Joe Rocket Speedway Motorcycle Jacket Review

“No skulls, no chains, no pointless noise,” is how Joe Rocket describes its Speedway jacket, and that’s a pretty good description. This is a well made, 1.2mm, drum-dyed, classic black leather motorcycle jacket. The only nods to decor are the optional red or ivory stripes that run along the sleeves from shoulder to cuff, and the reflective piping across the back. Joe Rocket’s design target for the Speedway was “casual jacket with biker roots,” so armor is not an option, nor are there any pockets inside for aftermarket armor. To that end it makes a fine street jacket that is stylish without bulk (think Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher) and provides good abrasion protection, though it doesn’t offer the impact protection of bulkier jackets that are cut to accommodate armor.

The inside of the Speedway is lined with nylon, and it comes with a removable quilted liner that is held in place with a button-and-loop system and a zipper that’s a little fiddly, but gets the job done. The mandarin collar is lined with soft microfiber and closes with a non-adjustable snap. Both outside handwarmer pockets and the wallet pocket inside are large and zippered. While it fit me with room to spare, the jacket can be snugged up a bit with Joe Rocket’s proprietary, four-point SureFit adjustment system on the sleeves and waist. Ventilation is minimal, comprising a four-inch zippered opening on each bicep and three grommeted holes under each arm.

Joe Rocket Speedway Jacket
Joe Rocket Speedway Jacket, with removable quilted liner.

Given its classic look, the Speedway seemed like the perfect jacket to accompany our review of the Royal Enfield Continental GT. In addition to my jaunt with it in England, I wore this jacket on a 320-mile ride from the California coast, across the inland desert and up Highway 38, through the San Bernardino Mountains, over Onyx Summit (8,444 feet) and down into Big Bear Lake, where I spent the weekend with friends. The ride temperatures ranged from the high 80s and low 90s in the flats to the high 40s going over the summit.

While the jacket doesn’t offer much in the way of ventilation, in the desert heat with the liner removed and vents open, the loose fit provided enough additional airflow to make it surprisingly comfortable. Not as cool as a perforated jacket, or one with multiple vents, but tolerable. On the chilly ride back over Highway 38 to Angelus Oaks for breakfast, with a T-shirt, sweatshirt and the Speedway’s liner zipped and buttoned in, I was cool but not cold as we crested the summit. It helps that the back and sleeves are long enough to keep the jacket from riding up.

The Joe Rocket Speedway is a good-looking jacket, and with proper layering or electric gear, it will cover a fairly wide range of temperatures. The suggested MSRP is $299.99 for S-XL sizes and $312 for 2XL-3XL (3XL black only). If you’re looking for a classic leather jacket with a nice fit sans armor, this could be a great year-round jacket. It’s comfortable, warm and appropriate for any casual gathering, as well as any classic ride.

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(This Gearlab review was published in the February 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)


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