Field Test: Vanson Chopper jacket

HFL, Positions -



For the second installment of our Field Test series, in which we ask real riders to evaluate motorcycle gear in the real world, we asked Harley bobber-riding Gentry Dayton to test the Vanson Chopper jacket. He rode around New York, in the snow, throughout January in it. Here’s what he thought.

Click below for the feature:
Field Test: Vanson Chopper jacket

  • No Show Off

    I have never seen any Harley riding moron wearing any type of jacket or protective gear of any kind. Usually just the t-shirt, jeans with big stomach protector Harley belt buckle, assless chaps and a do rag. Of course don’t forget the show off loud exhaust so they have an excuse to ride the worthless bike in the first place.

    • Axel

      Eat shit and die, asshole.
      It would have been nice to actually see a picture of the jacket!

      • Grant Ray

        Axel, there’s a link in the feature just below the words, “Click below for the feature.” Click that link that says “Field Test: Vanson Chopper jacket” and it will take you to several shots of the jacket and the bike, plus a written review.

    • Brede Howard

      I own a Harley, and have never left the house without an armored leather jacket, armored icon gloves, and an Icon Airframe helmet. Even during the sweltering 118 degree weather in phoenix, i always wear all my gear. How else am i going to keep my non fat ass in one piece?…. One of my favorite things about this website is there isn’t a slew of immature people talking shit for no apparent reason…. try not to ruin that

  • Tony

    I like all the vanson jackets, but all of them are too short in the arms and through the body. They need to do long versions on their jackets.

    • Grant Ray

      Tony, I’m pretty sure they can make whatever style you want to fit if you give them your measurements. Just give them a call, they’re nice people.

  • Woody

    Hey, it’s just a sportster so it’s not a real Harley!

    Just kidding, I have respect for anyone who rides a motorcycle in the winter, especially someone riding through new york’s shit streets with snow on the ground.

  • Michael

    Judging by the photo, looks like he’s right about the sleeve length. I know my Teknic jacket has slightly longer sleeves when relaxed so they cuff the wrists nicely while in riding position. Wonder if Vanson failed to take this into consideration, or if Gentry just has long arms.

  • Don Nelson

    Vanson bike jackets are shorter in the sleeves than most people like. With shorter than standard arms, they fit me fine off the rack. Vanson will make to order and will probably make longer sleeves for an existing jacket for a bit o’ cash. Their customer service is outstanding.

    About the leather – American leather, tough, dyed correctly, damned near bulletproof. I’ve got 70K+ miles on one jacket that’s been drenched, sun-baked, frozen, slid on a couple of times and generally abused and it’s just beginning to show some surface cracking inside the right elbow. I probably should have used that leather goop they recommend…

    Enough unsolicited testimonial – Vanson makes great jackets with interesting styling.

  • Tony

    I think it costs about $250 to get a simple jacket customized with longer sleeves and body.
    I bet Vanson would sell many more jackets if they fit more people off the rack. Certainly would have already sold one to me.

  • smokin88lx

    I got a Vanson jacket a few years ago from the factory. I got measured since off the rack jackets were about 6 inches too short for me. Their customer service isn’t really that great. They would sell a lot more jackets if improved on that.

    Also a year after I got the jacket I got measured for some pants at the factory again. 3 months later I got the pants and they were far from my measurements. Above the knees they were on the tight side and below the knees they were way too baggy and about 4″ too long. When they were zipped to the jacket it pulled on my shoulders causing my back to hurt after about 10-15 minutes of riding. I was kind of new to MC jackets when I got my Vanson and looking back I think the jacket is 1″-2″ too short still. I grew up in MA and now live in CA I thought going directly to factory I would be getting better service which is not the case. I did bring the pants back to have them adjusted under warranty but they are still far from a custom fit.

    I went to Pro Italia, the closest Vanson dealer to me, to fix the issue I had when zipping the jacket and pants together and Karen there is great. Even though I didn’t buy from them she was a big help. Even though the fix is kind of a band-aid. Through her I got a wider zipper piece between the jacket and pants and another 2″ added to the back of the jacket. I wished I went to PI in the first place, I know I’d be much happier with the fit and service.

    The jacket is great other than feeling a little short to me. I wear it 5-7 days a week, crashed once and it has held up awesome for the past 4 year. Pants are nice too I just wished they fit better, I would wear them more often.

    I know they do have a place in El Salvador now and they were planning to move production of leather products there but didn’t as of a year ago. So they might not be American made any more.

  • Scott

    Dig everything about Gentry’s bike, but its front fender.
    Still wearing my Vanson jacket, bought it with a Honda VF750F (long gone) in ’83.

    • Michael

      To me, it’s incredible that your jacket has served you well for 27 years. Suddenly, spending $1000 on a quality leather jacket vs. $250 for a textile jacket makes a whole lot of sense.

      • Cameron Baum

        Or you can spend $1000 on a quality textile 1-piece suit like the ‘Stich.

        Leather is OK -but it sucks for breathability, water-proofness, water-retention/drying when it DOES get wet, weight, and smelliness after being used daily.

        I’ve got a few well-loved jackets from the old days -but today I just can’t see going back to leather for any application but the track. Textile just beats it on the street.

        My ‘Stich is 12 years old and still going fine (if getting a bit sun-faded these past couple of years). It’s a great value too when you amortize it over 12+ years of use.

  • shinigami

    I have a closet full of Vansons. Can’t imagine leaving the keyfob-serial-number tag on the zipper like the guy in the article did- it would beat you to death at speed!

  • powermatic

    Glad you liked it, but despite your big thumbs-up, sleeves 4″ too short sounds like it was far from ideal. Far better that they’re too long than too short. Amazing they don’t have a standard tall/long off-the-rack sizing-why should you need to spend hundreds extra for something that other manufacturers offer for the same price.

  • Kim van der Sleesen

    Hi, Kim from Vanson Leathers here.

    Just thought I would address a couple of the comments in regard to the sleeve length and custom fitting charges. Just to clarify a bit…

    Our fee for fit adjustments ranges from 50.00 to 250.00 for the fitting depending on what is requested or needed. A simple sleeve adjustment is less than the full custom made-to-measures fee of 250.00.

    The jacket that Gentry reviewed is a new prototype, the very first we have made of that style. It currently is special order only.

    The input about sleeve length is really helpful and we will review that. Gentry is slightly taller than average for the size of that coat and I would definatly recommend more sleeve length for him as well because of the position of his handlebars.

    We do not stock longs or shorts on a regular basis as we prefer to make them to the specific dimensions each customer needs. Making special order items is more than 1/2 of our business. It is time consuming and labor intensive to be sure. But we are very happy to be able to provide that service and fill that niche.

    We do have 2 facilities. One in Massachusetts and one in El Salvador. We have never planned on moving all production to El Salvador. It is a sister facility and takes some volume business off the hands of our shop here in the US.

    I am happy to answer any questions or help any customers, you may use my email.

    Safe riding…Kim

  • TuffGong

    Thank you,Kim. I have carried and sold Vanson products through several differnt venues. For break in,don’t restrict yourself to just wearing it.Sit on it.Throw it in the corner, just generally wad it up. Customer satisfaction (As well as my own with mine) is almost universally positive. Measuring for custom sizing is definitely the way to go. But if you do it yourself,make sure and follow their instructions to teh letter. I have had customers decide to modify the numbers to allow for movement etc. Vanson takes all that in consideration. just measure the point they say and send it in….