Car divers have it easy – protected from the rain and wind by their tin box, they only need to reach for the heater or aircon control if the weather changes. For bikers it’s not so simple. The weather can switch in an instant, but it’s not easy to swap your gear when out for a ride. You can always carry spare kit on board, but changing by the roadside is pure hassle and potentially dangerous. Many riders have separate stuff for winter and summer, which is not a bad idea. But all too often the climate in Britain, Northern Europe or America seems to run through all four seasons in a day. It’s easy to get caught out, which is why having gear that easily adapts is a big plus. We look at a new textile jacket from English maker Weise which is aimed to cover all the bases.
The Bora (named after a cold and highly changeable Adriatic wind) is specifically designed to adapt to a very wide range of weather scenarios by a combination of water and windproof construction and a mixture of high insulation and variable ventilation. If the Bora is to succeed it must therefore keep you dry when it’s wet, cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold.
The Jacket’s high spec construction, backed by Weise’s 24 month warranty, will appeal to long-haul commuters, dispatch riders or serious tourers who cover the distances where getting caught out by the weather is almost inevitable and where the demand is for a jacket that works and lasts really well.
More expensive than an entry-level jacket, the Bora aims to justify it’s £240 cost by being the only jacket you’ll ever need. That’s quite a claim, so we put it to the test, covering 1,000 miles in conditions ranging from 30 degree C heat to chilly 5 degree rain.
The Bora is made from 500 denier Cordura reinforced at key impact points. The contrasting light bronze colour liner is a cosy 140g quilted job, and waterproofing with breathability is taken care of via the tried and tested ISOTEX membrane. Detailing of pockets is picked out in red rather than the usual high viz or white we’re used to.
What you get
The Bora has a total of five external frontal pockets, including a tiny change pocket. Unlike some lower spec jackets every single one is waterproof. There are two internal pockets as well, and one zippered rear pocket.
The quilted liner is removable for warmer weather and there are an astonishing number of zippered vents; to arms, chest, side and rear. A snug but quickly adjusted fit around the neck is achieved by an easy-fix storm collar.
Fit is adjustable via poppers, elastication and a Velcro-retained belt. There’s a zip to attach to trousers and reflective panels for night-time riding. Main zip is a good quality Chunky YKK with built in storm flap to keep high speed rain out.
Keeping you safe
The Cordura construction ( a type of nylon with much higher strength than cotton for far less weight) means that abrasion resistance should be good, though not as high as leather or high-price jackets like Rukka’s Armas or Weise’s own Avance. There’s CE approved armour to shoulders, elbows and back – and this is Level 2 – the higher level of protection for the CE Scheme. Armour is removable.
The Bora is designed to be snug when the temperature falls – and the new liner is fine for temperatures down to about 6 or 7 degrees C (about 45 F) – good enough for a typical UK winter. Any colder though and you’re likely to need a separate mid layer. We’ll continue this test over winter and report as we go.
When the thermometer gets above 20 degrees C (65 F) you’ll likely want to remove the internal liner. Above 25 (75 F) or in slow traffic, the vents really come into their own. In fact this is where the design of the jacket really excels.
If you open them, all air goes in at the front and circulates around you exiting from the rear and side exhaust vents, taking a lot of body heat with it. You can feel this happening. Flow is easily adjustable too – with the cooling effect varying in direct proportion to how many vents you have open at the front.
This is especially true of the lower arm vents. Wear your gloves inside the sleeve and air is free to blast upwards. But if that’s too cool, switching to gloves outside the sleeve changes the effect dramatically allowing temperature inside the jacket to rise.
One way or another, by experimenting with the vents you can generally get an acceptable inner jacket temperature until you get to 30 degrees (85F) plus when a mesh jacket is probably needed. A realistic riding range of 7 to 30 degrees C (45 to 85 F) is pretty good though and is likely to cover most riders needs all year round.
Living with it..
Our tester wore the jacket for two months in temperatures ranging from 5 to 25 degrees C (40 to 75 F), and from hot sunshine to bone-chilling rain. Total distance covered was just under 1000 miles, equating to about 50 trips.
No problems were experienced with zips, poppers or stitching, which confirms the initial impression of good build quality you get when first grabbing the jacket off the rail. Our rider stayed dry even in prolonged heavy rain, as did his mobile phone, wallet and house keys. Good stuff.
Sizing and cut
Sizing is reasonably accurate, meaning that an XL is pretty much what passes for XL in the majority of brands – and equating to a real world 44 / 45 chest. The numerical values given are however just slightly out – actually being just below those given by Weise (e.g. S is actually about 38 Chest, not 40 as shown on their size chart). This is acceptable, and good news when you remember that Weise sizing has not always been devised by people from the planet earth. Houston, we have progress. The Bora is fine though. Sizes run through a very wide range – from about 38 (S) to approximately 52 inches (Unbelievable XL).
Fit can be nice and snug using the adjusters, reducing billowing at speed, or fairly airy if you slacken the belt and open the vents as you might want to do on a warm weather cruise around town. Top marks for flexibility and practicality.
Pockets are a big feature of the jacket – there’s plenty of them, most with good access and totally waterproof. The rear one proved ideal for carrying ferry tickets and change which could then be accessed and handed to a kiosk operator (think Severn Bridge) by the pillion, leaving the rider’s hands free. Just don;t leave a packet of your favourite sweets in there…
The small change pocket on the left chest however was not a success, being too small and fiddly to use in practice – Velcro would have been better here, rather than the tiny zip used. Better still – why not a Velcro closed pocket on the arms?
If ever there was a jacket able to cope with all the vagaries of the British or North America weather this is it. Waterproof and windproof, it enables better direct control over internal jacket temperature than any other jacket we’ve tested, simply because of the efficiency of the air circulation system powered by well-sited vents. If you want to keep warm in winter but hate overheating in summer then you should check this out.
Realistically, and this holds true for all 4-season jackets – you’ll still need extra gear if you plan on very long distances in either very high or very low temperatures, but for 95% of riders this will be the only jacket they’ll need for 95% of the time, and that’s a pretty good achievement for the design team.The only improvements we’d make are to have the waterproof membrane removable too, and possibly we’d replace the red highlighting with traditional orange or yellow high viz, and offer a choice.
The Bora is well supplied with pockets, and they are all waterproof, making it ideal for touring or commuting. There are some nice touches, like the easy to close and totally windproof storm collar, the highly adjustable fit, and the handy rear pocket. We loved the quality – well up to the normal Weise standards – and so we’ve no doubts that it will last. Best of all though – the jacket does what the makers claim – offering year round practicality and temperature control.