No, no, I didn’t crash again. On Saturday, Sherman Thomas borrowed that Vanson AR2 that I installed Alpinestars Bio Armor in for a ride up Azusa Canyon. Exiting a tight hairpin, he hit some gravel, sending him wide and onto the shoulder, where he collided with a rock. I was right behind him and watched him hit that rock at a good 35mph, then bounce into the road. With the exception of a little booboo on his elbow where the jacket liner rubbed him raw and a buggered 5D, Sherman’s fine. This is the damage the jacket sustained.

If you remember, this jacket is part of a little project we’re doing to make ourselves some riding gear that actually looks good enough to wear off the bike, but won’t compromise safety on it. The AR2 doesn’t come with any armor and I think the bulky armor that Vanson fits to some of its gear spoils those jacket’s ability to not make you look like a power ranger.

That’s why I fitted the Bio Armor, which is less than 1.5cm thick and contoured so it doesn’t impact the fit or looks of the jacket. It does that while still exceeding the CE impact rating by more than double. It’s also easy to work with. The rubber-like material is very dense and comes pre-drilled with holes, making for easy attachment with a heavy duty waxed cotton thread to the jacket’s liner.

That Vanson’s “competition weight” leather is tough you probably already know. This stuff is thick, stiff and heavy. So it’s no surprise that it shrugged off what was a relatively dramatic crash with just some minor scuffing. There’s one little pulled stitch, but the hidden stitching underneath is utterly unaffected. The jacket will still last a lifetime and probably crash like this many more times. I won’t lie, I feel way tougher wearing a jacket with some crash damage too.

We’ve said some pretty nice things about Bio Armor, but I was still surprised by how well it performed. Watching the crash unfold, I was convinced Sherman was going to have a broken arm or collar bone. Catching a slight incline on the shoulder and getting thrown off by that boulder, he hit the road not just at 35mph, but from about five feet up too, landing on his elbow and shoulder. All he suffered was a little abrasion damage as the force of the impact twisted the jacket around his arm a little bit. That’s to be expected. His shoulder and elbow? Not even bruised or sore. My crappy sewing held the armor in no problem, 10+ loops of that braided, waxed cotton thread is pretty strong. Internally, no stitches were pulled and there’s no other damage. Because Sherman walked away unscathed, he’s now going to invest in a proper armored riding jacket and keep riding. Until he does, I’ve loaned him another jacket.

One thing I don’t have in this jacket yet that I wish I did is a back protector. I failed at attaching a D3O back protector in a way that wouldn’t affect its fit and looks, so Alpinestars is sending over a Bionic Air that I’ll wear separately, leaving the jacket free of its weight and bulk when I take that protector off.

Crash Tested: Vanson AR2 with Alpinestars Bio Armor

Overall, I’m totally satisfied with this jacket. It looks good, it’s safe and it’ll last forever. What more could you want? Oh right, why doesn’t someone sell something like this?

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