Thick, soft leather and a heritage, two-tone design make this Merlin Chase leather jacket one of the most stylish and comfortable I’ve worn.
At $499.95 it’s not bad value, either.
No, this is not a jacket you wear to go racing, but it does have European certification with approved impact protection in the back, and SW Level 2 armour in the shoulder and elbows.
Interestingly, the elbow protectors extend up the triceps, rather than down the forearm.
Merlin major shareholder Steve Franklin says the fastest-growing sector of the motorcycle clothing market is leisure safety gear.
Heritage rider gear like this Chase jacket that reflects neo-classic motorcycles, such as the Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle that Steve rides, represent 45% of the market.
This jacket not only suits a variety of neo-classic models, but also look’s good when you are off the bike.
The Chase jacket doesn’t look out of place in a fancy restaurant, the cinema or a trendy bar.
I love the classic details such as the patterned stitching in the shoulders and sleeves and the antique brass YKK zippers with the leather and brass rivet toggles that are also easy to find even with thick winter gloves.
The Chase jacket comes in sizes XS to 3XL and is made of full-grain 1.2-1.3mm grade AAA cowhide leather which is thick, yet supple, so it doesn’t feel stiff.
Ill-fitting jackets made of flimsy or lightweight material can flap in the breeze and become fatiguing on a long trip. However, the thick hide of this jacket ensures it doesn’t flap around.
I find a lot of leather jackets sit too high in front and bunch up when you sit on your bike with the round collar digging painfully into your neck.
This doesn’t. And the leather neck fastener is soft.
There are also expanding rear shoulder panels so it doesn’t pull when you reach forward to your handlebars. the extra length in the back also means it doesn’t not become exposed when you lean forward.
There is also a beefy zip in the back to connect to your pants. They include the other side of the zipper material so you can sew it to your pants if they don’t come with the connection.
For my slim frame, the fit is quite good, with a little bit of give in the waist to fit a hearty lunch.
The sleeves have a zipper and two-position snap clasp.
I use the tight position so I can put winter gauntlet gloves over the top of the sleeve and the loose position for summer gloves to slide underneath, allowing the wind to flow up your arms.
Because the leather is thick the wind doesn’t pull the sleeves up your arms, either.
Being a British jacket, it’s not quite suited to Australia’s summer.
However, I’ve been wearing it in milder mid-to-high 20s temperatures and it’s fine.
When the temperature rises, you can unzip two chest vents and one small right-side exhaust vent.
It might not seem like a lot of venting compared with some other jackets, but it works surprisingly well.
I thought the single exhaust vent might have been a mistake, but I think it tends to draw in the air and circulate it around your torso, back and armpits, pumping out the air using the venturi principle. It’s the same as when you squeeze the end of the hose to make the water spurt out.
Anyway, it works, up to about 30C.
On one occasion riding in high teens temperatures, the jacket seemed a little cool. There is a 100g thermal gilet liner that should make it more comfortable, but it’s a vest without sleeves, so you may need to wear a thermal underneath for winter riding.
One of my chief complaints about many jackets is the lack of pockets.
This jacket has two outside hip pockets which are deep and won’t allow items to fall out while riding if you forget to zip them closed.
Inside is a zipped wallet pocket on the left which can be accessed even with the liner zipped in.
Unlike many jackets, the liner also has a big pocket on the left with a snap fastener.
Without the liner there is another pocket on the left breast with a zip.
I don’t see why they couldn’t have included pockets on the right breast as well. The more pockets the better.
Also, the two interior zipped pockets have a small opening which can make it difficult to get thick wallets and modern large-sized phones in and out.