We give Harley-Davidson's new 2015 riding gear a test.

Branded gear (jackets, gloves, riding pants, etc. that feature a manufacturer’s logos) has often been cheesy junk that fan-boys will buy no matter the price, just so they can advertise their favorite brand bike. Luckily, Harley-Davidson’s latest cold, wet weather branded gear appears to be well designed, with tech and features worthy of the price tag.

Harley-Davidson’s New Riding Gear

Ride Apart was among a select group of media outlets invited to check out the Harley-Davidson’s latest riding gear. It was immediately apparent the Motor Company has been busy designing clever, functional clothes.

We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015
FXRG Switchback Jacket

We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015

First up was the FXRG Switchback Jacket with H-D’s innovative Triple Vent System, a series of zippered openings ideally placed on the jacket to offer maximum airflow throughout. The location of the vents was determined by extensive wind-tunnel testing.

We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015

While that feature was interesting, the way the jacket zips apart, transforming itself into a lightweight mesh jacket for warm-weather riding, was pretty cool. The entire front and rear leather panels on the chest and back can be unzipped and removed, revealing the breathable, mesh liner. Padded, abrasion resistant leather panels still remain on the shoulders and along the outside of the arms, so luckily safety and protection aren’t compromised.

The jacket also comes with a zip-out waterproof liner and a zip-out, packable heat-reflective liner. So even if the skies open or the temperatures plummets, this jacket is a true, all season performer. Other noteworthy features include sewn-in armor at the shoulders and elbows, and a removable kidney belt. Back body armor is optional and sold separately.

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We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015
At just shy of $800 new, this puts the jacket in a high-quality leather jacket price point comparative to the Dainese Archivio leather jacket or a Alpinestars GP Tech. From first glance and specs, the jacket seems to be a fair competitor, but we’d need time and fitment to make a fair assessment.

Retail price: $795, a textile version is available for $595

Men’s and women’s sizes: S – 5XL (to 3XL for women)

Read more about it here.

We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015

Improved Rain Gear

It was sunny and warm on the day of our demo, but had be been scheduled just a day earlier, we’d have had the relatively rare (for Southern California) opportunity to test improvements made to H-D’s rain suits, including the range-topping Rutledge Hi-Vis Rain Suit, seen here.

Reps from the MotorClothes division made us feel rather thankful for our jobs when they described their waterproofing test procedures, one aspect of which involved volunteers sitting on a motorcycle in a device affectionately called Hog Wash, which simulates a driving in a rainstorm at 60 mph for ten minutes. We hope they get overtime.

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We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015

To that end H-D employs fully taped seams and double taping at stress points on the jacket and pants. Simply put, all the stitching has been sealed, twice in certain areas, to prevent leaks at the garment’s seams. The fabric is also denser, which enables it to repel water more easily, yet it breathes better, keeping the rider more comfortable than previous materials did.

We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015

The Rutledge rain suit incorporates heat-resistant material at the inner thigh area, and a hood that fits comfortably under a helmet. In addition to the bright orange panels, there is extensive use of 3M Scotchlite reflective piping and panels for extra visibility in adverse conditions.

Retail price: $295

Sizes available: S – 5XL (to 3 XL for women)

Read more about it here.

We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015
Heated Dual Source Jacket Liner

Extending the ride, was the PR slogan of the day at the Harley-Davidson product demo. The logic behind that philosophy was the longer a rider feels comfortable, the more time he or she will spend on the motorcycle. Which would in turn develop a stronger bond between the customer and the company and sell more bikes.

The MotorClothes division compiles an enormous amount of customer feedback and market surveys to develop new product or refine existing ones. H-D has been doing the same thing with their bikes too, think of Project Rushmore where they built bikes like the 2015 Road Glide based off of customer input.

The Dual Source jacket liner is a good example of that extended ride comfort. It incorporates more heating elements than other heated jackets in the MotorClothes line-up, plus it can be powered either by 12 volts from the bike’s battery, or by a rechargeable lithium ion battery. An easy-to-use push-button switch toggles through Low, Medium, and High settings, and heat is generated at five points in the jacket: two on the chest, two in the sleeves, and one across the back.

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We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015

The jacket can be combined with heated gloves and pants via power cables hidden in zipper pouches at the wrists and waist. We can only imagine what this jacket looks like through an X-Ray machine! You may not want to wear it through a TSA checkpoint unless you’re excited by the prospect of an enhanced pat-down.

Intended to just be a liner not a stand-along jacket, it’s light and fits closely enough to wear under almost any riding jacket, except for maybe tight fitting sportbike leathers.

We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015
The sleeves incorporate clever thumbholes at the cuffs, which keep it from bunching up inside your riding jacket. Switch the heaters on and you’ll feel their effects within a few seconds. The low setting was enough to keep me comfortable riding in at temperatures in the high 40’s. The collar zips high enough to cover most of your neck, but a balaclava will still be a good investment for longer rides in low temperatures.

It’s a very involved and intricate heated linear, far more than just a bib or vest. It’s universal and a good option for any type of cold, wet riding you may do. It has far more features than an average bib and therefore more expensive, at almost $300 compared to bibs which range $120 to $200. Although, for H-D branded products and the level of tech in this jacket, it’s pretty fairly priced.

Retail price: $295

Men’s and women’s sizes: S – 3XL

Read more about it here.


We Try Out Harley-Davidson's New Riding Gear for 2015
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