Riders on the European side of the pond are probably more familiar with the Swiss manufacturer iXS Motorcycle Fashion Apparel than those in the American market. However, don’t let the word fashion in the company name fool you. iXS produces motorcycle gear ranging from technical undergarments to race-ready one-piece leathers and everything in between. Since the company is looking to expand its presence stateside, the timing was perfect to sample part of the iXS vintage line of leather jackets. To my eye, the Flagstaff looked to provide an ideal balance between retro styling and real-world protection.
The roomy mid-length jacket features a cut that suits the upright standard or cruiser riding position. Since it does not offer an extension in the lower back, a more forward-canted lean will cause the jacket to hike up in the back. The jacket exterior is sultry nubuck leather, a hide that has been sanded or buffed on the grain side, delivering a suede-like texture – though with shorter, finer fibers. While not as abrasion-resistant as competition-grade leather, the Flagstaff should offer the slide-protection required for street riding. The only quibble I have with the look and feel of the nubuck is that the matte black color highlights any bug impacts, particularly if you’re unlucky enough to hit something colorful, like a butterfly. However, cleaning with a damp rag immediately after a ride takescare of any messes created out on the road.
The cut of the Flagstaff is comfortably loose, making room for extra layers of clothing or an additional serving (or two) of pie. The Mandarin collar, though soft (thanks to the nubuck), rises a little high on my neck. Though the issue is easily remedied by leaving the collar unsnapped, having the upper edge a few millimeters lower would increase rider comfort. That said, the stitching around the neck makes sure that no knots or rough edges irritate the skin. The same can be said about the zippered sleeve closures where the fit and finish is exemplary.
The jacket includes four zippered outer pockets: two handwarmer and two on the upper chest. Although fully functional, the chest pockets are mostly for style since carrying anything bulky in them would result in the appearance of man-boobs; female riders, your mileage may vary. The jacket interior also offers two zippered pockets, both of which are large enough to accommodate a smartphone the size of an iPhone 6 with room to spare. The waist has two snap-closures to accommodate variations in torso diameters.
While the iXS website says the liner is removable, my sample has it firmly stitched in place. The retro plaid-patterned cotton lining wicks moisture away in warmer weather. The sleeve lining is a cotton-poly blend that helps it to slide over your skin if sweaty. However, the Flagstaff more readily appoints itself in more moderate climates. The dearth of venting limits its summer cooling options other than partially unzipping the main opening, and the lack of an thermal liner means you’ll need to supply your own insulating layers.
Still, the Flagstaff has the current armor technologies we expect. The shoulders and elbows have CE EN1621–1 Level 1 armor, and the jacket back features an attachment for an accessory back protector. My sample came with the Protect T pad ($29), which offers CE EN1621–2 Level 2 protection. As with many back pads in street-focused jackets, I wish it would cover a little more of my lower back. I still consider the additional $29 a more-than-worthwhile cost for the additional protection.
Overall, the iXS Flagstaff jacket that will be ideal for what passes for Spring and Fall in Southern California. Riders who live in less sweltering climates will find the Flagstaff to be a competent three-season jacket – with the addition of a layer or two as the temperature drops. The suppleness of the nubuck gives the Flagstaff a well-worn appearance after just a few rides, and I expect the patina it develops over time will only increase the vintage styling.
The Flagstaff is available in U.S. sizes 38-48 with black or brown color options. The $379 retail price seems to be a good value for this jacket. Visit the iXS website to find your local dealer or to order.