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Quickly! Think about all of the motorcycle gear you’ve owned over the years. Chances are, like me, you’ve got at least a couple of jackets, a few pairs of boots and lots more besides. I'm sure most of it fits into one of two categories - "Looks good but will do bugger-all if I crash" and “This will save my life, even if I look like a nerd wearing it”.
The Triumph Barbour waxed cotton jacket manages the incredibly rare feat of being in a third category - “Not only will this save me when I crash, but I’m not embarrassed to be seen wearing it”.
Why it’s a practical motorcycle jacket
The number one reason to wear a motorcycle jacket is protection. The Triumph quilted Barbour ensures this with elbow, back and shoulder protection using removable D3O padding, which you’ll find in most high-end street wear these days. Move it slowly and the D3O pads are soft and pliable.
It’s incredibly comfortable when worn and will happily mold itself around your body, no matter what shape you are on the motorcycle. The clever part comes when you crash. Under impact, it hardens and retains it’s form and the clear lines within the pads dissipate the force of impact over the entire pad.
I've crashed in D3O pads before, and they were excellent. I managed to bang both my shoulder and elbow pretty hard. Aside from slight bruising, the D3O undoubtedly saved me from further harm. I won’t wear anything else now.
The second reason to carefully choose your jacket is climate control. Waxed cotton, for which Barbour is famous, is a favourite of the British outdoors set. Not only is it very durable, but it is waterproof. When you first see a Barbour, that’s hard to believe as it looks just like regular fabric. Since owning the Triumph quilted Barbour, I’ve been caught in the rain a few times now (both intentionally and not) and the Barbour hasn't leaked.
It is perhaps the ability of the jacket to deal with temperature that surprised me the most. A few weeks ago, I took the Triumph Quilted Barbour out for a night-ride. At -6C, it’s not something I would ordinarily do, but the days had been dry and there was no snow/ice and I needed to get back on a bike for my own sanity. Normally, at that temperature, I’d wear my heated jacket and gloves, but this time all of that went in the panniers and ended up staying there. Instead, with just a t-shirt and fleeced hoodie underneath, I did up all the fasteners on the jacket and hared around town for almost 90 minutes.
For the most part, I was riding in urban traffic, so barely hitting 50km/h, but I did hit the highway for a brief stint, just to see how it felt (and get a little speed rush). The Barbour stood up to the cold with aplomb. While my hands were freezing, even with the bar-grips turned on, my body was perfectly comfortable the whole time. Waxed cotton isn’t just waterproof, but windproof, too.
Two weeks later, we're moving from one extreme to the other. I’m in Florida with a cherry-red Thruxton shooting our last video for the SyncRIDE and it’s a humid 29C outside. It was a toss up between my Klim summer jacket and the Triumph Barbour and I chose the latter to look as cool as possible.
Even in the humidity, I was comfortable throughout the full range of riding from the daytime high down to about 12C at night. We went from congested city streets, to slow highways, and then fast (and occasionally) twisty back roads and never once did the Barbour feel overly hot. I hate to sound hyperbolic, but I honestly don’t think I’ve worn a single jacket over that range of temperature before and been so comfortable.
Why it’s a cool motorcycle jacket
I could say just look at it but with me as a model, that’s not perhaps the best thing to say. Instead, I can say that the fit is great. It is cut as a motorcycle jacket with slightly bent arms, and there’s zippers at the hips to give you ample room on the bike. The jacket has enough play to never feel like it’s constricting movement, but it’s also tight enough to stay put if you crash. This will clearly vary depending on body shape but as an overweight 6’ male, it has my thumbs up.
It’s the details that make it so damn sweet. The flap-opening (and waterproof) chest pockets, quilted shoulders and belt give it a vaguely military look and you feel commanding wearing it. Branding is subtle, limited to a small Triumph Barbour patch on the right chest, and a tag on the back of the neck. I wish all motorcycle clothing manufacturers took note of this.
Triumph chose to eschew the Scotchbrite seams with invisible reflective touches. During the daytime you don't see the reflective fabric, but at night the reflective panels light up.
The star is the fabric itself. I have long coveted a Barbour jacket because they have this wonderful quality that as they attract dust and dirt, not much sticks. Most of it washes off in the rain or with a damp cloth but in the long run, a bit of dirt just gives the jacket a wonderful sense of age. It’s gear that looks better the longer you own it.
I have to say, I like the look and utility of the Triumph Quilted Barbour so much that I’ve taken to removing the back protector and wearing it as my main winter coat on all the very coldest of winter days. Aside from an old, ratty leather jacket I used to own, I don’t think I’ve ever done that with any motorcycle jacket. Ever.
Why this just might be the perfect motorcycle jacket
Waterproof? Check. Good in hot and cold? Check. Looks good? Check. Lots of pockets? Check. Safety armour? Check.
There’s really no downside to the Triumph Barbour jacket, except perhaps the price. Barbour jackets have never been cheap, and nor has anything with D3O armour in it. As such, it’s hard to say this jacket is actually expensive. Sure, at US$500 it costs a lot of actual money, but no more so than other higher end motorcycle jackets (and a lot less than others) and I personally consider the Triumph Quilted Barbour to be worth every single penny.
Interested? More details at the Triumph online store.