Kevlar Motorcycle Jacket Review, Part I

Cycleport Motoport Kevlar Jacket

Cycleport Air Mesh Kevlar Jacket

KEVLAR: STRONG, LIGHTWEIGHT AND HEAT RESISTANT

Perhaps most famous for its application in bullet-proof vests, Kevlar is also used in radial tires, heat- or flame-resistant fabrics, fiber-reinforced composite materials for aircraft panels, boat hulls, golf-club shafts, and lightweight bicycles.

According to the Dupont website, which first produced Kevlar in 1965, this tough fiber weave can be made “five times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis,” yet, at the same time be, “lightweight, flexible and comfortable.”

Ten years after its initial production, in 1975, the first field trial of body armor made with Kevlar was conducted with police officers and sales have exploded since then as protective gear around the world for police and military.

SO WHY NOT MAKE MOTORCYCLE APPAREL WITH KEVLAR?

Motoport (motoport.com) does exactly that. In fact, they make the jackets and pants themselves down in Escondido, CA where I have visited and met with Motoport President, Wayne Boyer. (Previously Cycleport).

Not only is Kevlar strong and light, Wayne says “It’s 10 times stronger than the best leather and less than half the weight.”

I purchased a pair (him and her) of the Motoport Air Mesh Kevlar Jackets with dual liners for each jacket and took delivery of them in July 2005.

With over 2 years of heavy use, including a coast-to-coast North American tour and innumerable other multi-day trips, I offer my review of the product.

REVIEW OF MOTOPORT AIR MESH KEVLAR JACKET

In April 2005, I provided the sizing requirements to Motoport and ordered two black, fully-armored, Air Mesh Kevlar Jackets. Each cost $399.00 plus an additional $189.00 for the matched 2-part liner for cold, rain and wind protection. That equals $589.00 per jacket and of course, tax and shipping were on top of that (not the least expensive investment you can make for a motorcycle jacket).

Over 12 weeks later, I received both jackets and their dual liners via FedEx and they were immediately pressed into service.

Of course, the primary purpose of the purchase was to buy the best protection available, especially for summer riding, since my other jackets are too warm in hot riding weather. As a Kevlar “mesh” model, which allows air to freely flow through the jacket (except in all the armor locations); it seemed well suited for both requirements. Think of the “mesh” as a very thick, hightech, Kevlar-cheesecloth.

I’ve ridden with the jacket all over North America including through the Mojave Desert and 114 degrees temperature. Quite simply, the jacket (without liners) was, and still is, the most comfortable, protective motorcycle jacket I have ever worn in hot weather. And this is real protection, as opposed to most other mesh jackets, which will become problematic should you embark upon an unscheduled tumble along the asphalt. Here’s what Wayne says on the matter, “Sliding on pavement with any other air mesh jacket or pant is not safe. We have seen many riders with permanent skin damage where the Polyurethane coating melted into the skin.” (See Kevlar reference above re “heat- or flame-resistant fabrics.”)

How much is that worth to you?

One thing I did not like was that our removable jacket liners were bright red, and contrasted greatly with the black jackets. (I was not offered any choice during the original purchase). Today I checked motoport.com to find that the only liner color currently available is black (although it looks gray), which I would have preferred. The current liner design looks better, too. Although I don’t think the jacket or the liner will win any fashion awards, the liner currently displayed on the motoport.com website would be something I’d be more likely to wear into a casual restaurant without the Kevlar-mesh, outer jacket.

While I was on motoport.com I also observed that the jacket and liner prices are still the same today as when I purchased them over 2 years ago.

In brief, the Kevlar air mesh jacket is indeed exceptionally lightweight, comfortable, and of primary importance, offers unparalleled protection. Conversely, it is also oddly bulky when you want to put it down or hang it up.

A key feature I have enjoyed is the practical convenience of its washability. To clean it, just toss the jacket with armor in the washing machine! (Much easier than maintaining my leather jacket, as well as my other textile jackets). For top-load washers, weighing it down with old sneakers can be helpful to keep the jacket immersed. Front-load washers are best, because the jacket is so buoyant that it floats on top of the water: it would probably work as a good flotation device in the ocean, too!

(Read Part II)

30 thoughts on “Kevlar Motorcycle Jacket Review, Part I

  • Old post/thread, I realize……but I can never let one of these conversations go by without pointing out that there’s no relationship between riding a bike and flying a combat aircraft. The latter is a) AIR CONDITIONED, b) NEVER GOING TO END UP WITH ITS OPERATOR SKIDDING ALONG THE PAVEMENT. So, scrap THAT analogy!

    Secondly, it often seems that DUMB riders with way too much money figure that expensive gear somehow makes them safe and allows them to ride with “abandon”. I’d rather see extremely well-trained riders wearing shorts and T-shirts than idiots riding around in Kevlar…..or even denim.

