The new Tourmaster Flex LE jacket and Flex LE pants are designed for "Motor Officer" (Police Motorcycle) use; the "LE" stands for Law Enforcement. This is a high-quality, no-nonsense outfit with a Transformers-like ability to adapt to any season or weather condition. It makes an excellent all-season, multi-conditions riding jacket. Motor Officer riding school dropouts and the rest of us can still buy the civilian version, which is available in black, red or silver.
►See Part 2: Tourmaster Flex Pants Review
I should start by stating that I know absolutely nothing about being a Motor Officer or, in the vernacular, a "Motorcycle Cop".
So it's possible that a webBikeWorld review of this jacket may not have complete relevance to Motor Officer duties.
But on the other hand, I can definitely give a street-riding motorcyclist's perspective, and that has to count for something.
With this in mind, we tried to think like a Motor Officer in an attempt to value the various features of the outfit as we were evaluating the Flex LE jacket and Flex pants.
"LE" is the Tourmaster acronym for "Law Enforcement". The Tourmaster Flex LE jacket and Flex LE pants are the special Law Enforcement (Police) versions of the civilian (i.e., street rider's version) Flex Series 2.0 jacket and the Tourmaster Flex Pants (review), both of which are readily available to civilian motorcyclists.
Just for the record, Tourmaster doesn't use the "LE" acronym without the periods after the letters. Instead, Tourmaster lists the outfit as the Flex L.E. Textile Jacket and Flex L.E. Textile Pant.
The street version of the Flex jacket is known as the Tourmaster Flex Series 2.0 Jacket. It is similar in many ways to the LE version, with the exception of some LE-specific features that will be described in this review.
A detailed technical description of the LE gear wasn't available at the time of publication, so there may be a few minor differences that we didn't catch, but we've been told that the gear is essentially the same in terms of performance and function.
We also ordered the Flex LE pants for this review, but discovered only at the last minute that we had received the civilian version of the Flex pants instead. After some research, we decided the Flex LE pants are quite different from the Flex pants civilian version, described in Part 2 of this article as the Tourmaster Flex Pants review.
Actually, we think the civilian version of the Flex pants have more...flexibility, because they are easily convertible to mesh pants, just like the Flex Series 2.0 and Flex LE jackets. Police Motor Units may want to look carefully at the Flex pants option to determine if it may actually work better for tough outdoor all-season riding conditions. The civilian version of the Flex pants is probably more versatile, yet still has a uniform appearance.
Tourmaster has developed an entire product line of Law Enforcement motorcycle clothing. This includes an LE version of the Tourmaster Sentinel rain jacket (review) and matching Sentinel LE pants.
We reviewed the Sentinel Jacket not long ago which Chris liked very much, so Motor Officers can use that review as a reference.
The LE line also includes a special CHP (California Highway Patrol) version of the Tourmaster Flex LE jacket. It is similar to the Flex LE jacket described here but apparently with specific CHP features. Perhaps a CHP Motor Officer will read this can can describe the differences?
Flex LE Jacket vs. Flex Series 2.0 Jacket
One of the features unique to the Flex LE outfit is the range of colors, which are designed for Police use. The Flex LE jacket is only available in black at this time and it's uncertain whether Tourmaster will make the Flex LE jacket in different colors.
The civilian version of the Flex jacket is called the Flex Series 2.0 jacket and it's available in red, silver or black. It does not have the shoulder epaulets, pointed collar, microphone strap on the upper left-hand side or the large front patch pockets found on the Flex LE jacket. Also, the Flex Series 2.0 street jacket has a longer "tail" in the back, while the Flex LE jacket is cut straight across.
The Tourmaster Flex LE jacket is a pretty amazing piece of gear. I'm not a Motor Officer (nor can I ride like one), but I would imagine that it's not practical or even possible to carry four different riding outfits on the big BMW, Harley-Davidson, Honda or Kawasaki (or other) Police motorcycle.
I've even seen what I think are members of the United States Park Police Motor Unit in Washington D.C. riding Police-equipped scooters and what looked like 250 cc Honda Nighthawks, which are much easier to wheel around on the trails and walkways surrounding the monuments.
Carrying a separate riding outfit on those motorcycles would be impossible; thus the Flex LE jacket was designed to be the "Swiss Army Knife" of Police motorcycle gear.
The jacket consists of an outer jacket shell made from the familiar Tourmaster 600 denier "Carbolex" nylon material. The outer jacket is a shell that zips over a completely separate mesh jacket, and the mesh jacket forms the core body of the jacket assembly, because it also contains the collar and the cuffs.
At first, we thought the collar and cuffs could be removed from the mesh jacket and zipped to the outer shell, which would make this a truly unique garment that would consist of two completely separate jackets for the price of one.
But on closer inspection, we discovered that the collar and cuffs are permanently attached to the mesh jacket, so the outer shell is a shell only and can not be worn independently.
