The Bomber jacket from Fox Creek Leather addresses these concerns. It not only looks good when youíre on a bike, itís also quite dapper off of it. And when the weather gets too hot for typical black leather jackets, the Fox Creek Bomber has a number of tricks up its sleeve (literally) so you can be cool while looking cool.
Fox Creek is a family-run operation based in southwestern Virginia and builds a variety of jackets, pants, chaps and accessories. Itís spendier than the boatloads of leather from China and Pakistan, but youíll find it difficult to match its quality of materials anywhere.
Fox Creekís jackets are constructed from wonderfully supple full-grain ďnakedĒ cowhide (in which the grain of the leather is unaltered from its natural state) that is said to be the softest leather available. In addition, the leather is drum-dyed (in which the leather is immersed in a drum of dye and tumbled) so the color fully penetrates the material for a long-lasting finish.
In the case of our Vented Bomber jacket, itís made from 1.4-1.6mm (3.5-4.0oz) black leather that looks and smells great. Handsome enough to be worn when not riding, it also boasts two large inside pockets (one zipped and one snapped) and a pair of zippered slash-cut side pockets above the waist that are lined with durable Cordura (as are all its pockets). The Bomber also has several features that make it rider-friendly, such as a snap-down collar and expansion joints at the shoulders that allow freedom of movement. Elastic-panel sections at the sides of the waist keep the jacket snugly fitted.
In the winter months, we were pleased to have the coziness offered by the jacketís full-sleeve Thinsulate liner. Leather works very well at blocking wind from entering a jacket, but it doesnít offer much in the way of heat retention without something like the Bomberís removable liner. And when the chill really sets in, the Bomberís hide-away fleece neck warmer is very handy at keeping a rider as toasty as possible.
But the Bomberís best trick reveals itself on hot riding days. A vent on each sleeve and dual breast-pocket vents (which double as actual pockets) arenít too surprising, and neither is the large rear-exit vent across the shoulders. Combined they offer a fair bit of ventilation, although youíre still gonna sweat on hot, muggy days, especially if stuck in traffic.
The Bomberís cleverest feature is interior perforated leather panels on either side of the main zipper that can be zipped together while leaving the main exterior zipper undone. In this configuration, airflow is maximized to a level not usually seen in leather garments, as oncoming air has a large entryway to enhance evaporative cooling. It might look slightly odd, but that will be a distant thought when riding in sweltering conditions.
So the jacketís cool and itís warm, but whatís the downside? First off, itís a bit bulky fitting. The size 38 jacket we tested has a lot of extra material in the sleeve and torso area of my 5-foot-8, 145-lb body. In addition, it is cut with a relatively tall front section, so it works best when on a bike with an upright riding position like a cruiser; it bunches up at its front when worn on a leaned-forward sportbike. We also werenít initially thrilled with its durable but sticky main zipper, but it eventually worked its way to smoothness.
As for protection, we predict that the thick, quality leather would hold up well in a crash and resist asphalt abrasion. The jacket has provisions for armor, but itís not yet sold directly from Fox Creek.
At $452 from Fox Creekís website (free shipping), the Bomber isnít some throw-away cheap jacket that will be retired from duty in a few years. Itís the kind of jacket that only gets better with age, and its versatile features ensure youíll be wearing it for many rides in all sorts of conditions. Fox Creek backs up its products with an unbeatable lifetime guarantee that covers workmanship and materials.
If youíre looking for a quality jacket built from top-shelf materials in the good olí USA, we can recommend highly the Bomber from Fox Creek.
See the photo gallery below for more pics of this jacket.