Monday, July 29, 2013

Crash and Burn (Part 4)

AGV Sport Photon Jacket Reviewed

Image borrowed from AGV Sport
 Another piece of nearly-new gear this time.  I bought this jacket a few months ago after deciding that my one-piece suit was just too awkward for group rides to the mountains with lots of stops.  I had a pair of leather pants, but I wanted something to replace my old Joe Rocket Phoenix mesh jacket.  Something that would provide a bit more protection.  I never really had complete faith in mesh jackets, even if the airflow is appealing in the heat and humidity in North Carolina.

Riding Impressions


This jacket was a bit of an impulse buy, but it quickly became one of my regular pieces of gear.  Being lightly perforated, it flows just enough air to be tolerable on a hot summer day.  The fit of the jacket is much more of a "race" profile than most jackets sold as separates.  The arms are deeply pre-curved, and the jacket fits very closely.

Here's why I like it:

  • Looks:  I really like the styling of this jacket.  Visible without being too flashy, and the logos are not overdone.  I got lots of compliments on this jacket, from riders and non-riders alike.
  • Price:  Like most AGV products, the price is very reasonable at $300 MSRP and deals to be found at various dealers.
  • Comfort:  Some may see it as a con, but I like the race fit.  The jacket stays in place better than most, and isn't prone to riding up.  Neoprene at the wrists and neck are another nice comfort touch. 
  • Armor: The jacket comes with CE approved, dual-density internal armor, and a soft foam back pad.  There is also external hard armor on the shoulders.  Very well-equipped for a jacket in this price range.
  • Leather Quality:  AGV selected some nice hides for this jacket, the leather is soft and flexible.  The colors are also very well-done.
  • Removable liner:  I like it because I can take it out!  It's too hot for liners here most of the time.  There is still a mesh lining to keep you from sticking to the jacket and hold the armor.

Here's what I don't like quite as much:

  • Ventilation:  I feel like better perforation would have improved this jacket.  It also would have been nice if the perforations in the back pad had been completely cleared.  I just discovered this today while shooting photos.  It might have been a bit better had the holes all been punched all the way out. 
  • Pocket Placement:  The inside pockets are fine, but the external pockets are high enough up that they are quite awkward to use.

After the Crash

Along with the left side of my helmet, the left shoulder of the jacket took the biggest hit.

I think I've established my belief in always wearing the right gear in my prior posts, so let's get on with the analysis.

How I Fared


Most of my injuries fall into this review, so we aren't off to a good start.  I have a broken collar bone, two cracked ribs, and two small compression fractures in my back.  To be fair, I hit really hard on my left shoulder, but I do wonder if a different jacket might have offered better protection.  I do not have any road rash on my arms or torso, so abrasion protection was satisfactory.

How the Jacket Fared 


The jacket sustained considerable damage in the crash.  While it could possibly be repaired by a professional, I will be replacing it rather than repairing.  This is the first of my reviews where I feel some components underperformed or failed completely.  On to the photos:

This shoulder plate took the initial hit and slide.  I'm glad for the external armor, It seems to have been well placed and effective.

A couple small tears above the armor plate, these weren't too bad, nor were they surprising.
Failed seams at the shoulder stretch panels.  Not good.
The failed seams open up enough area to put my hand into the shoulder cavity from outside.  This isn't good at all!  I wonder if this might have allowed the internal armor to displace, exposing my shoulder to greater impact. 
Back pad along with left-side internal shoulder and elbow armor.  The armor shows no visible damage.  The lack of damage to the shoulder armor makes me think it might have been displaced.  I was expecting dirt or abrasion on the armor after finding the huge hole exposed by the failed seams.
The leather and stitching lower down on the left side saw mild abrasions, and fared much better.
Perforations in the back pad, only a couple of which were punched out all of the way.


The AGV Photon was an excellent jacket to ride in, but I can't give it a positive review for performance when it really counts.  I (obviously) don't want to crash again, but if I do, I don't want to be in the same jacket.  The usual caveats apply: this was a sample size of one, may have been a fluke, and I may have suffered the same injuries had the seam failures not occurred.  That said, I can't shake the feeling that this jacket was one of the vulnerabilities in my gear that day.  As always, I will share this information with AGV Sport and invite them to respond. 

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