ATGATT, All The Gear All The Time. It’s something I know I should follow and yet often fail at. I do well (very well) with the helmet and gloves. I’m pretty good with the jacket. It’s the protective pants and boots that “fail” me most of the time. I admit that I too often ride in jeans and regular shoes. That being said, a good do-everything jacket is always of interest to me.
Here in Minnesota we have a shorter riding season than much of the country. Even if the winter temperatures are mild, the snowy/icy condition of the public roads can make for treacherous riding for at least three months of the year. When we can (safely) ride, we face a potential mix of weather from extreme heat and high humidity to rain, wind and cold – sometimes all in one 24 hour period! The jacket reviewed here is specifically designed to offer flexibility (hence, the name “Flex”) from heat to rain to cold in one garment.
The TourMaster Series 2 Flex (series 3 is out now as well) has an MSRP of $219.99. I have seen the jacket offered with “street” prices of $109.97 to $197.99. Even at full price, it’s a good buy for the money. Hat-Trick, or three-in-one, jackets generally start with a mesh shell that contains pockets for elbow, shoulder and back armor – for wear during hot weather when one wants as much air flow as possible. Then a wind/water resistant liner is installed for wet or cooler days. Last, there will be some kind of insulated liner for cold days. Outer mesh, thin liner for rain, plus thicker liner for cold. Many jackets of this configuration have become popular with riders who want protection and don’t want to purchase several jackets to match weather conditions. The one thing that has always bothered me about the “mesh outer” configuration is the relative lack of abrasion resistance offered, even with the other liners in. Tourmaster has addressed that concern by adding the wind/water layer ON TOP of the mesh.
The Flex jacket starts with mesh that has pockets for armor and then zips a 600 Denier Carbolex layer over the top. Carbolex is a water resistant, breathable and abrasion resistant fabric. Having this layer outermost provides coverage for wind and rain AND added protection that mesh-and-an-inner-liner doesn’t. The Flex jacket has Phoslite reflective material on BOTH the mesh jacket and Carbolex shell for enhanced visibility at night and low light conditions.
For a lot of riders, these two layers are all they would normally use. I rode in HOT weather (90 degrees and humid) with the armored mesh jacket. As long as I was in motion, the jacket didn’t bother me at all. In cooler (60 – 70 degrees) adding the Carbolex shell kept me very comfortable. When things got a touch warm, I’d open the vents and attach the two velcro strips to make a “scoop” that directed air in and let it escape through the rear “exhaust” openings. With all the zippers involved in the outer shell, I was concerned about water resistance in the rain. I didn’t need to worry. TourMaster claims the zippers are waterproof when fully closed AND they are covered by fabric flaps. I didn’t have the opportunity to ride in a true deluge, but I did stay dry in a steady rain over a 90 minute ride.
If things get really chilly outside, there is a full-sleeve insulated liner that can be added to the jacket. I did get one morning commute to my office in 40 degree weather and I was plenty warm with the insulated liner added. I’d say the jacket is probably good for 30 degrees. There are sleeve and waist adjusters on BOTH the mesh jacket and the Carbolex shell. This is a good thing because these jacket run BIG. I usually wear a 48 – 50 (XXL) jacket and that’s what I reviewed here. I was swimming in the thing. For ME to need to cinch in the waist is a rare occurrence, but even snugged as tight as it would go, the XXL was too big for me.
There are exterior “hand” pockets and interior pockets along with a rear zipper for TourMaster riding pants and a good sized rear “flap” to cover you while riding. The internal pockets include ones specifically intended for “mobile media”, by which I think TourMaster means your mobile telephone, that have flap-over covers. It’s fairly easy to get the armor pieces our of their pouches. The back piece has folding creases to facilitate removal and installation.
The “bad” about the TourMaster Flex Jacket? It’s heavy, six pounds ten ounces with the insulated liner. It runs big, but you can mitigate that by getting one size smaller than you ordinarily would. It’s got a LOT of zippers. My experience has been that over time, zippers are what will fail on a riding jacket. While I had the TourMaster Flex, every zipper worked just fine and appeared well made. I’m just saying that after a year of use it could well be a different situation.
I did not have an opportunity to test the performance of the Flex jacket in a crash. I’m sure we’re all VERY happy about that. From the materials used, the design of the jacket and the good quality construction, I would assume it will do it’s job to protect you if called upon to do so. For the price, it looks like an excellent choice to me.