Gear Gear Reviews

Gear review: Hein Gericke Panther II jacket

It’s too short. That is my primary criticism of the Hein Gericke Panther II leather jacket. It seems to have been made for a strange long-armed circus freak of a man who is as thin as me, has arms as long as mine, but who is at least five inches shorter than me. 
Or perhaps I am the freak, as it seems the intolerable bulk of motorcycling gear is built for people shorter than me. Maybe this is why ABATE is so successful in Minnesota: with so many people in the Land of 10,000 Lakes being of Scandinavian descent, the safety gear doesn’t fit them anyway.
Anyhoo, this jacket was one of the first bits of gear I bought. I was so terrified of my getting in “trouble,” afraid that Jenn would discover my motorcycle gear, that I had the jacket delivered to my office. I wore it from my very first day of training — my CBT — in February and now wear it any time I go out. As such, I have experienced every season and every weather condition whilst wrapped in this jacket. So I can say confidently: by and large, it’s the bee’s knees.
When I’m actually striding a motorcycle, the jacket’s length becomes much less an issue. Indeed, I’m sure its cut is deliberate. This way it doesn’t create a false paunch when sitting down. In what is currently my most favourite photo of me ever (see the picture in the previous post), you can see the jacket fits well and doesn’t create a false belly that might come from a longer jacket.
It has four zippered pockets: two on the outside and two on the inside. That provides plenty of space for my wallet, house keys, ear plugs, an Allen wrench, mobile phone, and insurance documents.
All leather (almost), and equipped with armour in the elbows, shoulders and back, I feel safe in this jacket. The leather is heavy, the stitches are durable. The feeling of security is enhanced by the fact that it is concrete-wall windproof. 
The jacket’s wind-blocking ability meant it was up to the task in winter. In early March, I found myself riding at 70 mph on a naked CBF600 when it was snowing. Wearing just a base layer, a T-shirt and a sweater underneath the jacket, my torso and arms were the warmest part of me.
Having slathered the jacket in Nikwax, it holds up well in rain — except at the inner elbow where there are small patches of textile fabric, presumably to allow the jacket to “breathe” a little. After riding for an hour in steady rain recently the dampness started finding its way to my arm. I have since sprayed waterproofing on the fabric, so hopefully that will help.
However, the jacket’s strengths become a weakness in warm weather — it doesn’t let air in. Last week, I was riding through mostly-stop traffic in Cardiff on an unusually warm day and suddenly felt I could understand why a person might indulge their squid tendencies in summer. Temperatures in the UK very rarely go above 25C (77F), so the jacket can just barely pass as a year-rounder. Anywhere else, though, and you’d need a second jacket for the “riding season.”

I also wonder how long the jacket’s Velcro straps will hold up. There are four in total: one that keeps the zipper from moving around near my neck, one that isn’t terribly necessary on the waistband, and one on each sleeve to keep the zippers from flopping about. I am confident, though, that it will hold up for a long while, giving me plenty of time to set away money for a jacket I really want.

Just as long as I don’t get any taller.