Europe has been literally blazed in last year's heat wave, with temperatures reaching 110° even in chilly posts such as Paris. Cautious estimates were that about 10,000 extra people died in air-condition challenged France alone. Here in Milan, suffocating humidity was an added factor in the un-bearable equation. We have the sort of conditions that can convince even road-rashed riders to forget painful past experiences and ride in t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.
Ashley from MO came to my rescue by offering me Brosh's "Cool-K" and "Ultra Cool-K Sport" hot weather riding jackets to test. Brosh has been making motorcycle riding gear for quite a few years now, mainly for the local Israeli market and now, they are stepping-out and selling their wares abroad. Living with temperatures that rarely dip below 90°, if not 100°, for months on end, they should know a thing or two about gear that works in hot weather.
Fit of the jackets was very good considering the fact that it was made passing measurements trough the Internet.
If you do order a jacket pay special attention to the measurement of your arm length from wrist to NECK, as this is a critical item. With the jacket on, it's time for some posing in front of the mirror. Well, the Cool Kevlars aren't going to win me many of the model types that roam this city. Let's say that their design gets the job done and that's about it. Color schemes are un-impressive and some details let it down. Like the lack of symmetry between the left and right arms decor in the Cool-K or the uneven height of the two front pockets in the Ultra. Overall, finish quality isn't high, something readily shown in the "Sportex" logo that's ungracefully silk-screened on the back. To put style matters in proportion, I also regard Aerostitch's stuff as totally un-inspiring but that doesn't deter me from using it on every possible occasion.
Time to ride, we are all about function over form, aren't we? So, the things work, they really do. Riding into a boiling and sunny 100-degree day, the moment you gather just a few Mph's, the flow through the mesh fabric is felt immediately and this wind chill effect adds serious relief. It's not that you feel exactly cool when trapped in traffic, but under full sunshine, there is less noticeable heat radiation grilling your skin than if you were wearing just a T-shirt. As speed picks up, it'd better be hot 'cause soon enough the cooling effect through the mesh gets really strong. Under 75 degrees these cool jackets feel actually too cold to ride with. Even in the hottest weather, I never felt the need to open up the extra ventilation zippers in the forearms area. Adjusting the Velcro in the collar and wrists to a tight fight ensures a reasonably quiet ride up to a certain point. Beyond 60-70, the air that passes through the jacket itself waves the fabric hard enough for it to be bothersome. Although your are safe in the knowledge of having Kevlar reinforcements where it counts it doesn't feel like the kind of jacket you'd want to crash with above those speeds.
As speed picks up, it'd better be hot 'cause soon enough the cooling effect through the mesh gets really strong.
Other complaints? The hard to adjust Velcro straps around the biceps, don't really mange to keep the armor placed the elbow protectors in the right position at all times. An extra Velcro strap in the forearm area would be a welcome addition as well as an easier way to tighten these straps up without too many acrobatics.
Brosh offers a wide range of these summer jackets. I ended up liking the sportier Ultra Sport (the Yellow one) more than the longer Cool-K (the Grey one) because of its tighter (less flappy) fit. Fitting the elbow and shoulder armor from a SPIDI jacket into it proved to be no hassle at all.
The verdict? Considering the ultra competitive price and the fact that you might need this type of gear only for a few months per year, Brosh's Cool jackets are a pretty good value. Furhtermore, the Brosh's cooling factor felt higher than the more technical summer jacket from a well known brand that I own. Just don't go canyon carving with one expecting it to supply the protection of a proper leather jacket, nor should you walk into a fancy bar expecting to pull the chicks with your smashing style. Forget the naff graphics, when treated as a light-touring jacket for non-suicidal speeds, the Brosh jackets supply the goods at a nice price.