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V7 - The Vanson X Union Garage NYC Armored Leather Motorcycle Jacket

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by 2wheelgrplr, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer

    Vanson X Union Garage NYC V7 armored leather jacket


    So here’s my take on this new jacket - first a backgrounder: I’ve known Chris Lesser the owner of Union Garage NYC since late 2012, around the time he first opened his store in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY. He has been working with Vanson on this jacket since sometime in 2014. This was after the successful launch of their earlier collaboration with Vanson, the waxed cotton armored riding jacket, the Robinson, which is the armored, up-gunned and tweaked version of the ever-popular Vanson Stormer jacket, basically the Stormer on steroids and a very capable competitor to the Belstaff Trialmaster. I have one (as well as the Stormer for warmer weather riding) and I love it! Anybody wanting a traditional style waxed cotton riding jacket with amor option, should definitely consider the Vanson X UGNYC Robinson as a top selection. http://uniongaragenyc.com/shop/motorcycle-jackets/union-garage-robinson-jacket

    Anyways back to the V7. Sometime in Summer 2014, I remember talking to Chris about Vanson’s legacy jackets and armoured options - this was when Vanson had released their AR3 (armored Model A) which I bought and sent back to them for customisation. Chris mentioned how they were in discussions with Vanson about making their own version. In fact, I think the AR3 was released after Chris’ initial talks with Vanson. He wasn’t too keen on the Model A’s huge “batwing” bi-swing back gussets, the cuffs that were folded over instead of being stitched (as on the current V7 jacket), the too-thick amor pads, etc. Through the years, even as I left the US to settle down back in Asia, I’ve stayed in touch with Chris and gotten updates on the various prototypes of this jacket. It was finally ready for release in late September 2017, just when I was visiting the US. So of course, I promptly made my way to Brooklyn the day after I landed and grabbed the lone oxblood jacket in my size as well as a black one. The oxblood one is from the last prototype, so its collar is different from the final production version - this one has the familiar Model-B-type band collar instead of the separate latch piece they’ve gone with on the production V7, similar to the Schott 141 and the Lost Worlds Easy Ryder. By the way, Union Garage used to be the only physical store in the US that stocked Lost Worlds leather jackets, albeit a select few styles only. I bought my LW Buco Rider from them in 2013. No LW restock the last year or so, it seems. Besides the collar, the rest of the features between the last prototype are the same with the production model.

    A sidenote about the oxblood color - as Chris and his team were going back and forth between Brooklyn and Fall Rivers, someone in Vanson mentioned that they had a batch of leather that was supposed to have been Octagon, but came out deeper red. One look and Chris went, “We’ll take it, all of it!” Thus the limited edition Oxblood, all made from however much of this hide that they can get their hands on. Once they’re gone, they gone! Unless Vanson gets more of this hide. So if you’re on the fence about this color, just grab it!

    I rode briefly with the black jacket, but have put in around 150 miles of riding so far with the oxblood jacket on, including riding for over an hour in heavy downpour (Hurricane Nate aftereffects). The black leather is Vanson’s comp weight. The Oxblood is basically the Octagon - it behaves like the Octagon in how it’s creasing etc. The hour-plus of heavy rain was no issue at all for the leather - no soaking inside, no seepage through the stitches, no color running off. Typical Vanson hardcore performance.

    The jackets fit me spot-on in a size 42. I’m around 5’10” tall (around 178 cm), wear a size 42 in Vanson Comet and a size 40 in Schott 141. The fit is slim without being overly close-fitting. The shoulder gussets are deep enough that they provide the room and comfort for riding without being noticeably big, or having excess material spilling out. The length is right around the waist, with a slightly dropped tail that gives just the correct amount of extra back coverage while riding - no more. It’s not as long as a Vanson Model A of the same size. The arms strike a good balance between roomy/baggy and slim/tight. The length is just perfect for me. The zippers close down well. As mentioned earlier, the sleeve ends are stitched down, instead of typical Vanson folded down. I’m fine either way so this doesn’t make a difference to me. The flap underneath the sleeve zippers are single layer leather, as seen on other Vanson jackets, which means they fold under the zippers easier. The wind flap is of a nice size and works well in blocking wind seeping through the zipper.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
  2. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer


