The Dynastar must be one of the best known biking jackets in Britain, and in no less than two previous incarnations, the Dynastar and Dynastar II, one of the biggest sellers. The reason was simple; a lot of thought had gone into even the smallest design detail, right down to choice of materials, fittings and the way the jacket was stitched together. The product punched well above its weight, delivering quality and functionality at a price other makers struggled to match. And word got around.

The New Dynastar Evo. Image: Key Collection

The New Dynastar Evo. Image: Key Collection

The Dynastar II, which is still available from some outlets, suited people who cared less about a label than actual performance in real-world conditions; they wanted something that looked good, for sure, but it had to work too; keeping them dry, comfortable and protected, day after day. And these riders worked hard for their money, so they didn’t want to get ripped off either.

Popularity of the product shows that Weise got it right -no need for a radical new product. In 2012 Weise simply tweaked the basic design, keeping by and large to the same materials, but improving looks and adding a few new features. But did that mean that the Good evolved into the Better?

The basics

Many of the successful features of the older model have been retained; Like the Dynastar II, the new jacket has a typically urban / touring cut, with a good selection of pockets and a fit that comfortably covers the waist to prevent wind getting in. It’s crafted from 500 Denier Cordura and the membrane is an ISOTEX waterproof / windproof affair. There’s a removable thermal quilted lining as well as CE armour.

So far this sounds like almost any mid-range textile motorcycle jacket. But what always made the Dynastar different, was the amount of thinking that had gone into the details; taking as a starting point the actual problems riders face in riding a motorcycle in all weathers. This meant that it worked extremely well.

Keeping you dry and comfy

A case in point is the water channeling and release system (for example, look at the apparent seam around the sleeve just up from the wrist area). These systems serve to direct water away from obvious entry points, such as your gloves, and also allow condensation to escape from between the layers.

Then there’s the zip; a chunky YKK item carefully hidden behind a double storm flap to prevent water ingress. But this protection shouldn’t come at the price of a fiddly fastening system, so the flap is secured at the top entirely by Velcro, while two pair of poppers provide firmer closure lower down. It make the front easy to open and close with gloved hands, especially if you want to, say, just reach inside for your wallet at a filling station.

Because torrential rain can often be followed by sunshine, vents on the jacket are also easy to operate and include long arm vents, and a rear shoulder vent concealed under a flap. Neoprene inner wrist sections and a neoprene collar also seal against water while giving the jacket a soft, luxurious, comfy feeling.

Comfort and fit is enhanced by stretch panels in the arms, and by sleeve and waist adjusters. There is a zipper to attach the jacket to suitable trousers.

Image: Key Collection

Image: Key Collection

Keeping you safe

Armour is CE certified and includes removable protectors to shoulders, elbows and back. The shell construction is 500 denier Cordura, which has significantly better abrasion resistance than the nylon or polyester of cheaper jackets. Tough stitching also gives the jacket excellent burst resistance.

Wikipedia: Franc

Wikipedia: Franc

Keeping you happy

We’ve never understood why any jacket designed for use in Europe or North America would have anything other than fully waterproof pockets – but many do – and some compromise by making some waterproof while others aren’t. This can be seriously expensive if you put your mobile in the wrong one, and bloody annoying if you reach for a sweet and instead discover a gooey mass .

We’re glad to report that all 4 of the Dynastar’s front pockets, which have handy rubber pull tabs to aid opening, are completely waterproof and there is also an abundance of other places in the interior to fill with earplugs, change wallet and other essentials. There’s a large rear pocket and a pair of front hand-warmer pockets behind the fronts of the lower two. Zips on the pockets have been dropped from the Dynastar II to allow faster access. Lovely.

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Temperature regulation

The Dynastar II was a much loved jacket, but such criticisms as there were centred on a limited effective temperature range. Many people found it too chilly for a northern hemisphere winter due to a lightweight 100g liner, but then too warm for summer due to a lack of frontal vents. Weise has listened to rider feedback, and both these niggles have been dealt with in the design of the Evo.

We think these improvements a big step forward and will extend the jacket to genuine 4 season capability. The only further things that could be done would be to make the waterproof liner removable and add covered chest mesh panels, but at the moment these potential features look like being design options for the future.

New features

New features include and upgraded liner from 100g to a much more luxurious 140g, tackling criticism of the Dynastar II of a lower than average warmth score. Other changes include new chest ventilation controlled by waterproof YKK zippers, and tiny zippered under-arm vents too.

A removable winter neck guard is designed to keep the cold wind out and reflective material across, chest, back and forearm raise visibility in low light. There is now a choice of 8 inch or full 360 zip to aid compatibility with trousers as there are no specific Dynastar pants.

There are even tiny under arm vents to keep your pits cool!

There are even tiny under arm vents to keep your pits cool!

Real world test

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So far we’ve worn the jacket in a fairly narrow range of conditions; cool temperatures of about 7-9 degrees (48F) in the dry, and moderate rain at about 12-15 degrees (57F). We’ve clocked 250 miles, but have yet to test it in the icy cold of winter and it has not yet lived through a downpour or a drought. We’ve taken it on and off umpteen times and have begun to get used to the design features.

Partly to compensate for this disgraceful lack of rigour, we subjected our tester to the ritual BBM 5 minute jet wash test at the local car lot (result = no leaks). However, to give a more realistic impression, we’ll be using the jacket on a 1000 mile tour of Ireland later this year and we’ll update this report after that.

