The Spidi Master Combat jacket is another brand-new design for 2016.
It's part of the very popular "Combat" lineup in the Spidi portfolio.
The Combat family goes all the way back to 2001 and the original Motocombat H2Out jacket designed by Aldo Drudi.
The Master Combat jacket has a military field jacket personality and you'd never guess it was designed for two-wheeling.
Hidden underneath are EN1621-1 certified protectors -- the Spidi Multitech type in the shoulders and Forcetech in the elbows.
Want more? Add a Spidi Warrior CE certified Level 1 or Level 2 back protector insert.
The Master Combat jacket has a hardy, soft and durable cotton and Cordura blend shell with an attached H2Out waterproof Z-liner.
Like the Spidi Firebird jacket (review), the Master Combat looks good off the bike as well.
This is one of zillions of juicy Spidi items in their catalog, so hang on to your wallet -- you'll probably find more than one favorite!
The city/street style for motorcycle clothing is a concept whose time has come and the Master Combat is a perfect example of why.
It's just starting to hit the dealers' showrooms, so if you want one, get in line. These should move pretty quickly.
We've been covering the "city look" motorcycle clothing scene for some time and it just keeps getting better. This type of moto wear makes a lot of sense for many of your motorcycle "adventures" -- the ones that go from your driveway to the local diner.
Spidi takes it one step farther, because their city lineup looks like something you'd find at J.Crew or Banana Republic. In other words, this is stylish stuff that actually looks better than the "real" streetwear in your closet.
Once you understand the concept, it's kind of hard to get excited about traditional motorcycle jackets -- you know, the logo-encrusted types that make you look like you walked out of Mad Max and crossing over to Boogie Nights.
When you can have a modicum of protection in a jacket that looks good on and off the bike, well, why not? It just makes sense.
Yes -- we've said this before also -- you're not getting ultimate race bike protection here. It's a tradeoff, we understand the issues and we're cool with it.
The benefit is style and versatility. You could absolutely wear the Master Combat jacket (or the Spidi Firebird jacket we reviewed a couple of weeks ago) to a restaurant or out for a walk and no one would blink. Then hop on your scooter or bike and go for a ride, no problem.
The Master Combat jacket -- like the other jackets in the Spidi Combat family -- has a quasi-military utility field jacket look. Ours is the "Sage" green color (color number 120) and it's also available in dark blue (050).
The green is pretty close to the "Olive Drab" color found on standard field jackets used around the world. So that actually makes it fairly trendy, because mil-inspired street clothing seems to never go out of style.
The pockets add to the mil-spec look, but I'll get into that in a minute.
Let's talk about the jacket shell. This one is different from the motorcycle norm; it's a mixture of 60% Cordura and 40% cotton at 280 grams per square meter weight, according to Spidi.
The rugged Cordura textile is very familiar to motorcyclists but cotton isn't often used in motorcycle jacket shells.
However, the combination in this Spidi jacket feels pretty sturdy and it's slightly thick, similar to one of those Alpha Industries M65 winter military utility jackets (I was issued a 1980's-era version in the U.S. Navy Seabees). It also doesn't attract lint or cat hair -- a real bonus.
Those M65 field jackets were designed to "take a lickin' and keep on tickin'" and the Master Combat has the same vibe.
It's not an inexpensive jacket, but from all appearances, it's built to last. As usually happens with motorcycle clothing, a loftier list price means much more attention to detail. The Master Combat may look simple enough but the detailing is what makes it.
The Cordura in the jacket shell probably gives it some backbone and cotton wouldn't be my first choice for abrasion protection.
But the Master Combat is "built like a tank". After all, this is a Spidi product, a brand built on reputation, so no expenses were spared.
Example: YKK zippers are used throughout -- even for the wallet pocket on the inside left placket.
That zipper even has a little "garage" for the runner and pull, something you wouldn't expect considering that the zipper's location is on the inside of the jacket, not the outside.
Genuine PRYM metal snaps are also used on the jacket front (hidden under the flap) and every where else. That includes the sleeve cuffs, pocket flaps (each fold-over pocket has two snaps) and even to attach the insulating liner to the shell.