    The zippers are brass and typically Vanson sturdy. I think the size and the color looks good with both the jacket color options, I particularly like this brass zipper with the black jacket. Two slant hand warmer pockets with zippers zipping down (not up). Single chest pocket is atypical in that it’s on the right side instead of the left as usually seen on most other jackets. Reasoning behind this, according to Union Garage, is that this allows you to keep your right hand on the throttle while the left hand can reach into this chest pocket for whatever it is the rider needs. They did the same on the Robinson waxed-cotton jacket, making the right chest pocket slanted instead of the left as seen on the Belstaff and others. Two inside slanted pockets with single snap button closures. I immediately found the slant positions of these pockets working much better than the typical horizontal pockets as it allows them to be actively used while riding - makes reaching for stuff inside much easier while on the move. They’re also deep enough to safely hold your wallet or cellphone. The inner linings of all pockets are a very nice and sturdy red plaid material. Meanwhile, the lining of the entire jacket - body and sleeves is this slick & smooth material in shiny black (rayon, I'm guessing). Branding is absolutely minimal, and all on the inside of the jacket - the usual Vanson patch on one side of the jacket, a “UGNYC” logo embossed on the back and “Union Garage” embossed on the leather bands of the inside pockets.

    Now the amor pads - they’re those yellow D3O pads, soft, light and flexible. I know they work well because I’ve taken a few spills while wearing other jackets with this same amor and they’ve protected me well. As with some other Vanson armored jackets I have experience with - the AR3, the Drifter, the Robinson - instead of a zippered pocket in the lining, Vanson opts to have velcro strips & patches attached to the inside of the leather, which you reach through a zippered opening in the center back. Union Garage has made these neat sleeves with velcro patches for each individual D3O pad. You then slip these pads into the jacket, fiddle a bit and have the velcro strips attach where you want them. This allows you to tweak the placement a fraction here & there and have the shoulder and elbow pads exactly where you want them. Granted it’s a bit more fiddly than just slotting them into pre-set pockets, but once done, they sit well, and where you want them to. Back pad goes inside a zippered pocket. These D3O pads are way more flexible and slimmer than the huge, thick black pads that Vanson typically uses. This makes the pads less noticeable, you also feel them less while wearing the jacket, adding to the comfort and ease of movement. Believe me, my Vanson AR3 custom jacket is way more stiff than the new V7 and you know a mile away that there are big pads underneath the AR3. Despite the lighter D3O pads, the V7 is still a thick, heavyweight, sturdy jacket with no options for air vents or the like and thus not the best option for hot-weather riding. But come cooler weather, these jackets will be in their element.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
  3. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer


    The cost of the jacket is $950, which is more than an off-the-rack Vanson Model B, for example ($700 or so). For the extra features on the V7, I think this is a decent price. Besides, other niche collaboration jackets with Vanson also typically cost an extra few hundred dollars - ex: the Left Field X Vanson Commando jacket, the Paul Cox X Vanson Berserker jacket, etc.

    Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the V7 jacket. This is a very classic cafe-racer-type motorcycle jacket, with just the right amount of modern touches to make it at home whether you ride a vintage, a retro or the latest urban naked street bike. They’ll probably look right on a sports bike as well. I know I’ll end up wearing this while riding my Tiger ADV bike as well as on my Bonnie Scrambler (of course!) A lot of thought has gone into making this jacket. Chris has a background in publishing, he used to work at a bicycling magazine before and it shows in his writing. His online journals, product write-ups and descriptions are always detailed and witty without crossing over the too-hip/trying-too-hard fence. Similarly, his attention to detail shows in the careful consideration he has given to his store and the curated merchandise he carries. The philosophy is high quality, subdued gear that flies under the radar and works well for their intended purposes, all at a correct price. Yes, most times this type of gear comes at a higher cost than cheaper alternatives, but you know the higher cost is there for a reason. More attention on “go” than on “show.” A larger percentage of the clientele has been an urban population who ride in the city. Of course, being Brooklyn, there’s more than your share of hip young folk making up the customer base, but that’s not the sole niche UGNYC aims at. All of this comes through in the products he has put out in the last five years - besides the requisite hats and t-shirts, these have been few, but of the highest quality - the above-mentioned Robinson jacket, the UGNYC Tool Roll, and now the V7 Jacket. I’m just another plain-joe motorcycle-riding, leather-jacket loving guy, but after some years of trying out a fairly wide selection of moto jackets, I can say with utmost confidence that this is one of the best classic, never-go-out-of-style armored leather motorcycle jackets in the market and it earns my highest recommendation.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
  4. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer

