The Motorcycle Jacket Your Kids Will Want To Inherit

As your kids try to steal your Robinson Jacket, you’ll say, “Over my dead body.” They’ll say, “It’ll be worth the wait.”

Union Garage Robinson Jacket
The Union Garage Robinson Jacket.Seth Richards

When I opened the box containing my new Robinson Jacket from Union Garage, revealing its tan waxed-cotton shell and supple leather trim, my first thought was: “My unborn child will inherit this jacket.” The Robinson was designed by the folks at Brooklyn-based moto retailer Union Garage in collaboration with Vanson Leathers, a name long synonymous with quality craftsmanship. It’s no wonder this thing reeks of quality. If your kids are hip to what’s good, they’ll be eyeing this jacket and plotting ways to make it their own by the time they grow into it.

78 Motor Co. Sprint gloves and Tobacco Motorwear Indigo Selvedge Riding Jeans
Other kit pictured: 78 Motor Co. Sprint gloves and Tobacco Motorwear Indigo Selvedge Riding Jeans.Seth Richards

To do a proper review, I’ll have to put a few thousand miles on it at least, but since my aforementioned unborn child will no longer be unborn in a matter of weeks, I suspect those miles will take longer to accrue than usual. I’m going to be doing way more diaper changes than oil changes for a while here. A thorough, long-term review will have to wait.

In the meantime, while the Robinson is still practically brand new and free of bug guts, I thought I’d give some first impressions. I don’t do that with every jacket, but I’ve kind of been obsessing over this thing.

The Robinson's 10.10-ounce waxed-cotton shell is evocative of another era of motorcycling. I can picture a sopping wet Velocette rider entering an English pub and grabbing a pint of bitter, resplendent in waxed cotton and exhaust fumes. Or 1960s ISDE riders covered in mud and hard luck. Maybe I have an active imagination, but when donning a jacket can make you feel like a young Malcolm Smith, it's doing something right.

Union Garage Robinson Jacket
Up close and personal.Seth Richards

Romantic it may be, but waxed cotton is not the gold standard in terms of protection or waterproofing, though it is breathable and water-resistant. It’s not all style over substance with the Robinson, however. The design incorporates leather in the shoulders and elbows, concealing it beneath the external shell for additional abrasion resistance in high-impact areas. Smart. The Robinson also features CE-rated armor in the shoulders, elbows, and back. That makes it a great piece of kit for around town, but perhaps not ideal for crossing the globe, which Union Garage is up front about.

For riders who demand a higher level of protection or a more four-season-appropriate design, the Robinson may not be up to the task of being their only jacket. At $700, the Robinson is quite expensive—though not obscene as far as quality motorcycle jackets go. But for riders who can afford multiple jackets or ride mostly in the city, the Robinson earns a place in their gear arsenal.

In terms of quality, it’s beyond compare. Handmade by Vanson in Massachusetts and individually numbered, the Robinson is made to go the distance. It weighs a ton, which adds to the feeling of quality. In addition to its four front pockets and large rabbit pocket on the back, the jacket has two nicely sized internal pockets. The body is lined in a striking red plaid and the sleeves are lined in satin to make it easy to slip on and off.

Union Garage Robinson Jacket
For chilly spring days, the Robinson is perfect. Granted, it would be more aesthetically appropriate with, say, a Triumph Bonneville, but my old 996 will have to do (it always does). I love that motorcycle.Seth Richards

Of all the motorcycle jackets I own (this motorcycle writing gig has made me very spoiled in the gear department), it's the only one that can gracefully transition from on-the-bike to off-the-bike. I can wear it to a social engagement and not be drawn into an inevitable conversation with some boorish acquaintance about how his second cousin's neighbor was in a motorcycle accident and, well, you know the rest. If you're not carrying a helmet, no one will assume you rode in on a bike, which is sometimes good.

Royal Enfield Himalayan
I wore the Robinson at the Royal Enfield Himalayan launch in Texas. In 70-degree weather, I appreciated its breathability.Royal Enfield North America

Socially awkward acquaintances won’t feel obliged to tell you their motorcycle horror stories; you’ll still imagine yourself to be Malcolm Smith. Win, win. Now, if only your kid will stop burying Legos in the top step’s carpeting to precipitate your untimely end.