Mesh jackets aren’t simply something to keep you more comfortable in hot weather. When temperatures move into triple digits, they become a safety essential, as adequate airflow can mean the difference between a good ride and heat stroke. The new Joe Rocket Alliance jacket provides the airflow you need and more-protective materials in abrasion-susceptible areas.
The Joe Rocket Alliance jacket is aimed at the sportbike rider who wants the cooling benefits of mesh, while still getting more than a minimal level of protection. Joe Rocket accomplishes this by putting its heavier 600-denier polyester weave on the shoulders and back, then buttressing it with leather on the forearms and lower back. Air-flowing stretch material along the inner arms and sides adds comfort and flexibility. Mesh is deployed at the chest, elbows, and the back’s sides to allow for the required airflow.
The first thing I noticed when putting the Joe Rocket Alliance jacket on was that the Large—the size I have for a dozen Joe Rocket jackets in the past—was far too big. I swapped it for a Medium, which was still roomy, though close enough. Keep the generous sizing in mind when ordering online, even if you have other Joe Rocket jackets—or get fitted in person. The fit can be customized with three-position strap/snap combos on the forearms, and hook-and-loop integrated belts on each side of the waist.
Once fitted, the Southern California weather complied with my request for 100-degree weather for testing. In fact, the weather got a bit too cooperative and offered it up for days on end. Regardless, the Joe Rocket Alliance jacket got a hardcore hot weather workout.
All-mesh jackets usually lack form. While unsurpassed in airflow, you might not like the feel of them. A jacket shell that is a hybrid of mesh, heavier textile, and stretch material gives the jacket the feeling you’re used to, though at the expense of a bit of airflow. Joe Rocket improves on the mesh/textile concept by adding leather where you might need it in a fall, without compromising the jacket’s cooling properties.
As a Southern California native, I’m not sensitive to heat. I can’t say I prefer riding when it’s 100 degrees out, but I can handle it. The Joe Rocket Alliance jacket works perfectly in these conditions, as it flows plenty of air at sportbike speeds. Urban riders may choose the full-mesh jackets and trade away the leather and heavy textile protection—much of it comes down to your reaction to hot conditions.
Out of the box, the Joe Rocket Alliance jacket offers unobtrusive CE level 2 armor in the elbows and shoulders—good stuff. That is bolstered with some padding in the lower back and forearms.
The included “spine pad” is removable and can be tossed, as it provides no impact protection. Fortunately, Joe Rocket offers the SW spine protector, which is CE level 2—exactly what my back insists on. Additionally, the SW spine protector is extraordinarily malleable and has ventilation, making it an excellent match for the Alliance jacket. It runs just $30 and is comfortable, so there is absolutely no reason to go without this indispensable impact protection.
Cargo carrying capacity is minimal. There are two exterior handwarmer (heh) pockets and a Napoleon pocket on the inside left—nothing else. All three pockets are zippered, with the jacket’s main zipper being a problem-free heavy-duty YKK unit. I carry my smartphone in the Napoleon pocket, my wallet in my exterior right pocket, and reading glasses in the left pocket. That’s all I need for a run from one end of Angeles Crest Highway to the other.
Joe Rocket didn’t include a quilted liner with the Alliance, a decision I agree with. If I am buying a mesh jacket, I don’t need it to keep me warm. However, I will want it to keep me dry should I find myself in a monsoon. The Alliance jacket includes a breathable waterproof liner, which is perfect if you live in areas where it rains when it’s hot. It’s easy to install and remove—just two zippers connecting to each side of the front of the jacket, plus a button/strap at each wrist. I didn’t test this feature, except to see how easy it is to deploy and detach. Oh, and the reflective trim keeps me visible in inclement weather and at night.
We all want to ride as many times as possible throughout the year. Mesh jackets are irreplaceable when it gets hot, and the Joe Rocket Alliance jacket brings extra protection in a comfortable chassis to the summertime party. The fact that the Alliance is also a sharp-looking jacket at an approachable price is a bonus.
Joe Rocket Alliance Jacket Fast Facts
- Sizes: Small – 3XLarge
- Armor: Shoulders and elbows CE level 2; CE level 2 back protection optional ($30)
- Colors: Black/Red; Black/Gray; Black/Hi-Viz
Joe Rocket Alliance Jacket Price: $220 MSRP ($250, as tested)