Product test

March 17, 2017

BMW Downtown jacket

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BMW Downtown jacket is epitome in uncool style.
Form and function: If you read the road test of the new R nineT Scrambler, you know BMW is walking a fine line between style and substance these days. But, if the company’s newest “heritage” bike misses the mark just a smidge, its latest urban wear jacket, the Downtown, almost perfectly blends the two.

It’s billed as a half-length “commuter” jacket, but that “urban” reference sells the Downtown short. Yes, the polyester outer fabric is not as abrasion resistant as leather — or even Cordura — but in almost every other regard this is a real motorcycle jacket.

For instance, it comes standard with NPL armour at the shoulders and elbows. Slightly thinner and more malleable than BMW’s standard NP shock absorbers, the lighter version is nonetheless based on a D30-like material that is soft to the touch yet stiffens upon impact for maximum protection. The Downtown, like most jackets, it seems, doesn't come standard with a back protector, but the optional, also NPL formulated, rear armour costs just $41.75. And, unlike some supposedly authentic biker jackets, the Downtown’s back protector is large enough to offer succor to even the lower lumbars.

In terms of convenience and everyday use, said polyester exterior is said to be waterproof (I have yet to brave anything more than a mild sprinkle so I can't vouch for the claim) and there’s an inner, padded thermal inner liner, which BMW says can be worn stylishly on its own. The two exterior pockets are waterproofed, the cuffs and waist are adjustable and there’s a multi-media — that should be read cellphone — pocket inside. In other words, save for the fact there’s no venting — making it a tad warm in truly hot weather — the Downtown is eminently practical.

The finishing touch, however, is that the Downtown really is well fashioned. Indeed, I’ll go out on a limb and proclaim it the most stylish motorcycle(ish) jacket I’ve ever seen. (Unfortunately, pictures don't do it justice.) My significant other — she who would like to always shop Gucci — wants me to make it my regular winter coat, so stylish does it render my otherwise un-hip self. Indeed, I have been wearing it — along with some equally well-disguised Rev’it biking jeans — to meetings and none of my business partners have been the wiser.

Limitations revolve mainly around its reduced abrasion resistance and the aforementioned lack of venting — everyone’s ability to cope with heat is different, but I didn’t find the Downtown much cooler in hot weather than a leather jacket. On the other hand, the button-in thermoliner really is effective, making the Downtown ideal for spring and fall climes.

Nonetheless, the most important thing for those unwilling to sacrifice style on their daily biking commute, the Downtown offers decent protection with a sizeable dose of panache. And, yes, based on the good guidance from she who reads GQ magazine, I have taken to wearing it even when I’m not riding my bike.

The Downtown is available from BMW Motorrad dealers is men’s sizes, 46 to 60 and women’s 34 to 48. Suggested retail price is $571.34 for men’s sizes and $557.41 for women’s.