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 Post subject: Red Route riding denim
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:57 pm 
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Motorcycle: 98 Valkyrie
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
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Those of you who have known me well know that I don't generally armor up. However, I have one real weakness, and I suppose it traces back to my arctic upbringing: I _love_ coats. I just love them. I can (somewhat ashamedly) say that I really and truly _do_ own more coats than I own shirts. It drives my wife nuts, but on the other side of the coin, I only own two pairs of boots. ;)

I had never heard of Red Route until very recently, when I bought the armored denim jacket that Jim was selling on this very board. It wasn't the armor I was particularly interested in (though that was a nice plus), but the actual look of the jacket: it was a stylish jacket, unusual design yet still clean without being flashy.

Having worn it for most of this winter, I wanted to review it, as I have been _extremely_ impressed with everything except the "wrong sided" zipper. Evidently this was either a lady's jacket or the Europeans just make their zippers backwards.

Now I'm breaking the review rules, so let me get to the point:

First and foremost, this jacket _is_ nice looking. The pictures ( http://www.redroutelondon.com/ ) do _not_ do it justice. It is also a well-tailored jacket: the fit is snug enough to keep the armor in place under crash conditions (I took a few headers down a hillside just to test that out. The jacket shows _no_ signs of this abuse. Further, it is not as restricting as most armored jackets. No; you won't be reaching over your head for anything while it's zipped, but there is considerably more range of motion than most armored jackets I've used in the past. Very impressive feat that seems to be pulled off by using layered expansion zones in the denim of the joints. What looks at first to be a style flourish is in fact a very well-thought-out design feature.

The jacket is extremely comfortable, owing partly to a full cotton liner of unusually high thread count for anything but the most high-end of casual jackets, and the armor pockets are hemmed so as to prevent catching your sleeves or fingers while donning the coat. An impressive feat, considering that they are very simple to open in order to remove the armor (a must for washing).

The armor itself seems to be designed for even the most thoughtless among us, using a simple elongated and symmetrical shell, which allows elbow and shoulder pieces, left and right, to be formed identically, preventing any chance of putting the wrong piece in place after washing is done. Further, the elongated ends of the shell serve to provide forearm protection without the need of a separate piece.

While I have harped over and over that denim today is not what it was and that blue jeans are just about the worst thing you can be wearing in an accident, the denim used in this jacket is much more like the denim of yesteryear. While it is not true "firehouse denim canvas," it is very reminiscent of the old Sears "ToughSkins" indestructable pants of days gone by; this is a heavy, tough denim that I dare say most people under the age of forty have never actually seen with their own eyes. However, it is surprisingly supple and easy to wear. Durable? As I said, I took a few headers down hillsides in the woods here (we have a great deal of underbrush in the south, and all of it is thorny) and there isn't so much as a single pick in the threads. The shell of this jacket is surprisingly durable and resilient.

This jacket is also impressively warm. As most folks know, denim jackets are more sun-and-sand defense than they are for warmth, but I was able to wear this jacket far later and far earlier in the seasons that any simple fabric jacket I have ever owned. I expect that this is due specifically to several factors:

The shell is very dense, slowing down heat loss, and the inner liner, while just cotton fabric, is also tightly woven and heavy. The cuffs and neck, as with most armored jackets, seal very snugly to ensure that the armor remains in place in a slide. A side-effect is reduced potential for heat loss through these openings. The armor is a very high-density foam-- almost rubber-- and there is a very thin backpad of memory-type comfort foam; all this foam retains a good bit of warmth in the places you're most apt to lose it: arms, shoulders, back.

Most impressive to me, while it may seem minor to the average weekend cruiser, is the inclusion of a length of zipper across the back that allows this jacket to be zipped directly to the riding pants (I assume they would have to be from the same maker, of course), further ensuring that your armor _stays in place_ in a slide.

The color lightened slightly after the first washing, but hasn't changed after any additional washings to date. The color of the liner hasn't faded at all. I can't testify as to shrinkage, as I line dry all my clothing specifically to increase its longevity.

I can tell you that outside of full-on race gear, I have never been as impressed with _any_ protective gear the way I am with this jacket! And to think: I only bought it because I thought it looked good!


The Pros:

Stylish, Extremely durable shell, unusual freedom of movement, very simplified armor system, unusually high-quality pucks for casual riding gear: very near race-quality armor. Zipper attachment for riding pants, warm even late or early in the season. Vented. (I cannot speak on the vents as I have not yet needed to use them). Vents are front and rear for flow through, brass zipper closers disguise them as additional pockets. Mesh inside vents color-matched to liner. Unusually high quality materials and stitching solid enough to hold buildings together. Owing to the cut and design of the jacket, the armor is completely invisible when wearing the jacket.


The Cons:

Interestingly enough, there aren't many cons, and most of those just minor consequences of the Pros. Very unusual.

