AXO Leather Motorcycle Jacket Test
In America, AXO is long known for its quality off-road apparel, but the Italy-based company has been recently surfacing in street wear.AXO began designing street apparel in 1995 overseas, but its newest leather sportbike jacket, the Byway, is the first to be specifically designed for “American fit and flavor.” And for not having much experience in American street apparel, the Byway is an absolute hit.Except for a few minor gripes, the Byway became my go-to jacket for all sportbike duties. The gripes up front? I have to remember a rain suit due to lack of waterproofing. Plus, I have to mix the Byway with other manufacturer’s bottoms when the spirited riding takes place. Why? AXO doesn’t make leather track-style pants…yet, anyway.First thing noticed is the soft and limber leather, which requires no break-in whatsoever. The jacket is entirely constructed of this soft, 100-percent Brazilian cowhide leather, except for the stretch Kennyspan fabric under the arms. These stretch panels allow for exceptional movement, both on and off the bike. Inside, the jacket features anti-bacterial, anti-sweat, perforated polyester liner that is comfortable on the skin, as is the neoprene collar.When the temps are hot, the jacket features ample cooling due to perforation on the sides, front, and a well-placed ban on the upper sleeves. Additional cooling is provided due to the Velcro-closure designs on the neck and sleeves; the Byway can be unzipped a quarter of the way down, and the Velcro closure on the chest allows just enough closure, to prevent the top of the jacket from flapping. The same can be said for the sleeves, though you can fully unzip them, allowing gobs of air into the jacket if not donning gauntlet-style gloves.And due to featuring a full-sleeve, zip-out quilted liner, something hard to find on a sportbike jacket, the Byway can be worn in colder temps, easily making for a three-season sportbike jacket. The full-sleeve liner, which also features an inside pocket, provided warmth in the lower 50s with just a t-shirt, so additional warmth is there if you layer.Regarding size, I went with a large considering I usually don a size 42 for extreme sportbike riding, and a 44 for a roomier fit during longer trips and fall riding (layering). The large fit was perfect for my 5’11 height, weighing around 170 lbs. with an athletic build. The jacket also features two simple waist-adjustment Velcro straps, providing for a tighter fit if needed.The only issue I had – though minor – was the bulkiness of CE approved and removable “Powertector” shoulder and elbow cups, especially the elbow cups. The protection could have been designed a bit less intrusive, though that would likely hike the price further. The Byway doesn’t arrive with a backpad, but there’s pocket to insert one if needed.Other features of the jacket are two hip pockets big enough for a wallet and cell phone, an inside pocket, stretch panels above the shoulders and elbows, and reflective material for increased nighttime visibility.For the past 2,000 miles or so, the AXO Byway became my go-to jacket due to the comfort, cooling factor and the simple styling. Now I’m hoping AXO develops a set of leather, track-style pants…it’s a shame not to have a match for such a good-looking piece of motorcycle apparel.The AXO Byway jacket is available in three color schemes – black/gray, black/blue, and black/red – and carries an MSRP of $450. For additional information, log onto AXO.com.