Pros: Really is rainproof, fleece liner can be used as a light jacket
Cons: Outer pockets too small and some are not rainproof. Lack of summer ventilation.
The wizard who protected Camelot can protect you on those you rode your motorcycle? days.
Another Jacket? But Its A Belstaff!
Back in 1924 Harry Grosberg invented the original waxed cotton motorcycle jacket. The first motorcycle gear that both was rainproof and could breath, the original Belstaff design protected winning competition riders well into the 1970s. Selling over 40,000 examples of that design, Belstaff jackets could be seen on the podiums for endurance competitions throughout those decades. When looking for cold and wet weather protection it makes sense to look to the country most well know for cold and damp weather, and to those who invented the first useful technology. By the 1980s waxed cotton started taking a back seat to synthetic fabrics at the English Midlands firm and in my own closet. Crossing over the millennium, Belstaff has kept pace with changing technology and tastes. Now the Merlin has a prominent place on my personal gear list.
The outer shell of the Merlin is 500 Denier Dupont Cordura/Dynax for abrasion and water resistance. That is Merlin magic stuff to protect you skin during a slide or rain. The Du Pont Hytrel? windproof/breathable/waterproof membrane provides the second layer of protection. Driving rain (or rain driven by unfaired highway speeds) stays on the outside and comforting air can circulate to your body. There is a removable fleece lining with Neoprene lined collar and cuffs, to counteract the cold. The removable lining can later be used as a more socially acceptable jacket around the campground or other non-motorcycle gathering. As expected, the jacket has 3M reflective patches to assist in your being seen at night, and zippers for ventilation. There are five outside pockets (not all are waterproof, so you must take care with what you use them for) and an zippered inside pocket.
Protecting your structural support (that means your bones, spine, and other joints) during impact with unwanted objects like the pavement, are CE approved shoulder, elbow, and back armor inserts. OK, CE is Europes highest standard for protective motorcycle armor. Unbelievably, the US DOT and personal injury lawyers have neglected this liability market segment, so we colonial motorcyclists have to turn to the Continent for guidance. In short, meeting CE standards is what you should look for when buying motorcycle gear.
Merlin magic shows through in the shell fabric colors. I am not sure exactly what you would call the shades, because it appears to subtly change with reflected light. It reminds me of a show-car finish. Tailoring is generous, but does not make one appear either too bulky or skinny.
Even with the physical rigors of motorcycle riding, it is not uncommon to see riders with generous midsections. Year round riders are also know for significant layering of clothing and electrically heated liners. The Merlin allows for either requirement while still sealing out the less desirable elements. I have never been entirely satisfied with the outer pocket size or placement, but that might only be my own taste. For me, they could be larger and easier to open.
Water integrity has never been an issue in either light or heavy rain. The jacket does breathe, so you do not find yourself soaked from your own sweat while riding in the rain. The removable liner provides that bit of bulk that makes you feel protected from the cold, and is nice to use upon destination arrival for a casual jacket. Only two of the outside pockets are truly waterproof, so again, take care with what you use them for.
All weather? Not exactly. With the fleece liner and possibly an electric vest it could easily be used in temperatures below the freezing point of water. Removing the liner and opening the zippers only provides true comfort into the high 70s or lower 80s. For once three season wear includes winter and excludes July and August.
Dont Take My Word For It
Yes, I do like the Belstaff Merlin jacket. It returns great value and performance for a very good price. Would I recommend it to friends or family? Well, it seems that I have not had to do that. I have been pleasantly surprised to see a number of other riders, and my own son, wearing the Merlin.