If you want to pretend to be a lord or lady of the manor, going clay pigeon shooting ON A MOTORBIKE (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), this is the jacket for you. Stop what you are doing… well, carry on reading this review… but as soon as you are finished reading, go straight to a motorcycle retail website and get you somma this!
When I was growing up, I inherited hand-me-down clothing from my older sibling. This is not unusual; I am sure many of you did. In my case my older sibling is a brother. Again, I am sure my family weren’t the only ones saving a penny or two in gifting too-small clothes from older sibling to younger with little regard to gender. I didn’t mind this, as I was a tomboy. I loved my crazy assortment of ill-fitting boy clothes because, for one, I idolized my brother, and, for two, anything new to me was a new thing!
I bring this up because that is pretty much the way I go about acquiring motorbike clothing; I rarely get stuff new. I am cheap. Also, I started my foray into the biking world as an infrequent passenger, so quality gear hasn’t always been on the top of my list. Yes, you can find some great second-hand gear from any number of born-again bikers who have died again before their Rukka stuff has even lost its “new gear smell,” but I just couldn’t find the energy to be that committed.
I didn’t really understand gear, or temperature, or how the interaction of those two things affect coziness. So, most bike rides that happened below 28ºC were bone-chilling; since we live in Britain, that was pretty much all of them. The secondhand Hein Gericke leather jacket I bought off eBay just wasn’t cutting it.
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Now that I think about it, I do remember Chris saying something about leather being bad in the cold, but as his wife I know he’s wrong about a lot of stuff. When we first met he told me the Pixies were from Minnesota, so who’s to say he’d be right about this leather business? Anyway, it’s not like I had a lot of options. I had this leather jacket and wasn’t yet committed enough to the biker world that I was willing to invest in anything else.
That’s a mindset that carried over to when I started riding my own little metallic stallion. I couldn’t understand why, no matter how many layers I wore underneath my jacket, I was still cold. I even tried the age-old trick of wearing a bin bag under my jacket on one particularly long ride from Cornwall to Wales.
Teeth chattering, I resigned myself to this as how motorbiking was; I would never be warm again. Then something amazing happened: I won the hand-me-down jackpot.
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Chris had been sent an Oxford Bradwell jacket for review. Made in Pakistan (No. 110 on the Democracy Index), and retailing at £199.99, the jacket is available in sizes S-5XL. Loving the fit of his Oxford Montreal 3.0 jacket, he had asked for the same size in the Bradwell. But it turns out that the size M was too small for him in this case. He was able to squeeze into it (Like one of Cinderella’s stepsisters trying on the glass slipper, he really wanted it to fit), but it was just too tight and too short for his manly arms.
Finally he asked if I wanted to try it on. It blew my mind. Until then I had not really clocked that motorbike gear could be anything other than “Leather Harley Dude,” “Leather suit dude,” or “Nerd who rides a BMW or wishes he did” (you know who you are). But this jacket is designed to look like an old-time waxed cotton jacket from Barbour International. It nails that look and asks half the price, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Oxford jacket is actually the better item. Oxford have gone all-in on this vibe.
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Made of 100 percent wax cotton, the jacket is double seamed, with triple seams in areas likely to suffer impact. It also comes equipped with Level 1 shoulder and elbow armor that’s soft and doesn’t add too much visual bulk. There’s a pocket for a back protector, which is sold separately, and a zip allows you to connect the jacket to any of Oxford’s trousers.
There is a zip-out tartan liner (100 percent cotton on the bit that touches you, and 100 percent polyester on the bit that serves as insulation) that is both super cozy and stylishly twee. The jacket has six pockets: four external and two internal. The belt at the waist allows you to improve fit and keep out cold, as does the buckled strap at the neck.
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The waxed cotton for the Bradwell jacket is made by The British Millerain Co. Ltd., which has been making durable things for wet places since 1880. Back in the day, waxed cotton was used to make sails for ships and is probably what that Black Pearl’s sails were made off. This ultra-durable fabric soon made its way to sailors’ clothing; fast forward a hundred years and a bit, and here we are with this piece of design and manufacturing brilliance.
To fit the old-school feel, Oxford have also employed traditional tailoring techniques to construct the jacket. For example, the pockets are pleated so they lie flat when empty, and expand for fit your cargo. In my case, this is handy for my ill-fated shopping trips.
I didn’t know I needed this jacket until I had it. How had I been living without it in my life?! The first time I wore it, I was amazed that I could be on a motorbike and not freezing cold. I love the extra pocket space; the lining is easy to take out and put back in, and it fits well.
Relatively well. Having been intended for Chris, this is the men’s Bradwell jacket. There is a bit of bulk in the torso but that’s alright by me because it means I can wear a nice jumper when it gets properly cold. The belt allows me to cinch the waist enough that I still look like a girl. The opening for the neck is massive – so massive I wonder if it might be too big even for the man it was intended for – but it means I can wear an extra scarf, which only adds to the warm fuzzies I get when wearing it. Still, I’m willing to bet that the women’s version of the jacket might fit my curves better.
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Nonetheless, the Bradwell looks super cool. It doesn’t look like a motorbike jacket, but functions perfectly as one. It keeps me warm and dry, is comfortable, and the extra room in the torso allows me to carry extra cargo, such as cauliflowers. I have the jacket in Rifle Green but it also comes in Onyx Black, Desert Sand, and Oxblood Red. Grrr, just reading the names of those colours makes me want to head to the woods, grow a beard, and catch salmon with my bare hands.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Waxed cotton? Would that be any good in a crash?”
Well, I am reluctant to admit I have already crash-tested this bad boy. An emergency stop in heavy rain on cheap Chinese tires resulted in my coming off my bike not too long ago, smashing the wing mirror and bending the handlebar. The only damage to my jacket, though is a tiny “character” scuff on the elbow. It’s still in perfectly good condition.
This was a low-speed kerfuffle but I have no doubt the jacket would stand up to a higher-speed, more dramatic incident. Oxford prides itself on producing innovate and safe gear, with a huge facility in Oxfordshire (unsurprisingly) dedicated to designing, producing and testing gear to the limit. Oxford is the largest British motorcycle gear manufacturer for a reason: high-quality gear at a good price. Really, this jacket is a snip at £200, considering all the work and love that has been put into it.
So, I guess what I am saying is: I love this jacket. Go get one!