But back to the shell... The Master Combat is like an "80/20" or maybe "60/40" street vs. motorcycle jacket, so style comes first.
Designing for a street/casual look meant that there are no external panels for extra abrasion protection added. This is our one issue with the Master Combat jacket.
We nicked the AGV Sport Torino jacket (review) recently for having the stitching run vertically down the sleeve bisecting the elbow and unfortunately it's the same here.
The Spidi stitching on the arm does appear to be of a higher spec than the cheaper AGV Sport jacket.
But a vertical exposed single row of stitching down the back of the arm still doesn't seem like the best idea, considering this is a motorcycle jacket. I'm just afraid that during a crash, an elbow impact will burst the seam.
I would suggest that Spidi redesign the sleeve to move the stitching farther around the back of the arm.
On the other hand, I suppose one could argue that since this is a city/scooter/urban/commuter jacket, the crash speeds might not be as high and impact energy will be reduced?
Regarding impact energy dissipation, two things that help are the genuine CE EN1621-1 certified Spidi "Multitech" removable protectors in the shoulders and the EN1621-1 certified and removable "Forcetech" protectors used in the elbows.
This is good stuff and like the Spidi Firebird jacket, you'd never know it's in there. More so with the Master Combat jacket actually because the cut is not as trim.
Also like the Firebird, you can add a Spidi "Warrior" back protector but there's no pants connection zipper in the Master Combat.
There are three back protectors to choose from that will fit: the EN1621-2 certified Level 1 Compact; the Level 1 Warrior EVO or the certified Level 2 Warrior L2 insert.
The Spidi brand name and the quality construction count for a lot here. In fact, the Master Combat jacket feels heftier than many other lesser motorcycle jackets I've seen and better than non-motorcycle street wear for sure.
Don't forget, just because a jacket has those Mad Max accoutrements on the exterior doesn't necessarily mean it will protect. I'll take a genuine lab-certified protector equipped jacket any day over a "fake" that looks the part but isn't.
Bottom line here is that you're getting quality construction, a fairly rugged feeling Cordura/cotton shell and the real CE protectors -- not the imitation stuff used by too many brands.
The Master Combat jacket also has a built-in waterproof and breathable Spidi "H2Out" Z-liner membrane on the inside. The Z-liner is the type permanently attached to the inside of the shell.
The shell seems to have been treated with some type of water-repellent feature, although Spidi doesn't list that in the specs.
Water beads up and rolls off, although the cotton in the shell will get a bit soggy in a heavy continuous downpour, but I bet this could be easily resolved with a treatment of Nikwax (review).
We put the liner to a couple of spray sessions (winter means only frozen water here currently) and the jacket is definitely waterproof.
The removable insulating liner snaps into the jacket shell with genuine PRYM snaps, 5 in each placket in the front.
On top of that (literally), the main entry placket snaps to the right-hand side with 4 hidden PRYM snaps underneath.
This flap covers the main entry zipper, which is the very heavy tooth YKK Vislon type with a big metal runner with an extra long metal pull AND a beautiful nylon fabric pull sewn -- that's right, sewn -- on to the metal pull. Delicious!
The exclusive use of the snaps gives the jacket a high-buck feel and it's very reminiscent of jackets "the way they used to make them", just like that old M65 field jacket.
The metal PRYM snaps are everywhere -- two for each pocket flap, at the sleeve cuffs, collar and even on the waist adjuster!
No cheap hook-and-loop to be found anywhere on the exterior of this jacket. In fact, the only place you'll find any hook-and-loop is in small strips that close the protector pockets, hidden deep in the sleeves and shoulders.
The overall construction is simply fantastic once you inspect it closely and we're really smitten with Spidi attention to detail in this regard. Literally the Master Combat is an heirloom jacket -- it would be difficult to imagine this thing falling apart like one of those Cheap Charlie brands.
A couple more things about that insulating liner; it's full length and full sleeve length and it's listed as 150 grams of insulation. It's very nice and it attaches at the sleeve cuffs and neck with small loops.
