Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Faithful Riding Partner...My Olympia AST Jacket

I'm sitting here trying to remember when I bought this Olympia AST jacket.  I'm thinking it was in late 2005 or early 2006.  This model was brand-new to Olympia and was only available in one color - Dark grey (slate) with black ballistics - when I bought it from a BMW dealership on-line.  At some later point, it became available in hi-vis yellow.  That would have been nice to have. 

I had discovered another Olympia jacket model, the Airglide mesh/textile jacket, in 2004 when I attended the International Motorcycle Show in Dallas TX.  They had just been introduced, were being shown and sold at this show, and I came home the proud owner of an Airglide jacket:  A black one with red accents.  I loved it, loved the way it fit, loved the removable quilted jacket liner that could function as a stylish stand-alone jacket when off the bike.   I now wear a silver-grey Airglide 2.  Finding Olympia riding jackets has been a game-changer for me.

Fit had always been a huge problem for me when it came to motorcycle jackets.  I had purchased many and sold nearly every one of them on e-bay when their shortcomings became evident.  Being a short and slight woman, I found them all to be built for football players:  Sleeves too long, too big in the shoulders and chest, too long in the torso.    Alpinestars seemed to be the only brand I could find that was truly built for female riders.

I was wearing a red Alpinestars mesh/textile jacket prior to the discovery of this Olympia Airglide jacket.   That Alpinestars jacket was okay; it had a removable membrane liner to make it waterproof, but it wasn't insulated. And it wasn't well-suited to cold-weather riding since the fit was not conducive to wearing bulky clothing underneath.  I still have that jacket, occasionally pulling it out for local rides. 

Then, a few years after discovering the Olympia Airglide jacket, I discovered that AST jacket, suitable for 3-season riding with its ample venting, removable quilted liner - just like the one that came with my Airglide - waterproof shell, supplemented by the permanent membrane liner.  And I knew it would fit me perfectly, since it was the same cut/style as the Airglide.

Well, 6 years and possibly as many as 175,000-180,000 miles seem like plenty enough use out of this Olympia AST jacket.  Lately I've noticed that the Velcro fasteners on the sleeve cuffs won't stay fastened...they come undone at the worst times:  When it's cold, or wet, or cold AND wet.   And the neck closure will frequently come undone whenever I fasten or unfasten the D-ring latch on the straps of my helmet.  If I'm getting ready to remount my motorcycle, this inadvertent unfastening of my collar will often go unnoticed until I'm underway, going 70 mph, and then the cold air will pour into my neck and the jacket neckline will have blown open and been pulled back so much it will be virtually impossible for me to get that collar refastened while moving.  Arghhh!

Notice the pale grey back
compared to the dark gray
I replaced the Velcro "hook" strips, but then discovered that it wasn't the "hooks" that were no longer working, but the "velvet" strips that were so worn and "fuzzed" that the hooks just couldn't get a grip.  Replacing the "velvet" strips would have been a major undertaking.  Sigh.  Cuffs and collar that will not stay closed - totally unacceptable to me.

Otherwise, I was willing to overlook the fact that the dark slate grey color was badly faded across the back, the shoulders, the upper and lower sleeves, so much so that the jacket actually appeared two-tone grey.  I was also willing to overlook how the sleeve vent zippers - nice rubberized waterproof zippers that they are - were becoming difficult to open or close.  I used to be able to close the zips while underway, but no more.  I have to wait until I'm stopped, often even having to remove the jacket to do so.  Guess it's the permanent "bend" in the arms from the thousands of miles of wear that has made this so difficult these days. 

And then there's that "funk" - that permanently imprinted B.O. - that the jacket has picked up from all those thousands of miles ridden in 90+ degree, even 100+ degree temperatures.  I don't believe in washing my jackets by total immersion in water.  To me, they're just never the same after being washed.  Washing them seems to take the "starch" out of them, remove the water resistance of the Cordura fabric, wilt the "look" of the jacket.  I rather like the grunged look they get after so many miles' use.  I spot-clean them to remove major bug splats, mud, food, and other crusty stuff.  But the impregnated "funk" is another matter.  I noticed it on my last ride - the Shoalmire Tribute SS1000 last weekend.  Phew!  I could hardly stand myself!

My new AST jacket
in Sand/black
Yep!  Time to retire the jacket.  Last winter I had the good fortune to "score" a new one at a great close-out price - this one in the Sand color - at the Motorcycle Closeouts webpage.  When I received it, I tucked it away in my closet until the time when I felt my first AST jacket was ready to retire.  Well here it is...time.  

But then the other day I began to mourn my decision to retire that original slate grey jacket and the fact that it fits me so doggone well.  What if, when the day comes to retire this second new AST jacket, I can't find a suitable replacement for a jacket I love so much?  No other brand of all-season jacket fits this petite and slight woman, not even the smallest size men's Aerostich, even with all the expensive custom 'mods' available.  The AST is such the perfect jacket for all seasons. 

So, impulsively, in the throes of "loss," I logged onto that Motorcycle Closeouts webpage to see if they still had any of these jackets left...just to see.  Well, good fortune was smiling down on me.  That plus the fact that I wear a size Small.  The second generation AST jacket has been on the market for a couple of years, so I was surprised they still had a few of the first generation model in stock.  They had only a limited size selection,  the sizes that don't usually sell well:  size XS, S, and the largest sizes.  So I went ahead and bought another new AST jacket, this one in that slate grey color that served me so well...and at a greatly discounted price.  Now I have a back-up jacket.

Bring on the cold, the wet, the cold and wet...I'm ready!


  1. I also have an Olympia jacket. They make great stuff.

  2. Congratulations on your jacket! My gf is 4ft 11in and even the XS is big on her, specially the arms.
    She's not a midget, just a very small person. I'm short too, at 5ft 7in. Ordered myself an M, let's hope for the best.

    Best regards!