Sunday, January 18, 2015

Product review: Viking Cycle Stealth textile riding jacket

Given that it's minus twenty degrees Celsius in the Great White North as I commit this review to digital paper, this will be a two part review.  The ride report about the jacket's performance on the road will have to wait until old man winter loosens his frosty grip and gives us back our bare and two-wheel-ride-able roads.

In a nutshell: 

The Viking Cycle Stealth is a very inexpensive, but well-designed, armored, padded, 600 denier, textile riding jacket.  It's part of the jacket line-up (click here, and here) from the folks at Motorcycle House.

The lesson here is that you don't need to spend north of $600 to get a good armored jacket.  There are no excuses for taking risks on the road when there are riding jackets like this one available.  If you're on a tight budget, yet still concerned about your riding safety, this jacket may just be the ticket for you.

Full disclosure:

I did not purchase this jacket, I received it from Motorcycle House free of charge for the purpose of doing this review.

Some bloggers won't do product reviews when they haven't purchased the product, some will.

Some bloggers host advertising on their blogs, some don't.

Most bloggers, myself included, write for public consumption and aren't in the least motivated by a desire to profit.  In many, if not most cases, the cost simply far outweighs the benefit.

I don't want to host AdSense advertising, so I know I have no hope of earning any financial reward for my blogging efforts.

With this review I am however dipping a tentative toe in the pool of freebie product reviews.  We'll see where it takes me.

The fact is that it's not easy for suppliers to entice bloggers.  Witness the comments some seriously good bloggers contributed to my earlier more philosophical post.

On the plus side, fellow bloggers have done promotional pieces that I found very valuable.  To mention just one example, take Steve Williams' motorcycle reviews courtesy of Kissell Motorsports.  Kissell Motorsports lent Steve a number of really nice bikes to ride and review.  His motorcycle review posts are examples of top-notch promotional pieces I found (and still find) really helpful. 

Right now my feeling is that as long as I believe that I'm adding value, along the lines of Steve's contributions, I will do more of these reviews.  When the process becomes too burdensome or irksome, I'll stop.

It's that simple.

Video peak:

I recorded a brief little video.

I apologize for the awkwardness the jacket model clearly exhibits.  It was his first time 'acting' on a stage and his natural reserve and shyness speak louder than the jacket he is supposed to be showing off to best advantage.  I also realize that the production quality is... totally amateurish.  I have a lot to learn about video editing.  I have a whole lot more admiration for those of you who produce nice videos.

The amazing thing is that I got it done at all.

There is no catchy soundtrack or helpful narration in the video.  I was on my way to figuring that out, when I upgraded our iMac to the Yosemite version of OSX, and that turned out to nuke iMovie.  When I finally installed the updated iMovie app... you guessed it, my product review video is no longer compatible.

I suggest you view the video. It's mercifully short, and the rest of the review will benefit from the context.

Safety and protection:
Armor and padding:

CE 1621-1 rated shoulder and elbow armor.  I pulled  the armor (never an easy task) and can confirm that it is stamped with the CE rating, with the same designation as the armor in my BMW Airflow jacket.
The armor in my BMW Airflow jacket looks and feels more polished, but bear in mind i) CE rated is CE rated, and ii) the BMW Airflow is more than five times the price.  The armor in this jacket looks not that different from the armor in my Canadian-made Corazzo 5.0 jacket, at three times the price.

