One great aspect of motorcycle riding we don’t often hear about is the never-ending search for gear. I’ve sampled a lot of gear to find my perfect setup for a given ride or commute, and I want to share brief overviews in this ongoing series.
We are currently in the cold-weather riding season, but I want to talk about summer jackets from Rukka. I use a hot-weather jacket even when the temperature dips. Where I ride, the hot season lasts year-round.
In South Texas, a summer jacket is all you need, provided you add a liner. I’m sure that in places that experience actual winter, riders are dusting off their Gore-Tex and Schoeller-Keprotech jackets. But for me, it’s Rukka AirPower or bust.
My Rukka jacket is the AirRider (MSRP $429) but it’s an older model now. The closest current model in the lineup seems to be the Rukka AirAll (MSRP $449). The jackets come with D3O shoulder and elbow protectors, but there’s no back protector. The term AirPower doesn’t refer to the jacket, but to the material that Rukka uses. It’s a Cordura AFT layer that DuPont and Rukka developed in a collaboration, and it uses a mesh knit that makes it highly breathable.
Through the years I’ve ridden under the Texas sun, I found that breathability is a relative term to garment makers. “Breathable” is a buzzword that advertising departments love to use when describing summer jackets, and sometimes it’s just a lot of smoke you’re left breathing. Some summer jackets don’t flow air at all, and really, the only claim they have to hot-weather use is not being as as bulked up as their cold-weather counterparts.
I’m happy to report that the Rukka is actually breathable. In fact, it’s the most breathable jacket I’ve worn for riding so far, and even though it seems counter-intuitive, donning the Rukka on a hot afternoon is much more comfortable than riding in just a T-shirt. Many riders around me will often say that jackets don’t make sense in our riding conditions. But riding in a T-shirt is not only dangerous, it also exposes your torso to the sun, heating you up very quickly.
Add in the hot air blasting you at speed, and you will be uncomfortable in a matter of seconds. You’ll find yourself sprinting between stoplights for a gust of wind that will do little to cool you anyway. But when you don a garment like the Rukka, you put a layer between you and the sun — and can regulate temperature better. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to the people who see you wearing a jacket in 100-degree weather, but trust me, it works.
I recall the first ride I ever took wearing the Rukka. The jacket felt almost like a cape that settled at my shoulders and became weightless further down. I definitely felt it on, yet there was a sensation that it draped over me like light linen rather than suffocating me. As I picked up speed, the hot air filtered through but felt less uncomfortable than before. And when I got to the first stoplight I was no longer heaving in the heat. Now, the heat left me just mildly annoyed.
I shook off the feeling as I rolled on the throttle and kept on, no longer in a rush to cool down. The Rukka has been with me ever since, replacing other favorites from Aerostich and Motoport, because its soft shell and excellent airflow beat them out.
I can’t tell you how much I hate riding in the heat. I’ve even sworn I would stop riding because it’s just too damn hot some days here in the Rio Grande Valley. But riding in the Rukka is about as comfortable as you can be in unbearable hot-weather conditions.