By October 18, 2010

2009 Fieldsheer Corsair Textile Motorcycle Jacket Review

Motorcycle safety gear manufacturer Fieldsheer went through a distributor change in 2009. That meant that a lot of their current-season gear went on sale for prices normally reserved for last-season closeouts. I love it when things like this happen. I bought two full sets of leather gear from Teknic when they changed distributors. It was nice getting a set of pants and a jacket for less than the price of similar quality pants alone.

Anyway, I took this opportunity to purchase the Corsair textile motorcycle jacket Iron Pony. I was a little nervous about what size to get. These days I wear a size medium body but need size large sleeves. Motorcycle gear should fit as tightly as possible, so I opted for a medium. I figured it was better to cover up my exposed wrists with my Teknic Speedstar full-length gauntlet gloves than to have too much material in the chest.

Iron Pony offered the jacket for $139.99 before shipping. I figured it was worth a shot. It wound up being an excellent purchase, with one major caveat.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/9689-2/IMG_2157.JPG

Specifications, Materials, and Color

Unfortunately the jacket was only available in “asphalt camouflage” colors, and by that I mean either gunmetal gray/black or straight up black/black. These colors look nice, but blend in with the tones of city streets. I commute to work about 60 miles a day on a motorcycle, and standing out from regular traffic is important.

I would have preferred almost any other color combination for visibility, but the gray was the best I could do.

The jacket is made out of 1000 denier Carboflex textile. Carboflex is supposed to be nearly as strong as leather, but still lightweight and breathes like textile. I ride a lot in the rain, so I was willing to give up some abrasion resistance. Wet leather takes a very long time to dry, and according to some sources leather can lose up to 25% of its effectiveness even if it gets saturated one time. I don’t know how true that is, but it made me feel better about going with Carboflex.

The Fieldsheer Corsair has CE-approved armor in the shoulders, elbows, and back. The back protector is CE-approved in the 2009 model year only. The 2010 model has a less protective memory-foam style back protector. This may or may not be important to you. I wear a separate CE-approved chest and spine protector underneath all of my jackets. I just liked the idea of doubling up.

The Corsair comes with a free jacket liner. It looks a lot like a regular windbreaker-style jacket, and you could probably wear it by itself after getting off of the bike. It is supposed to be waterproof, and probably is — although you won’t stay dry regardless because of the design of the jacket. The liner is not insulated, but does help cut down on some of the “bite”
when riding in the spring or fall.

Operating Temperatures

According to my commute tracking data, I wore the Corsair in temperatures as low as 51° F (39° F adjusted for wind chill) and as high as 98° F (101° F adjusted for heat index). A fifty degree temperature range is pretty awesome for a motorcycle jacket.

I will say that the Corsair falls right in the middle between a mesh jacket and a perforated leather jacket. I find that mesh jackets (which I no longer wear due to safety issues) are the coolest at a stop. Perforated leather breathes very well at speed, but can be very hot when standing still at a light. At a stop, the Corsair is warmer than a mesh jacket, and cooler than perforated leather. While moving, the Corsair’s tightly woven Carboflex breathes worse than mesh and perforated leather, but better than full-weave textile or full leather.

As a point of reference, I ride a 2009 Yamaha FJR 1300A, which is a full faring sport touring motorcycle. I also employ a taller, wider windscreen. Your comfort zone with the jacket will vary depending on your motorcycle and personal temperature tolerances.

Fit

I was concerned that the sleeves of the Corsair would be too short if I got a size medium. My concerns were valid — the sleeves came to just below my wrist bones. If I wore “cuff” length gloves this may have been a problem in the event of a crash. However my full-gauntlet Speedstars made up the difference. I recommend that you always wear full-gauntlet gloves, but if you don’t this is something you may want to consider.

As with most American-sized motorcycle gear, the chest is still too large for me. I have a very broad back but a shallow chest. Meaning, I have a cobra back but lack Fabio’s disco tits. European-sized motorcycle gear (like Rev’It) fits me a lot better, but the Corsair isn’t terrible. I wish there was some adjustment for the upper body, but you only see this on really expensive gear.

The 2009 version of the Corsair has two hook-and-loop adjustments at the hem, and two hook-and-loop adjustments on each arm. The design of these systems suck, and is the major drawback to the jacket.

First off, the upper arm adjustment straps don’t have enough loop side material for me. I adjust the straps as tightly as they will mate 100% and call it a day. I would need another inch or two of the fuzzy loop material to get a proper fit.

The body / hem adjustment straps are a bit of a joke anyway and don’t actually do anything. I set them to the tightest setting. I think these straps are more for people with a belly to make the jacket more loose. I don’t think it actually tightens it for those of us without bellies.

Problems

The upper arm straps on 2009 model of the Fieldsheer Corsair have two major design flaws. The first is that the end of the strap is prone to catching on the body of the jacket when you move your arm. This isn’t a big deal when riding, but if you swing your arms while walking it will rub against the jacket.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/9684-2/IMG_2160.JPG

This photo reveals the damage done by the “toothy” hook side, as well as the second design flaw of the straps: they don’t stay closed on their own.

When secured, the middle of the strap forms a very loose “loop.” The loose part is where the plastic ring is. There is enough looseness that the straps will catch and rip open during normal usage. I had to put a small metal binder clip on each strap to keep it closed. This will be dangerous if the clip comes in contact with the pavement during a crash, as it may wear through the Carboflex quickly and cause a material failure.

Of lesser severity, the hem straps won’t stay closed, either. This isn’t a big deal in day-to-day usage, but it belies the Corsair’s shitty strap quality.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/9691-2/IMG_2165.JPG
I’m not bending the hem strap here, it’s curling naturally on its own.

Differences Between the 2009 and 2010 Corsair Jackets

Apparently Fieldsheer had the same thought about the straps. The 2010 model does not have any arm straps at all. This is a weird choice as well, since my skinny arms would swim in an uncinched jacket. This may present a safety hazard — elbow armor is notorious for moving around in loose-fitting jackets during a crash. This movement may abrade the skin from the inside of the jacket, causing a friction burn on the arm.

The 2010 model does not have a CE-approved back protector. This is odd, especially since the jacket has the same retail price as the 2009 version. It’s like Fieldsheer removed two features and yet kept the price the same. Even though the straps suck on the 2009 version, at least I have some fit customization options and a CE-approved back protector.

Conclusion

All in all, I really like my 2009 model year Corsair jacket by Fieldsheer. This would be a perfect jacket for summertime use and as a swing jacket in the late days of spring and early days of fall. Unfortunately the straps leave something to be desired, and the 2010 model’s lack of a CE-approved spine protector turns me off.

If you have the chance to buy a 2009 model on closeout, I’d recommend the Corsair. I would also recommend sewing the straps in whatever position you want. I’ve kept my binder clips on because I’m lazy, but I should really sew them shut. If you do this, you’ll have a great quality jacket at a very fair price.

Recommended.

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