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We already mentioned it in our list of original gifts for bikers. However, we hadn’t really had a chance…Read More
Here’s our in-depth review of the Belstaff Brooklands motorbike jacket, from the eponymous brand, which we mentioned in our list of original gift ideas for bikers.
With the sudden weather changes, we experienced in 2023, motorcyclists were reminded that our passion in our latitudes is exercised in all kinds of climatic conditions: hot and dry, cold and wet, snowy, etc. And that now we can lose 20 degrees in just a few days.
This new product test comes in at just the right time. We’re going to take a look at an age-old brand, Belstaff, and one of its most iconic models, the Brooklands.
Known for its strong heritage and for having been worn by legendary figures, Belstaff certainly produces clothing with undeniable style. But bikers are also looking for technical clothing that will accompany them whatever the season or climate, and protect them in the event of a fall.
Does this jacket meet these criteria? Is it durable? At Cruizador, we believe that by buying quality clothing that will last a long time, you can not only write a personal story with it, but you can also limit your ecological impact by consuming differently.
What if we go on a long road-trip? Let’s find out by testing it thoroughly all type of conditions.
Review Belstaff Brooklands Jacket
Founded in England in 1924 by Eli Belovitch and his son-in-law Harry Grosberg, the brand specialised in clothing for motorcyclists. Convinced by the quality of their products, many celebrities began wearing their clothes. In 1951, it was no less than Ernesto Guevara, known as Che, who wore a Belstaff jacket on his journey through South America (see our article on the best motorbike films).
His famous customers also included Steve McQueen and the pilote Sammy Miller.
Then, hit hard by the economic crisis of the 90s, the company closed its historic factory in London. It was then bought by Franco Malenotti in 2004 (Sponsor SA Italy), who repositioned the company towards luxury.
In 2011, it was sold again and bought by Harry Slakting, a wealthy American, and the Labelux group, all under the guidance of Tommy Hilfiger, who was involved as a consultant in the re-branding of the brand. In 2014, the brand changed hands again, falling into the hands of the JAB Luxury group, which owns Swiss luxury brand Bally, among others.
The brand will be entering into all kinds of collaborations, including with David Beckham for his motorbike documentary Into the Unkown (2014) and actor Ewan McGregor for the 3rd chapter of their motorbike adventures, Long Way Up (2020). This is a documentary filmed for AppleTV, in which him and his all-time sidekick and friend Charley Boorman will travel from Ushuaia to Los Angeles, all on electric Harley Davidson LiveWires!
It’s worth noting that Belstaff has designed more technical clothing for the specific needs of the protagonists, not in leather or waxed cotton as usual, but in nylon (GoreTex).
Since then, the brand has continued to build on its heritage, producing quality clothing that’s not just for bikers – there are also classic ranges aimed at chic, urban customers who are… often wealthy. And production has expanded considerably, to include accessories, luggage, everyday clothing, shoes and more.
However, even though prices have risen, Belstaff has not produced its clothes in England or even Europe for a long time. By way of example, mine was manufactured in Romania.
That’s certainly not a deal breaker, because everyone has to live and eat ;-). But when you pay a premium price, you want to be sure of the quality and durability of your purchase.
So does Belstaff live up to its promises? After 5 years of using his Brooklands jacket as a back-up garment at the start/end of the season, the author of this test can give an uncompromising answer.
So much for the components. But a garment is more than a list of specs, it’s a look and feel. So what about in real life?
Without doubt, its strongest feature. This Brooklands boasts not only stunning looks, but also impeccable finishing: topstitching, velvet inserts on the collar, waistband and handles, embroidered logo, engraved and robust zip fasteners, and so on.
The level of detail/design is very accomplished. For example, the press button at the bottom is lined in rubber, so that it doesn’t scratch your petrol tank.
Of course, this comes at a price. With a retail price at 715CHF/675€/750$, that’s quite a pricey piece of clothing!! But given the level of detail, and the durability, I think it’s worth it.
And a quick look at our photo gallery below should clear up any doubts about this.
In terms of fit, the jacket ‘falls well’ and has a slim but not too slim cut. In short, with it on your shoulders, you feel a bit like Steve McQueen or James Dean.
But is it enough to look good on your bike? Don’t bikers need more than just good looks?
Now, the bottom line question is whether brands like Belstaff, which certainly produce clothes with undeniable looks, also meet technical needs: waterproofing, breathability/ventilation, etc. Wouldn’t this be a contradiction in terms?
