Looking Good For Your Money..

Endurance leather and textile combo is a good looker..

Endurance leather and textile combo is a good looker..

It’s not often that a product comes along with the specification of this outfit yet at such small cost.

Made of textile and leather construction and fitted with CE shoulder and elbow armour, the jacket is a good looker as well as holder of an impressive spec. sheet. Buffalo claim a 100% waterproof rating, but at this price point we were skeptical. Most sub-£300 jackets will, if pushed, leak.

What’s not in doubt though is the cool, rugged adventure styling and the high level of venting that makes the outfit a true 4-season item.

In addition to breathability, leather adds superior abrasion resistance at the budget level. But at a miserly £130 for the jacket can it really be as good as it looks? We tested it on and off road to find out.

Introduction

Buffalo’s new Endurance outfit is a CE-armoured leather textile combo that incorporates a breathable waterproof membrane, a quilted winter liner, many pockets and numerous vents both front and back to deliver all-year round capability. The heavy duty stitching promises good build quality for the money and a long life.

But it’s not the practical stuff that strikes you at first glance. The subtle two-toned jacket is extremely good looking and robust for this price point; such styling is normally found only on more expensive items. It has a reassuringly heavy feel, with treated leather pads protecting the shoulders, arms, chest and nape of the neck. The main zip is nice and chunky and Velcro and popper fixings seem better than average in terms of durability. The jacket comes in two colour combinations, black and grey and black and gun ( a kind of lightish brown). It’s most impressive to look at – and hard to believe it only costs £130.

Protection

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Armour in the pants and jacket is CE-approved, but not surprisingly at this price there is no hip or back protector – just some padding – (but spaces exist for CE items to be fitted).

We inadvertently tested the shoulder armour in a slow low-side off road. No damage to the jacket and no injury to the rider.

Some people are dubious about putting leather in a mix like this, but it does give a feeling of extra protection and the leather selected is supple as well as tough looking. Despite dropping the office GS and tumbling down a muddy track, there was no visible damage just some mud splatters and a slight scrape mark on the leather’s surface.

Features

Buffalo have made a credible effort to make the Jacket not only genuinely 4 season, but also multi-adjustable to ensure a good fit. Flex panels of concertinaed material allow movement on and off the bike, while both sleeves and waist have adjuster belts, poppers or zips. Trouser legs have zips to allow easier fitting over boots.

Pockets are numerous – both inside and out. The liner in particular has some great waterproof pockets, including one for a mobile that fits the wider smart phones like the Blackberry or i phone.

Reflective detailing adds to the overall styling and ensures that you should stand out more at night.

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Interior pockets are waterproof and there’s one for your smart phone

Pants

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Somehow the pants just didn’t look as good as the jacket and they seemed a bit of a tight fit around the knees.

Nevertheless, they do have a comfort zone elasticated waist, a zip to attach them to the upper half, and other smaller ones in the legs to help fit over boots.

Leather trim is present, as on the jacket, and two zip pockets (non waterproof) give limited storage. In terms of waterproofness the pants performed as well as the jacket – not letting in any water.

We liked the trousers but the fit was a bit narrow, or drain-pipe-ish as our tested said, while another comment from the team was that they did not immediately look as if they went with the jacket. Certainly the two-tone styling is not as apparent. To a certain extent this is subjective and it’s not a major issue.

Walk the Walk

In terms of looks, the Endurance talks the talk…but can it perform in the wet? Indeed the key to the suit’s success has to be the 100% waterproof claim. The truth about almost all bike gear is that there is not much that will actually stand up to having rain smashed against it at 70mph and not leak somewhere. No matter what the label says, if water can find a way in, it will.

So, mindful of the price, we weren’t expecting too much. Our first test consisted of a 2 hour stint in pouring January rain. Riding was mixed; dual carriageways, urban streets and country lanes. At mid morning break we were surprised to find no leaks anywhere. But though the rain was heavy, it wasn’t the worst that nature can come up with, so we hit on a plan.

Tough Love

Poor dave, we almost felt sorry for him...Click image to go to video

Poor dave, we almost felt sorry for him…Click image to go to video

A short ride brought us to Magic Car Wash at Westbury, Wilts, where, after some persuasion, Dave was induced (by promises of extra pies) to be sprayed by the most powerful jet wash in the place. Yet again, despite a 5 minute all-out assault, our intrepid tester stayed stubbornly dry.
(Better luck next time, ed.)

Sizing

If there’s one area where the suit falls down, it’s here. Sizing is definitely odd. How many ranges for instance go up to 5XL? Why not just make XL genuinely XL?

Typically the size stated seems to be about 2XL over what is generally found. Dave’s 42 inch chest usually takes an XXL but with the endurance he had to go up to 4XL. The trousers were much the same (2 sizes under normal), but also had a narrow feel to the lower leg which was rather odd. Jacket fit was good though. The adjuster meant it was possible to get a good shaped item as well as one that would not flap about at speed.

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Verdict

Of one thing there is no doubt; at £220 for jacket and trousers, the Buffalo Endurance represents astonishing value for money.

In terms of design its great; loads of pockets, a high level of adjustability and true 4-season capability (though for winter you’d probably need a mid-layer.) It’s tough, and the leather should make it long-lasting and resistant to abrasion. You could certainly have this as your only bike suit.

The Endurance withstood both our wet weather and jet wash test and fared well in a minor spill. Like all budget jackets, weather-proofing may decline over time and we’ve no idea yet how the stitching and zip will hold out in regular use.

However, if you want a real 100% waterproof guarantee the only way at this price point is probably to get keep a compact rainsuit on the bike (check out our Rev’it Pacific Suit Review). The leather does take a while to dry out when wet, but its not a major problem and can be addressed by sealing with a silicon spray.

The sizing is, frankly, rather odd, but you can work round that by ordering 2 sizes above what you think you’ll need. We also felt that the fit of the pants was not as well tailored as the jacket – OK if you are built like 2 boards stuck together, but for the, uh, fuller figure, we’d suggest an upgrade to Rev’it’s Enterprise pants to go with the jacket.

The outfit not only performs well, it looks like a suit of double the price; a rugged adventure-riding style which flatters the figure and promises to be tough and long lasting. It’s great value and scores a well deserved and hearty thumbs up.