By April 14, 2008

Tourmaster Transition 2 textile motorcycle jacket review

I follow a simple phrase about motorcycle safety equipment: “All the Gear, All the Time.” That means protective gloves, boots, pants, jacket and of course a helmet. The difficult thing about ATGATT — besides being getting funny looks in public — is that the comfort and performance of your gear can totally make or break a ride.

I wear leather gear as often as possible. It has the greatest abrasion resistance out of the three material types used in safety gear (leather, textile, and mesh). The problem with wearing leather is that it isn’t great in the cold, and sucks when it’s wet. The protective properties aren’t affected, but wet leather is cold, heavy leather. Between getting stuck in a torrential downpour coming home on a trip and freezing my ass off during the winter I started looking at textile gear.

Most protective textile gear is waterproof and are equipped with a removable insulated liner. They feature body armor of varying degrees. The trick would be to find something that kept me dry, kept me warm, and kept me safe, without busting the bank.

Just like leather, the price range of textile gear runs from the suspicion-inducing cheap ($50 on sale) to the OMG expensive ($1000+). Since my textile gear was going to see limited, special-purpose use I was highly motivated to spend as little as possible. I turned to trusty NewEnough to see what products they offered, and read their no-nonsense write-ups for each jacket.

I looked at several other brands, including Teknic, Fieldsheer, and Rev’It, but they were all out of my price range. I narrowed the field to the Tourmaster Transition 2 jacket and the FirstGear Kilimanjaro 4.0:

By the time I got around to writing this, IronPony had some of these more expensive jackets down into my price range via a major liquidation sale. Oh well. 🙂

I wound up buying the Tourmaster jacket for $152 shipped from my pals over at NewEnough. One of the big reasons was that I already bought a pair of Tourmaster textile overpants, and I wanted to be able to zip the jacket to the pants. I also went for the Tourmaster because it was one of the only jackets that offered a “tall” size.

Here I am in the Tourmaster Transition 2 jacket. A big difference between the leather jackets I own and this textile one is alllll of the pockets and storage on the textile jacket. As you can see here, there are two large pockets on the front lap area. There are also two pockets on the zip out quilted liner and one pocket on the inside breast area. There is supposedly a big storage pouch on the back, too, but I’ve never used it. There is also this exceptionally nifty pocket on the left wrist:

This is probably my second favorite part of the jacket (the first is that it keeps me warm, more on that later). I use it to keep my keys easily accessible. I think it is supposed to be used as for toll change; I have an EZPass so I don’t carry around coins.

The front pockets are HUGE. I easily slip my Kel-Tec PF-9 into the right pocket. Each pocket has a zipper and then a hook-and-loop (velcro) flap.

The jacket has a semi-adjustable fit, certainly more so than a leather jacket. There’s a strap at each side of the waist with hook-and-loop, as well as one at each wrist. There is also a strap with a snap button on each bicep to further cinch the jacket down:

Between the silverback ape-length sleeves and the straps, the Transition 2 jacket fits me very well.

The main zipper is protected by a double-flap system to keep water and air from getting in:

I haven’t worn the jacket in anything other than a sprinkle, but this flap system makes sense.

The cuffs of the Transition 2 are large enough to go over my Held Ninja gauntlet gloves, but can also be cinched down enough so that my gloves can go over them as well.

The Transition 2 has a removable quilted liner. The liner zips in and then snaps down via one strap on each sleeve and two on the bottom. I ripped one of the bottom strap loops off on the first day I had it, so that’s a minus. The liner makes the jacket very warm, and with just a long-sleeved mid-weight wicking baselayer shirt I have ridden in temps as low as 8° F comfortably.

Since I have leather for warmer temps I haven’t tested the Transition 2’s venting capabilities. There are two shoulder vents, four chest vents, and a back exhaust vent but the material of the jacket is so heavy I doubt it would allow enough airflow to keep the jacket comfortable at temps over 65°F. I took these pictures when it was in the low 70s and by the end of my ten minute shoot I was already a little warm. NewEnough’s write-up says that the waterproof membrane in between the shell and the liner would further minimize any venting/breathing. By comparison, I have worn my leather gear up to 120° adjusted for humidity.

Impact protection is basic, but covers the important areas. The jacket has CE-approved armor in the shoulders and elbows (that’s the good stuff). The back protector is removable and made up of triple-density padding (not as good stuff, but hey). I don’t mind this level of protection for zipping around town, but will wear an aftermarket armored torso set when I go cross-country this year.

