Sometimes I wish I still had the first leather jacket I received at Rider. As I recall, I gave it away because it lacked vents and armor, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere all beat-up and still keeping a fellow rider warm—leather just never wears out. These days I tend to favor textile apparel for its versatility, but I’m always on the lookout for a nice leather jacket with which to start a new relationship.
The latest one to catch my eye is Harley-Davidson’s Beginnings Leather Jacket with the Triple Vent System. You don’t have to be a Harley rider to appreciate the features of this classic black men’s riding jacket, which is made of soft midweight cowhide with a simple nylon mesh lining. The two-way zipper closes all the way up to the smooth, nylon-lined mandarin collar, which has a snap closure. An action back and precurved sleeves help it feel natural in the riding position, as the fit is trim in the body and around the waist. There’s some light padding in the elbows, back waist and upper arms, and the power-stretch panels in the waistband allow for a good fit after lunch. The soft and snug overall feel reminds me of a sportbike jacket, but the Beginnings is longer and more comfortable.
Harley’s new Triple Vent System, found on a few of its Genuine MotorClothes jackets, is the clincher on the Beginnings. Three long, vertical zippered vents are positioned on the sides and back to take advantage of the airflow on bikes with a fairing, and each has stay-open snap tabs to hold them wide open for even greater airflow. The vents are tiered as well, with the leading vent positioned lowest and each succeeding one extending a little higher on the jacket, so that when you’re stuck in traffic there’s some natural upward air movement. I found that the TVS worked really well on just about any kind of bike, but that it was especially helpful on motorcycles with fairings on a warm day, when front jacket vents would be almost useless. The middle vents on each side—which extend well up under the arm—can be hard to close with the jacket on, but otherwise the system works well.
Seven pockets on the Beginnings include a water-resistant MP3/iPod zippered inside pocket with an earbud port. The outer pairs of handwarmer and chest pockets are zippered and generously sized, and there’s a zippered wallet pocket inside the lapel and another inside cargo pocket. Reflective piping on the sleeves and across the back help the black jacket stand out a bit at night, and H-D fans will appreciate the subdued embossed Motor Company logos on the left breast, right sleeve and across the back.
The Beginnings has pockets in the elbows and shoulders for Harley’s optional CE-approved lightweight body armor, which is sturdy, unobtrusive and $25 per pair. There is no pocket for back armor, the only shortcoming in this otherwise good-looking, rugged and functional piece…that I won’t be giving away anytime soon. The Harley-Davidson Beginnings jacket comes in men’s sizes S-5XL and L-3XL Tall and starts at $450.
For more information, see your Harley dealer or visit harley-davidson.com