    PICS: below pics are of my oxblood V7 prototype jacket (only difference with the production model is the collar band). I'll take more pics of this and the black jacket and share here in due course of time:

    More pics to follow below ...
  5. ProteinNerd

    ProteinNerd Call Me a Cab

    So jealous you got both colours! How much do you weigh and what is your chest measurement? I’ve never tried on a Vanson or a Schott so have no idea what sizing is like but I’m 5’10” as well.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. Monitor

    Monitor I'll Lock Up

    2wheel, Thank you so much for the review! Fantastic write up and I was nodding the whole time while reading 'cause it was literally everything I expected you'd say. I knew this jacket is something else the moment I first saw it at the promo shots at the Union Garage site and I'm so happy it really is turning out to be just that and more.
    Fit is literally perfect, in every possible way. It looks so cool on you and yeah, exactly what you said, not skintight but still slim fitting - exactly how, in my opinion, a leather jacket should fit. Bike jacket or otherwise.

    Seeing the Oxblood for the first time now, I'm particularly amused how it looks as beautiful as literally anything else on the market. Could've mistaken it for a CXL Cordovan. Given some mileage, this will look insane.
    JMax, Guppy and ton312 like this.
  7. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer

    Black V7 jacket without pads inserted:


    D3O soft armor pads being inserted into their sleeves and then into the jacket:

    davyjones007, El Marro and Guppy like this.
  8. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer

    Some quick mirror pics of me in my oxblood V7 at the Union Garage NYC store. Pics came out dark, doesn't do justice to the awesomeness of the jacket color.

  9. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer

    Another mirror shot - this time post the hour-long ride in heavy downpour. Vanson jacket shakes off the rain without missing a beat!
  10. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer

    Promo video of the Vanson X UGNYC V7 jacket. It's there on the site as well, but showcasing it here as it's a very well done effort:

    davyjones007 and Guppy like this.
  11. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer

    Thank you! Had to get both colours as I live overseas now and its a lot more effort and expense to order one down the road. Decided to take the plunge now, even though this blows my jacket budget off the chart! LOL

    I weigh around 180 lbs and wear a size 40R in suit size usually. Hope this helps.
    ProteinNerd likes this.
  12. Monitor

    Monitor I'll Lock Up

    Somehow even the black one seems to be made from leather that's 3x nicer than Vanson's standard stuff.
    davyjones007, SkyTurtle and ton312 like this.
  13. ton312

    ton312 I'll Lock Up

    Thanks for the time, effort and wealth of information @2wheelgrplr
    Excellent write and review, lovely pics. Man just solidified everything I suspected this jacket would be. Couldn't love the oxblood color anymore. It's a perfect CR and it's easy to see where all the thought went in it's design.
    davyjones007 likes this.
  14. Guppy

    Guppy One Too Many

    Great writeup, 2wheel. I second everything you say about the fit and the design. I need to put some miles on mine before winter gets here. I'm really looking forward to doing so!
  15. SkyTurtle

    SkyTurtle Familiar Face

    Many thanks for taking the time to do a thoughtful write up on the jacket and Union Garage. Being that I'm currently shopping for a jacket this thread hit home. Love that oxblood leather; it solves the only minor worries I had about Vanson's Octagon leather: that it is too orange. And I agree with Monitor, that oxblood is a very upscale departure from Vanson's normal utilitarian leathers. I would have thought that to be an Aero jacket at first glance.