The T2 jacket has a few quirks. For example, there’s a random female snap at the end of the throat strap. There’s … no male counterpart anywhere within reach on the jacket, so what does this snap to?? Is this a manufacturing oversight, or a design oversight? WTF? The main zipper is substandard and gets hung up sometimes if I don’t line everything up just right. I don’t know if this is universal to all textile jackets or not, but sometimes I feel like the liner fits squarely on my body, but the jacket is just a little askew. Especially after being in the saddle all day.

Would I recommend the Tourmaster Transition 2 textile jacket? Absolutely, especially if you are looking for a cold-weather jacket and have a limited budget. I think this jacket is an outstanding value for less than $160 shipped. If you’re on the fence about sizing, remember that NewEnough has a very generous exchange policy.

Posted in: motorcycling, review

11 Comments on "Tourmaster Transition 2 textile motorcycle jacket review"

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  1. jim shoe says:

    Thanks for this. I’m really getting ready to buy something like this after many years of riding in nothing but a normal jacket or shirtsleeves, and this will help the decision along.
    I think it might be old age kicking in.
    Actually, I more want to get K something more than I do myself for her time in the back of the saddle. I don’t mind so much the thought of hitting the pavement myself, but seeing that happen to her without some protection kills me. And considering she normally almost falls asleep back there might suggest a greater probability of that happening than would otherwise be true.

    Actually, the thought of hitting pavement sends buzzing cringes through my spine. And to think of all the miles I’ve put in over 75mph in shorts, t-shirt, and sandals really makes me grimace.

  2. R. Iverson says:

    My wife and I bought these jackets last summer prior to going on Beach’s Alpine Tour in Europe for two weeks.
    The jackets kept us warm and dry almost the whole time. The last day was and all day downpour returning to Munich area. Because I was riding a BMW GS1200 with high handle bars, my forearms filled with water from not cinching down the cuffs around my soaked gloves. Dumb.
    I ride in a t-shirt without the liner in warm weather, though not much of that in Minnesota yet this year. With the liner I can ride in 30 to 40 degree weather comfortably without much layering beneath.
    I bought the Held pants to match in Germany, when one of our group smacked into a rock wall when missing a turn. I have replacement knees, so I wanted protection. It would have been much cheaper to buy the Tourmaster pants in the US, but, oh well.
    We had an unbelievable time riding the Alps in all kinds of weather. Go the link below and then browse some of the albums to see us using our gear in Europe.
    BTW: The snap on the collar doubles back to the left shoulder/neck area to secure the flap from whipping in the wind if you ride with the jacket open at the top in warmer weather.

  3. Morgan says:

    I just bought a Transition jacket as well. Mine has a small snap tab in the area of the left shoulder vent that matches up to the collar snap. This can be used to hold the neck area open for a little additional fresh air.

  4. Chad macheel says:

    I am thinking about ordering the same jacket and am wondering if I should order a tall. How tall are you?

  5. R. Iverson says:

    I am 6’2″ and bought a tall. xxl tall. Have worn it for two years with lots of miles. My wife has one too. We just got back from a long ride to Colorado. We washed them for the first time following the instructions to use cold water only and air dry. They came out looking like new.

    It was warm out west. High 90s and the jackets were warmish but great protection. Ran in driving rain on west side of Rocky Mountain National Park with no leaks.

  6. drfaulken says:

    Hey Chad,

    I am 6’0″, 185 lbs and have a 33″ sleeve (base of my neck, down the shoulder, just past the small wrist bone). I have a medium tall.

  7. Jason says:

    I live down in Australia and summer can get pretty unbearable,without the liner and the vents up, you reckon it will be tolerable in summer time?

  8. R. Iverson says:

    Since it is a ‘transition’ jacket for spring and fall and bad weather riding, it is not a summer, full mesh ventilated jacket. My Kawasaki Concours14 also puts out heat in slow going, so it is warmish in the summer. You would be best to have a warm weather alternative to this jacket in hot summer weather.

  9. brian says:

    Nice write up …. just put a T2 in layaway, will pick it a week from today. At $110.99 here about the best deal (better actually) than I found on line and I’m supporting a local cycle shop.

    Motor easy;


  10. Jim says:

    Just an FYI – that random snap you wrote about actually snaps to the left side snap near the venting and helps keep the neck of the jacket open if you want.

    I tried one of these on at the stealership and want one for Fall (certainly not at the stealership price, though). Still shopping.

    JR puts out a similar jacket and is on sale now on NE for around $120, I think. It’s got Honda all over it though.

  11. Mike P says:

    I hate my Tour Master jacket, I would never recommend one. The zipper is garbage, the bottom never lines up, I don’t know why they think a double zipper is necessary, I have destroyed it trying to get it to unzip. Also, the jacket is not wtater proof at all.