As with any armored jacket, you will lose some range of motion, most notably when reaching above your head. Putting your helmet on is less aggravating in this jacket than others I have used, though, as the range of motion is less confined than most other brands.

The shoulder and elbow armor, as I said, are very near race quality in terms of thickness and density. If you are more used to the typical foam-like pads of most armored street wear, you will find them to be hard and uncomfortable when working around off the bike, particularly the elbows. However, it should be noted that I am at the absolute limits for the size jacket I was wearing, and this may not pertain to everyone. It doesn't take long to get used to if you aren't already, and there are possible solutions. However, for the armor you get, it's a minor quibble.

The back pad is lacking in terms of armor, at least compared to the shoulder and elbow pads. However, the thinking is easy to follow: the idea here is to prevent road rash. To that end, the designers are relying heavily upon the extremely durable shell. The back pad consists of a single piece of _very thing_ memory foam, which provides absolute minimal cushioning (possibly enough to prevent some bruises, but not much more) without compromising the look of the jacket.

Kidney pads-- there aren't any. Again, this is a minor quibble, considering the build of the jacket itself, but compared to the quality of the pucks, it's surprising. However, the back panel is expansive, and the jacket coverage is, obviously, totally complete on the back. As with the back pad itself, I suspect this was a style-related decision, and there really isn't a safety sacrifice here, just a potential comfort sacrifice in the event of a slide.


All that being said, simply because I was so impressed with the toughness, comfort, and style of this jacket, I went ahead and sacrificed the look by removing the comfort pad and cutting a new one from super-high density foam. It nearly 3/4 inches thick, and does show through the jacket a bit. However, when testing (I had my mother in law beat me about the shoulders and mid-back, which she was more than delighted to do for me) this new pad, I found it most satisfactory, as it telegraphed _nothing_ to me related to the blows (which seemed to disappoint her more than I am comfortable with).

This allows me to use the supplied back pad as material to cut thin cushions for the pucks in the elbows, which I will do if comfort testing with the new back pad remains satisfactory.

As a final con, the jacket will easily turn a haze or even a very light drizzle, but it is not waterproof.

Oh, it also passed the "rescue a cat from a tree" test with flying colors, and again-- not even a single thread pick in the fabric. (the back of my head was far less fortunate :( ).

As I said, I had never heard of these people before, but from this point on, when asked to recommend a "normal-looking" armored jacket, this will be my number one recommendation. I can't imagine anyone beating this jacket without going straight to leather or true racing-quality garments.

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Duke
"Skills must be Learned"
------ Herb Christian


"Ask your doctor if medical advice from a television commercial is right for _you_."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:07 pm 
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Joined: May 17, 2008
Motorcycle: Suzuki V-Strom DL650K9
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Country: USA
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Nice write up Duke. I did a quick search and see that Cycle Gear has the blue denim version on sale for $30 in limited sizes. Very limited.

Cycle Gear

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:31 pm 
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Motorcycle: 2010 Vulcan Voyager 1700
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I recall seeing the Red Route denims on clearance last year at the local Cycle Gear. I didn't know the quality, so I didn't pay much attention. :evil:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:37 pm 
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Rebel: 450
Country: USA
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:o Thanks Duke, I always learn so much from your postings. I too am a "coat-aholic". I sadly admit that as a woman, I own more coats than shoes. I checked out Red Route. I love the style of the jackets. I just wish Cycle Gear had more stock. I thought the pants were pretty nifty too. The denim kalvar might be a good alternative to leather pants or chaps. Being a country girl, demin is just more appropriate for me than leather (lol). If anyone out there finds another U.S. source for Red Route, drop me an email. Thanks

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Oct 11, 2009
pictures!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:07 pm 
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Joined: Jul 25, 2003
Motorcycle: 98 Valkyrie
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: GA
City: Vidalia
Hit the link in the post. It goes straight to the manufacturer's site.

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Duke
"Skills must be Learned"
------ Herb Christian


"Ask your doctor if medical advice from a television commercial is right for _you_."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:08 pm 
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i know i know but it's always good to have pics of people wearing it to see how it looks "in real life"

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:44 am 
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Joined: Jul 25, 2003
Motorcycle: 98 Valkyrie
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: GA
City: Vidalia
I'll see what I can do when I've got some time, but in all seriousness, I have to say this:

Jack put up a picture of you at the get-together, and I don't think a picture of me in a coat is going to really help you. I'm taller than you, and probably half-again as wide. :(

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Duke
"Skills must be Learned"
------ Herb Christian


"Ask your doctor if medical advice from a television commercial is right for _you_."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:17 am 
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Joined: Jul 6, 2008
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State/Province: NY
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[/quote]I had my mother in law beat me about the shoulders and mid-back, which she was more than delighted to do for me)
Quote:

Very funny

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