Review by Ken Freund
[This Tourmaster Flex Motorcycle Jacket and Cortech Air Pants Review was originally published in the July 2006 issue of Rider magazine]
Mesh jackets are great in hot weather, but many times after the sun goes down or during a ride to higher elevations, we heartily long for warmer apparel. Even at a mild 65 degrees fahrenheit, the wind chill at highway speeds can be uncomfortable.
Tour Master’s Flex motorcycle jacket is an innovative convertible three-season motorcycle jacket that offers flexibility (hence the name) to the rider in a variety of conditions. By unzipping large front and rear panels, it converts from a 600-denier Carbolex jacket to a flow-through mesh shell, often eliminating the need to carry another jacket.
The Flex consists of three separate components; the main outer shell plus two removable liners. The first liner is waterproof and windproof and is made of Aqua-Therm. The innermost liner is quilted for insulation and can be combined with the Aqua-Therm liner for additional warmth. Separate zippers allow either or both liners to be used.
The jacket has two zippered handwarmer pockets in the removable panels and two more in the mesh portion, along with an internal pouch and a cell-phone pocket. They hold a lot, but I found that rain goes right through the outer shell, so keep water-sensitive items wrapped in plastic if precipitation is forecast.
For protection, Flex has sturdy 1,680-denier ballistic textile in the impact areas for abrasion resistance, removable CE-approved elbow and shoulder armor and a triple-density back protector.
The jacket has a stylish look and feels well made. With both liners, it kept me warm and dry in a frog-strangler downpour, with just a few drops down the neck. I was able to wear it comfortably in temperatures down into the low 40s and up into the high 80s.
I did, however, have a few minor gripes. The hook-and-loop material on the right collar frequently sticks to the bottom edge of a helmet’s lining and it rubs the neck. I also learned that rain goes through the outer jacket, getting stuff in the pockets very wet—like my driver’s license renewal! Additionally, the two jacket liners, when both are installed, make the cuffs very tight—tight enough to pull my wristwatch off, and after a few uses two of the sleeve-liner attachment points tore loose. That said, the Flex fits well when both liners aren’t installed simultaneously, offering a lot of value and many features for a suggested retail of $199.95. Flex jackets come in black or silver/black in men’s and women’s sizes and in red/black for men.
Cortech Air Pants are sized to fit over regular pants, making them handy for commuting, or for going just about anywhere in warm weather. They’re constructed of Armor-Link mesh, 500-denier DuPont Cordura, 1,680-denier ballistic nylon, Schoeller Keprotec and Durastretch Flex. For added protection, there’s adjustable triple-density knee armor. Two-way zippers run the full length of the legs, making them easy to put on, and a waist adjustment helps fine-tune the fit. Seams are double-stitched for durability and hook-and-loop closures at the ankles make it easy to keep them from flapping.
Their mesh design allows plenty of cooling air at high temperatures, so dress accordingly underneath. Just slip them over jeans, or for hotter temps wear ’em atop thinner trousers. I found the Cortech Air pants to be nicely made. They fit well and work in mild to hot temperatures. Of course, they won’t do much in rain! Available in black only in men’s and women’s sizes, suggested retail is $159.99.
For more information: Tourmaster and Cortech products are available at many motorcycle dealers. For the location of the nearest one, visit www.tourmaster.com, or call (818) 880-0000