By Troy Siahaan
[This Vanson Cobra Mark 2 Star Leather Motorcycle Jacket Review was originally published in the February 2008 issue of Rider magazine]
There are certain symbols that are recognizable no matter where you go: a crucifix, stop signs and the Golden Arches, to name a few. In the motorcycling world there’s another symbol that gets instant recognition: the yellow oval on the arms of jackets throughout the Vanson line. In its 30 years Vanson has earned a name for itself by producing top-shelf motorcycle gear.The latest addition to the Vanson family is the Cobra Mark 2 Star leather motorcycle jacket. A variation of the standard Mark 2 Cobra, it’s pretty easy to see how it got the Star name. As one of the brand’s premier jackets the Star is made from competition weight leather–the same stuff used in Vanson’s competition race leathers. This stuff is heavy–the Star weighs 96 ounces–and takes time to soften and break in, but provides ample protection from road rash.
The jacket also features Vanson’s patented Air Curtain system, an inner flap inside the liner that can be zipped open or closed depending on the amount of airflow you want. The curtain makes three-season riding comfortable. While fully perforated in front with additional arm vents and rear exhaust vents, the Star lets in plenty of airflow to keep you cool. If the weather should get a little chilly, close the vents and zip the curtain and practically zero wind flows through the jacket. And if you’re still not warm enough, the adjustable inner waist strap leaves plenty of room for layers underneath.
As you’d expect from a performance-oriented jacket, there’s heavy-duty armor in the elbow and shoulder areas and a double layer of leather in key impact areas. Though not included, there is also a provision for an optional back protector. A three-part zipper attachment at the waist allows you to attach matching Vanson pants for a true two-piece leather suit.
Personally I think the Star’s graphics are a little over the top. Fortunately, if you feel the same about this otherwise great jacket there’s always the regular Mark 2 Cobra model, which has all of the same functional features without the Star or Vanson billboard. While I haven’t given it the ultimate test, with leather this thick I’m not worried about road rash should the unfortunate happen. Fit is good, and all the armor falls into place and everything just plain works. Little things like the fob attached to the zipper pull tab and the snap collar are nice touches. However, the one downside is that it lacks pockets, except for the two inside for the air curtain.
Out on the road, with all the vents open (including the inner curtain), the Star flows wind better than some summer jackets. Close the vents and suddenly the wind has no chance. On those few occasions where I was still cold, all I needed was a sweatshirt underneath. It’s certainly not warm enough for a Boston winter, but plenty for this California rider on all but the coldest of nights.
There’s a reason why Vanson is such a respected name in the industry, and the Cobra Mark 2 Star is another example. For fit, quality and finish it doesn’t get much better than this. Of course, quality does come at a price. Pricing ranges from $749-$924 depending on your size. Definitely not cheap, but as they say: You get what you pay for.
For more information contact Vanson Leathers, 951 Broadway, Fall River, Massachusetts 02724; (508) 678-2000; www.vansonleathers.com