Since I started touring PROPERLY in 2013, I had this inclination towards expensive, good looking jackets. I wanted one that was bright and went well with my KTM Duke 390. The problem back then was the non- availability of good quality, long lasting value for money jackets. The market for such products was as old as a toddler and buying something from a brand you haven’t heard about much was a bit of a gamble.
I knew one thing for sure- I was about to use my riding jacket to the limit and hence I had to get something which could do good justice. Mesh jackets were out of the option because they aren’t a sensible option for long distance touring. Neither were the other textile jackets as they felt like they were a tad below the mark. Conequently, I went for a mix of Textile and mesh (considering temperature in India) and tried out the Alpinestars Viper which costed around 15000 INR. The model is phased out today as they have a slightly upgraded version available for around 17000 INR – both feel very similar.
After riding for a little above 60,000 kms through almost every condition and terrain you could imagine, I’ve had to say quite a lot about this jacket that surprisingly still holds up well to this day!
Fit and Comfort:
A riding jacket is supposed to make you feel pampered and cozy and nice. If that is not the case, then it will get onto your nerves when you’ve been riding for 8+ hours in extreme heat or rain. With the Alpinestars Textile mesh jacket- the fit was a little on the sporty side and the armours stayed where they were supposed to. Neither was it very heavy and overwhelming as a thick woolen blanket. Comfort wise- I would say it was a level above the ‘bearable’ mark but still much better than many other domestic brands I tried out. So, this did sort of tick the box. And no, I didn’t feel as cosy and comfortable as I wanted to be but the armours sat in the right places and nothing poked me from inside.
This is a wear-able jacket in the heat, even when the temperature crossed the 43 Degree celcius mark in Rajasthan’s desert. Things do get hotter in places where heat comes with loads of humidity. That is when you either wish to keep riding so that the warm winds cool your sweat or stop and take off your jacket altogether. So in the heat management department, this does fairly fine and there’s nothing much to complain about.
What about the instances where the temperatures drop to a single digit? In my opinion and depending on my body condition, one wouldn’t really need anything beneath the Viper apart from a T-shirt until the Temperature dropped below 5 or 2 degrees centigrade.
This is a point where the Alpinestars Viper does lag behind. The shoulder and elbow armour are an average CE level 1 rated but when it came to the chest and back protection, Alpinestars have shoved in a foam to protect your heart, lungs and spinal cord. How thoughtful and considerate of them. While there are options to replace the existing stuff with better armour in the armour jackets, I expected Alpinestars to do it themselves. I guess this is a typical tendency when it comes to the so called ‘premium brands’. We give you the jacket, do whatever you want with the armour.
Value for money:
Well, this is something everybody wants out of any product they buy. How much of a bang for the buck does this jacket really offer? If you look at it in one way, 15000 INR for a textile mesh motorcycle jacket is a little on the steep side, especially if the armour it has exists just for the sake of….formality! Also, I got a waterproof vest with the jacket in the form of ‘waterproof/ thermal liner’ and that to me is an insult to the buyer. Full sleeve liners- yes! But an effin vest??
On the other hand though, INR 15000 seems alright if it comes from a popular, renowned brand like Alpinestars. Not only the name, but what I noticed is that this jacket holds up well in almost every condition.
I’ve stretched it, trekked in it on long rides, thrown it on the rocks but the only maintenance it has demanded is the replacement of the zipper in the last 4 years! Nothing has torn, the stitching in all areas remains intact and the Viper still feels fresh and new to wear from the inside. At the back though, the rubberised Alpinestars labelling has begun to peal off but that’s alright as long as the functional bits continue to do their job.
I’ve come across other jackets that haven’t lasted this long and one of the common problems I’ve noticed is with them is the stitching. Many motorcycle jackets that are so called ‘value for money’ products in India don’t last this long, at least not when somebody like me wears it. On the contrary, I’ve bought 4 riding pants in the last 4 years because the first one I bought was from an Indian brand called Spartan. It could be used as an oven (it got that hot). Well built, but down on comfort and practicality.
The second one was a cheap riding denim from Zeus for short rides which lost its color in just 10 months. The third was an expensive one from HELD (surprisingly German) that started giving up its stitches in the crotch area in just 2000 kms! I’ve never had that big an erection when I wore those pants and surprisingly, the replacement pant lasted only 100 kms until the stitches began to come off at the crotch area again!
The ones I’m using now are touring pants from Fly Racing that seem to be the best out of all I have used. Coming back to Alpinestars, I personally feel that I experienced peace of mind by buying the Viper unlike the trousers I experimented with. So that to me is value for money. No hassles, no problems- keeps doing its job.
From what you’ve read above, it does seem evident that the Alpinestars Viper scores well on this point. 4 years and counting. 60,000+ kms traversed across India in rain, dust, extreme heat, through forests, beaches, mountains, deserts and extremely polluted cities. And, it still seems like this textile jacket could make it through all that for another year with flying colors. This is definitely a long lasting jacket and I suggest people to go in for something like this or a similar brand that feels like it will last long. Cheaper options might seem attractive but as you know that time flies at 300 kmph x 1000000 times the speed and so does the stitching on them. (Now don’t sit and calculate some numbers I made up).
While I still think I have another year left with this jacket, I’ve started looking at other options to invest in already because in India, you often get you hear from motorcycle gear dealers about how out of stock their stuff mostly is. Last minute research is of no help. Looking at the way I’ve been touring and considering our climate, I’d love something that is waterproof by itself (not a mandate though), comes with many windows/ air vents, better protection and is all weather touring friendly. But most importantly- comfortable, lightweight and non- claustrophobic. So basically, I want something better, lasts longer for a price that is less than what I paid 4 years ago. Too much to ask? I don’t think so. The competition has increased, and there are a lot more options to choose from.
Fortunately with the inflow of many brands in India, I have a wide variety of options before me like Fly Racing, Shima, Alpinestars again, Rev’it… or do I just ask a friend to get me an ICON Raiden DKR jacket from the US? 🙂
To end this, I would say that the Alpinestarts Viper was a great partner in crime and is highly recommended to someone who has similar preferences to that of mine. But, as I’ve always said in most of my reviews- try it, see it for yourself, feel it and then take a call.