The M2R Rally Cross EVO is a very comfortable jacket with some interesting features including built-in pockets for a water bladder; removable arms and a 3-way front zipper arrangement that effectively blocks cold air.
Slowly but surely, “Enduro” styled Adventure Touring gear is catching on.
This parallels the rise in popularity of motorcycles like the BMW R1200GS, the Triumph Tiger (alas, the older version, not the new one) and, of course, the classic Adventure Touring bike, the KLR650.
The Adventure Touring market niche started in Europe, long before it caught on in the U.S.
Somewhat analogous to the quasi-romantic image of the American motorcycle rider as a “Lone Wolf” rebel, there is a segment of the motorcycle market in Europe is devoted to riders who fancy themselves as Paris-Dakar racers, ready for their next adventure, riding off into another Malawian sunset.
Who would have guessed that the trend would catch on in cruiser crazy America, but my theory is that the popularity of SUVs has acted as a sort of enabler for the concept of an all-purpose motorcycle that’s always ready for on- or off-road abuse.
Sounds silly maybe, and I originally thought that Adventure Touring was kind of goofy, but after finally coming around and owning a 1998 Triumph Tiger “Steamer”, all I can say is it’s one of the only bikes I wish I hadn’t sold. Adventure Touring bikes are loads of fun and there’s a lot to be said for the upright seating position (which by the way becomes more and more attractive to me with each passing year)!
But hey — if you’re riding a big GS or KLR650, you need to look the part! Fringe vests or race-rep leathers just don’t look right when splashed with mud…
So this was originally going to be a review of a complete Enduro riding outfit, consisting of the M2R Rally Cross jacket, the matching M2R Rally Cross pants and a pair of Alpinestars Recon boots and Alpinestars “Sledge” gloves thrown in for good measure.
Well, one thing led to another, as we shall see, and I didn’t want to procrastinate any longer, so here forthwith is at least the M2R Rally Cross jacket review. The Alpinestars boots and gloves will have to wait for another day. But what about the pants? It’s a long story…
I first discovered M2R motorcycle clothing while browsing a retailer’s website. M2R clothing isn’t all that easy to find, in case you haven’t noticed, so I wasn’t able to try one on first but the Rally Cross jacket looked good enough in the photos to motivate me to take a chance.
I didn’t expect much, to be honest, based on our initial impression of M2R products that came a couple of years ago when we were looking at inexpensive Snell-approved motorcycle helmets. The M2R MR10 helmet we reviewed was, uh — well, let’s just say that the M2R brand wasn’t off to a resounding start in my book.
Nevertheless, when the clothing arrived, I was impressed. I especially liked the styling of the M2R Rally Cross textile pants ($139.95 list), and I still think they’d make a perfect match for the jacket. But we found a serious problem with the sizing, at least in the couple of pair we received, so buyer beware.
The matching M2R Rally Cross pants are available in waist sizes ranging from 30″ to 42″. I normally take a size 36″, and that’s what I ordered. But to my surprise, I couldn’t even come close to buttoning them up. In fact, I could barely hike the waist up where it belonged. There’s no question in my mind that the pants I tried were much closer to a 33″ or 34″ waist than a 36.
The heck of it is that the legs seemed perfect. It was like they grafted a size 34 waist on to a 36 pant. If you’re super-slim, like people were in the 1940’s, they’ll work, but for “normal” folks — beware. Back they went for an exchange for the next biggest size, which happens to be size 38. Unfortunately, the pants with the 38 waist are just the opposite — more like a 39 or 40. And the legs were huge, like they were made for an elephant.
So we sent those back also and cancelled the order. This gets expensive, especially when the store charges a restocking fee after the second try. Fortunately, I was able to talk them out of it, but we’re still out the cost of shipping both pair back: $17.80 total just for postage.
OK, so now what? Well, the Alpinestars ACR Air-Flo pants (a fave for summer riding) or the comfy Roadgear Tierra del Fuego pants work just as well with the M2R Rally Cross jacket and they’re both a pretty close styling match. I did take a couple of photos of the M2R pants while they were here though:
M2R Rally Cross Jacket
Fortunately, the men’s size 44 (Large) jacket is a perfect fit. The combination of the Enduro cut and the thick but supple mesh textile fabric, makes it very comfortable. It doesn’t have the usual hard-backed armor in the shoulders and elbows, substituting a thick padding instead, and this probably adds to the comfort factor because it gives the rider more freedom of movement.
The thick weave of the outer mesh in the jacket’s shell is backed by a zip-in, removable waterproof and windproof liner. The liner attaches to the jacket will full-length vertical zippers located on either side of the jacket’s main zipper.
The liner’s zipper system includes a zipper on the inside of the liner that is first secured. A double layer of the liner is then placed over the inner zipper. A second liner zipper then is secured over that.
Next, the big main zipper of the jacket is secured, then finally the outer flap of the jacket itself lays over all of this and secures with Velcro an nice, big, rubber-covered “King Star” metal snaps.
