If you have never owned a mesh jacket, the weather across most of the country this summer should have given you pause. Here in the central plains (Kansas), we have endured a record number of days over 100 degrees. The Alpinestars T-GP R Air mesh jacket was my saving grace; I have worn it almost daily since it arrived.
Having ridden now for about 45 years, and currently using my new BMW F800ST for short daily commuting, local pleasure riding, and last weekend an 800-mile two-state trip, I am very conscious of my protective clothing choices. One need only crash one time at modest speeds to appreciate the need for a quality helmet, gloves, and outer garments. My “awakening” came four years ago, while crossing a slippery railroad track on a wet day. The policeman said that after impact, I slid 85 feet on my stomach before I reached the grass verge and rolled one time. Exceptional gear limited my injury to just a small, closed fracture in the back of my throttle hand.
Based on that most recent experience, the most important quality I require in any jacket is protection, followed by comfort and fit, then appearance, and finally price. I am pleased to report that the Alpinestars T-GP-R-Air meets or exceeds my rigorous personal standard in all these categories.
Protection. This is the third mesh jacket I have worn, going back to their first appearance about a decade ago, and it offers by far the highest level of protection of the three. Let’s start with the armor, which is CE-certified Bio Armor. The elbow armor in my size XL jacket is 10–11 inches long, reaching from above the elbow down almost to my wrist bone. At its widest point it measures six inches when flattened out. But it is not flat—it is shaped along its entire length to encase the elbow joint and outer forearm, and is approximately 1/4 inch thick.
The shoulder armor is of the same type material and construction, and is also cupped to fit nicely over the shoulder joint. Without crushing it flat, I estimate it to be about 8 inches long and 5–6 inches wide at its widest point.
Rib cage protection in the jacket front panels is provided by two perforated foam pads, measuring about 10 inches top to bottom and six inches side to side. These two pads are shaped somewhat like lungs, and that is about where they are positioned in the jacket as well.
Back/spine protection comes in the form of a perforated foam pad, 19 inches long and 9 inches wide. In my case, it easily covered my back from the neck to slightly below my waist. I rode two 400-mile days, fully confident in the protective qualities of this jacket, but knowing I might upgrade this foam pad to a higher grade armor.
Comfort and fit. I’m not exactly an easy body shape to fit. I’m only 5’ 5” tall, but I have a 40-inch waist and weigh about 212 pounds. It took me 64 years to get this way, and despite my best efforts, it doesn’t appear that my body shape is going to change anytime soon, so I require an XL. This jacket, with its fully adjustable waistband, fit me very well. One might think that the sleeves would be too long, but the short handlebars on my motorcycle take care of that issue. The cuffs on this jacket are right where they belong, covering my wrists. They are closed by very substantial hook-and-loop straps, which permit closure for cool mornings and opening for hot afternoons. The sleeve design and length, position the elbow pads in exactly the right place to match the armor to my elbows.
Installation of the polyamide liner is simple: put on the liner first, then the jacket; now carefully remove both; snap the cuff fasteners (two at each cuff) in place, then zip the full-length zipper up, across the back, and down the other side. Don the jacket and you are ready to ride.
The short and somewhat narrow wind shield on my BMW provides limited protection against the air stream. I found the jacket,, with liner installed, to be comfortable down to about 70 degrees when worn over a short sleeve T-shirt. Above that temperature, at any speed, only a short sleeve T-shirt is necessary. I wore the jacket in temperatures up to 105 degrees, and found that cool air passed through the perforated chest foam pads just as soon as I began moving. A 40-degree comfort range is possible with this jacket and careful choice of undergarments.
On day 2 of my 800-mile weekend trip, I rode in moderate rain for about two hours at about 70–75 degrees air temperature. While I quickly became wet, I never grew cold. I did not expect a mesh jacket to keep me dry at highway speed in the rain, and it didn’t. But I was surprised that it retained sufficient body heat that I never got cold. This is a very comfortable, well fitting jacket.
The dominant color of my jacket is white (large front and back panels and upper sleeves), followed by black (sides, waist area, and lower sleeves), and red accents—Alpinestars logos on the shoulders, chest front, and “alpinestars” emblazoned across the rear waist. It has a silvery, luminous 1.25”strip around both sleeves just above the elbow, and is a great color combination to go with my Sapphire Black BMW. It is conspicuous without containing any hi-viz yellow or green, but nonetheless is attention grabbing. If you are in the military, it will get you through the front gate without any hassle from the guard.
This jacket, which is available in tri-color red/white/black, black/yellow/white, black/white, and straight black, retails at Revzilla for $249.95. That’s a far cry from my first mesh jacket 10 years ago at about $125. But for my money, this jacket offers far more protection, comfort and fit, and great style. Given that where I live I could wear it from May through September (five months), that is a fair price.
Having had the opportunity to wear this jacket in the rain (and get very wet), I would like if the zip-in liner offered better water repellency. I would not expect it to withstand a drenching rain because it is, after all, a mesh jacket. I'm not accustomed to carrying rain garments on my motorcycle when I'm traveling. If the visibility and road conditions permit me to ride, I don't hang around under overpasses waiting for the rain to stop.
It’s getting toward late August in Kansas, and we are still “enjoying” 95-degree days on a regular basis. With its easily zipped in liner, I should be able to wear this jacket well into September, and perhaps this year even into October, when I will switch over to an Alpinestars perforated leather jacket. Thank you, Alpinestars for this top notch piece of gear!
- Jim G.
Jim G’s first bike was a 1965 Montesa Impala Sport 175cc 2-stroke single. He’s been riding since May 1965 (47+ years). After two Yamahas, one BSA, and three Triumphs, he switched to BMW in 1996 and hasn’t looked back. His favorite places to ride are in the Great Plains states from Oklahoma north to the Canadian border and the Pacific Northwest. He resides in Leavenworth, Kansas.