Tested: Belstaff Discovery Motorcycle Jacket

Need a jacket for more than one kind of weather?

When I opted to drag Belstaff's new Discovery Jacket on a 10-day tour through the east (north and south), I felt a bit overdressed at first--the thing was armored, triple-layered and strewn with more zippers than a convention of hookers. I shouldn't have bitched though--Belstaff's been in the gear game almost as long as motorcycles have been in existence, and I had the good fortune to test the brawny garment in the midst of the most schizophrenic weather pattern to hit the east coast in decades. Of course, it felt closer to hypothermia than good fortune in Pennsylvania (temps hovered around 30 degrees), but the garment's reinforced, 500-denier nylon shell and waterproof, breathable membrane kept the wind and rain at bay and my innards warm with an insulated inner liner. When the sun finally broke in North Carolina, I simply pulled the liner out and zipped open the spacious underarm and back vents to cool my jets (my only beef was the liner buttoned more than it zipped). A soft, detachable neck-warmer snugged my jugular, and sleeve adjusters sealed out drafts.

There were no safety shortcuts on the Discovery, either--the jacket's bulk came largely from CE-approved hard armor inhabiting the shoulder, elbow and back areas. And reflective panels and piping enhanced my conspicuity at night. With eight pockets on the jacket, I never wanted for storage space, though the lower pouches' maddening zipper/snap/hook-and-loop configuration was almost impossible to access with gloved hands (there was also a detachable back pocket built into the jacket's lower back area). An elastic shock cord cinched the jacket's hem tight, and a hook-and-loop waist belt gathered excess material at the torso. A heavy-duty, two-way zipper closed up the middle.

The jacket worked superbly in the conditions it was subjected to. In a ferocious downpour in Virginia, the internal rain skirt prevented water from wicking upward--hail, wind and rain couldn't penetrate the barrier, except for slight seepage in zippered areas. At a suggested $400 (in sizes S to XXXL in black/khaki, black/gold and black/gun), the Discovery's not cheap, but make no mistake, this is an all-season jacket with the requisite concessions to cover climatic extremes. You may curse all those weatherproof bells and whistles during a sunny spring ride, but you'll sing their praises when Mother Nature throws a tantrum.

For details, call Belstaff North America at 1-800-432-9004 or browse to www.britishmotorcyclegear.com.

Andy Cherney

To give Motorcycle Cruiser's Associate Editor hail. email Andy.Cherney@primedia.com.