Leather Jacket—Women’s sizes XS-3W in black Part #98520-09VW, $650-$660 depending on size
Leather and Textile Pant—Women’s sizes 2-18, regular or tall, in black Part #98525-09VW, $400-$410 depending on size
Whenever I hear that Harley-Davidson has introduced new FXRG riding apparel, I jump at the opportunity to try the new product. “FXRG” is the designation Harley uses for its high-performance functional riding gear. I keep it simple: To me, FXRG means bulletproof, and according to the description, the Women’s FXRG Leather Jacket and Leather and Textile Pants seemed to embody that attribute.
Women’s FXRG Leather Jacket
The first thing I noticed when I acquired the jacket was its buttery-soft leather shell. This was no thin strip of cowhide, though, and after 10,000-plus miles of heavy use in all kinds of weather, it hasn’t shown even the hint of a tear or abrasion. The leather is touted as reflecting 80 percent of the sunlight, to help you stay cool longer. It’s also saturated with a water repellent treatment; meaning that when the skies open up, I don’t have to stop and pull my rain gear out of the saddlebag while getting drenched in the process. A second level of waterproofing is provided by something called a C-Change membrane that provides a water and wind barrier between the CoolMax mesh lining and the outer leather shell. The combination of the C-Change and CoolMax reacts to temperature fluctuations as well as your activity level. The membrane becomes more porous in warm or humid conditions, allowing the release of moisture to keep you cool. It has the reverse effect in cold temperatures—the membrane material closes up to keep you warm. There’s also a snap-in removable Primaloft liner, with pockets, that Harley says can be worn separately as a light jacket, but don’t expect this look to win you any fashion contests. If you choose, you can instead wear the H-D Heated Jacket Liner (#98351-09VW, sold separately) that attaches to the jacket’s pull-tab snaps.
The jacket has six vents—two at the shoulder, two on the side and two in back; and when closed, the vent zippers have watertight seals similar to those found on the zippers of waterproof motorcycle luggage. The elbows, shoulders and back also hide CE-approved body armor. Although the armor is easily removable, it’s so lightweight and comfortable that I’ve never taken it out. A removable elastic-and-nylon padded kidney belt hidden between the inner liner and outer shell provides back support, and I found that when engaged, the belt actually makes the jacket warmer by pulling it closer around my torso.
The adjustable waist is loosened or tightened by a series of snaps on each side, which nicely complements the elastic side panels that expand and contract as needed. Just behind each side panel is a six-inch zipper backed by orange waterproof material, that can be opened to provide more room while you’re sitting on, mounting or dismounting from the bike. The jacket also features an “action back” which can best be described as a pleat on each side where the sleeves meet the back, allowing your arms to be fully extended or rotated without the jacket pulling across your back. Pre-curved sleeves provide even more comfort, and the zippered cuffs close tight enough to prevent unwanted air from traveling up your arms. The mandarin collar with snap closure is also tight enough—at least, in my case—that air doesn’t whoosh down the front of the jacket, either. I don’t think I’ve ever worn a more comfortable, near-custom-fit riding jacket.
Reflective piping and inlays—gray with just a few touches of orange—are tastefully incorporated into the front, sides and back of the jacket, with a fairly discreet (less than two inches tall) FXRG Harley-Davidson inlay displayed across the upper back. There’s a heavy, strong YKK front zipper. In fact, there are three zippers when the Primaloft liner is worn. The middle zipper closes a waterproof and windproof panel in the front, and that zipper and the side tape is orange so you don’t get confused when you’re trying to close the jacket.
There are two zippered side pockets, also waterproof when closed. Inside the jacket is a cargo pocket (I use it for my notebook), an eyeglass pocket (I use it for pens) and even a lens cloth hooked to one of the pockets! On the other side is a cell phone pocket that’s the perfect size for my Flip video camera. There’s also a hook-and-loop tab to hold the headphones for your iPod.
This jacket has pretty much every feature that I could ever dream up, and already, it’s proved its worth many times over. Although I’ve acquired quite a selection of riding jackets, this is the one I reach for nearly every time.
Women’s FXRG Leather and Textile Pant
Harley offers matching FXRG riding pants that have most of the same characteristics as the jacket does. The pant is constructed of a combination of leather and stretch Cordura for lightness, flexibility and comfort, and features the same reflective piping and sun-reflecting and wind- and waterproof properties. It also uses the C-Change membrane, incorporates CE-approved body armor at the knees and in back of the hips and has pre-curved knee panels. There’s an eight-inch zippered vent—also waterproof when closed—placed diagonally on the top of each thigh, allowing for much-welcomed cooling in the hot weather.
The pants feature an adjustable mid-rise waist fastened by a zipper, snap and gusset closure. A zipper at the back of the waist can attach to the Women’s FXRG jacket. There’s a zipper on the outside of each pant leg from the knee allowing plenty of room to slip the pants on over boots, even though they’re not meant to be worn as overpants. In fact, in my case, the bottoms of the pants could be more snug because they’re wide enough to allow a lot of air to flow up the pant legs while I’m riding. The pants come in regular or tall lengths, and even with two-inch heels on my boots, the regular is plenty long enough for my 5’4″ frame.
My major complaint, though, is that the pants have no pockets. I don’t carry a purse or handbag and I sure don’t want to start wearing a fanny pack. And I just don’t feel comfortable leaving my cash, credit cards and other valuables in a jacket pocket. Even a small credit-card-sized pocket hidden inside the waist would be a decent solution.
That said; the pants are very flattering, extremely comfortable and quite versatile. Rather than wearing chaps over my jeans or having to fuss with rain gear, I can just wear the FXRG pants without worrying about water soaking through. In cooler weather, I can wear thermal underwear under the pants and I’m quite warm.
Bulletproof biker gear
Harley backs the Women’s FXRG Leather Jacket and Leather and Textile Pant with a five-year warranty, demonstrating the company’s confidence in its high-performance riding gear. With the apparel’s practical design, quality materials, perfectly finished seams and impeccable construction, I expect the FXRG jacket and pants to last for many thousands of miles.