It keeps me very warm, especially combined with the hefty jacket shell with its waterproof/windproof Z-liner that blocks the cold wind from getting through in the first place.
It also has a very wide vertically aligned corduroy lining in the collar, which is comfortable. The collar stands up about 70 mm tall and it's filled with a sort of downy-puffy feeling lining just like your bedroom pillow.
The cut is roomy enough to wear a sweater underneath; I wore a cotton turtleneck and a lightweight fleece zip-up sweater during a recent winter ride and I was too warm. I had to stop and take off the sweater.
By the way, the hood that you see in the photos is waterproof and it's also removable, attached with -- you guessed it -- more PRYM metal snaps! There is no large cargo pocket in the rear of the Master Combat jacket (a nod to style), so you're on your own for storage. Don't lose it!
Some of the mil-spec style comes from the design of the pockets on the Master Combat.
The lower pair are lined and waterproof and another detail is the fabric lift tab sewn into the large pocket flap, with a line of through stitches for strength (and looks).
The waterproof liner is nicely attached to the inside of the pocket, blind-stitched to the inside back of the pocket flap and with a fold-over strip to help ensure waterproof integrity. Again, two PRYM metal snaps hold each flap in place -- just say "No" to hook-and-loop!
There are two more pockets on the upper chest. The pocket on the right has a very useful curved YKK water-resistant zipper and the pocket on the left is a big cargo type with a lot of extra room provided via the "baggy" design.
The lower left sleeve has a small zipper pocket for stowing change. It's not waterproof but should be. And don't forget the vertical zipper pocket on the inside of the left placket that I mentioned earlier.
These are very useful pocket designs and locations for a motorcycle jacket and they're huge, easy to use and easy to access. The simplicity of the design is their biggest strength, although I wish a couple more had the waterproof lining.
No vents (like the Firebird jacket) mean this is a three-season affair. But my M65 doesn't have vents either...
The jacket back has very deep, long and elastic shoulder darts as you can see in the photos of the rear of the jacket.
These really do help to give the jacket an overall comfort, especially when reaching to the slightly-too-low bars on the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT Project Bike (Blog).
(I have a set of bar risers yet to install...).
The waist adjusters are on the outside, a concession to motorcycling use because normally the waist adjustment on a military field jacket is done via a drawstring on the inside.
And finally, the collar has two snaps for adjustment and a tab on the left. It's roomy enough and unlined (to keep that military look) on the inside other than the Cordura/cotton blend, which is soft enough.
This Master Combat jacket is a size XL and it fits as expected. I probably could have swung a size large. My feeling is that the jacket runs to size, based on this example.
The size XL should fit a 44" chest, give or take. The model in the photo has a 44" chest and usually takes an L or XL, so you can get some idea from that.
Unlike the Spidi Firebird jacket we reviewed, this type of field jacket like the M65 are usually worn fairly loose, to allow freedom of movement, so buy yours accordingly.
Removing the full-length insulating liner will get you about 1/2 a size also. Be sure to account for that. Adding a Spidi back protector insert will require a bit of extra room also, although the big wings in the rear provide excellent freedom of movement across the back.
Wear the Spidi Master Combat jacket on the street and no one will ever know that it has a secret career as two-wheel protection.
In fact, there's some irony that the military-inspired styling actually serves to further camouflage the true purpose of this jacket.
While the design may seem simple, there are some very nice details and the overall construction and build quality indicates the Master Combat will last a long time.
The waterproof liner is a plus and it partners with the Cordura and cotton shell to do an excellent job of wind blocking. And by the way, this should be an easy fabric to clean in the washer also.
It used to be that motorcyclists found used street jackets to wear on the bike. Then came dedicated motorcycle wear and there's nothing wrong with that, just that most of it can look a bit awkward when you're off the bike.
Now we have street-look wear that has some protective capability, which sort of brings things full circle.
I'm betting a ton of motorcyclists and scooter jockeys will absolutely love the Master Combat and, in fact, it may convince more people to ride to work and that's a good thing.