Commuting back and forth between the east and west side of the Sierra Nevada over several mountain passes (usually Sherwin Grade, Deadman Summit, Conway Summit, Devil’s Gate, Simee Dimeh Summit, Luther Pass, & Echo Summit) I need a versatile motorcycle jacket, one that can easily adapt to a wide range of temperatures and precipitation. I also want CE-rated armor, some semblance of waterproofness and a tailored fit. When I started riding in 2007, I chose a BMW Santiago jacket, purchased new from San Diego BMW Motorcycles. Though BMW has since stopped production of this versatile jacket, I still love wearing it.
The Santiago easily adapts to the full range of temperature, from 25 to 106 degrees. Because of its cut, it’s easy to wear several layers beneath the jacket and its under-jacket waterproof Gortex liner. My layers include:
- 1). Long sleeve Patagonia underwear;
- 2). Long-sleeve lightweight cashmere sweater;
- 3). Mountain Hardwear nylon shell/fleece jacket;
- 4). Sierra Designs down jacket;
- 5). Santiago Gortex under-jacket liner; 6). Santiago Jacket;
- 7): BMW Rain Suit Jacket or North Face Gortex raincoat for extra warmth.
Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the versatility and reliability of down to an electric jacket. Though it seems like a lot of layers, I’ve never worried about staying warm or dry on or off the bike or in the case of an electric jacket or power supply malfunction or total failure.
The Santiago was designed to be used with a separate Gortex waterproof liner worn under the jacket. The concept was that when it rained, the wind generated by riding would dry the exterior of the jacket. Great concept in theory, working best in summer downpours or for hardy Germans. My experience was in rainy temperatures below 50 degrees, the wet jacket pressed against the Gortex liner which in turn pressed against me and was just a little too chilly. As soon as the first drops hit my face shield, I pull off and put a Gortex rain jacket over the Santiago (wearing the liner primarily as a secondary windbreak and moisture barrier). On the opposite end of the temperature scale, I’ve worn this jacket with only a short sleeve tee shirt, day in, day out in 106 degree heat. It’s textile weave and zippered front and back vents allow plentiful air circulation, making it a pleasure to wear across the Great Plains in the middle of summer or on the backroads to Death Valley.