Will it be hot? Will it be cold? Chance of showers? Dont worry, the Harley-Davidson Switchback Jacket literally has you covered, while saving valuable saddlebag space.
The Switchback Jacket brings out the quick-change artist in a rider, letting a rider respond to unpredictable weather within minutes. This Clark Kent/Superman-like feat doesnt even require a telephone booth just the tug of a few zippers (across the back, down the arms and the jacket front) morphs this jacket from a three-quarter length cool weather riding jacket to a hot weather mesh-type riding garment.
The jacket utilizes water-resistant woven polyester/nylon for its black/silver/red exterior shell and when worn as a single unit (zipped to the mesh jacket) makes a good warm weather-riding jacket. Cool mornings might require a lightweight fleece liner for extra warmth and the jacket offers enough room so you can wear one without feeling constricted.
Need a little breeze to cool you off later in the day? The jacket features two vertical zippers on either side of the front and back that, when opened, allow air to flow through the jacket. Has the afternoon turned sultry? Zip off the entire outer shell for more “air conditioning” wearing only the silver and black-colored mesh jacket part of the system.
Uh-oh! Storm clouds in the distance. Just unpack the waterproof PVC liner (conveniently stowed in a pouch attached to the rear of the jackets interior) put it on underneath the jacket as your first layer of rain defense and voila youre now a dry rider.
Despite the fact that, technically, the rider is wearing two jackets, the system is quite comfortable.The collar has a soft smooth lining with a pliable, stretchy material around its edge that comfortably keeps the wind off the riders neck. Hook and loop closures around the wrist snug the sleeves from flopping in the wind while similar-styled closures cinch both the outer and inner jackets waistline allowing for a customizable fit. Snap-down sleeve tabs also help snug the jacket around the arms. A drawcord around the outer jackets hem can also help keep out chilly air.
Reflective graphics on both jackets increase a riders visibility to other traffic at night. Removable, lightweight body armor defends the elbow and shoulder areas from any unexpected meetings with the pavement. An internal back armor pocket fits FXRG back armor, sold separately. The Switchback has two zippered handwarmer pockets on both the inner and outer jacket as well as two chest pockets to keep small items close at hand.
I really appreciate the versatility of the Switchback jacket and found it easy to use once I familiarized myself with all the zippers. Zipping off the outer shell literally takes just seconds. Stow the shell and youre ready to ride. Reattaching the shell takes maybe a minute and becomes quicker with practice.
My biggest gripe comes from the waterproof liner. If it rains you do have to stop riding, take off the jacket, don the liner and put the jacket back on top of it similar to using a regular rain suit. Not a big deal but not nearly as convenient as wearing a waterproof jacket in the first place. I tried riding with the liner folded into its pouch and attached to the inside of the jackets back. Though it didnt hamper my movement it did make the jacket feel bulky, so I opted to toss the pouch in my saddlebags. However, if you dont have a separate way to carry the liner, attaching it inside the jacket, just in case, is the better alternative to a potentially wet ride.
For a do-it-all jacket for the spring, summer and fall, the Harley-Davidson Switchback Jacket might be all a rider needs. The jacket comes in several color combinations in womens sizes extra small to 3W, and retails for $295 to $305 depending upon size and color. Men shouldnt feel left out, as H-D offers a version for them as well.
Pamela Collins is a regular contributor to WRN, as well as a freelance motorcycle journalist for Keystone Motorcycle Press and Roadbike magazine. She began riding 10 years ago and has a Honda 919 and Kawasaki ZZR 600 in her stable. Pam likes nothing better than taking off for a couple days on her bike to explore and learn about new places or to revisit old, favorite ones. She divides her time between Pennsylvania, Florida, and New York, and especially enjoys the riding the scenic country roads around her Pennsylvania home and in the Finger Lakes Region of New York.