• “I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when British Motorcycle Gear suggested the Zodiac jacket as a warm weather alternative to mesh. After all, mesh jackets have become the apparel of choice for hot weather, right?
But there’s something about the styling of mesh jackets that’s a turn-off for a sizable contingent of motorcycle riders, we’ve discovered. Apparently, the “boy racer” look is the problem. It wouldn’t take much to persuade me to agree with that one; although mesh clothing has pretty much revolutionized summer riding gear, much of what’s available looks a bit over the top. That’s where the Zodiac jacket comes in. It strikes a pretty good balance between sport and cruiser styling, if you ask me. And that’s not easy to do. In fact, it even has a touch of Adventure Touring thrown in too. The stripes down the sleeves hint at sport, while the zippers and black fabric say cruising. It looks great over a pair of jeans and black work boots, but it also has a connection zipper inside, so it can be attached to a favorite pair of riding pants. In fact, the Zodiac looks good enough to wear off the bike too. Try walking into Nordstrom’s wearing your Phoenix jacket and you’ll get as many stares as Paris Hilton. Well, maybe not that many… But you could easily wear the Zodiac with or without the armor and all of a sudden you’d look cool. Well, some would anyway… Like guys 20 years younger than me. With a full head of hair. And not overweight. Right. Anyway, one of the Zodiac’s nicest features is its light weight. The size XL shown here (they run about a size small, so the XL is about equivalent to a true men’s size large) weighs a scant 1270 grams (2.8 lbs.). That’s way less (Weigh less? Sorry…) than most motorcycle helmets and about equal to, say, some of the lightest helmets we’ve reviewed. The jacket is roomy enough to be comfy, but it isn’t too baggy like many mesh jackets. It sort of feels like a slightly heavier version of a windbreaker. The Zodiac’s sleeves and body are slightly tapered, which gives it a trim profile while keeping the armor in place. The “Airdura” fabric used by British Motorcycle Gear can be found in several other motorcycle jackets we’ve seen. It’s claimed to be breathable while offering decent abrasion protection. It feels slightly stiff; not as hard as an Aerostich Darien yet not as soft as, for example, the waxed cotton in a Barbour International. I’m not sure I’d say it’s breathable, but it is lightweight yet it does seem durable. The Zodiac also has CE-approved armor in the elbows and shoulders and a “Tempa” foam protector in the back; all are removable. Although the fabric isn’t mesh, the jacket offers medium to good ventilation, with 130 mm long (5″) metal YKK zipper vents on the upper arms and across the front ck job of opening and closing. Another fairly large pocket is located just inside the left The hem at the waist has adjusters on either side. The main entry zipper in the front of the jacket has a 50 mm wide (2″) length of the Airdura The Zodiac includes a section of stretch fabric in back at waist level with a zipper that can be attached to a pair of pants. Although British Motorcycle Gear apparently doesn’t offer a matching pair of pants, the zipper included in the jacket has a mate that can be sewn into the pants of your choice. A local tailor sewed one of these matching zippers into a pair of pants for me once and it works great. In fact, I have one jacket with 4 different zippers sewn into the back, which brings up another pet peeve — how about standardizing on a certain size and length zipper so that any jacket could zip into any pants? Just remember that it’s a good idea to try on the pants and jacket while you’re at the tailor’s shop so they can measure everything correctly for proper location. The Zodiac is available in either the black/gray combination shown here, or black with yellow stripes. The jacket is reasonably priced at $139.00. Conclusion If you’re looking for a relatively lightweight alternative to a mesh jacket, the Zodiac may be it. Smooth styling, robust metal zippers, lots of vents and decent armor are combined with a comfortable, slightly tailored fit to make a nice-looking, affordable jacket. Although ultimately it may not flow as much air as a 100% mesh jacket and it probably doesn’t offer the protection of leather, the Zodiac is much cooler than wearing sticky leathers or a 3/4-length textile jacket in hot weather and it looks better, too”. WEBBIKEWORLD.COM
. British Motorcycle Gear Protecting The Cafe Racer in all of us.