It sounds more complicated than it is but the system really works to keep out the cold air.
The liner has a separate neck flap with its own Velcro attachment. The jacket neck is also comfortable, with some thin padding underneath a fleece neck liner and rolled top. It has a strap with one of those big King Star metal snaps and there are two locations on the collar for minimal adjustment. But, it fits my big neck, so I’m happy.
Here’s a photo showing the multiple layer front liner and zipper arrangement; note the inner liner zipper closest to the olive-colored T-shirt, then the outer liner zipper held open by the fingers, then the jacket zipper and finally the outer flap with its Velcro sections and metal snaps:
What’s cool about the jacket — literally — is that it has very good air flow when the liner is removed. The thick outer mesh has an open weave; hold it up to a light source (with the liner removed, of course) and you can see right through it.
Sure, there are a few areas down by the pockets and on the outer arms where the solid Nylon textile material blocks the air from coming through, but there’s plenty of mesh on the front of the jacket, just where you want it. This is one of the few 3/4 (or 5/8) length jackets that really does work rather well in hot weather.
And, if the mesh doesn’t flow enough air, well, the arms can be removed also! I didn’t even realize this was a feature when we purchased the jacket, but sure enough, each arm has a narrow zipper to allow removal. The mesh liner underneath (that by the way lines the entire jacket) is removable in the arms also. It’s attached with a couple of Velcro sections up top.
Note that the liner can get rather sticky when riding with only a T-shirt underneath; it works better with a full-length moisture absorbent undershirt, especially in humid or rainy weather. A full-length undershirt is probably a good idea even when riding without the liner anyway to help prevent burns from melting Nylon in case of a crash.
Note also that most of the outer shell is not waterproof at all, so the entire shell becomes wet in the rain, with only the liner between you and the moisture.
Jacket Arms, Cuffs and Adjusters
The arms of the jacket have an adjuster at the biceps and forearm. The adjusters are attached with a “V” shaped yoke to distribute the pull, which is a nice touch. I’d say the arms start off slightly tight, just as they should be, but the adjusters offer a bit more room and they can be cinched down quite a bit for thinner arms.
The arm cuffs have the standard Velcro adjustment on the outside. The liner has elastic in the cuffs, with helps to keep out wind and rain.
The M2R Rally Cross wouldn’t be so-named if it didn’t have the multiple pockets that Adventure Tourers seem to demand. What do they do with all those pockets anyway??
The front of the jacket includes a mesh pocket up on the right chest. It has a little cell phone logo sewn on and although the pocket isn’t waterproof, it includes a separate clear vinyl bag inside for storing a cell phone to keep it dry.
There’s no matching pocket on the upper left-hand side, but there is a waterproof vertical zipper pocket on the placket, just to the left of the jacket zipper. This one is perfect for storing a wallet or a map. Two bellows waist pockets complete the front storage. These pockets have hand warmer pockets behind them, lined with a very nice feeling felt-like material.
The back of the jacket features a huge lower storage pocket. It can definitely fit a thick sweater, water bottle, a sammich… who knows what else (Actually, it’s designed to store the jacket arms when they’re removed).
The jacket has a pattern of sewn chevrons that covers the thin back padding that is carried in an internal pocket. The lack of back armor keeps the jacket flexible, but I’d like to find a good piece of armor that will fit back there.
There’s a horizontal zipper up at the top of the jacket in the back, just below the neck, that I guess could hold a Camelback hydration unit (believe it or not, we have a Camelback review coming soon!).
This pocket has 3 loops inside and there are two loops located around the neck and down the front of the left-hand side of the jacket, so the hose from the hydration unit can be kept corralled.
The M2R Rally Cross jacket has short elastic sections sewn into the waist. Located on either side at the hem of the jacket is an adjustment system, each with two snaps to secure the bottom of the jacket from billowing.
The outer non-mesh jacket fabric is 500 denier “Rip Stop”. The seams are double-stitched and riveted. The shoulders and elbows are Hitena 4150. The liner is claimed to be hypo-allergenic. The piping on the jacket is 3M Scotchlite reflective material. And finally, there’s supposed to be an available upgrade kit with a thermal liner (I’d rather use a polar fleece sweater underneath); a 1.5 liter bladder and CE-approved armor.
I really like the M2R Rally Cross jacket, and I didn’t think I would when we ordered it. It’s comfortable, and flexible; it does a good job of blocking the cold air in the winter and has some of the best air flow of any full-length jacket in hot weather and I really like the styling.
The price isn’t bad, although you’ll probably have to pay list. If M2R motorcycle clothing was available at more retailers, there’d probably be more competition and the prices would be even lower. But this is a nice all-around jacket for the money. I’m hoping it will hold up to some abuse, and I’ll report back if it doesn’t.
Kind of makes me want to buy an ’08 KLR650 just so I can match this jacket with an Enduro helmet!
wBW Product Review: Made2Race M2R Rally Cross EVO Motorcycle Jacket