The brand-new Spidi Firebird jacket is a looker with a protective inner secret.
There's a full complement of gen-u-wine CE certified (not just approved) elbow and shoulder protectors underneath that cool exterior.
And you can even plug in a Spidi EN1621-2 Level 1 and Level 2 certified "Warrior" back protector insert for more protection.
The elbow and shoulder protectors are EN1621-1 certified, with the Spidi "Multitech" type for the shoulders and high-end "Forcetech" for the elbows.
No one will ever know any of this is lurking underneath that feel-good Nubuck leather though.
In fact, the protectors aren't that noticeable when you're looking for them and they pretty much disappear once you put the jacket on.
Quite simply, you could wear the Firebird into a restaurant and no one would think that you just stepped off a motorcycle.
And the jacket looks so good, you'll probably want to wear it off the bike more than on.
It's not all about style though, because the Firebird is cozy warm also. The sheepskin collar is a genius idea that gives it the crowning touch.
Spidi really hit it out of the ballpark with the Firebird jacket. It's a brand new release and not yet in stock at many of the Spidi retailers.
But when it hits, expect a sellout. So if you want one, get that credit card ready!
We hit paydirt one day last month. I realized we hadn't posted a Spidi review in like forever, so I dropped them a line.
The stars must have been in alignment, because I got an immediate response asking if we wanted to try the new Firebird jacket, which was just going through the formal product announcement routine.
Of course I said "Of course!" and a couple days later, a big box arrived from Italy with a bunch of Spidi gear. My eyes immediately lasered on to the Firebird and it's an instant favorite.
It's kind of interesting that over the years, we've moved from street clothing adapted to motorcycling to motorcycle-specific designs and now to street clothing with features adapted to motorcycling.
The trend over the last couple of years has been to make motorcycle clothing that looks good, that you're not embarrassed to wear on the street, but is also protective.
The Firebird jacket is a prime example; the goal is to make clothing that looks so good, you'll want to wear it off the bike and on.
OK, so we're not talking race suit levels of protection here, but the Firebird probably has better protection than many other "motorcycle" jackets available today.
And you'll look so good wearing it...
The Firebird jacket shell is made from a type of Nubuck leather that has a mild buffed finish, not the heavy Nubuck that you might find on a pair of boots or gloves. It's a very nice combination of "just enough" vintage with modern design.
The dark brown colored leather will surely become "distressed" over time, adding to the vintage look. OCD types can probably use some sort of leather treatment to keep that from happening, if desired.
The leather is 0.9 mm thick, which is relatively thin compared to a typical sport/street leather motorcycle jacket -- something like the Spidi Track Wind at 1.2 mm.
So the sub-1 mm thick leather perhaps isn't optimal for ultimate abrasion protection, but it does makes the Firebird much more "user friendly" comfortable, both when you're riding and street cruising off the bike.
The stitching is very nicely done, with rolled seam edges and really nice construction and tailoring.
There's a vertical seam down the back of both arms that has a hybrid double stitch; one rolled seam has hidden stitching underneath and one row of external stitching on top.
Along the outside rear of the jacket under the shoulders on each side is a wide accordion pleat with shallow "corduroys" and built-in elastic for lots of stretch. And inside the upper part of the arm, the leather gives way to a "Tenax" elastic for comfort and flexibility.
There are very discreet "Spidi" logos pressed into the leather on the inside quarter of the sleeve ends and no other branding otherwise, thank goodness.
The collar deserves special mention here, as it is one of the "signature" style touches on the Firebird jacket. It's real sheepskin in a sort of caramel color and it's very comfortable.
The collar is actually attached to the liner, not the jacket shell. When riding with the liner in place, the sheepskin collar fills the area under the helmet, which adds warmth and protection from the wind.
The sheepskin is squishy enough to not get in the way, but of course this may vary depending on the individual rider and helmet combination. You can always remove the liner and the sheepskin collar goes with it.
The liner is a "100 gram thermal wadding" with what feels like a street/dress style fabric on the inside, again very comfortable and it combines with the natural protection of the leather for extra warmth.
With the liner removed, the jacket has a completely different look -- less of the "bomber pilot" look and more of a café racer style.
There are no snaps, straps or hook-and-loop on the jacket shell collar; zip the zipper to your preferred height and that's it.
The liner in the Firebird jacket isn't designed to be worn separately. In an unusual twist, the liner snaps into the jacket shell with 10 tiny snaps running up each side for a total of 20. Even the liner sleeve cuffs attach on the inside of the jacket with snaps.
