This is one of the more expensive bits of rider gear I have purchased but I had a firm idea of what I wanted and for once was not going let my inner Cheap Charlie make compromises.
I specifically want to move away from nylon jackets and pants. Of all my rider gear that I previously owned (but was lost when shipped to Australia) my cordura BMW City 2 pants were always the most versatile. Able to be used in three seasons, I wore them on nearly all my motorcycle tours outside of Japan. They could breath and wick moisture away on warm to hot days but also handle a little cooler weather and outlasted two nylon rider suits being far more durable.
I put the textile Vs nylon to the test for jackets in hot summer conditions and found that a textile summer jacket was more comfortable than a nylon mesh summer jacket even though air flow was less than mesh it wicked away perspiration, did not cling to my skin like nylon and breathed thus was superior.
I looked over all the nylon gear instore from Aussie brands through to the stupidly expensive Klim (which scores rather low in tests) For the majority of my touring in Japan I did wear nylon because the ‘good’ ride season there is often 8 degrees and wet. But I don’t want items that work best in conditions I have no plans to ride again for years.
What are the alternatives – well there is leather which is too limited in its climate control for me and there is traditional textile jackets from Belstaff which are lite on protection or venting and then there is another UK company Merlin which I initially became aware of after seeing Si King of The Hairy Bikers using their gear (unsponsored).
The Mahala Pro jacket is Merlin’s flagship jacket. It is made from cordura material CE AA rated with a DWR (durable water resist) coating. It comes in black or olive and I preferred the green which should be less hot in the sun than black. For colder conditions it has a 125g thermal liner and for rain a ‘Reissa Active’ waterproof liner (both removable). It also has 7 piece D30 protectors to back, shoulder, elbow and chest.
The jacket has ventilation panels that unzip and latch back. It also has vents to the arms and to the lower sides of jacket (missing in these photos sorry) and a rear of jacket vent. All of which I can vouch make the jacket flow air very well. No trouble with hot days wearing this on tour and then simply zip up in morning and it is good for a cool start or adjust as needed according to the conditions during day.
Coming into Walcha on tour the temperature dropped to 10 degrees and on the little G310GS with wind blast it felt like 5 on the high plains so I zipped in the thermal liner which was itself was zipped into the Reissa (like Gore-tex) liner and was toasty warm for remainder of ride to Uralla. I would not choose this as a winter jacket, I think that is where nylon is best but it can handle single digit temperature if caught out.
The jacket is of a high quality construction everywhere I look, the material is 12 ounce cordura, the zips heavy duty YKK, the snap buttons big and solid. Merlin guarantee this jacket for 2 years. Very nice to have something well made that did not get pumped out of a factory in China.
So far I am happy. It is supremely comfortable in all conditions I have experienced over the 10 days on tour recently that varied wildly in temperature and humidity. I think it will be versatile and suit all the 3 season riding I am currently planning next few years.
I’ll probably not rely solely on the rain liner for more than showers or drizzle and include a light weight rain jacket on tour. My experience after living in Japan is a rain jacket with chin high neck and a hood is good for long wet days as zero water gets in at neck or to head when helmet vents inevitably leak. All liners only last so long in solid rain – even Gore-tex which I had in gloves and boots. For gloves I carried three pairs in Japan all Gore-tex and would change them as they failed during rainy days and for boots I religiously massaged the leather with Nikwax which with Gore-tex liner would sometimes last all day.
I am trying to plan all my upcoming riding tours in the dry and warm seasons of each country and if I get to the bottom of my bucket list to the three countries who have no dry or warm season (I’m looking at you Iceland, Norway and Scotland) then that will be in a few years time (if my health continues) and I will then look at hardcore rain and cold gear.
For everywhere else I think this is going to work well. Actually I like the jacket so much I will add the matching pants in future so look out for that review if you are interested in the Merlin brand. As always I will add updates to this review over the coming months as I find out more on my upcoming tours.
Update: Rain Test
Well the rain liner does not seem to be very good. Within two hours I had dampness on my arms where the rain had seemingly passed through the rain liner. I have not seen longer rain riding than this to say more but I probably feel a rain jacket is going to be needed.