Why you should reconsider the Alpinestars Messenger Jacket

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The Alpinestars Messenger Jacket is supposed to offer affordable, stylish, all-weather protection for commuters and city riders. Until now, it didn’t, but now it does. Here’s why.

In 2009 Alpinestars announced the city collection. The concept was simple: stylish motorcycle gear with minimal branding that doesn’t look like motorcycle gear when you’re off the bike. Back in 2009, I was working as a machinist/engine builder for Thumper Racing and I needed a set of waterproof gear to wear on my commute. When the new Parts Unlimited catalogs came in, I would go through them cover to cover. Reading the specs for the Alpinestars Messenger jacket, it seemed almost too good to be true. After ordering one and waiting for it to arrive, I found out it was.

Externally, everything was as it appeared in the catalog. It looked good enough that I didn’t immediately send it back. After all, it was still a simple good looking, four pocket, 3/4 length jacket. Inside though, it was missing the chest and pack protector compartments it was advertised as having. I wrote a rant about the whole thing in the comments on the original story and after Wes brought it to Alpinestars’ attention, they made things right. They never did fix the design on that jacket though.

Fast forward to yesterday morning and I’m sitting in the Alpinestars showroom in Torrance with a dozen or so other journalists while Tim Collins and Jeremy Appelton present new products. Jeremy begins talking about the City Collection and Tim walks over to pick up a Messenger jacket. But this isn’t the same jacket that made me grumpy in 2009, this one actually has compartments for chest protectors and a back protector. Even cooler, it’s now made of brushed cotton instead of a plastic-feeling synthetic. Tim actually opened up the jacket and showed us the pockets!

I couldn’t believe it. At lunch, I took a closer look and sure enough the compartments were there. The rest of the jacket is basically the same. There are four (mostly) waterproof external pockets, three internal pockets and 3 more on the liner. The belt on the outside is easy to adjust and the tall collar does a pretty good job of keeping wind out. The fake velcro is still present, but this is a $229.95 jacket so I’ll let that slide. Expect to see this jacket on the slick new Alpinestars website sometime this fall.

  • http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=305107 stickfigure

    Good looking jacket. Is brushed cotton sufficiently abrasion resistant?

    • http://kanai.net/weblog/ gkanai

      For commuting? As long as you’re not on the highway going 80…

      • Steven

        how far do waxed and brushed cottons slide? has anyone here crashed on fabrics like these? are there any authoritative sources on the subject?

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Sean has, I’m sure he’ll be along in a minute to tell you all about it.

    • Sean Smith

      It may be. I crashed in the Kinetic jacket a few months ago and have been wearing it since then. Granted, I’d modified mine by waxing the shell, but I slid 50-60 feet on my back and the damage isn’t even noticeable.

      • HammSammich

        Hmmm…I love the style of Jacket, and it would probably be fine for commuting, but I’d be nervous to go farther afield with it. Your experience with textile abrasion resistance is reassuring, but I’m guessing asphalt paved SoCal roads are much nicer than what we’ve got up here in the Northwest. A lot of the twisty rural highways that I go to within about a 100 mile radius from me are chip seal paved. The second year after they’ve paved them (and as long as the temp is below 90F) the surface is actually very nice and provides an amazing amount of grip, but the jagged gravel that is used would be like a cheese grater if you went down.

      • Devin

        What kind of wax did you use?

    • http://krtong.com KR Tong

      Cotton jackets usually have some kevlar for abrasion resistance. 1000 Denier cordura is as good as it gets with textiles.

  • Denzel

    Timely… I was just about to order one of these for our 10 month 50 degree Seattle winter… so now I’ll pay attention to its model year… delayed gratification…

    • Denzel

      I’m told it will be available through the major online retailers a couple weeks after its August 21st ‘official release date’…if anyone cares… as much as I obviously do :)

  • jonoabq

    Hell for LEATHER.

  • http://kanai.net/weblog/ gkanai

    Love the look. Will get one if it works as well as it looks.

    • http://kanai.net/weblog/ gkanai

      “fake velcro”?

      • Denzel

        Hook and loop NOT made by Velcro USA Inc.

  • jason

    Dear coat makers, if you want to make a coat that looks like A) an old motorcycling jacket from before WW2, or B) a jacket that looks like a military field jacket then either put a belt on it like A or put drawstrings/waist adjustment on the inside like a field jacket (B).
    Those velcro belts that stop on each side are just plain fugly. Going back to my Joe Rocket whatever it was #4 from 2003 I have hated that look.
    I love pre-war bikes. I spent 6 years wearing a field jacket for Uncle Sam. Take 10 minutes and look up an M-65 field jacket on USCAV.com and Google any pre-war bike ads and you’ll see that it is possible to have a waist adjustment without those stupid and cheap looking “not-a-belts”.

    And if someone comes along to tell me the jacket is less safe with say drawstring waist adjustment (like on fleece jackets) instead of that velcro crap………… ugh.

    • Sean Smith

      No velcro belts here. It’s not really meant to be just like an old jacket anyway. It’s a serous update on that design.

      • jason

        All the more reason to make it a regular belt or hide it. I can come up with a few ways to put a protective cover on the buckle to save the tank (I know, a belt I have to buckle and unbuckle… oh the time that takes!). To me it just makes the coat look wrong. Like I said, look up an M65 Field Jacket and you’ll see that this design has been around since the 40′s so old timer styling or not, the designer was influenced by them or all of the jackets based on them post-war . I dig this jacket (minus belt) and hopefully they will also offer it in mid-American sizes too (re: bigger than a 50 inch chest and in longs). Great price. Cool that it’s cotton now.