The Evo is, like its predecessor, as comfy as your favourite jumper, keeping wind out in the cold and feeling snug, right up to the neoprene collar. In warmer weather, numerous vents give impressive and cooling airflow. Looks are smartly functional rather flash, and the black and gun colour scheme we found a bit dull, but useful in reducing the need to clean. Would be nice to have more colour choice though, including a flouro option.

But the Evo’s most notable quality is practicality. It’s easy to get on and off with gloved hands, with well sited Velcro and a smooth running chunky main zip. You get the feeling that this jacket has been designed by people who actually ride – a lot. There are plenty of pockets for your earplugs, wallet, visor cleaner or whatnot (always carry a whatnot). Best of all, every one of the frontal pockets are waterproof. It’s not too heavy but feels protective, and the stretch panels and adjusters help it to adapt to your body.

Image: Key Collection

Image: Key Collection

With a 40% increase in insulation, it’s not surprising that the jacket is now toasty warm – getting uncomfortably so at just 14 degrees C (60F) or so. However, the liner is quick to whip out and the vents provide an excellent supply of air, from forearm, chest, side and back. It’s not yet been warm enough to use the tiny underarm side vents, but with all ventilation deployed and liner out we think the jacket will be good for temperatures up to about 30C (86F) depending on traffic levels.This amounts to a substantially increased climatic range for the new jacket.

The only thing about the EVO that doesn’t work well is the new detachable winter neck/ face mask. This is supposed to cover neck and chin, but is not easy to fix and is prone to flap about. Given that the neoprene collar is a fairly substantial affair we’d prefer to ditch the mask and stick to a conventional neck tube, and even that would only be needed in the coldest weather.

Sizing and cut

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We have to say that Weise sizes are a bit odd, and judging by feedback from Forums we’re not alone in thinking so. The Jackets run from ‘S’ to ‘5XL’, a range which is supposed to represent chest sizes of between 40 and 54. Unfortunately Fred (or whoever he is) in the sizing department is as mad as a box of frogs. By the reckoning of the size chart, 3XL should be a massive 50 inch chest, but it’s actually about a 42. By our reckoning an XXL is therefore actually about a 40 and an XL about a 38. The published sizes are, rather like Fred himself one suspects, complete strangers to reality.

There are no Dynastar trousers this year, but we experienced no size anomalies with the Psycho trousers we paired with this jacket (Fred’s day off obviously). Their size XXL is supposed to represent a 40 inch waist and it does indeed fit a size 40.

The jacket is sensibly cut, meaning it can fit the fuller figure (ahem) but is adjustable so it’s not bulky. The hem extends well below the levels of the waistband. In other words this is a comfortable touring fit rather than a sports fitting. No problems there, as this is what most riders will want in what will often be their main jacket. The sleeves are possibly a whisker on the long side, but it’s not an issue and is not apparent when in the riding position.

Weise trousers however seem to be tailored by someone who thinks the riding public has legs like a pair of Twiglets. This is especially true around the knees and ankles. Often this means having a size larger around the waist than you need to get legs that are wide enough. This does not alter the fact that the Psycho Jeans we tried are an excellent product (our review is out soon) but the cut is unusual to say the least.

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Psycho jeans will be reviewed soon. Image: Key Collection.

Verdict

It’s good when a manufacturer listens to the needs of its customers, and even better when this offers the opportunity to improve a product that is already a winner. Build quality looks as good as its predecessor, so we’re expecting a life in years and not months, but we’ll keep you updated. If things do go wrong, it’s good to know that the Dynastar Evo is backed by a 2 year warranty.

It’s clear that the Jacket’s new features are more than a cosmetic update to keep the model in the public eye. The biggest change is a significant significantly wider comfort zone for temperature. This really takes the jacket to a new level, making it a true 4 – season jacket for the first time. The New really is a step up from the Old. Other good stuff remains the same if not better.

The Dynastar Evo is comfortable, practical, likely to be long wearing and at an RRP of £289 (deals are available if you shop around) offers very good value for money indeed.

The last years of recession have sadly been an Extinction Level Event for some brands. But, post financial Deep Impact, Weise continues to evolve, listen to its customers and by doing so thrive as this cleverly focused product shows. Our long-term road test remains to be completed, but this looks likely to be the best jacket at this price point (or even some above) that we have ever tested. It’s that good.

1000 Mile + Test Update

We’ve just got back from a 1000 mile plus trip to Ireland. The Jacket survived one major downpour remaining completely dry. All zips, stitching, pockets etc still working and like new. Vents were effective in dissipating heat especially the underarm and rear ones. This really is a great piece of kit. really practical with numerous pockets and all outside ones waterproof (unlike many jackets where only some are).

The most significant comment we can make however is that, in the dry in temperatures of around 15 degrees C (about 60F), the jacket was a tad cool without the new heavier liner in, even with vents shut, but too hot when it was fitted. In other words, the new liner had effectively turned the jacket into a 2 season one – Winter and Summer. However, it’s an easy issue to fix – you just need to wear a sweatshirt or lightish fleece underneath when temperatures are warmer than winter but cooler than summer. In other words:

Spring – Jacket and Fleece
Summer – Jacket only (vents open if really hot)
Autumn – Jacket and Fleece
Winter – Jacket and quilted liner.

Its no big deal and doesn’t stop this from being the best all round jacket and best value for money on the market. However, If Weise wanted to improve it further, we’d suggest that they could replace the new heavier 140g liner with a 2-stage liner (two thin liners that can be worn separately or together- say one at 90g and one at 50g. Then it would be a true 4 season job right out of the box.It would also be a better global jacket as it would cope better with a wider range of climates.