The outer shell is easy to remove or replace and it is both wind- and water-resistant. It will indeed take quite a bit of rain and remain dry underneath.
When the outer shell is removed, the mesh jacket underneath is exposed. It is a full-service jacket, made of heavy-duty mesh, complete with the same features found on the outer shell. This includes pockets, epaulets, collar, microphone loop on the upper right chest and badge loop on the left. Both the jacket shell and the mesh jacket underneath have their own individual sets of black Phoslite reflective stripes, which are very bright when illuminated.
The shell acts as the wind- and water-resistant barrier, and the Flex LE jacket has a removable full-length quilt liner that connects to mesh jacket with a full-length zipper.
Actually, the jacket shell can be worn by itself and it even includes a zipper to attach the insulating liner. But it looks a bit strange in this configuration, with bare zippers where the collar and cuffs should go. It's too bad Tourmaster didn't make the collar and cuffs removable, so they could be zipped to the shell, which would make it more usable.
The Flex system provides an amazing amount of flexibility usable in all weather conditions. In effect, it is two jackets in one; the outer textile shell has a wind- and water-proof liner bonded to the inside.
Combine the outer shell with the mesh jacket underneath and the quilted liner and you have a thick, heavy-duty combination that could probably stop at least a .25 caliber round anyway. Well, not really, but it sure seems that way!
It's the definition of heavy-duty motorcycle wear and with the shell on the outside and the thick insulating liner on the inside, it indeed provides all the warmth you'll need in the coldest weather in which you'd ever want to ride a motorcycle, Motor Officer or not.
The system should also provide excellent protection in case of a get-off (although I didn't try that!), due to the extra sections of textile material over the wear points and the CE-approved elbow and shoulder armor, along with the thick back pad (all removable).
Wearing the jacket with the outer shell over the mesh and with the insulating liner inserted gives a very protective and secure feeling, due to the double layers and the overall no-nonsense construction, which also features double-stitched seams on both jackets.
Remove the insulating liner and the jacket lightens up and this is a Spring and Fall weather outfit, comfortable in a range from perhaps 65 to 75 degree temperatures.
When summer arrives or as the temperatures rise during the day, remove the outer shell and the Flex LE converts into a very nice mesh jacket, complete with a perforated nylon lining. The mesh jacket provides excellent ventilation and air flow and it is surely is much more protective than the simple duty short-sleeve shirt I see many local Motor Officers wearing in the summertime.
The Flex LE jacket looks great too and we were all especially surprised at how good the mesh jacket looked when the outer shell was removed. The "duty" collar and the traditional pockets in front, along with the straight cut around the waist, give this jacket a sharp look.
Armor and Padding
The Flex LE jacket includes CE-approved armor or padding in the shoulders and elbows. The armor has a thick and hefty feel and they are labeled as meeting the CE PrEN 1621-2 standard. They are also removable.
The jacket includes a thick back pad, which Tourmaster says is made from triple density foam. It feels thicker than the back pads found on many jackets, although it's not the equivalent of a race-style back protector.
Zippers and Attachments
The zippers are unbranded but they have a high-quality feel. The main zipper for the outer jacket shell and the mesh jacket have large nylon teeth, while the zippers used to connect the liners are the coil type with a smooth feel.
The quilted insulating liner feels very comfortable and provides an excellent level of warmth. It zips to either the outer shell or the inner mesh jacket with a full-length zipper that runs up one side of the placket in front, around the back of the neck and down the other side.
This firmly secures the liner to the jacket and prevents cold air leaks around the neck. The liner attaches at the cuffs with dual internal snaps, located about 100 mm (4") up from the sleeve cuff. This makes a thinner sleeve end to allow the sleeve cuff to be placed inside the glove gauntlet.
Collar and Cuffs
The mesh jacket also has the pointed "duty" collar, which includes a short zipper behind the neck to attach the outer shell. While this is a different arrangement than normally found on "convertible" street jackets, and add a slight increase in complexity when removing or attaching the outer jacket shell, the zippers do provide a more secure attachment system that makes the entire assembly feel more "of a piece".
The cuffs are attached to the mesh jacket, so the outer shell zips to the cuffs. When worn independent of the mesh jacket underneath, the outer jacket shell ends in an exposed zipper at the sleeve cuffs, which looks a bit untidy. A short vertical zipper at the sleeve cuff on the outer jacket shell opens the sleeve for sliding over gloves.
The outer part of the elbows on both the mesh jacket and the outer shell have extra sections of solid textile material double-stitched in place for abrasion protection. The sleeve cuffs of the mesh jacket also have a hook-and-loop adjuster and a soft rubbery-feeling material surrounds the cuff end for added comfort.
The sleeves on both the outer jacket and the mesh jacket insert have three-position snap adjusters on the forearms, using metal snaps. The outer snap is on an elastic loop and it's protected by a soft plastic cover to prevent scratching.
The outer shell and the mesh jacket both include waist adjustment belts on both sides. These are permanently attached fabric belts that secure with hook-and-loop.