In addition to the removable CE-rated armor, the jacket has polycarbonate exo-skeleton portions aligned with the internal removable shoulder and elbow armor.
Non-rated but removable foam back pad.
Permanent foam pads in the abdomen, chest, and back.
One of the keys with armored clothing is ensuring that the armor is positioned properly, and that it stays optimally positioned in a crash.  This is where fit is critical.  The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket fits very snugly, so much so that it's just a little bit of a struggle getting it on.
Once on, the jacket is comfortable and the armor is well positioned on the arms and shoulders. The sleeves are snug and there are hook-and-loop adjusting straps that allow the sleeves to be snugged up even more.
The impression the jacket leaves is that the armor is likely to stay put in a crash. Neither of my other jackets provide quite the same feeling. My Corazzo 5.0 is the loosest fitting. My BMW Airflow is snugger than the Corazzo 5.0, but not nearly as snug and form-fitting as this Viking Cycle Stealth jacket.
This jacket has a feature my BMW Airflow has, but that my Corazzo 5.0 lacks: the wrist-forearm zipper closure has a full gusset, so even if the zipper opened, the sleeve remains fully enclosed and wouldn't be as likely to separate and ride up in the way that I think that the sleeves on the Corazzo 5.0 might in a good slide. I like that feature, I have to say.
As a final note on protective elements, the jacket has a joining zipper that allows you, should you choose to do so, to join the jacket to your riding pants.  Doing so provides some assurance that the jacket won't ride up and expose you to road rash in a slide.
 Abrasion resistance:
The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket has a 600 denier outer shell which will survive a slide almost as well as Kevlar and competition leathers.  The downside is that after a slide, the jacket will have given its all, and will need to be replaced.  Given the price of this jacket, you could afford quite a number of slides, buying a brand new jacket each time, and still manage to save a decent amount of cash.  

Though this jacket is jet-black, there is an ample reflective strip on the front of the jacket, and a smaller reflective piping on the back.
My personal preference would have been to have as much reflective material on the back as on the front.  The reflective material is black to match the jacket, and is non-apparent until it reflects a light source (oddly, in the photo below, there must have been some stray light that lit up a small section of the reflective strip). 
The reflective material is not as prominent as on my BMW Airflow jacket, and neither of those jackets can hold a candle to the Corazzo 5.0 with its copious, yet nicely designed, reflective striping back, front and side.
Comfort and convenience:

The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket has two exterior zippered pockets that are well-positioned, and suitable for  keeping your hands warm off the bike on a cool day, and to keep cash or coins handy for tolls.
There is also an interior zippered slash pocket just behind the zipper on the left side. I like pockets like this.  My Corazzo 5.0 has one, but my BMW Airflow doesn't. They're a handy place for my iPhone, when it's not in a RAM mount.  The photo below doesn't do a good job of conveying exactly where this pocket is, or how accessible it is.  Check out the video above, since it does a better job of showing off that pocket.
There are two more pockets in the interior of the vest liner, one on the left side designed to hold a cell phone with a hook-and-loop closure....
... and the other on the right side suitable for a wallet or passport with a vertical zippered closure.

The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket came with a removable quilted vest-style liner. The jacket I got for this review did not come with a full sleeve waterproof liner, but the seller's website says that one is normally included.
Overall impression:
The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket is a decent armored jacket, it's inexpensive, it fits very snugly, so much so, as mentioned, that it's just a tiny bit of a struggle getting into it.  The sleeves are designed for the riding position, with a natural curvature from the shoulder to where your hands would be on the handlebars.

Once on, the jacket is comfortable and the armor is well positioned on the arms and shoulders.  The sleeves are snug and there are hook-and-loop adjusting straps that allow the sleeves to be snugged up even more, and there are also hook-and-loop adjustment straps at the waist.
The impression the jacket leaves is that the armor is likely to stay put in a crash.
 So there you have it.

I'll revisit this jacket early in the 2015 riding season and share how it performs on the bike.


RichardM said...

I think you may have overpaid your model...

Nice thorough review.

SonjaM said...

What a high quality review. Well done. Looks like they put a good amount of detail into the jacket. I like the model, too ;-)

Dar said...

Good Review David! Its nice to see lower cost alternative gear, for whatever reason most think that inexpensive gear is inferior and most riders never look at it. I'm not against doing reviews for moto swag, as long as they understand that I will be completely honest and that there are no strings attached other than asking for my direct honest opinion good or bad. Enjoy your new moto jacket!

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

Nice job David and a very nice looking and functional jacket.

David Masse said...

Thanks Richard.

When I now watch the YouTube segments I follow, like Sonia Gill's travel series, I realize how talent and demanding work goes into those segments. I am humbled, and really impressed.

The City Mouse in the Country said...

I honestly have not seen a bad review of any Motorcycle House product. I will admit that there is a part of me that wonders if people don't feel 'obligated' to provide a good review.

However after seeing so many reviews like this one from bloggers I like and respect, you have to believe that Motorcycle House offers a top notch product at a reasonable price.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.