MO Tested: Spidi Clubber Jacket Review
Black buffalo goes with everything
What I was looking for was a lighter-weight perforated leather jacket for use during the hotter parts of the year, when MO is most active, to share duties with my beautiful but aging Dainese Street Rider. When the Spidi box arrived, the light weight was there but not the perforations. Turns out there isn’t a perfed version, but maybe that’s only a personal problem for me, since my old unperforated Vanson AR-3 has been my go-to black leather jacket for most of a decade now.
Spidi Clubber Jacket
Editor Score: 82.5%
- Ready to bend to your will right out of the box
- Light yet sturdy
- Great fit for my size 52 body, even with a few extra lbs.
- A perforated option would be nice
- Thin persons may want more waist adjustability
- Not inexpensive for a pretty basic jacket
In fact, it looks like that classic Vanson look is exactly what Spidi is shooting for with the Clubber, right down to the font on the oval sleeve patches (which I’m no longer seeing on the AR-3 on Vanson’s website) and the big YKK main zipper. Construction is slightly different: The Clubber uses more smaller panels of leather than the Vanson, and lacks the Vanson’s “action back” articulated sleeves – one of the Vanson’s nicest features.
What the Spidi’s got going for it, though, is just a much lighter, more supple feel than a classic American jacket like the Vanson. While my Vanson’s “competition weight” cowhide is still a bit stiff going on ten years of use, the Spidi’s 1.0 – 1.1mm Italian-tanned buffalo leather slips onto your body like Snoop Dogg’s slippers right out of the box. You can feel about a two-pound difference in weight holding the Vanson in one hand and the Spidi in the other. Buffalo, Spidi says, is noted for its toughness and its “supple hand.” The buffalo hide also retains much more texture, or fine surface wrinkliness, than the Vanson’s smoother cowhide.
That light suppleness means even without perforations, the Spidi probably wouldn’t be as oven-like in hot weather as the Vanson. Inside, instead of the Vanson’s black rayon lining, the Spidi gets an Italian tartan cotton one, which also seems to let air flow around a bit easier, or maybe just absorbs perspiration better? Sitting still on a hot day, it’s gonna get warm in there. Rolling along, with the collar and sleeves unzipped, feels like it wouldn’t be so bad.
I didn’t really get to find out, because I barely broke the Clubber out until the weather had dropped into the 60s, and in these cool conditions the Spidi shines. With a bandana around your neck, the mandarin collar snaps out drafts, and out back the padded drop back keeps wind from howling down your man canyon. Person canyon. Nothing seals out wind while cutting through it like leather, seems like.
I’ve always thought of Italian goods as being snug-fitting on the average American body; maybe they allow for that now? Because even though my midsection is quite a bit larger in circumference than when I got the Vanson years ago, both it and the new Spidi still zip up and over, no problem (the Vanson’s a size 40 and the Spidi’s a 52), and both fit nice and snug everywhere else for lovely, flap-free riding at speed.
For comfort and range of motion, even though it lacks the Vanson’s action back, I have to give the nod to the Spidi’s delicious buffalo hide, which drapes better across the shoulders than the stiffish Vanson. The Vanson might be preferred for standing around in a biker bar, but the Spidi doesn’t look, or feel, out of place lounging on a velvet banquette in Francoli’s Gourmet Italian restaurant. Prego…
Both Spidi and Vanson make serious racing leathers and I’d be equally unhappy but confident to crash in either. The Clubber comes with Warrior Lite CE Level 1 elbow and shoulder armor. Thanks to the generous area the pads cover – especially the elbow/forearm pads – and the snug fit of the jacket, it seems like those pads would be much better than nothing in a smackdown. Contoured to fit your joints, they’re a few mm thick in the middle. Also, Velcro pads (the loops, not the hooks) between the liner and leather are standing by to accept an optional Warrior back protector ($38).
I miss the gold buckles at the sides to adjust the Vanson jacket’s waistline. The Spidi has a couple of snap adjusters instead. And I’d like to complain about the zipper protector flap at the bottom of the main zipper being secured with Velcro, but a metal closure there would defeat the purpose, which is to have the zipper not scratch your gas tank. There are also Velcro tabs at the end of each cuff zipper which do make it easier to get a tight seal when you want one. Though they can cause micro-frustrations when they tangle with your gloves’ Velcro closures and your helmet liner… not a big deal.
I feared the Spidi Clubber would be redundant and cause homewrecking trouble since I already had a longstanding relationship with the old Vanson. The reality is that even though they look almost the same, the two jackets have completely unique personalities that complement each other. The Clubber is light, playful, fashion forward and breezy. The Vanson’s more serious, heavier-duty, and not the first choice for riding around on a scooter, for God’s sake. It’s good to have options, especially when they’re both excellent, protective jackets.
Five-hundred and 80 simoleons is not cheap, but it is about $90 less than the Vanson. And you can feel good about it since the Clubber’s tag says it’s made in Ukraine.
Why buffalo leather?
Supposedly buffalo leather is stretched less in the tanning process, which means more of its natural grain and beauty is preserved. Otherwise, there’s not much difference between cow and buffalo when it comes to strength and abrasion resistance. And like Spidi claims, this buffalo hide really does have a nice supple “hand” that makes it more comfortable than most motorcycle jackets, along with a more interesting, wrinkly texture. It’s also noticeably lighter than the same size Vanson jacket.
Is the Spidi Clubber CE Certified?
But of course, to certification CE pr EN 17092-2:2017 Class AA for protective riding. It’s even waterproof, says Spidi, if you opt for optional Spidi H2Out X47 waterproof rain and L30 thermal liners.
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