Monday, June 14, 2010

First Gear Mesh Tex Jacket

Two Wheel Reviews
New Mesh-Tex is Best Version Yet

Rex wears his First Gear Mesh Tex jacket during a shoot for Two Wheel Oklahoma.Damn it's hot.

I've muttered that to myself more than a few times during rides through the Oklahoma heat. As tempting as it might be to disrobe when the mercury tops 90, I prefer not to. Exposing my bacon to the searing sun, 70 mph junebugs or, God forbid, baking hot asphalt is no way to end the day. Fortunately there's a compromise between sweaty black leather and riding nude. It's called mesh.

Mesh riding gear allows cooling air to pass through the material. The better gear offers reinforced areas or armor to protect you from road rash, not to mention shielding you from the baking sun. Most riders agree that, up to a point, you'll actually ride cooler wearing a mesh jacket than without. The Firstgear Mesh-Tex is a great example of a mesh jacket built for surviving an Oklahoma Summer.

The latest version of First Gear's popular Hypertex summer jacket dispenses with the 2.0, and is now simply called Mesh Tex. This third version of the Mesh-Tex jacket retails for $129.95 and features fully a aerated shell and better armor than previous versions. A zip out liner shuns wind and water to make this a usable Spring, Summer and Fall jacket. The Mesh Tex is available is sizes small through 4X, plus tall and womens styles.

What's to like? First off, the Mesh Tex is made like a "real" jacket. So the fit is good, the armor stays where it's supposed to and you get inner and outer pockets to stash your trinkets. But the shell is completely, 100% mesh- there are no solid panels that block airflow. Even the CE-approved armor has holes to allow the airflow- so you can enjoy fully al fresco riding! In case you leave early in the cool of the morning you can use the included nylon liner. It blocks wind and rain and is surprisingly effective.

Changes on this new model include snap closures (instead of Velcro) at the waist and wrists, added pockets, a Velcro neck closure and more substantial armor. A new inner pocket, accessible with or without the liner, is perfect for stashing ear plugs or toll booth change. This inner pocket also features an easy-to-spot red zipper- a very clever idea. The jacket interior and removable liner both offer cell phone pockets with a secure Velcro closure. Chilly mornings, or rain, can effectively be countered with the zip out liner. Previous versions included a thermal liner- but no longer. No great loss in my opinion- this is not a winter jacket.

After one year I have few complaints. I think the liner could be a tad easier to install (they could take a lesson from Tourmaster's color-coded snaps). Although the "split" zipper idea is nifty and easier to deal with than a single zipper circumnavigating the entire perimeter. Another minor irritation is the neck closure's Velcro flap has a tendency to latch on to my helmet strap. If you agree, try folding it over on itself.

But overall I'm very pleased. The airflow is sufficient to make most summer rides more comfortable. Let's face it- after you top 100 degrees nothing will tame the blast furnace. All in all this is a very versatile, and affordable, jacket for a wide range of warm weather. Even if it happens to rain, and especially if it's hot!

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It's a Travel Show

Two Wheel Oklahoma is a television travel show featuring the motorcycle rides of Brad Mathison and Rex Brown along the scenic highways and backroads of Oklahoma.

Each episode highlights a stretch of road or historic route and explores unique destinations along the way. Tune in three times a week on the Cox Channel.

We hope you'll come ride along.

Brad and Rex: co-hosts of Two Wheel Oklahoma