Richa Charlestone jacket review

A leather jacket so lovely, I’m reluctant to actually wear it out on a motorcycle

Richa Charlestone jacket review

by Jim Blackstock |

Most people know quality when they come across it. There are numerous ways to judge the quality of clothing and this jacket from Richa, the Charlestone, scores in each and every one of them.

It’s a heavyweight piece of clothing but despite a hefty feel, the leather – genuine cowhide – is supple and flexible with a soft, smooth finish more like suede or nappa than hard-finished hide. It’s a contemporary fit so it’s neither overly sporty nor retro but is a classic, straight-cut design that should suit almost any body shape and size.

I chose my regular jacket size and it fits me perfectly; the size is ideal for me and it’s long enough to reach my jeans (there’s a short joining zip for matching trousers) and not gape but not look too long or out of proportion. It is snug across the chest but not tight and the sleeves are just the right length, meaning the elbow armour sits in exactly the right place as I ride.

It has ribbed areas over the shoulders to allow for movement when on and off the bike, as well as large, gusseted sections behind the shoulders and more ribbed areas on the outside of the elbows and the small of the back, for the same reasons. There are two waist-adjustment straps, each with two-position fasteners using ‘R’ branded brass poppers while all external zips – the main as well as sleeve and pockets – are by renowned manufacturer YKK.

Both the cuffs and the collar are finished with a rolled leather edging and there is a double-popper flap at the bottom of the main zip to protect your bike’s tank as well as a single popper to fasten the collar.

The Charlestone comes with a removable thermal gilet liner that inevitably increases the jacket’s bulk slightly but adds far more warmth than it does girth – perfect for chilly early-morning rides. It zips in all the way round and has two buttons to help secure the armpits, but it is easily removed when the temperature starts to rise.

In this case, the jacket overall begins to feel much lighter and airier, since cooling air is admitted from various locations. The obvious ones are the perforated gussets in the cuffs and the perforated storm flap behind the main zip, each of which allows air in. You also get a nice cooling blast around the neck and the mesh lining to the jacket helps promote airflow while riding.

Like any decent leather jacket, there are plenty of pockets; five on the outside and two in the jacket and two in the thermal liner. When it comes to protection, the jacket itself comes with a CE rating of AA while it is supplied with Level-1 D3O armour though this can be changed for optional Level-2 or the company’s Ghost armour, the thinnest available. It also comes with a Level-1 back protector supplied, so is ready to go out of the box.

Another benefit of the suppleness of the garment as a whole is that it is perfect for rides when you know you will be spending some time off the bike, such as at a bike meet or if you are enjoying a ride to a destination to look round. It doesn’t scream ‘motorcyclist’ and is as comfortable off the bike as it is on.

Verdict

This leather jacket from Richa is a lovely piece of kit. Notwithstanding its protective abilities – CE-rated to AA and with a five-piece suite of Level-1 armour present and options to upgrade – it looks and feels fantastic on and off the bike.

It fits beautifully, is warm when it’s chilly thanks to the thermal gilet but then cool when its warm, courtesy of ventilation and it is a pleasure to put on. In fact, it is so nice that it feels a shame to take it out on a motorcycle and get it covered in road grime and dead insects.

It comes in black (to maybe hide insects a bit more) but brown is my favourite.

Pros:
Superb fit
Comfortable and protective
Warm or cool as required

Cons:
None so far

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