The choices for touring jackets are staggering, with a wide variety of alluring, and sometimes perplexing, choices at hand. When selecting a jacket, it is always good to remind yourself of your own needs and desires, rather than those of an apparel designer.Tour Master’s Transition line, which arrive with a waterproof breathable Rainguard barrier, has been an impressive one. I have worn the Transition Series 3 jacket extensively, and am happy to report that the fourth edition feels particularly suited to me. I typically wear a Medium sized jacket— save for some Euro brands that deem me to be Large—and the Transition Series 4 feels custom-made. Medium jacket wearers, rejoice!Even among fellow Mediums, it is important to be able to tailor to each of us further. To that end, Tour Master has given the TS4 two adjust- able hook-and-loop side belts, a pair of three-position elastic snap-tabs on each arm, two stretchy snap-tabs on the shoulders, plus hook- and-loop closures for the neck and wrists. Take the time to make all the proper adjustments, and you will be set whether you’re riding with the long-sleeve quilted inner liner in or out.Instead, the TS4 uses traditional venting in the zippered shoulder/upper arm openings, plus four in the chest area (two double as cargo pockets), which work quite well, due in part to excellent exhaust venting in the back. I was comfortable well into the 70s with a long-sleeve shirt, the liner in, and the venting open. You can stow the liner in an external lower-back storage compartment when riding a bag-free mount.
If you ride in triple-digit temperatures, this isn’t the coolest jacket, but it is fine below that. At the other end of the spectrum, with a Fly Racing Heavyweight base layer, I was still warm down into the 40s.One of my most important desires is to keep my essential cargo safe and sound, and the TS4 jacket does that in a way that fully satisfies me. The roomy lower outer pockets each have dual closures—a waterproof zipper and hook-and- loop flap closure. This means I can stow my wallet and phone in those pockets and never feel the need to pat myself down to be sure they’re there. Peace of mind is priceless, and allows me to focus on the ride.There are plenty of nice details, including duplication of the two interior pockets in the liner, an integrated under-helmet hood for rainy rides (easily deployed and stowed), soft microfiber in the neck and wrists, and reflective piping for riding in low-light conditions. Safety is always crucial, and the Transition Series 4 is fairly standard in that department—you get the latest CE-approved elbow and shoulder armor. If you want CE back protection, you will have to add it yourself.Far from the most expensive or fully featured touring jacket you can buy, the simplicity, comfort, and effectiveness of the Tour Master Transition Series 4 makes it an attractive jacket for those rides where you only want what you need for the job.The Tour Master Transition Series 4 has an MSRP of $269.99; for additional information, visit Tour Master.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.