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Is a Half-Belt a Good Motorcycle Jacket?

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Vespizzare, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. Vespizzare

    Vespizzare A-List Customer

    Can someone explain the half-belt style jacket to me. It slimming and all, but what's it designed for? An A2 or a Perfecto, I understand where they're coming from; but with a half-belt, I'm totally clueless. Grouse hunting? The reason I'm asking is that I'm thinking about a colder weather bike jacket and that extra leather material down the back looks invitingly warm (and you still have the side belts for adjustability). I'll probably wind up going with a custom Highwayman type from Johnson Leather because I like the tight seal at the waist, and definitely am going to add an extra leather tail down the back, like on a highway patrol jacket. Of course, if I did somehow go the half-belt direction, I think it would be way too long in front for my upright riding position and would want to get a two way zipper, like on the longer cafe racers. Does any of this compute?
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
    Monitor likes this.
  2. I put a fair amount of miles on my motorcycle each spring,summer and fall. Out of several style MC jackets that I have..this is my favorite. If it gets real cold..I slip a vest on under it. I ride a traditional Harley..so I sit fairly upright and this jacket works exceptionally well. It's made from competition steer which is of substancial weight..but a comfortably relaxed hide.
    This is a Vanson 'Enfield'(similar to a HalfBelt)...

    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
  3. Some folks seem to like it.
  4. Here's my 'retro' Schott HH that I've used for years(also HB style)...

  5. The era from which the halfbelt design hails was before purpose designed motorcycle gear was readily available. Folks used what was to hand and worked for them. The original halfbelts were utility jackets, which early motorcyclists often chose for their durability and wind-cutting effect. One thing to consider is the type of bike you use and how you ride. Back in the thirties, bikes were much slower, there was much less traffic around, and the traffic that was about was much more aware of motorcycles. Very different these days. A halfbelt in a good heavy hide will certainly be every bit as useable as a Perfecto, say, if it is comfortable for you, but obviously not as protective in the event of a spill as a modern armoured jacket. A vintage stye jacket will involve a trade off of style vs protection; where exactly you want to draw the line is a personal choice and will depend a lot on how often, where and in what conditions you ride.

  6. Vespizzare

    Vespizzare A-List Customer

    It seems like a trade-off. I'd gain a little extra leather down my tailbone maybe, but you don't have the body heat retaining seal at the waist like on a Highwayman. I always feel like the open bottom sort of acts like an air-scoop.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
  7. pauleway

    pauleway Practically Family

    I don't ride a motorcycle, but I just picked up my first HH jacket(Aero 30's HB-Vintg.HH)on e-bay and I can't see how any other motorcycle jacket could protect you any better than this beast of a leather. It's thick and heavy and very similar to Hoos.D's Vanson Ensfield!
  8. AtlantaSpike

    AtlantaSpike Familiar Face

    I have a Bootlegger - I think that qualifies as a half belt - quite a useful MC jacket if sized properly in the sleeve length.
  9. IXL

    IXL One Too Many

    John, don't you have a 3/4 length Teton touring jacket? I have a Vanson Model B, which is very similar to the Enfield, but I would think a bit shorter than the Teton. I wear it with no problems on the Harleys, and the BMW R1200GS. It has no bottom zipper but I really don't miss that feature, at least not on my bikes.
  10. Vespizzare

    Vespizzare A-List Customer

    I sold an Enfield that was 26 down the back and I still have a Teton that's 29 and I can sit on the leather in back. It's a great jacket but sometime I don't want to be the Michelin Man when I get where I'm going. I totally need the two-way zipper with the Teton and wished I'd had it with the Enfield, I'm currently thinking something like an Aero Half Belt or Long Half Belt design (made by Johnson Leather).


    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  11. IXL

    IXL One Too Many

    You totally need a long half belt!!! I'm absolutely sure of it!!! :) (Come to think of it, so do I.)
    I can see where the Teton could make quite a statement.
  12. Vespizzare

    Vespizzare A-List Customer

    There are so many variables involved it can really drive you nuts, and it's a gas to get something made "just so." I'm probably only going to do just one more "project" so I want to do this righteously. As far as the Teton goes: I don't really think of it as a jacket, it's more a piece of safety equipment, like a roll bar.

    BTW (to IXL or whomever) I just tried on the Nano Puff fleece jacket you recommended. They didn't have any mediums but a large slid in easily. I almost could go for it, but I'm a little worried that a down jacket under cowhide would be too warm. I was in a warm store, but I wanna tell you, when I zipped it up I was hot! I do want something to layer that'll solve my problem when I get too cold on a bike, but I'm afraid the Nano Puff or similar might be clammy warm.
  13. IXL

    IXL One Too Many

    I went for an 80 mile ride on Dec. 24th, with a starting temp of 23°F. That Nano Puff, worn under my leather jacket, didn't feel the least bit clammy!
    What I like about this garment, in addition to being quite warm, is that it is so compressible and "slick" feeling: it will slide easily into any of my jackets, even the tighter ones. Maybe you should try it again, only this time while standing in the deep-freezer of a meat-packing plant. I think it'll feel pretty good!
    Of course, California might be a little bit on the mild side for the N. Puff, even for a guy that bundles up while out walking, as an approaching individual is wearing flip-flops and a tank top.....:) (I have these mental images of SoCal women out rollerblading....well, you know.....)
  14. Regardless of the jacket type chosen, I think there are a few important items to consider in the jacket design:

    A full length wind flap.

