I have a confession to make. In almost every image you have ever seen of me reviewing a bike, if it’s been cold, I have been wearing this vest underneath my jacket.
It all began about three years ago.
“I want you to try this vest out,” Ray said.
“I am a man,” I replied. “I do not wear such vests.”
“What kind of vests do you wear?” he asked.
“Once, many years ago, I wore a leather vest with some embroidery on the back. Now and again, I wear a leather vest with no embroidery on the back to remind me of what I once was and can never be again.”
Ray pondered this revelation for a while.
“I still think you need to try this vest out.”
I sighed. It was my long-suffering sigh. The one I reserve for good mates who just can’t see my point of view.
“OK. But I’m not going to like it.”
I was right. I didn’t like it.
I loved it.
It is light. It is comfortable. It folds up into a tiny thing.
But all of that aside, what it does best of all is to keep your core warm. Like, seriously warm.
It is better than all the jumpers, sloppy joes, hoodies, and cardigans ever made.
I rode the European alps in it. I have traversed the Snowys in winter, and done Lithgow when it was minus 15. I have ridden in it when lesser men were blue with hypothermia and wearing all the clothing they owned.
So in the very harshest and coldest conditions, it now goes like this for me: A high-end winter jacket (Held has some beauties there too), thermals, a long-sleeved T-shirt and this softshell vest. That’s it. I shit you not. I might add a short-sleeve T-shirt if I’m riding through a collapsed glacier and there are dead polar bears on the side of the road, but this vest is that something extra which ensures I am not cold.
It has become an essential part of my motorcycle wardrobe. I go nowhere without it. And I cannot conceive of being without it. It is warmth without bulk. And that is priceless.
I’ve had it for three years now. It still looks new.
It costs $100. It is the best $100 you’ll ever spend.
Winter is coming. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it is coming.
Show it your middle finger and ride warm. No-one will ever even know you’ve got it on. It will be our soft little secret.
Words by Boris Mihailovic