I'm not sure why they designed it this way but I'd guess the tiny snaps are flatter than a zipper, which give the jacket a sleeker appearance from the outside. Also, the snaps are kind of a retro touch also.
In any case, they're not as easy to use as a zipper, so you won't be removing and inserting the liner on a whim (although nobody says you have to fasten all the snaps).
A couple of zippers would probably make for faster entry and exit but might harm some of the retro effect.
The outside parts of the collar of the liner have a swatch of hook-and-loop on either side at the top to keep the sheepskin in place and there are two more larger snaps above each shoulder plus a fabric loop in back of the neck on the liner also, as attachment points.
The main entry zipper on the Firebird jacket is a black YKK type, with dress or street type small/medium sized nylon teeth and a metal pull. One feature I think is missing is that the zipper pull should be a locking type.
A locking zipper pull will remain in position at any location along the zipper, so you can run the zipper pull down off the neck to let in some air and the pull will stay in place.
With a retro jacket like the Firebird, that will also be used as street wear, this would have been a useful feature to include.
Each sleeve cuff has a 150 mm vertical zipper with a design that complements the main entry zipper, but the pulls are branded with a tiny Spidi logo instead.
The cuffs also have a single metal unbranded snap and there are no other buttons or snaps on the external parts of the jacket.
The Firebird jacket has four pockets total. Three zipper pockets are located on the front, including two external hand pockets with 170 mm long zippers and one zippered pocket on the upper right shoulder.
The pocket zippers are each semi-hidden under a very nice arrangement of rolled edges and a square box with a single row of stitching.
I'm sort of 60/40 on the shoulder pocket and its location.
I can't decide if it's consistent with the overall styling of the jacket or not. It just seems like a slightly incongruous location for a pocket with a zipper and the angle looks slightly off compared to the rest of the lines of the jacket.
But that's a pretty minor nitpick and certainly a matter of individual preference.
There's also one pocket on the inside left placket. It has a 150 mm long zipper with one of those little "garage" arrangements for the pull, which I assume will prevent some water from entering if you're wearing the jacket with the collar open.
The inside pocket has a triangular internal shape and it's about 180 mm deep, useful for holding a wallet or phone.
The Firebird jacket isn't just all about style; Spidi included their "Multitech" protectors for the shoulders (EN1621-1 certified) and the high-end Spidi "Forcetech" protectors for the elbows (also EN1621-1 certified).
The Multitech protectors are used in other Spidi jackets and the Forcetech protectors are the type included in some of the the very expensive Spidi jackets, like the HT Raid Jacket with an $849.95 list price. So I'm assuming this is top-drawer stuff.
The Firebird jacket also has a pocket in the rear that will accept either of the Spidi EN1621-2 Level 1 and Level 2 certified "Warrior" back protectors. See our slide show for a couple of photos of the protectors.
Honestly, when riding or even when handling the jacket, the protectors are barely noticeable.
This is one of the things you get when you buy a high-quality jacket from a respected manufacturer like Spidi -- the styling and tailoring are designed as a whole to accommodate the protectors.
We've noticed time and again that less expensive clothing just doesn't have the attention paid to cut and tailoring, which sometimes means you'll end up with not only a poor fit but the protectors won't remain in their proper location when needed.
The Firebird jacket is designed and tailored with the protectors in mind and although the jacket may not have the straps and connectors one might expect on a motorcycle jacket, the beautifully tailored fit is what helps to keep the protection in place.
This Firebird jacket is a size 54, which equates more or less to a U.S. men's size L and it fits pretty much as expected. The body of the jacket has a taper along the sides, so those guts of too many beers may not fit.
Remove the insulating liner and you'll gain maybe 1/2 of a size.
As with all correctly fitted motorcycle jackets and pants, the fit is designed to be snug, which is correct, to help keep the protectors in their correct location, so keep that in mind. Snug or even tight is better than loose for motorcycling.
The Spidi Firebird jacket is a winner, with excellent overall styling, fit, tailoring and materials. It looks great both on and off the bike.
Actually, the price isn't too dear also, considering the design and the features. The Firebird is just hitting the retailers, so if you're interested, better get in line.
From "D.W." (January 2016): "Great Scott that's a beautiful jacket! Now I just have to move up the northwest or pray something this nice shows up for those of us in the desert."