Roland Sands Maven Jacket Review
About a year ago, the company known for unique concept and custom builds launched a line of luscious riding gear. Luscious. Hey, if the shoe fits...I’m talking about Roland Sands Design, and if you haven’t laid your hands on any of this stuff, let me see if I can recreate what the owner's experience would be.
The first thing you notice is the smell. I have never started a product review with that sentence, and if I ever do again, it's likely to be a bad thing. But I'm holding in my hands the Maven Jacket by Roland Sands Design, so it's a good thing; a very good thing. Sniff-sniff...mmm...like the cockpit of a Ferrari with the windows rolled up. And they're getting foggy.
Next, you'll feel how soft it is. Not butter-soft (butter melts) but like your grandfather's wallet that's been massaged by Buddhist monks before being blessed and sent off via UPS soft. It certainly feels like more than top-grain cowhide that's been hand-oiled, washed, finished with wax and oiled again.
It's at about this moment you just want to drop what you're doing and put the thing on. The leathered tab of its brawny zipper just feels good between your thumb and forefinger as you pull it down, revealing a luxe lining of gold satin, impeccably stitched. You're expecting the instant recognition of a familiar logo, and it's absence makes it seem even more...exclusive. Look closer. There, on the sleeve, discreetly embossed, like an old-money heirloom watch...Roland Sands. Right about then, you realize you've got your hands on some seriously classy leather. And you're thinking twice about all that armor that's still in the box.
It's true. I'm ga-ga about this jacket. The retro-styling and exquisite construction are dead sexy. A veritable Bond-girl of a real riding jacket. Slip the optional RSD spine, shoulder, and elbow armor (well worth the upgrade) into the compartments sewn into its lining, and this luxe leather beauty morphs into personal protective gear that can really take a hit. I was doubtful at first that these light, flexible things would offer any kind of serious protection, but they do. Utilizing Nitrex EVO technology, these pieces add CE-approved protection without adding bulk or discomfort. Plus, it's cut lower in the back, so not only will you look (and smell) great in your low-rise jeans and a vintage t-shirt, you won't be subjecting innocent viewers to that embarrassing tramp-stamp, unsightly muffin-top, or (God forbid) your stupid butt-crack; that just isn't safe for anybody, people.
Because I have a thing for leather (and because it's always hot where I live), I went ahead and tested this jacket in 95-degree weather, ready and willing to sweat the afternoon ride home through blazing hot freeway congestion and later, the high-mountain desert. Wow. Cleverly-placed perforated panels along the undersides of the sleeves and side panels of the torso kept me totally cool. In fact, riding later that night, I almost got cold. Granted, I have a very narrow comfort-zone...
Another example of thoughtful design are the stretch panels in the underarms, which give an incredibly comfortable fit while riding. You don't get that restricted, strangulating feeling that some gear has before it's broken in. Plus, these provide a better fit with curved body parts in the vicinity.
I love the sophistication of black leather, but the RSD Maven Jacket also comes in a gorgeous tobacco color (called, strangely enough, "tobacco"), a rich, dark burgundy (called “oxblood”), and, if you search, you might find it in cream (now discontinued). The men’s version, called 'The Barfly', comes in black and tobacco. If you want to be Brad and Angelina for Halloween, start here.
The Maven jacket retails for $560; add another $90 for armor. If you're ready to splurge, you won't be sorry.
And, you’ll smell incredible.
If the words “subdued sophistication” are not in your vocabulary, stay tuned for my review of RSD’s new Oxford jacket; the style-o-meter’s cranked up to eleven.