Motorcycle Jacket Review - The Rowan Wax by MERLIN

  Getting Straight to it - This is a beauty of a jacket from Merlin.   

Getting Straight to it - This is a beauty of a jacket from Merlin. 

We are nearing the winter riding season here in New Zealand so there is no better time to have a look at the Merlin Rowan Jacket. Straight away you can see that Merlin means business and said business is steeped in quality. The finishing's, fasteners and 'touch' surfaces are all extremely well done. Made from original Scottish Halley Stevenson 8 ounce waxed cotton, the Rowan has a 'presence' even before you put it on as if to say, "Welcome, what took you so long old friend?".

 Nicely done, understated branding.

Nicely done, understated branding.

The waxed cotton is supple to the touch yet carries a feeling of strength and durability. Slipping into the Rowan I was immediately impressed with the fit and feel. I often find jackets with CE pads can feel a bit cumbersome and intrusive where the padding is located. Almost as if the jacket was designed and then padding added after the fact. With the Rowan there is none of this. In fact it fit so well I hardly noticed the padding at all which is exactly what you want in a high end jacket. As I began to do up the jacket I appreciatively noted the soft trim on the collar and cuffs. They feel like they are lined with a baby's flannel blanket and trimmed with extra soft genuine leather. Yesssss, this is a good one for sure. 

 Inner collar lining is about as good as it gets.

Inner collar lining is about as good as it gets.

 Quality trimming's and slim profile at the cuffs make for a very stylish and comfortable fit. 

Quality trimming's and slim profile at the cuffs make for a very stylish and comfortable fit. 

All buttoned up two feelings came over me. One, I felt immediately stylish and Two, I felt comfortable and secure as the overall feel of the jacket inspired confidence in its ability to protect from the elements or worse. It was now obvious the Rowan and I were fast friends in the show room but what about out on the road where it counts?

On board my Scrambler Ducati, Urban Enduro, I headed south towards the coast north of Kaikoura. I chose this road as there is a notorious spot just before joining the coast line where the wind tends to howl directly against your progress. On an open bike like the scrambler, it would be a perfect test or this Merlin Jacket to identify any wind entry points or cold spots. 

 The Rowan preformed flawlessly on the open bike with punishing winds coming off the sea. 

The Rowan preformed flawlessly on the open bike with punishing winds coming off the sea. 

Rounding a corner and heading down toward sea level I was not disappointed. The temp was coolish 11 C and the wind was in my face and gusting forcibly. I grabbed a bit of extra throttle just for good measure and blasted through the wind, down toward the sea. Result = warm and toasty with no leaks and no cold spots thereby leaving me to simply enjoy the ride and concentrate on keeping the Ducati pointed in the right direction. Enjoying it so much, I actually 'concentrated' along the coast much further than planned and ended up in Kaikoura around mid day. 

Weather prrofing desing, rain guttering, fasteners, liners and pockets all extremely well designed and laid out. 

After a spot of lunch at the Pier Hotel, the temp had risen to around 25 C so before setting off I removed the thermal liner other wise the persistent NZ sun would quickly cause an overheat at one of the many construction stops on the way back. Cruising along with the Ducati air cooled twin thumping beneath me, sun shining off the costal waters and the Rowan keeping me comfortable, I am definitely in my happy place.

The Rowan also has a couple of vents, one on each shoulder which I open and am pleasantly surprised. Looking at the jacket you wouldn't expect the vents to do much as they are backed with the waterproof lining and there is no exit vents on the back of the jacket to encourage air flow. The waterproof Reissa membrane is however breathable and does allow for some cooling to take place. Keep in mind that this jacket is not designed nor meant for beach cruising at 35 C around the Mediterranean. Its going to shine when conditions are a bit cool, windy or even wet. Its so good at this I would be willing to bet that people who own one, go out riding in conditions that may have kept them indoors previously. I think this jacket is very ride-able up to about 25 - 28 C Depending on your personal tolerances. Considering the large temperature fluctuations that can occur in New Zealand makes the Rowan a very useful garment indeed. 

 Nice touches like having internal pockets in the liner and main shell at found throughout the jackets design.

Nice touches like having internal pockets in the liner and main shell at found throughout the jackets design.

Overall I have to give this jacket a 9.5/10 only losing a half point to the lack of exit vent on the rear which I think would extend the seasonal usability a bit or offer a bit more efficient cooling for those who run hot. I highly recommend this jacket for those who appreciate quality and want to invest in a 'lifetime' garment. For me this jacket is quite special. It isn't something you simply 'use' while riding. Its as much a part of the experience as the bike, the road or the scenery. Its that old friend who never lets you down and is always ready for a ride. 

Details:

  • Longer Length Belted Heritage Style Jacket
  • Original Scottish Halley Stevensons 8 oz Thornproof Waxed Cotton
  • Korean Reissa Waterproof And Breathable Membrane
  • Italian Safetech CE Armour To Shoulder And Elbow (Removable)
  • Back Armour Pocket (Pre-fitted With A Foam Pad)
  • 100g Thermal Liner (Removable)
  • YKK Short Connecting Zip
  • YKK Or Max High Quality Zips Throughout
  • Multiple Pockets Inside & Out
  • Side Entry Hand Warmer Pockets
  • Adjustment To Hem, Cuff & Bicep
  • Twin Zipped Chest Vents
  • Soft Trim Collar & Cuffs

Colours: Black

Sizes: SML-3X

 

Available in New Zealand at: Beatnik

 

 

 

Mike Gilbert