Alpinestars Frontier Gore-Tex Jacket
Love the style and quality, despite tiny zippers, fiddly configuration, and bad smell
On my first ride with this jacket, I did a 500-mile, mostly-highway day with conditions ranging from 85 deg F and humid mid-day to 58 deg F and foggy past midnight. Comfort-wise, the jacket was great. It adapted well to the changing conditions throughout the day/night.
Setup-wise, there's a lot to fiddle with. Two different liners (one Gore-Tex, one quilted) give you plenty of options. Unfortunately, with both liners zipped in, I could barely get my arms into the jacket because the fit was way too tight, despite the fact that I'm a skinny guy! I ended up tossing the quilted liner into the basement, and I used my heated liner instead -- which worked out great for the night portion of my ride.
All of the zipper pulls, including the main zipper, are way too small. They are IMPOSSIBLE to operate while wearing gloves -- even summer gloves. Furthermore, the openings for the zippered pockets are too small. My thin hands -- with gloves off -- can barely reach into the pockets. Also, with velcro AND zippers on some of the pockets, it's an even greater PITA to reach into them.
Where velcro is used to close off or open up venting panels, AlpineStars wisely placed "opposite" versions of the velcro in strategic locations so that the panels can stay open without unmatched velcro tearing apart unprotected materials or stitching.
I purchased a size medium Bionic Air back protector insert, which is actually slightly smaller than the useless foam insert that came with the jacket. Therefore, the Bionic insert does shift around a little bit, even with the jacket worn tightly (with the hidden cinch-down straps pulled tightly).
The one-size-fits-all Bionic chest pads, which I also purchased, are one-size-doesn't-fit-small-jackets. In other words, the Bionic chest pads are too big for the Frontier; they will not fit into the internal "pockets" from where I pulled out the useless foam chest inserts. I don't understand why AlpineStars can't standardize on the sizes and shapes of their optional armor. This is the fifth AlpineStars jacket I've owned, and this is certainly not the first time I've had problems mounting their optional armor into their jackets.
The mid-section zipper mates perfectly with my A-10 Airflow pants, which I'm very glad about. Some combinations of my older AlpineStars pants and jackets do NOT mate well due to unequal-length zippers.
One last comment. Wherever it was manufactured, incense must be quite prevalent. 1000s of miles of riding later, my jacket still reeks of incense.
September 12, 2011
Versatile, full-functioned all-weather jacket with excellent protection and build quality.
This jacket looked too good to be true in Anthony's review and in the Revzilla write-up. But this jacket has turned out to be everything I had hoped it would be and more: extremely versatile, full-featured, all-weather jacket with probably the best built-in protection of any garment (with the possible exceptions of Motoport or Aerostich). I upgraded to CE-certified bionic chest and back armour for a few extra dollars, and it feels well worth it. I feel extraordinarily well protected.
I generally wear a 40S suit, have a 33" waist, and have 32" sleeves on my dress shirts. The 40S Frontier jacket fits me perfectly except for the sleeves which are just a TAD short. (They're probably 33 or 34 inches).
It's remarkable how versatile this jacket is in terms of comfort range. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where temperatures can go from the 80s to the low 40s within a day's ride, and the jacket works well within that temperature range. I have not ridden this up in the Sierra's yet, but I imagine the jacket would reach its lower range of comfort around the high 30s. The HUGE front and back ventilation panels make this product unique and incomparable in terms of air flow.
I LOVE the pockets on this jacket. They are so low-profile and so well-integrated into the design of the jacket that it's easy to forgot how many there are. It seems I'm always discovering some new pocket or some new feature on this jacket. It's full of pleasant surprises!
My only potential complain would be that the zippers seem a bit small. I would expect a larger more substantial YKK zipper (and these are YKK). Still, they have not failed or "faulted", and I can imaging how larger zippers might be unnecessarily bulky.
July 16, 2011