    And is that a Bltwell Lane Splitter in the first pic? If so, any thoughts to share on that helmet?
    davyjones007 and Monitor like this.
  16. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer

    Thanks for the kind words, gentlemen! Yes, after following its development for some years, this jacket did turn out as good as expected/hoped for ... maybe more! Yes, the oxblood color IS very rich and close to the Cordovan CXL from the top brands that I've seen. And yes, even the black looks a notch above regular black comp weight - perhaps it's the combination of looks, fit and those nice brass zippers offsetting the deepness & richness of the black leather? Speaking of comp weight leather, the black V7 does feel a tad bit softer than my other Vanson comp weight jackets. Still super sturdy, just not as stiff & demanding.

    Besides all the features and materials that went into this jacket, it's the fit that seals the deal. Wearing the jacket while riding, there's nothing that's pulling down, pushing up, or left bare - everything just seems to be in their place. A very good feeling.

    I know I'm coming out as quite the fanboy, gushing about this product, but it's really a top quality, well made jacket and so far I'm very happy with mine.
  17. 2wheelgrplr

    2wheelgrplr A-List Customer

    Yes, thats the Biltwell Lane Splitter. I've been wearing Biltwell for some time now and they fit me really well - the open-face Bonanza, the Gringo, and now this Lane Splitter. I've been wanting a Simpson for a while now, especially the M30. Tried them on last year, loved how they looked on me, but was a bit put off by the quality in some areas, especially for the price ($400 and up) - cheek pads on all the helmets I tried on were loose, some coming off when I took off the helmet. Whereas the Biltwell Lane Splitters seem to be of better quality overall, especially at their price point ($250). When I first saw pics of the Lane Splitter I wasn't sure I liked them as much as the Simpsons, but in person they're much better looking. Design is basic, venting is through the slits in & around the mouth, or if you open the visor. In warmer weather I did feel a bit hot around my forehead as there are no vents on top of the helmet. Then again I've been spoiled by my modern helmets like the Shoei Hornet, Neotec and RF1100, all with excellent venting. The Lane Splitters' visors are thick and decent quality. They can be swapped easily enough by unscrewing them with the help of a coin. They come with plain ones and a range of other tints are available. View is decent for a full face helmet, not the best but good enough. The extra space in the mouth is welcome. The inner pads are plush and nice quality. The chin strap is sturdy and works well. Everything sits solidly in their place. There's a bunch of cool colours available. It's not the most aerodynamic design while riding in highway speeds, but you get used to it pretty fast. Finally, the looks are KILLER!!! And that's what sells it pretty much for everybody! If you like the looks and don't mind making do without some modern amenities, then I'd say Go Get One! Recommended!
    davyjones007 and SkyTurtle like this.
  18. SkyTurtle

    SkyTurtle Familiar Face

    +1 on the Biltwells. I've had this Gringo for some time now and it's my favorite helmet for commuting around town in the middle of the Southern Summer. Big open viewport without a shield provides plenty of ventilation as the air ducts right out the bottom. It has the general feel of a 3/4 with a chin bar:

    I've been stalking the Lane Splitter as I agree it is absolutely killer in the looks department. And love yours in the black.
    davyjones007 and 2wheelgrplr like this.
  19. Monitor

    Monitor I'll Lock Up

    I just noticed the pocket lining... Christ almighty, this is the end game of leather jackets. Seriously. Game over, man.
    davyjones007 and 2wheelgrplr like this.
  20. Guppy

    Guppy One Too Many

    I hadn't noticed, so just checked and mine has the same pocket linings... so it's not just the prototype. Sweet!

    And @Monitor, not to dampen your enthusiasm any, but the one I have, the black comp weight leather isn't any better than the black comp weight on a Model F that I had briefly in my possession, and opted to flip a few months ago. Which is not in any way a put-down, that was some fine heavy leather. And I think it's actually slightly less heavy than that of an older, worn brown Model F that I still have in my closet. I should probably pull that out again sometime and take some pictures of it, now that I'm thinking about it...
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017

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