    Why, because if you’re going to get run over by a dump truck, no super sexy space-age fabric is gonna save you. Flat is flat, and if your head and body are flattened, it doesn’t matter WHAT they’re wrapped in. The trick is to NOT GET FLATTENED. And you do that by RIDING intelligently…..not DRESSING safely.

  • Have a Kevlar Mesh Marathoner Jacket from Motoport, Wayne is the real deal. Have hi Viz tape on the back, my girlfriend could see me distinctly during nighttime freeway traffic from a mile away behind in traffic.

    Wayne also makes stretch Kevlar pants that are cut to your favorite jean dimensions, hands on best service and Wayne has done the research to back his product. It’s not the most fashionable, but you feel SAFE wearing it…

  • Christine I live in NM and I wear my jackets all year I’m 64 noe been riding for 50 years. I am no longer young and stupid, I protect myself….only went down in 50 years it was in my 48th year of riding I was very glad to have my defender jeans leather jacket and helmet..the jacket got messed up the helmet had a strip 3in by 6in 1/8in deep that would have been my head ride safe

  • Motoport did eventually get the Quad Armor, which I traded into. You can remove/replace the armor pieces yourself.

    The Quad Armor is definitely thicker and heavier, but the jacket is still well ventilated and comfortable. Give Motoport 6 stars out of 5. . .:)

  • I’m going to add my 5/5 stars for the Motoport Kevlar Mesh jacket. I just got mine after a 2 months wait in the Hong Kong cop style, with black mesh, stretch Hi-Viz and reflectors sewn across the back, front and arms.

    It’s much lighter than I thought it would be; the Tri-Armor is comfortable with no break in. Good ventilation in the middle of summer, and the security of knowing that it’s ALL KEVLAR. It’s a highly visible jacket; definitely not dorky with the alternating black and hi-viz and with a liner, I expect to go from summer till almost dead of winter. Good Job Motoport!

    My only regret was that the company that makes their even more secure Quad Armor, is apparently not making it anymore. Still that’s picking nits. Best jacket out there, I think.

  • Christine,

    Get a cooling evaporative vest and/or one of those neckerchiefs filled with water absorbing crystals that you soak in ice water; put them under a mesh/CE armor jacket.. Put your helmet in the refrigerator overnight. Keep it away from the steak sauce and garlic. . .

    Even then. . .it was 103 yesterday in Chicago during the day yesterday. I only saw one person on a bike. That’s brutal, even dangerous heat for slow city traffic. There is a place for a car with air conditioning. . . . 🙂

  • OMG! It’s like 100 degrees outside. The humidity is torture. Am I really expected to put on hot riding gear in the event of a crash? Just putting on my denim jacket is torture. No one else around here wears jackets to ride in hot weather …neither the rookies nor the veteran riders, crotch rocket riders or cruisers.

    I feel like a dork all dressed up in protective gear, anticipating a crash, while everyone else is riding around in their t-shirts and tank tops! Do you AGATT advocates REALLY follow your own advice EVERY time you ride??

    I can’t imagine what they do in Arizona, New Mexico, etc.

  • Hi

    Good to know all your comments. I heard about it a few years ago.
    Can anyone inform where to buy these apparel in Southeast Asia region???

    Thanks

    Simon

  • Thanks to this review, I ordered their Hong Kong police jacket style. They may be discontinuing their Quad Armor since the company that makes it (3M?) is no longer going to produce it. They are trying to persuade the company to continue making it just for them. Their Tri-Armor is still available standard. Looking forward to receiving the jacket!

  • Since starting to ride in 1958, i have been down twice. Both times, not from cages, but from sand on corners while turning (I live in Florida). Damage both times was to outsides of knees .( I DO HAVE THE CLASSIC SMOOTH SCARRED OUTER KNEES NOW.)However, both my sons wereTaken Out seriously by Florida elderly left turners. Both fortunate to survive. Both times were told ‘never saw you.’ The difference is accident prevention riding. I stay quite close to the car in front of me, knowing I have better reaction time and brakes. I try to stay in their left rear view mirror, and have an escape toward the medium. I never listen to music or anything distraction; instead I just enjoy the ride.

  • Wow. . very cool. . . didn’t know about these before.. .will start saving up. I noticed that they have a jacket that’s a combination of stretch and mesh kevlar. Is there any difference between the two?

