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How Can a $1000 Motorcycle Jacket Prove Its Worth?

© Zach Bowman   The Aether Divide motorcycle jacket is what you get when Armani meets asphalt.

By Zach Bowman, Road & Track

This is nearly a $1,000 motorcycle jacket. The Aether Divide will set you back $995, which is nearly three times what I paid for my first bike, a 1976 Honda CB550 Four. When it comes to a piece of gear like this, there’s only one question that matters: Is it worth it? The short answer is no. And also, yes.

Welcome to Gearbox, where we showcase the best non-car stuff we get to sample.

All bike gear sits on a spectrum, with functional protection on one end and style on the other. Aerostitch probably makes the best kit on the planet for keeping you safe, warm, and dry on a motorcycle, but the company’s bulky onesies look like they were designed for trash men from space. A vintage Schott lies on the other end. Plucked straight from The Wild One, the classic cross-zippered leather number is the definition of cool, but offers about as much protection as a prayer when you inevitably bounce off the pavement. At least EMS will find you dashing while they cut the thing off.

© Zach Bowman   Aether Divide Motorcycle Jacket

Aether has always aimed to find that perfect, fabled middle ground. The California-based company’s ethos boils down to beauty through utility. But make no mistake, every item in the company’s catalog is a luxury item. And while that’s true of nearly everything surrounding motorcycles in the United States, Aether is one of the few companies that actually treats its products as such. Yes, you can get something cheaper that does the same job, but would you rather wear a Casio or an Oyster Perpetual on your wrist?

© Aether   Divide Motorcycle Jacket

$995.00


The apparel maker sent over its Divide Jacket last spring, and it wasn’t until this past week that the thing really shone. Fall in East Tennessee is perfection on a motorcycle, the air cool and full of the deep smell of fallen leaves. And, because you know that riding season is coming to a close, you find yourself on the bike as often as possible, even when the forecast looks bleak. So when my wife asked if I wanted to grab lunch, I left the Miata keys in their drawer, pulled the Divide off its hook, and fired the R100 out of the garage. Gray skies and an autumn chill be damned.

© Zach Bowman   Aether Divide Motorcycle Jacket

The Divide is technically an adventure jacket, tailored and designed for the pocket-obsessed BMW GS crowd. That means it has the usual compliment of armor, but also long sleeves to cover your wrists while you’re standing on the pegs, arms extended. It’s also stitched from abrasion resistant, seam-sealed GORE-TEX. And while that’s great for blasting across the steppes of Mongolia, the fabric is also weirdly suited for enduring commuter duty. Breathable, but also highly weather resistant. That’s all standard fare for this type of kit, be it from Alpinestars or Klim. What sets the Divide apart is attention to detail.

© Zach Bowman   Aether Divide Motorcycle Jacket

What’s impressive is how well the jacket manages air flow. There are plenty of vents if the day’s warm, but my chilly ride to lunch was made cozy by the Divide’s draft mitigation. The sleeves feature an inner cuff that seals out the wind. That seems so painfully obvious, but I cannot tell you how many three-season jackets I’ve tried that lack that crucial detail. Nothing’s worse than riding through a cold rain at 80 mph, the wind and water working their way up your forearm. The Divide also uses a double-lined collar, with an inner draw string that can pull tight. The outer layer’s trimmed in soft leather that’s easy on the neck. The main body is unlined, but weirdly, that makes it more versatile than other options with a zip-in layer. Throw a fleece on underneath when the air’s cool, and you’re good to go.

I watched the clouds darken as we ate, and the first drops were already falling by the time we said goodbye. It was a steady pour before I could make the interstate, but the Divide didn’t care, merrily beading water as I blitzed for home. You’d be amazed how far you can ride in miserable weather so long as your core’s warm and dry.

© Zach Bowman   Aether Divide Motorcycle Jacket

Worth is a funny thing. So often, an object’s value comes down not to what it can do, but how much desire it stokes in the masses. The truth is, as much as I’d like to turn up my nose at the thought of a $1,000 motorcycle jacket, as much as I’d prefer to wear my leaky bargain kit like some dumb badge of honor, I want the Divide. I want what it promises: years of unflappable service that allow me to spend more time in pursuit of a thing I love: good miles on a good machine.

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News: How Can a $1000 Motorcycle Jacket Prove Its Worth?
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