Well, I listened to LAB Podcast Episode 283 and realized I was behind on my writing. I laughed at Ryan’s surprise. I can’t blame him, I surprised myself too. It was the result of a long process of narrowing down progressive motorcycle gear to a final selection. I looked at nearly every waterproof jacket available. You would have never convinced me after looking at that many jackets that I would have ended up with something marketed by the Motor Company (Harley Davidson). I wrote about the process in the article “Shopping for Progressive Motorcycle Riding Jackets & Gear | My Journey.” What I never got around to writing though was a review of the jacket. The bottom line is, I am still happy with the Harley-Davidson Ridgeway II Jacket. There are a few things that I noticed along the way that may be helpful but overall, I would say it was a successful selection process. Even better for this purpose, the jacket is back in stock in many locations.
Here is the surprising thing, the traditional jacket is still in the Motor Company’s heavy rotation but believe it or not, there are some pretty progressive pieces on the website and at some dealers. Especially after the release of the Pan America and the co-branded RevIt gear. I stopped at a lot of dealers this summer in the west. One thing I noticed is that some of them are very traditional and full of leather, others understand that a purpose-built motorcycle jacket does not have to be black and leather. Of course, they haven’t quite figured out how to index their website.
When you search for waterproof as a feature, it only lists five jackets even though I know there are at least five that are not featured which are also waterproof. You can’t even search by textile. Of course, you can search by leather though. It always seems like the Motor Company almost gets it but never quite closes the loop.
Enough background, let's talk about the Jacket.
Men's Ridgeway II Waterproof Jacket
In general, the jacket is a basic textile jacket. It is a basic color-blocked jacket medium grey below the chest and black above the chest. The color blocking continues in a straight line onto the arms with the outside of the arms being black and the underside continuing the grey from the body of the jacket. The front has black waterproof zippers on the chest, pockets, and for the opening.
The jacket has a zip-off hood and has exterior padding on the shoulders and elbows. The padding looks like tuck and roll from a hotrod and is highlighted top and bottom with grey reflective piping. There are zippered vents that go from the armpit to the mid-forearm hidden on the underside of the jacket.
The front of the jacket has a name tag that says “Harley Davidson”. The collar is a relatively tall stand-up. The back of the jacket has a large reflective bar and shield logo. To me, this is a good-looking riding jacket. Like Ryan (Why don’t we call him Scrappy) and Lurch both said on the podcast, pictures don’t do this jacket justice. It is a heavy, in a good way, jacket that is built for the slide as well as the ride.
The jacket has pockets for armor in the back, shoulder, and elbow but does not include the armor. The armor pockets are not adjustable. The inside of the jacket is smooth nylon that is obviously part of the waterproofing. Seams are taped around the armor pockets and the seams are inverted so that it is completely smooth inside. There are two internal pockets. One is a zippered waterproof pocket with a cord passthrough for your corded electronics. The other pocket is a patch pocket that is open on top with velcro closure.
The front of the jacket has two zippers on it that create a tunnel that would be nearly impossible for water to penetrate. This is one of those very substantial storm flaps that should, and in fact, does work to keep things dry. There is a single front chest pocket that has what looks like a waterproof zipper. There are two zippered handwarmer pockets. The material is windproof and to date has been waterproof. There is a zip-off hood that is in a bin since the day I brought it home
The sleeves are narrow but comfortable. There is no zipper to close them and there is no fold-over gusset with a closure. They are very slim. If your gloves have a gauntlet this is the style you want. No extra bulk. There is a lycra-like inner cuff that seals off the sleeve and continues down the wrist onto the hand with thumb holes.
Now, about the thumb holes. I generally like thumb holes, but these thumbholes do not play well with any of my gloves. The stitching around the edge of the thumb holes feels just fine when you gear up but 20 minutes into your ride it feels like someone is sawing off my left thumb. Only the left one, which I found surprising because of my arthritis and thus inflammation, usually means my right thumb joint is usually larger than my left one but on this particular jacket there is something wrong with the left thumb hole in my setup.