  • I can personally attest to the strength of this product. First downer with it was a rear tire blowout on my Honda ST1300. I slid 150′ on the shoulder of an interstate, only injury was a strawberry on my butt, and shredded poly/wool pants I was wearing. No discernible damage to the jacket. 2nd go-round was this past April, where a dimbulb changed lanes inside a tunnel, and I just about was sandwiched between him and the wall. Went down on my Road Glide. Jacket was scuffed up on the left side where I impacted and slid. 3 broken ribs underneath but then I had a Glock in a vest holster there. Medics could not cut the jacket off so I was transported with it on. Hospital had to xray my neck and back first, then sat me up to remove the jacket. Also broke my ankle inside high quality boots, but the end result is I’m walking again, and will be riding soon. Wayne’s jackets are well worht the money!!

  • I have a set of these kevlar clothes. The jacket weighs almost as much as I do but when it’s on it is as comfortable as any other m/c jacket. Pants take a bit of getting used to just putting them on and taking them off. But I’ve ridden in cold, wind and rain and they’re comfortable. I also have the kevlar gloves. All I can say is they’re comfortable and windproof. These are definitely my first-choice for any long trips.

  • Kevlar (aramid fiber [generic name]) things will likely always be expensive, as the stuff is a bear to work with. Try cutting the stuff with a standard pair of scissors, for instance.

  • Martin does have a point. I am a believer in Kevlar and always don it in some form when I ride, For the moment it is adequate, and it it is still creating another barrier between you and the road, or potential object. One hundred percent safety not only does not exist for motorcycles, but that is the case for anything. All we can do is hope that we make the right decisions at crucial times, and have enough common sense to be able to foresee a bad situation before it materializes. I always try to have an escape route when I ride. I scan and scan, look in my rear-view mirror often, and watch for road hazards. Even with all this, I know something or someone can still get me. We should try to minimize the risk as much as possible. Hopefully, we can be riding till old age, barring some accident or health related intrusion. Have a great holiday to all my riding pals, and be as safe as possible.

  • “Butch Wood says:
    July 11, 2009 at 4:12 pm
    I submit that motorcyclists can learn more from aviators. PREVENTION by making safe decisions has earned aviation an extraordinary transportation SAFETY record (measured in travel miles). ”

    All this sounds good, but there are no blind car drivers in the skies… The again, falling off a bike does not always means injuries (especially if using proper clothing and safety gear) and try falling from 1200 ft without a chute…

  • I have the full set jacket and over-pants, with upgraded quad armor (about a $400.00 add on) Hi-Viz both top and bottom. The wind / rain liners are Grey now. I also spent extra on the reflective strips down both arms and the emergency info provision on the shoulder (big enough to really hold info) This was replacement gear Erie insurance company paid 75% of after a blind septuagenarian drove into me by exiting his residential side street. First thing he told the police at the scene was that he didn’t see me. Second time a Mr. Magoo tried to kill me within a 25 year span. Hi-Viz is the only flavor I’ll wear now, but that means nothing when the vehicle operator can’t see past the passenger window or hear your air horn for that matter.
    Thanks for the vent. Great riding gear, there is nothing on the market as comfortable and protective as the Kevlar Mesh by Cycleport. I ride all year all weather North of Philly in the PA. and this gear works.
    Zumpy

  • Hey Doc, I’m surprised there are not more kevlar jackets around. Best I can find, other than the one reviewed in this article, are jackets with kevlar armor.

  • I’d like to test drive one of these jackets this summer. Whom do I call?

  • Ya gotta think that withg mroe and more stuff being made out of kevlar that the price of the stuff will get less at some ponit.

  • I’m starting to see more Kevlar motorcycle apparel, at least more options for kevlar lined riding pants.

  • What are you talking about, Butch? Combat aviators wear nomex (flame retardant!) flight suits… I’m sure they would also use an abrasion-resistant material as well, if they thought there was a chance they’d be sliding down the asphalt at cruising speed.

  • Sorry Butch, the obvious problem with your theory is that pilots don’t have to share the skies with the general public. No matter how safe I ride and how good of decisions I make it’s _STILL_ just a matter of time until one of them gets me. The fact that you don’t recognize this fact leads me to believe that you’re not a rider or haven’t ridden in many years. I totally agree with you that safety isn’t promoted often enough but anyone who believes that a motorcyclist can prevent accidents is incredibly naive. The only way he can do that is to not ride.

  • “How much is that worth to you?” is a typical emotional argument used by INSURANCE salesmen.

    CONSIDER: What kind of clothing does a combat helicopter or fixed-wing aviator use when they perform their “operator” function?

    ANSWER: They emphasize safety and NOT crashing!

    I submit that motorcyclists can learn more from aviators. PREVENTION by making safe decisions has earned aviation an extraordinary transportation SAFETY record (measured in travel miles).

    Motorcyclist instead see stunt riders on TV more often than boring SAFETY techniques. Manufacturers don’t do enough to promote safety and the fatality rate reflects that fact.

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