The belts hide a section of elastic at the hem on both sides of the jacket, which helps prevent air from entering underneath. The flexibility adds to the overall comfort level of the jacket also.
The outer shell includes a hidden zipper on the upper sleeves, located under the black reflective Phoslite piping. The vents have a double row of hook-and-loop, which allows the vent to be secure open for air flow through the mesh jacket underneath.
The Phoslite material used on the Flex LE jacket and pants is highly reflective, even though it blends so well into the black jacket that the striping is nearly invisible. Black reflective material usually isn't as reflective as the white or silver products, but the reflective material used by Tourmaster is definitely an eye-popper.
One of the main differences between the Flex Series 2.0 jacket (the street version) and the Flex LE jacket is in the pocket details.
The Flex LE includes two large patch-style pockets on the lower front, reminiscent of the same style of pockets found on the classic leather Police jacket. The pockets are included on both the outer jacket shell and the inner mesh jacket, but the pockets on the outer jacket are waterproof, while the pockets on the mesh jacket have only a thin nylon non-waterproof lining.
The pockets on both jackets have a top hook-and-loop flap and a second pocket behind, accessible via a zipper on the outer edge of the pocket, hidden underneath the seam.
The outer jacket includes a single pocket located in the left placket, behind the second zipper used to attach the insulating liner.
The mesh jacket has a large 150 mm by 150 mm (6" x 6") patch pocket located inside on the lower left-hand side. It also has two separate expandable cargo pockets of about 80 mm by 130 mm (3" x 5"), located on the lower right of the inside of the jacket. These pockets are repeated on the insulating liner.
The LE in this case could easily mean "Limited Edition", because the Flex LE jacket and Flex LE pants were not easy to find at the time this review was scheduled. Information about the LE product line was just as scarce; search the Tourmaster website for the Flex LE jacket or pants and you'll come up empty.
A review of the Flex LE jacket and pants was suggested by a webBikeWorld visitor and the items shown here came with some help from our webBikeWorld affiliates. The LE jacket and pants were just beginning to enter the retail network when these were ordered, and not all sizes were in stock.
Thus, we had to settle for slightly different sizes than usual. The pants shown here are a size large short, while the jacket is a size large long. It was as close as we could get and the timing was right, but just to note that the fit of the clothing may look slightly off on the model as a result.
The Flex LE jacket is available in an expanded size range though, from Small to Large, then XL to 4XL. It's available in men's Tall sizes from Medium all the way to 5XL Tall (there must be some big Motor Officers out there!).
The Flex LE pants are available in sizes ranging from a 28/30 waist Regular all the way up to 40/42 Tall. Short lengths are available in sizes ranging from 32/34 to 40/42.
The Flex LE jacket shown in the photos is a size Large Tall, and it fits as expected, with some extra room for light body armor that may be worn by the Officer. The sleeves seem slightly longer than the usual size Large Regular we wear and the shoulders are broader, also to accommodate clothing worn underneath. The Flex LE jacket should be fitted so that the mesh jacket is comfortable, because the shell simply zips to the outside.
The insulating quilted liner is relatively heavy, and it adds 1/2 to 1 size when removed. The trick is to find a size that does not fit too loose with the liner inserted; in fact, it should feel about 1/2 size tight. This is important anyway for cold weather riding, as the liner should fit as close as possible to the body to keep out air drafts.
But a Motor Officer will probably be wearing a duty shirt and body armor underneath, which may complicate the fit, so keep this in mind; however, the expanded size range offered by Tourmaster should help.
The Flex LE jacket in size Large Tall weighs 4 lbs. complete and 3.5 lbs. with the outer shell removed. The Flex Pants in size Large Short weigh 5 lbs. with both liners and the outer shell attached.
|The wBW Opinionator: Tourmaster Flex LE Jacket|
The Tourmaster Flex LE jacket lives up to its name, with a high level of flexibility and versatility for Motor Officers or street riders. That's right -- there's nothing stopping you from buying a Flex LE jacket for your very own, or you can also choose a Flex Series 2.0 jacket, the civilian version with most of the same features.
The jacket has a heavy-duty feel and appearance, more so than most of the other Tourmaster jackets we've reviewed and other jackets in the same price range. It should serve very nicely as either a duty jacket or for all-around street riding.
See Part 2: Tourmaster Flex Pants Review
wBW Product Review: Tourmaster Flex LE Jacket
|Manufacturer: Tourmaster||List Price: $279.99|
|Colors: Black.||Made In: China|
|Sizes: S to 4XL Regular. M Tall to 5XL Tall.||Star Rating (1-5):|
|Review Date: April 2011|
Note: Item was provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.
From "K.D." (04/11): "Good article on the Tourmaster Flex LE jacket. Unfortunately, the civvy version is not available in tall sizes."
Editor's Note: I just checked and that is correct, I didn't realize it, the civilian version is available in men's XS to 4XL and women's from XS to XL only.