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  • May 26, 2015
  • Surj Gish
  • Angelica Rubalcaba
  • 14 Comments

MD Product Review: Tourmaster Element Cooling Leather Jacket

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Leather riding gear used to be pretty straightforward … limited even. You bought the best you could afford and made sure it fit correctly. You chose classic black or some ridiculous rainbows of colors on one piece of gear. If you were going to ride in hot weather, you got perforated leather, or at least well-vented gear—or you accepted that you would be sweating a lot.

In recent years, though, that’s changed—leather gear has gone high, or at least higher tech. Most notably, Aerostich has their Transit jacket and pants, which combine Gore-Tex and leather, marrying the benefits of both textile and leather.

That stuff is not cheap, however, so when I heard about Tourmaster’s Element jacket and pants, I was very interested. Sure, it’s not Gold-tex, excuse me, Gore-Tex, but it’s also under $400. Barely.

Here’s the deal: Tourmaster’s Element Cooling Leather Jacket doesn’t’ claim to be an every season, rain or shine, sleet or snow, kind of jacket. It does, however, claim to handle both ends of the weather spectrum, with TFL cooling leather (more on what that is in just a moment) and some level of wet weather protection, thanks to waterproof leather and water resistant construction.

First impressions: right off the hanger, brand spankin’ new, the Element’s leather is very soft, almost luxurious. It’s so soft that I was checking the paperwork to make sure I didn’t end up with some kind of synthetic leather jacket. Nope—the 1.1 to 1.2 mm cowhide is just soft.

The design of the Element is simple … near timeless. Sure, it’s not as classic as an authentic vintage find—it does have slightly more modern lines, vents in the shoulders, and (gasp!) stretch Kevlar panels in the elbows. It even has little bits of black reflective material here and there to improve visibility. But all these modern touches fade to black, as do the subtle brand badges, and the Element presents itself very much like a classic motorcycle jacket. Cool.

Speaking of cool, what the hell is TFL cooling leather? Tourmaster says the TFL treatment “reflects UV rays, resulting in the temperature of the leather surface being reduced by up to 15%.” We’re in the Bay Area, where riders start complaining about “too hot” at what, 65 degrees? It’s tough to test a cooling treatment here. I did ride up to Sacramento in the jacket a couple times, where temperatures actually get hot. The Element seemed genuinely cooler in the springtime sun than I was expecting.

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Tourmaster doesn’t say much about the waterproofing on the leather—it doesn’t have a snazzy name like TFL. But I rode in some light rain, which will probably be the last water we’ll see in California until 2018, the way things are going, and I stayed dry. It doesn’t have the same level of flaps and waterproof zippers that a truly waterproof garment would have, but it seems it’d do fine if you encounter some rain on a trip and don’t have raingear in your panniers. If you’re headed into a real storm, though, I imagine proper waterproof gear would be in order.

The Element has the usual amenities you’d expect of a ~$400 jacket: CE-approved (whatever that means these days) elbow and shoulder pads, a back protector, and a removable quilted liner. There are adjustment straps at the waist, vents at the shoulders and back for flow-through ventilation, hand-warmer pockets and two pockets on the chest that can also serve as vents.

My only gripe is that the sleeves don’t have much in the way of adjustment at the wrist—just zippers. So they work just fine with my Held Rodney summer gloves, which have a very short, thin cuff. But they’re too tight for my Helimots to go inside, and at the same time, just bulky enough to be kinda tricky to get a gauntleted glove like my Helimots over.

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The Element is probably the perfect jacket for someone who lives in Tennessee or other places where the weather swings back and forth between hot and humid to hot and actually raining. Here in California, the utility of a leather jacket that purports to keep you cooler, but is also waterproof, is slightly reduced. But it’s still a great jacket—conservative-looking and generally handsome, comfortable without any break-in, and while not cheap, not exactly expensive. So if you’re doing a fly and ride on the Tail of the Dragon, or just want a nice leather jacket, check out the Element.

$399.99. Get more info and find out where to buy at tourmaster.com.

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This article is copyright CityBike Magazine – used with permission. Surj is Editor in Chief of San Francisco-based CityBike Magazine and also runs LaneSplittingIsLegal.com.

14 Comments

  1. rg500g says:

    If you’re looking at a Tourmaster product pay close attention to the back protector. They have a habit of using a proprietary shape (has a distinct phallic resemblance) that is woefully substandard and cannot be replaced by anything on the market due to the shape.

    As to the venting, yes, it’s quite inadequate. In leather, Vanson has a jacket that is heavily perforated but those perforations compromise rain resistance. There are now textile products on the market with abrasion resistance approaching or matching moderate thickness leather (Vanson’s stiff-as-iron leather is probably still the best in terms of abrasion resistance), and their venting options are far more effective. Taking all mesh out of consideration, brands such as Macna, Clover, Sidi, and Olympia Motosports do quite well in terms of designing vents for textile gear that has very high abrasion resistance in contact areas. That said, full sun above 90F really demands mesh, unless you’re on a naked bike and all vents are wide open.

  2. Mike says:

    TOURMASTER ELEMENT COOLING LEATHER JACKET

    This jacket may do many things…….providing superior air flow through the vents will not be one of them.

