The Merlin Ridge jacket is a great-looking combination of leather and tech wax cotton. A leather body is subtly combined with CE AA 'Cotec' Technical Wax Cotton sleeves for a versatile look that will look great on darn near every type of bike. Part of the British brand's Heritage Collection, this unique two-fabric combination creates a riding jacket I found comfortable from the moment I zipped it up.
Material & Build Quality
Sizing, Fit & Comfort
Value For Money
The waxed cotton arms and shoulders need no break-in period
The torso is waxed leather and it feels great
There is a vest liner which extends the temperature range of this jacket a bit
Full set of D3O armor included (back, shoulders, and elbows)
The waxed finish creates a waterproof finish, and it can be redone if it wears down
Has some decent venting without looking like it has endless zippers
I found the neck snap challenging because of the loop detail
The Merlin Ridge Cotec jacket has a fantastic British-inspired style. It only comes in one color, but it looks so good you probably won’t care.
Merlin uses high-quality leather and waxed cotton, resulting in a product with a distinctly premium feel.
This jacket is CE-AA rated and has 5 pieces of Level 1 D3O armor included, allowing it to offer robust protection to the rider. It also has a removable liner vest that adds a little extra insulation.
This is an excellent cruiser, V-twin, or cafe racer jacket you can buy without breaking the bank (although it’s certainly not what I would call cheap). Highly recommended.
The Merlin Ridge Cotec Jacket: All the British Style
I ride three very different bikes regularly, and I have always found it difficult to find a jacket with actual style and design elements that don’t leave me feeling like a basic biker. The moment I opened the garment bag and slipped out the Ridge Cotec jacket, I felt like I may have found a winner.
I am drawn to leather for the feel, smell, and rugged nature of the material, the Ridge has that. I like modern textiles for the freedom of movement, and the Ridge jacket has those elements as well.
Five passionate bikers hailing from the heart of the UK working out a small barn in 2012. The founders believed riders wanted but could not find; motorcycle clothing that redefined their expectations of riding apparel, showcased their personality, and complemented their bike without compromising on safety, function, or performance. From that passionate set of guiding principles, they got to work producing a very unique portfolio of riding kit, which is indeed a step away from the traditional.
Two years later, in 2014, Merlin connected with a leading manufacturer of textiles, Halley Stevensons. With this new licensing agreement fresh in hand Merlin products using waxed cotton and leather began to draw attention from the European riding community, and now the international riding community.
Merlin has not established any paid alliances or ambassadorial engagements. Instead, each person who has worn Merlin—whether a musician, chef, racing driver, or television personality—has chosen to do so independently. This is indeed the best type of endorsement.
Merlin Ridge Cotec Jacket Design
Finding a jacket that feels just right on many different bikes sounds far easier than it actually is. When I first put eyes on the Ridge Cotec jacket I knew I found a style that was strongly vibing with the look I love.
Cut & Detailing
The torso sections—both chest and back—are thick black leather, with clean simple lines. Two zippered hand pockets and two chest ventilation zippers complement the design. The back of the main body follows the same clean simple look with a taper that enhances the broad shoulder look. On each side along the rib cage are 5” vertical zippers for ventilation.
The sleeves and shoulders are made from the Merlin exclusive Cotec waxed cotton. Stitched to create a ribbed look over the shoulder and down the biceps and forearms, it is this sort of design detail that lifts the Merlin design away from standard fare. You get the best of both the leather and the textile worlds here.
The interior has a soft durable lining that breathes well with the vent zips open. On the left side is a single zipped interior pocket. A jacket-to-pants connector loop and a short is fitted just below the pocket for the D30 Spine armor. Shoulders and elbows are also fitted with D30 armor.
A zip-in insulated vest is part of the package. It is somewhat light but does help add warmth without adding bulk. Interestingly this vest has its own hidden pocket on the left side, with a button closure.
A Well-Tailored Modern Classic: 95%
Merlin Ridge Cotec Jacket Material & Build Quality
Merlin chose 1.0-1.1mm cowhide for the torso and collar. While not the thickest available leather, it is a great choice for this jacket. It has a waxed finish and is soft and flexible. The abrasion resistance of this cowhide is substantial and it hides the spine protector very well.
Cooperation between Merlin and Halley Stevensons led to the development of “Cotec,” an 8oz technical waxed cotton that is stronger, lighter, and more temperature-controllable than conventional waxed cotton. Cotec carries a CE AA rating.
The stitching in motorcycle clothing significantly contributes to the overall gear’s abrasion resistance. Merlin makes little mention of the stitching techniques, but the garment I received has no issues and is very well assembled. All critical areas have double rows of stitching and the decorative areas are all singles. I tend to be a bit ruthless looking for flaws and Merlin has done very well, I found none.
