Field Test: Vanson Thunderbird Jacket

HFL, Positions -


Vanson-Thunderbird.jpgContinuing our Field Test series by real riders, we’ve asked Triumph riding Union Pool fixture and Perfecto jacket connoisseur, Ray Abeyta to give Vanson’s Thunderbird jacket the up and down to see if it’s worth adding to the collection. Here’s what he said.

Click below for the feature.
Field Test: Vanson Thunderbird Jacket

  • Nick

    I’m not normally a fan of bobbers, but that’s a nice looking bike.

  • CMC

    Nice photos, again.

  • Simon


  • Domino Dave

    Where are pics showing the jacket … am I missing somthing?

    • Urban Rider

      Yes, an ‘e’ in something.

  • Bryce

    That bike is killer…unlike all of the new “bobbers” it looks like it actually gets riden more than a few times a year. Cool jacket, classic style but kinda spendy…but if you’ve got the scratch…

  • 2ndderivative

    Call me an ATGATT weenie, but why would you pay so much when you can get a more functional armored, ventilated, more-or-less waterproofed, linered, modern jacket for less than half the price, maybe even a full 2-piece if you shop around? I can only guess it’s the same motivation that people have for buying $5000 watches.

    • Grant Ray

      I promise that jacket you’re talking about for less than $300.00 new, but can take decades of abuse like this Vanson, simply doesn’t exist. Not in any textile and definitely not leather. I love armor and vents and liners, too. I’ve also worn more jackets throughout the cost range as of late than most. While I’m sure you won’t believe me, I’ve learned from experience that cheap jackets are cheap for a reason, regardless of manufacturer. Also, $590 is cheap for a jacket like this. Most jackets I’ve seen in this quality range of leather and construction go for $1000 or more.

      If you want to wrap yourself in a dinky jacket, go right ahead. Just don’t kid yourself about skimping on the quality of the gear that you’re expecting to save your hide in a crash. I’d rather save up, myself.

      • Zach

        If you want to save your hide in a crash, you should wear something other then jeans and a beanie with your $600 unarmored jacket.

  • ryan

    Hot bike, crappy looking jacket.

    custom roo hide jacket for under $300 in Oz is reasonable. YKK zips, 1.4mm hide, CE armour, with the lined pocket for a back protector. Pay more for brand names, but there is no guarantee of additional quality simply for purchasing the expensive logo.

    This monstrosity is over priced crap, that looks terrible and has no real protection for shoulders, elbow or back.

    Total waste of money.

    • Grant Ray

      Ryan, can you give us the link to that jacket?

      • ryan

        Bought it from a leather man at the Queen victoria markets in melbourne Australia.

        Best JAcket I have ever bought.

        Cost me $300 bucks.

        No Brand name, and haven’t had an off on it, but the quality of the stitching and construction is on par with the high end dainese/alpine stars work, without the tackiness of brand specific logo.

  • Stu

    sorry but i think the whole look , bike and jacket, is tres ghey

  • Mark D.

    Neither the bike nor the jacket are my style, but my god does he make them look good!

    Good point re: the lack of armor on that jacket, though. Seems a bit of an oversight. Would be great in a low-side on a fairly empty road, but in the city, I’d want some armor when I went barreling into a jersey barrier!

    Of course, this dude’s been riding his whole damn life, and I’m sure there isn’t too much trouble you can get into on a British single bobber!

    • redevil

      Dude, Get on the Vanson site, if the style of the Thunderbird jacket isn’t your style go to and check out their full line. Their leather is made to take abuse. The background of the company is protecting racers with top quality leathers. Have owned a Vanson jacket for a while now – worth every penny, they can even make it custom for the odd shaped bods.

      When you buy cheep stuff you’re taking a chance. Just ask yourself before you eventually kiss asphalt, how much is my hide worth. If you don’t give a crap continuing to wear crap – I’ll stick to my Vanson leather

      • ryan

        Cheap does not necessarily equate to crap.

        Nor does expensive equate to quality.

  • Urban Rider

    Great pictures as always Grant.

    I understand ‘Marlon Brando’ style jackets are extremely cool for some generations including my own father, however they are a bit dare I say it ‘Village people’ for my taste.