    >>>>>>

    REASONS THE VENTING IN THIS JACKET WILL NOT BE EFFECTIVE

    1. The vents are far too small

    2. Tighter fitting jackets like the “Effective” with vents do not flow air that well. With the jacket tight against the riders body air entering the vent has a severely restricted path

    3. There is no area in the back of the jacket for incoming airflow to exit….thus again restricting air through the vents and around the body

    >>>>>>

    TESTING MOTORCYCLE JACKET VENT SYSTEMS

    The best way to test the effectiveness of motorcycle jacket venting is on rides at low temperature when the air flow volume and path can be easily be felt by the rider.

    >>>>>>

    WHAT ARE THE BEST VENTED MOTORCYCLE JACKET DESIGNS?

    Post a reply if this interests you and I will provide some views on based on testing.

    >>>>>>

    REPLY TO: allworld

    There is no riding apparel that is effective in the heat, cold and rain. The best we can do today is choose apparel that is effective on 90% of the miles we ride when temps are above 65 and in good weather.

    Specifically….in the East and many other locations in the USA summer temps often are 85 degrees plus and humidity at 85% or more….this is not where multi-layered waterproof motorcycle apparel you discussed excels…if it were…. we would all be walking around in it for casual use off the motorcycle! There is an answer.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      What are the best vented jackets you’ve tried lately, mesh excluded?

      • Mike says:

        http://www.vansonleathers.com/prod-NIGHT_FALCON-3.aspx?
        Textile Version

        Leather version available….see link below

        Vent Advantages
        * By far the largest vents available (see closeup pix showing vents totally down)
        * Left and right vents are adjustable independently
        * Each vent has multiple settings…. One zip up, one down, Vent cover flap half or fully down. Many combinations
        * Double vent zipper design will not resize the jacket to larger sizes when in motion as some long one zipper vent systems do

        Other Advantages
        * Ram air vent to bring air up each sleeve
        * 1000 Denier Cordura throughout….not 600
        * Back and elbow armor
        * Adjustable belt on each side
        * Liner available
        * Can be attached to leather or Cordura pants
        * Made in the USA
        * Lots more….see above link description area for additional advantages

        Disadvantages
        * Expensive…but lasts decades so low cost/year
        * Can run a bit short in length for some biggie guys
        * I designed this vent system long ago .. was awarded a patent

        Leather version available
        http://www.vansonleathers.com/prod-CHALLENGER___Mark_2-301.aspx?

        Hope this helps …thx for your Q

      • Justyn says:

        If you want something a lot cheaper than the Vanson, check out the Fieldsheer Super Sport 2.0. It’s a textile with massive vents. I have one and love it for very warm riding (if it’s too hot I break out a mesh jacket). But pack a wind breaker to wear underneath for the ride home after the sun sets.

    • allworld says:

      Mike I live in New England and ride year round. My Aerostich Transit suit is ideal for most of my riding. Extreme heat IU have a mesh set up and extreme cold I use heated gear under a one piece suit.
      When touring I only ride with the Aerostich.

      • Mike says:

        allworld

        Here in PA, VA, WV, NC, SC, GA,OH, KY, TN most of the riding miles each year are in 75 to 95 degree range ….with humidity % the same numbers. Again “this is not where multi-layered waterproof motorcycle apparel you discussed excels” and gets far worse in stop and go or slow traffic conditions.

        My view is any effective vent design like in my original post per link….would provide more rider comfort and higher usage in all the states above …..than a multi-layered waterproof motorcycle with no vents.

        I do want you to know I lived in New England for 15 years way back and rode many miles in MA, NH, MA and ME. I agree with what you stated as it relates to apparel and riding that area of the America.

        We all are so lucky to have so many wonderful riding apparel choices now vs the way it was until just 10 to 15 years ago or so!!!!

  3. Blackcayman says:

    Victory burnout in front of the stripper bar….

    • xLaYN says:

      I want to check the different replies to your comment…
      I do personally like tourmaster, I have a denier one and seems durable, keeps you cool and it seems like it sports adequate protection.
      The artiCle jacket design looks sober, I like it.

      • Blackcayman says:

        Evidently you are the only one. Surj is obviously a “one-off”…

        I got converted to Vanson Leathers in 1998. I bought a black Mark2 Sportrider and another one in ProPerf, black in the body and white on the shoulders and sleeves for summer riding. I’ve been using them since.

        In 2010 I happened on a “like new” one piece race suit (VO93) that fit me like a glove for 300 bucks on the WERA forum. Score!!!!!

        Give a Vanson Leather a close inspection; specifically the thickness and weight of the leather, the stitching and components – you will be convinced of their superiority.

  4. Tourmasters’ site does not have this jacket listed yet. Do you know if it comes in brown?

    The logo on the back is still too big & the ones on the sleeve shouldn’t be there…

    Apparel companies must trust that the less we see of their name on a garment, the more they will sell. We’ll find out the brand even when it’s name is only on the inside

  5. allworld says:

    I have the Aerostich Transit jacket and pants and, yes they are pricey, but hard to beat. So I was very interested in this Tourmaster set, and for the money it seems to be a good deal. The styling is (IMO) great and doesn’t make you look like some sort of product billboard. It would be a great if the product was 100% waterproof, like the Aerostich even at a slightly higher cost. I like to tour, storage is a premium so not having to pack rain gear is a plus and not having to stop and put it on is even better.
    So for me the Aerostich is still the way to go.