Street & Steel Oakland Collection Review | In-House Protection
It’s easy to be dismissive of house brands. They often have a fairly generic name, and they certainly don’t have the gravitas associated with the larger brands that often have a high profile in motorcycle racing.Regardless, there is something to be said for bedrock basic apparel that comes at an attractive price. In the case of Street & Steel—a house brand for the Cycle Gear chain—the Oakland Collection manages to spring a few positive surprises on us. Let’s take a look at how the Oakland apparel covers us from neck to ankle.
Street & Steel Oakland Jacket/Vest
When I first saw the Oakland jacket/vest, I was immediately attracted to the pairing of a leather vest with denim sleeves.Upon further investigation, I discovered that the denim sleeves zip off—a cool feature. Unfortunately, the sleeves lack any sort of abrasion resistant material. That means you have only impact protection from the soft and flexible CE-approved elbow guards. Street & Steel claims CE shoulder protection in the shoulders, but it’s not there and there is no pocket for adding it—they need to get that fixed.The big shocker is the back protector. As soon as I got the Oakland jacket, I took out the back protector, expecting to replace it with a CE-rated protector from Alpinestars or Forcefield Body Armor.Once out, I discovered that the foam back pad is actually CE-approved! That is a feature you don’t get on jackets from the big boys that can run three times the price of the Oakland jacket.So, from a protection standpoint, big kudos to Street & Steel for authentic back protection, while also a wagging finger for no abrasion protection in the arms and no shoulder impact protection. I mention these first, as safety is a great concern with purchasing a hybrid leather/denim jacket that runs just $230.Given that my back and spine are second only to my brain in needing protection in a fall, Street & Steel got the most important part of my body covered. The typical pad for your back found in most jackets is of no value if you go down.I tested the jacket in the hottest part of the summer, and another unexpected feature made itself known. Although the Oakland jacket doesn’t use perforated leather in the front, there is a two-inch wide perforated strip across the upper back. That helps exhaust air that flows in through the sleeves, neck, and wrist, giving a bit of cooling on the triple-digit days.If you’re serious about being cooler, the sleeves do zip off quickly. I certainly don’t recommend riding that way, as you lose the CE elbow protection. The Oakland jacket has independent button and zipper closings, so you get a bit of airflow customization. There is no removable quilted inner liner—just a permanent mesh liner for comfort—so this is primarily a warmer weather jacket.Comfort is high, as the leather is pliable off the rack, in part because it’s not especially thick. Your arms will love the ease of movement granted by the denim sleeves, and I think the look is a good one, even though I miss the abrasion protection. For me, this is an urban jacket that looks good on sport and cruiser motorcycles, though touring riders may think the comfort is worth trading safeguards.Cargo capacities are typical—two exterior hand pockets, plus a Napoleon pocket, and all are zippered.The Street & Steel Oakland jacket/vest is a mixed bag from a safety perspective. If you can get past that, its great styling and functionality make it a winner for the right rider.
Street & Steel Oakland Jeans
Compared to some of the innovative ideas in the Oakland jacket/vest, the Street & Steel motorcycle jeans are more straightforward.The 12-ounce stretch denim is a notable feature. While I’m not a stretch denim kind of guy off the motorcycle, the flexibility provided is a plus. Also, I received a few unsolicited positive comments about the fit and styling of the Oakland jeans, and that is always welcome. Part of the styling win is the lack of seams on the legs, giving the jeans a clean look.For abrasion protection inside the jeans, Street & Steel uses aramid, which is a fairly vague term. It can be used for ballistic-rated military body armor, or something considerably less protective. Street & Steel claims that aramid on the Oakland jeans is “heat and tear resistant.” I hope to never find out how protective they are.The aramid is used in the seat, hips, and knees, where you are most likely to need it. Impact protection is provided by CE-rated knee guards, which can be adjusted to taste for position, or removed (not recommended). I never noticed they were there, so I’d have no reason to take them out.Fit on the Street & Steel Oakland jeans is the same as my Levi’s 501 CT jeans. All Oakland jeans have a 33.5-inch inseam. Cuffing is an option if they’re too long for you, while the lower leg is just roomy enough to fit over boots. Again, these are good looking motorcycle jeans that have enough protection to satisfy my needs around town and for light sport riding.
Street & Steel Oakland Gloves
Finishing off the ensemble are the Oakland gloves, which are stylistically a bit out of step with the more retro jacket/vest and jeans. The injected molded knuckle protection definitely has a modern look that spills over into the rest of the glove. Still, they’re all black, so they fly under the fashion radar for the most part.Street & Steel calls the gloves a “race ready design”, which might be a bit of a stretch. Regardless, they offer more protection than the other Oakland gear. There is some scaphoid protection, along with a fairly sustainable leather palm—something you will want should you find yourself sent down the road without your motorcycle.Perforated fingers and thumb make the Oakland gloves comfortable on a warm day, and you can adjust the hook-and-loop closure on the soft neoprene wrist to taste. There are accordion panels on the index and middle fingers, adding the flexibility you want for operating hand controls.I’m a big fan of floating knuckles on gloves, and the Oaklands have them—good job. Fit is comfortably snug, and they work for all-day rides.
Street & Steel Oakland Collection Conclusion
Whenever you are faced with a store brand, there’s good reason to be a bit skeptical. In the case of the Street & Steel Oakland collection, be prepared to be unexpectedly impressed.Action photography by Kelly Callan
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