The collar on this jacket has a soft lining material and when zipped up creates a nice tall wrap around the neck. I’ve never been accused of having no neck but I don’t have a really long neck either. This jacket zips up nicely to create a barrier in cold weather that snugs up against the very top of my neck and creates a very comfortable waterproof seal. In fact, this comes up high enough that I have learned I better put my head back while zipping up because it hurts like hell when my beard gets stuck in the zipper. You don’t always notice much more than a tickle while zipping up but damn it, the first time you turn your head to clear an intersection, that hurts.
The fit of the jacket is comfortable, it is roomy through the shoulders and the sleeve length is adequate for someone who is going to have their hands on the bars all day. It has a nice heft to it which is one of those surprising things. The pictures of the jacket, like Ryan and Lurch said, make it look cheap. Like it is no more than a light windbreaker or a hoodie. This jacket has substance. The fabrication choices are nice throughout, they feel good on the hand, and over seven months and lots of miles I can say it is a quality jacket.
This is the only jacket I have used since the Spring of 2021. I picked up a riding shirt that I used some at the end of the summer. Living in a travel trailer this summer, we had to make choices about what came along and what went to storage. This jacket made the cut and if it hadn’t been for Ryan’s review of the Speed and Strength True Grit, I would have been just fine without a second riding jacket.
I’ve now ridden this jacket in weather from 101 – 37. I was uncomfortable at 101 but cozy with my heated liner at 37. I have ridden on sunny days, and in sleet, rain, and wind. It has not failed me in any condition. The waterproofing works well. There are no places the water sneaks in. It took a long time this year to find rain. Probably because we spent the better part of the summer months in the Southwest. When I finally found rain it was a happy day to know the jacket stood up to the test.
I wore this jacket on the way to SoCal for the Patreon meetup. I met up with our very own mileage machine Chuck Wilburn in Redmond, Oregon the day before the meetup and we rode down to pick up Terry McDonough in Medford. It was in the mid-40s when we left Redmond and Chuck and I were bundled up. I took off my liner, which I had not bothered to turn on when we stopped in Chemult. Going over the mountain the temperatures continued to rise but Chuck and I didn’t stop anywhere so it was open vents and ride on.
By the time we got into Medford we had to get across town, which involved a lot of stop and go, to where Terry was, it was hot. Until that hot stop and go, the jacket did ok as long as we were moving. Venting was good and I could have lived with the heat. We were in the high 90s and low 100s. It was past time to get the jacket off but we knew we were close. When we met up with Terry, coats came off before gas went in. High 90s is definitely too warm for this jacket and 100 causes sweat to drip down my back and I am not a fan of that. We rode the rest of the day in long sleeve shirts.
I had to drop my bike off the first weekend of November here in Central Oregon for some warranty work. It was 37 and raining when I pulled out. Jacket on, liner turned on, heated gloves gauntlet over the sleeves. I pulled into the dealer and the wife asked if I needed the heat cranked up in the Jeep when she picked me up. Nope, I was just fine despite an hour in the cold rain. The top of my things were cold and that was it (my rain pants aren’t much more than a shell).
Those two examples cover the extremes with this jacket. It handles them, and everything in between. It also doesn’t feel like you are wearing a jacket that screams “I rode my bike here, look at me” when you wear it around. As I said, we have been living with a very small closet space since June 2021. This is the only coat I have out of storage. Despite that, I have not been wanting. I have worn this as a casual jacket a few times since September when it got cold. It works just fine as a casual jacket.
Overall, it is a solid jacket that is a good choice for a medium weight jacket comfortable for riding up to mid-80s and down to relatively low temps with assistance from a flannel, sweatshirt, or heated liner. I have never regretted its choice and hope to enjoy many seasons with it.
Ride Safe, Ride Often
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