Review Belstaff Brooklands Jacket
I already tried to answer this question in my test of the Shoei Glamster helmet.
Let’s take a closer look…
After more than 5 years of use, in all kinds of conditions, I can say the following.
Drawing a parallel with the brand’s English origins, you can’t help thinking that these garments were designed for a climate that is… typically English, i.e. oceanic. Humid/rainy, but neither too hot nor too cold.
It will be able to withstand rain showers, but not to longer rides under pouring rain. For this, you’ll have to look for synthetic garments such as Goretex. What’s more, this is a jacket, so it’s cut shorter than a vest. Belstaff offers a range of waxed cotton vests, such as Trialmaster or the Crosby.
The sweet spot for its use in our latitudes will therefore be a climate at the start or end of the motorcycling season here. And it will keep the rider at the right body temperature, when the outside temperature is between 8-10 degrees and 15-20 degrees max.
Below these temperatures, you can always multiply the layers, for example with technical underwear in merino wool, or pullovers in virgin wool. But be careful if these are too thick. Either you’ll have to go up a jacket size to have extra-room for base layers. This represents a safety risk, as the garment will no longer fit properly and the protectors may be loose in the event of a fall and not be in the right place at the right time. Or you’ll be curled up in your garment, which can be uncomfortable.
Now, above these temperatures, in a heatwave, that’s exactly where the problem lies. The jacket isn’t sufficiently ventilated, there’s no possibility of creating air flow to cool down by opening zips like on more technical garments.
You end up feeling like you’re in a steam room, and the sweat starts to drip down your back and down your arms – in short, it’s almost unpleasant. So you end up opening more and more the front zip, which can also be dangerous if you fall, because the jacket won’t stay in place. And what can I say about all the insects that are bound to end up smashing into your chest?
In short, for a long summer road-trip in Southern Europe, just forget it. Unless you value style more than your comfort and/or safety.
But for an early/end-of-season garment, or for cruising around the house in style, then it’ll more than do the job.
If you take care of it properly, plus hereafter, the garment will last you a lifetime. Admittedly, I use it as a back-up garment at the beginning and end of the season. And I don’t take it for offroad rides or multi-week road-trips like other garments. But I’ve had it for over 5 years and it hasn’t worn out (see photos below).
And that, at a time when we’re being told that we need to consume differently, with greater emphasis on durability and repairability, is interesting. Just as you wouldn’t go to the trouble of paying 50-70 quid to repair a zip on a jacket costing 200-300 quid, you’d think twice about repairing a 700 quid Belstaff. Not to mention the fact that the zip is less likely to break, given the quality of manufacture.
Weighing in at nearly 3kgs in size L, the Brooklands is a heavyweight. But then again, as it’s intended for use at the beginning/end of the season, that won’t be a problem. At least for me…
Like all “living” materials, waxed cotton will react to climatic conditions. Heat, exposure to UV rays and water will gradually cause the wax to disappear from the cotton. As a result, the jacket will eventually lose its waterproof qualities.
How can you prevent this? By buying a waxed cotton dressing, at around 20 quid a box. You can find it in most shops selling fishing or hunting clothing.
Review Belstaff Brooklands Jacket
How to apply it. If it’s too solid, put it in a bain-marie for a few moments to make it liquid.
Then simply apply it with a brush to the whole garment (outside), paying particular attention to the seams, which are the water entry points. Then leave the jacket to absorb the material at room temperature. You can repeat the manoeuvre for a second layer if you see that the garment is very thirsty and/or that there are places where the cotton is not evenly waxed. That’s it.
Personally, I do it each year before the season, then possibly a second time if necessary, if the jacket is used intensively.
If we had to make a list of the pros and cons of this Brooklands, I’d say that the look, durability and manufacturing quality are definitely upsides of this jacket.
Now, for 700 quids, that’s quite a budget, for fairly limited use. If you’re just picking up motorbike riding and/or your finances are not at their peak at the moment, you might want to opt for something a little more versatile, that you can use in all sorts of contexts.
Now, if you’ve got the money, and you’re looking for a stylish garment from a legendary brand, to cruise in style, then look no further. This is probably the one for you.
All that remains is the same question. Should you go for style or comfort/practicality? And is there a brand that can do both equally well? We’ll keep on looking…
In any case, we hope you find this test useful. Don’t hesitate to check out our BLOG for other motorcycle-related topics.
Ride on !
Review Belstaff Brooklands Jacket