        • Trevor

          Could you not take the M65 and wax it like Sean did?

  • Nik

    I was so close to buying this jacket last winter, but the lack of a back pad made me choose the Rev It Shade, which is super awesome.

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

    Ummm, done. Standing buy to grab one when they catalogue comes out. Mesh ain’t ginna cut it in foggy Frisco.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

      I spend many weeks in SF throughout the year. SF has plenty of days when the temps in the city are hot enough for mesh — and there are plenty of rides outside of the city that would be more comfortable in mesh. Personally, I think a convertible jacket is best, because the climate can change so quickly — hour by hour and hill by hill.

  • Roman

    How warm is the liner on these? Could you get away with wearing it down to 40 degrees? I liked the look of these when they first came out, now that it has some proper protection, it’s pretty tempting. The HFL curse strikes again…

    • Brendan

      It’s pretty toasty. I put a sweater on under it (or maybe some long underwear) and rode to class once or twice in February and I regularly ride down to freezing.

      My hands get cold long before anything else. Like, I’m pretty sure I regularly get first degree frostbite on my December excursions.

      …I should probably do something about that.

      • Roman

        The previous owner of my VFR rigged up VStrom hand-guards and heated grips, problem solved. I’m thinking of getting rid of my car and just riding the bike 10 months out of the year…I live in Philly, so it’s a bit of an iffy proposition, but we’ll see.

        • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

          Heated grips are great, but heated gloves are cheaper! As is the wiring harness to add an outlet to your motorcycle. If you have more than one motorcycle, the savings is even greater.

    • Sean Smith

      I wore the old model in 40º rain on the freeway plenty of times and I was reasonably comfortable. Underneath, I had on polar fleece and a thermal. It’s sized well for layering.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

    “Expect to see this jacket on the slick new Alpinestars website sometime this fall.”

    With the new changes coming in their product line, I hope they’re doing more than just a cosmetic makeover of their website. Alpinestars has had the most embarrassingly amateurish website for years. It’s as if they hired a bunch of high school students. One kid grabbed a bunch of JavaScript off other sites, a second kid threw together a bunch of PDFs, another kid did the graphics — and unfortunately, all these kids went to different high schools and were never in the same room together. And the fourth kid who cobbled all this together with a smattering of self-taught HTML skills had only a laptop with an 800×640 screen at his/her disposal.

    I own a bunch of Astars gear — and if I weren’t such a fanboy, my research visits to their website would’ve scared me away long ago. Not only is it difficult to navigate and hard to use for gathering actual product data, but oftentimes, there’s contradictory info across the different layers of JavaScript/HTML and PDFs.

    • jason

      Yeah…. sizing charts….. listed but don’t exist. That is retarded.

    • aristurtle

      The “store” for their online shop is a joke, too. I tried to buy a back protector from them because it was sold out at my usual online store. They took the order, and I got an email three days later saying that the back protector is out of stock for them as well. Buh? You can’t put that right on the damn page like every other online store in existence? It’s 2011, not 1997.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

      Well, wouldja lookit that. Three days later, and Astars are live with their new website. They must’ve hired pros this time, because it’s actually navigable — and the content is up to date. Plus, it looks (and works) great in my mobile browser (Android).

      Awesome! Thank you to whomever at Astars decided to hire pros.

      BTW, the Frontier Gore-Tex jacket looks great. I think I’ll buy one for winter riding (and I’ll upgrade it with bio-armor chest & back pads) with my heated liner and gloves.

  • Dain

    Damn that looks a lot like a BMW new
    city jacket. http://www.ascycles.com/detail.aspx?ID=44777 and I know that one is a good jacket – currently getting me through some horrible weather in Western Australia… The astar looks good and a lot cheaper

    • HammSammich

      Is the BMW jacket just rebranded? I know Triumph do a lot of rebranded A-Star’s gear…

    • Roman

      The BMW jacket looks sweet, but at that price, you might as well get a Belstaff.

  • Lou

    The BMW jacket is $200.00 more BUT I’ve worn it almost everyday Late fall-April, for the last four years and it looks like the day I bought it. And so many compliments…fashionistas ask me where I got it!

    • Trevor

      BMW make great gear there’s no doubt, the problem is they are charging Harley Davidson prices for their stuff. It may be different in the States but if you buy anything in Canada with BMW on it you’ll pay a premium.
      Yes I get economics of over charging for popular goods, I own several Apple products.

  • Tommy

    I have the old version of this jacket. I love it. Wear it almost daily for my work commute. I work for a fashion company and have gotten compliments on how the jacket looks more than once. I also lived in San Francisco, and rode in the cold and rain daily, and it kept me warm and dry.

  • http://www.bikeexif.com Chris Hunter

    I love the sound of this jacket. Classic looks with contemporary protection. I’ll be looking out for it when it goes on sale.

    • Roman

      Fyi, the older version of the jacket is on closeout right now. Thinking I might just grab it.

  • philn

    I have the older version for awhile now, and it’s worked out for me just fine except for one thing – the “fake” velcro, specifically at the cuff. I really have to work it to stick … like hooks have a hard time grabbing. Aside from that, it’s kept me warm during socal’s cooler months.

  • jason McCrash

    Any chance that you guys have any updated info on this jacket? I keep checking online and haven’t seen anything about the new waxed version and I’m Jonesing for one before it cools off here.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I think they’re supposed to drop this month (August) or in September. The differences likely won’t be advertised, just look for the chest armor pockets to figure out of its an ’11 or not.

      • jason McCrash

        Cool. Thanks!