    A bi-swing back design (either full bi-swing or at least semi bi-swing) for ease of movement/reach and it also keeps the back from bunching up when off of the bike.

    Enough length in the back to cover your pant's belt when in riding position (obviously bike dependent).

    Sleeves of proper length for the reach to the grips when in riding position (also bike dependent)

    If you ever plan to get matching riding pants, you might consider getting the jacket prepared for accepting zip-on pants.

    Thick enough leather to withstand a get-off, but not so thick that it impedes movement. Interestingly, most lesser quality jackets actually give way in the stitching before the hide itself comes into play.

    A good fitting collar. I prefer a mandarin style collar, but having a collar that fits your neck size is very nice to have to avoid creating a wind scoop on your front side on colder (or wet) riding days.

    If you end up having JL make your riding jacket, then talk to Alan about incorporating their Forcefield armor either directly into the jacket itself or sizing the jacket to take the Forcefield undergarments underneath. (I'll be ordering Forcefield armor to go underneath my Langlitz jacket, but it's going to have to wait a while in my case.)
  15. JLStorm

    JLStorm Practically Family

    Ya...right. Just one more...until the next one lol
  16. Don Tomaso

    Don Tomaso A-List Customer

    The Long Half Belt is a beautiful jacket, and I love mine, but Aero's offering doesn't qualify imho. The most serious flaw would be the missing wind-flap, I would think that while riding a bike you'll have quite a draft through the zipper. Maybe a vest could mitigate this. For modern bikes I also think the LHB might be quite uncomfortable due to the length.
    These thoughts aside I'ld say it is one of Aero's best designs. :)
  17. The type of bike and sitting position would be an issue, given most vintage style jackets belong to an era of much more upright sitting positions. Maybe a cafe racer style is the answer? Given their origins as racing wear....
  18. Vespizzare

    Vespizzare A-List Customer

    Thanks for the heads-up. I'm going to have Johnson Leather build it so it's no problem to add the wind-flap. I have a Vespa so I'm going to go for about 26" in back, which will just reach the seat. It would probably be too long in front except I'll get a 2 way zipper.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  19. Plumbline

    Plumbline One Too Many

    Having tried many - perfecto's, buco's, trojans, highwaymen, halfbelts, long halfbelts, deluxe halfbelts, hercules's, irvin's, B3's. I commute 135miles per day BY BIKE ( BMW GS Winter and VFR VTEC Summer) 365 days per year and wear Goretex most of the time .... when I occasionally take one of my older bikes it's leather or nothing really :) I have an Alpinestars version of a "Highwayman" type design with a super warm thinsulate lining and a collar flap and full CE level II armour which is OK and I am willing to compromise look for protection.

    The BEST motorcycle jacket for spring / summer - OFF THE BIKE ( and very occasionally on) - is a bootlegger type jacket (lancer style zipper with overlap behind the zip and the ability to zip up to enclose the neck) with arms 1" longer than you need for std. use, inside pockets and 1" longer length in the body than std. IMHO. But short journeys only. That's why I ordered one ..... BUT I WEAR a Forcefield armour shirt underneath.

    Alternatively mostly any vintage style leather jacket will do for pootling around but they won't offer the protection of modern jackets ( armour etc.). My 50's Aero halfbelt in Jerky HH is OK for short journeys with armour shirt underneath but I wouldn't like to fall off in it ( I came off in my Highwayman about 20 years ago and buffed it through to the skin, luckily I had a Draggin Kevlar shirt underneath and ended up with superficial scuffs and a broken collar bone) .... lesson learned, if I'm riding a motorcycle for ANY distance it's a PROPER motorcycling jacket ( and that ISNT a Perfecto or an unarmoured jacket of ANY sort without full CE protection ).

    I don't bounce as well as I did when I was 20 ... NONE OF US DO !

    Just IMHO guys .... and I've over 500k motorcycling miles under my belt, been through 24 bikes since 1983 ... NOT fair weather biking, but VERY safe biking.
    Guppy likes this.
  20. Vespizzare

    Vespizzare A-List Customer

    Yikes! I do wear an armored Vanson Teton I'd say 50% of the time; but when I'm going out to lunch, shopping, library, or something else that involves walking etc. at the destination, I like something lighter and less Michelin Man-like. Of course, if someone decides to turn into me on an armorless ride, I'm screwed; but there's always a risk assessment whenever you get on a bike.


    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012

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