Zippers & Buttons
All the zippers are high-quality YKK vintage-looking pieces. The action was always smooth and snag-free.
The buttons all carry the Merlin brand and match the vintage look of the zippers.
Merlin provides a sizing guide that was spot on for my measurements. I am often concerned when ordering a European brand of clothing, the fit is usually leaner. I would not describe myself as leaner. My chest measures in at 49” and the belly at “well fed,” I ordered a 50 and it fits perfectly.
It didn’t matter what style of bike I had a leg over, the sleeve length and shoulder movement allowed consistent sleeve fit no matter what bars I was reaching for. I will say the sleeves are a source of my very few complaints with the Ridge jacket.
Merlin fits a cuff zipper and adjustable snap at the wrist area. The way this closure and zipper are fitted leaves a small opening at the wrist. I tend to wear short gloves, and this meant air could always leak up my arms. No issue in warm weather, but the Ridge is a jacket that rides well in cooler weather. It would have been a simple matter to change the end of the zipper area to close up this gap. A small thing, but sometimes it is the small things that will drive us crazy. I could easily solve this myself with a longer glove.
I have fairly broad shoulders and one good sized single ab, this often means jackets don’t conform well for me around the shoulders and get loose in different parts of the torso. Not at all the case for me with the Merlin Ridge jacket.
I love the freedom of movement the Cotec fabric sleeves and shoulders provide. The armor felt great and not sliding around over the protection area. The spine armor felt great regardless of what position my arms were in.
The fact the jacket didn’t require a break in period was nice. The wax treatment which creates waterproofness for the Ridge never felt stiff, the jacket felt very right for my body.
The size range is only from 38 to 50, and they fit true to size. This may be a limiting factor for some.
Comfort Over Time
The nature of this jacket falls squarely in the category of “gets better with age.” I can already tell it will be right up there with a favorite pair of jeans. The more you wear it the better the patina gets, and that character will certainly make it even better.
You can re-wax the jacket using Merlin Wax Cotton Tin when it loses its waxed finish and water begins to soak into the cotton rather than bead off. This jacket seems destined to stay at the front of my closet.
As most readers will know, there are two primary ways a piece of gear protects you in an accident: impact protection and abrasion resistance.
Modern textiles for riding gear have come a long way, and this jacket delivers the best of both worlds combining Cotec waxed cotton and leather. At the top of the leather spectrum sits cowhide which makes up the torso of the Merlin Ridge jacket. Listed as a 1.0-1.1mm thickness of cowhide, it feels substantial without being overly heavy.
Both materials have excellent abrasion resistance and as such, it makes sense the Merlin Ridge jacket carries a CE AA rating.
Merlin is partnered with D3O for the armor in the Ridge jacket. I always appreciate when a company seems to feel just as I do and includes all the armor, not making certain pieces “optional.”
The D30 level 1 armor is breathable and very flexible. It offers very good protection without feeling bulky.
Merlin Has You Covered: 95%
Merlin Ridge Cotec Jacket Value for Money
I look at many articles of riding gear each season, and I quickly become attuned to the areas where manufacturers are clearly trying to save on costs. The Ridge Cotec jacket I have tested was clearly made by people who ride. I feel like they nailed it with the unique styling. The mixing of fabrics works and feels great to wear.
How Much Does It Cost?
The retail price for this jacket is $429 USD. A totally fair price for a jacket I can find so little to find an issue with.
Great jacket, Merlin!
Great Value From Merlin: 93%
Final Verdict: I Really Like This Jacket
I like to look like I ride, without it being over the top obvious. I also really like a jacket that suits the look of the bike I am on, and that can be a really hard trick to pull off among so many styles of machines. The Merlin Ridge jacket looks good on the bike and off.
Using the Jacket in the Real World
I really appreciate the fit of the shoulders and arms of this Merlin jacket. To determine where it worked best for me, I wore it while riding all of my bikes. On my Honda Goldwing, I found the relaxed arm angle to be very comfy, and that comfort held when I switched to my Harley-Davidson, which has a higher bar position with extra reach.
Jackets with back armor can be annoying on the Goldwing due to the backrest, but this is why I like the D3O products Merlin went with. The flex of the D3O armor kept things comfortable against the backrest.
On my KTM SuperDuke GT again this jacket felt at home. Aggressive mountain rides never felt restrictive with added lean to the bars or during rapid transitions in the saddle. There is little doubt riders designed this jacket. It worked great and felt great.
I think the only bike this jacket wouldn’t be totally at home on is a Super Sport bike; for every other style the Ridge Cotec works.