    I’d probably spend my money on a Lewis Leathers Super Sportsman striped.

  • BL

    i can attest to the stiffness of the wrists…took me a full summer of riding and a good bit of ‘manual distressing’ before the cuffs of my vanson were comfy.

  • Greaser Mike

    Great picts, Grant. Anyone that’s ever met Ray knows he can make anything look cool.

  • BlueOyster Bar and Grill

    That jacket is neo-hipster douche. To think this is the same place that loves to make fun of pirates putting style over function. What a bunch of blowhard hypocrisy.

    • Grant Ray

      BlueOyster, if you can only have your eggs one way without throwing a tantrum, then maybe you’re in the wrong diner. Motorcycling as a culture is wonderfully varied. We can actually laugh at ourselves without going into a man-rage. It’s okay to have fun. You should try it sometime.

      • BL

        that’s it, the friendly wave at passing bikers is OVER.
        from now on, everybody gets the FU finger!

    • Mark D.

      For my own amusement, I suggest you ride down to Brooklyn and say that to Mr. Abeyta in person. Something tells me he’s still from the school where you don’t fuck with bikers for a reason. A reason shaped like a pool-cue and heavy boots…

  • tw

    Vanson, Feh!
    The ex wife had a custom made set of Vansons back in the early 90′s the jacket was ok (manx IIRC) but the pants started falling apart pretty early on.

    For a better deal on a American Made jacket
    Look at Fox Creek and it’s not that nasty over played marlon brando zippered up dork jacket this one is.

  • gregorbean

    Funny the remark about seams in the middle of the back being cheap…my Vanson jacket has a seam in the middle and it’s never bothered me, in fact I never even noticed it before reading this and then looking at my jacket. Anyway, I love my Vanson, I bought it barely used about five years ago, wear it all the time, and it still looks as good as when I got it, actually a little better from wear. Thick leather, stitching built to last.

  • brettvegas

    Good read, pics Grant.

    I need a jacket for the guzzi, My textile armored jacket just don’t feel right. I’m not much of a clothes-hog, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to look sharp going out on the town.

    The lewis striped looks more my style than the vanson, besides, I’m too cheap.

    I really hate that the brick-and-mortar MC shops can’t keep much in stock. I like trying on stuff before I buy. Hardly ever order shit online.

  • jhon f.

    for 600$ I can have a tailor-made jacket sewn from scratch.

    but I guess it’s all about the label nowadays…

    • notbuyingit

      Oh wow, really? Who’s your tailor? A bespoke perfecto that’s shit-tough for 600 bones sounds sweet! Or are you just talking jive cause you ain’t got no skrilla?

      Awww, es okay, no-skrilla guy. No reason to hate, though, right?

  • vic

    what do you guys think of schott ,i am looking to buy one of their horsehide jackets.for casual wearing not riding..i am mostly a power-ranger type rider
    btw why does grant get the special “tool” icon and wes doesn’t?

    • Grant Ray

      My first classic cafe was a vintage 1960s Schott that I had while I lived in New Orleans. I can’t attest to the company’s current line, but the one I had was fantastic. I get the fancy tool icon when I comment from the back-end because I am the king.

      • vic

        thanks for the info

        ps:if you’re the king does that make wes a queen?
        or maybe prince

  • Matthew

    These are great jackets. If you went out and bought a fashion jacket with no function for motorcycling you’ll still pay about this much or more. Leather just costs a lot.

    These things are made to take abrasion in a crash. I recommend you read up on them on their website and other places like WebBikeWorld if you don’t want to take this guy’s word for it.

    That said, if I were on a hog or a bobber and only rode locally I would have this, but since I spend most of my ride clearing 80 mph on the NJ/NY/CT/MA freeways I’m sticking with my armored jacket from Rev’It!.

    By the way, some of the Vansons have the pockets to hold armor, so if you’re worried about that get one of those.

  • guero

    Arthur Fonzerelli style… Nice.

  • s0crates82

    Yeah, I couldn’t pull off wearing that jacket. Partly because instead of a six pack, I’m rocking a keg.

    These guys would dig it though:

  • ragnarok zeny

    Thank you for your article,It’s well written, in depth posts like these that have aided me in becoming a good forex trader.