for multi-season riding than a pair of cotton jeans
and I'll be they'll take a lot more abuse too.
Review: SHIFT Dyer Jacket and Havoc Pants
Retail Price: Shift Dyer Jacket $299.95, S-XXL. Shift
Havoc Pants - $199.95
|Colors: Pants - Black.
Jacket - Black/Silver; Black/Red
Sizes: Pants 30-40W. Jacket S-XXL
|Made In: Unknown
|Comments: These products were
provided by the manufacturer for this review per our
guidelines. Review Date: October 2007
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From "L.S.": "I have the Shift Dyer (not
sure why its called this) Hybrid jacket and I HAD the Havoc
Love the jacket for all the things you mentioned.
Didn't keep the Havoc pants for two of the same reasons you
write about - 1) Only two snaps w/no waist adjustment and 2)
Inability to tighten bottoms of legs. But there was
something else. Did you notice that the cut of the pants
feel almost like low rider jeans? I kept having the
feeling that I needed to pull the pants up only to discover
I was giving myself a "wedgy"."
Rick's Response: I haven't noticed a
problem with the fit of the Havoc pants; the fit like the
jeans I wear, I don't really feel like they are cut
differently, but that may be due to my body shape.