Two weeks ago, Ashlee and I stopped by Berts Mega Mall in Azusa to figure out her sizes in a few different kinds of gear. Just for kicks, I threw on an Icon Overlord jacket. After wearing the ARC Mesh, and trashing it for its short baggy torso and long arms, I wasn’t expecting much. Slip the jacket on, and the first thing I notice are snug fitting sleeves of the perfect length. Nice! At least they got one thing right. I pull the bottom of the jacket together to line up the zipper and to my surprise, the jacket comes together around my torso. No excess material or odd proportions, just a good fit. Zip it up, and it’s the same story. Snug all through the torso and arms. Flex panels in the shoulders that let you move your arms freely. I had to remind myself this was an Icon jacket. I’d never worn anything that fit this well.
Ashlee took a picture to confirm that it really did fit as good as I thought. A quick email to Icon and less than a week later, I’m opening a box with my very own Overlord jacket and matching pants (more on those later). My first ride in it is 35 miles or so down the 405, 73 and 55 to Costa Mesa on a Z1000. Ventilation is amazing. It’s over 90º and I’m not even sweating. A quick detour to HFL’s super-secret top-speed test spot reveals that 1) the Z1000 has a redline-limited top speed and 2) the Overlord doesn’t ride up, flap around or do anything at all to make me uncomfortable.
I can’t get over the fit; it’s like a perfectly tailored leather vest that’s had arms added. That sounds weird, but it’s a good thing. The way the shoulders are designed, there’s only a 4-inch section of leather sewn directly to the main body of the jacket. The rest of the arm is connected by an accordion leather stretch panel, an abrasion resistant stretch panel that bears a striking resemblance to Schoeller Keprotec and a thin strip of perforated leather that’s got stretchy mesh on one side. All this stretchy stuff makes it possible to move your arms any way you need to without the kind of binding that you would expect from an armored leather motorcycle jacket. That explains the vest-like feel, your arms are just totally free to move.
Just like a Perfecto, it’s got lots of different textures and complex panels, but all of it is balanced well enough that it doesn’t look busy. That comparison may sound odd, but each jacket is composed of many different panels and textures; considered individually each detail stand out, yet in person, as a whole, the whole thing just seems to unintuitively flow together.
On Icon’s website, it’s easy to be tricked into thinking the Overlord has too many logos. Sure, it’s got logos on the chest, arms and back, but there aren’t many motorcycle jackets that don’t and when you see it in person, especially the all black stealth version, they just blend in.
Unlike a Perfecto, the Overlord has serious protection in the form of CE certified protectors in the shoulders and arms. The dual-layer foam back pad isn’t quite as robust, but it’s much better than the cheesy thin stuff that comes in most jackets and, for $350, I wouldn’t expect anything more. A CE approved Stryker back protector insert is available for $90 and there are rumors of a D30 insert on the way.
In the Overlord Prime review, Al said it was too flashy with all the logos and “bright fucking Ziggy Stardust silver.” $100 cheaper and with three fewer logos and five fewer pieces of plastic, the basic Overlord in stealth is the answer to that.
For fun, I’ve been showing non-riding friends this Icon and a new Dainese Greyhound Pelle jacket (more on that soon too) and asking them which they think is the nicer, more expensive item. So far, none of them have answered “Dainese.”
Al also criticized the thinness of the leather used in the Icon’s construction, comparing it unfavorably to the crazy thick stuff used by Vanson. But while thick leather like that used on Wes’s Vanson AR2 is incredibly reassuring, it’s also stiff and hot. This Overlord isn’t and it’s still very strong and safe. Its 14oz Brazilian cowhide is of the same quality and thickness that’s used by European manufacturers in one-piece race suits, where it passes CE abrasion resistance tests.
Purpose built for riding, good looking and $350, this jacket is a winner. You’d be hard pressed to find something better fitting and more functional, even for double the price.