Sponsored post for VIKING CYCLE
* Disclaimer: apparently the jacket design has been changed since I wrote this article. I have not had a chance to review the new version and can't comment on it.
Okay everyone, here's the deal. About a month back Scott Adams of Viking Cycle reached out to me and asked if I'd be willing to review some of their gear. He challenged me to pick out any item I wanted from their product lines, give it an honest shakedown, then write it up with some pics. I love someone with the balls to make an open-ended dare like that and, Being a ravenous fan of swag, I happily took him up on his kind offer and chose the Bloodaxe Leather Motorcycle jacket.
Viking Cycle is an 8 year old company based out of sunny So-Cal, they manufacture their own gear, allowing them complete quality control. All of their jackets include CE rated armor.
* Full disclosure: We're not selling Viking Cycle gear in house and, other than this review, I have no affiliation with this company. Those of you that have been following along over the years know that I'm not going to bullshit or pull any punches, so let's get at it!
I'm going to approach this experience from start to finish. We all work hard for our money and buying gear can be a pain in the ass, so things like service and website functionality are pretty big have-to-haves nowadays. Straight up, my experience with this company has been heavily favourable. I don't take my reputation lightly and I have my own brand integrity to protect, so when I tell you I'm a happy little ducky pay attention. I can, in all honesty, be a raging asshole when I think things are shite, but the more I deal with the gang at Viking Cycle the more I like them. Service has been awesome. Scott has his poop in a group and any questions I had were answered toot-fucking-suite. These guys take their shipping seriously too. From the time I chose the Bloodaxe Leather Motorcycle Jacket to my door was three days. That's a huge fricken' deal considering I'm up here in Victoria, BC, Canada and these guys are down in Cali. So service and shipping both get an A+ on my end.
The Viking Cycle website is a little rough and ready, but every time I visit I see improvements and new pics. It's pretty apparent that whomever is writing some of their ad copy isn't an English major and the site can be a bit twitchy on my smartphone when I'm trying to view close-up pics on individual items, but overall it's serviceable and not a bad looking platform, although certainly easier to navigate on a laptop. With supporting social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube they're obviously looking to keep current and have a relevant web presence. With free shipping on orders over $79.99 and their current 10% off deal for Fall, combined with their 30 day money back warranty, it makes it a bit easier to plunk down your hard earned bucks. Instant chat functionality on the site is a plus as well. Big fricken' gold star for the online and incentive efforts!
Alright, now that all the intangibles are out of the way let's get down to the meat and potatoes, how is the Bloodaxe Leather Motorcycle Jacket out in the wild? You know what, It's pretty fucking badass!
Okay, here we go! After having the Bloodaxe out and about in the wind, rain and sun, (welcome to Victoria in the Fall, hope you brought layers) it absolutely passes the versatility test. Any leather is going to have you stewing up a nice bowl of biker chowder when it's a scrambled egg day, but the removable quilted liner and ventilation zips in the upper chest and lower back do a great job of airing things out. I'm a sucker for a nice quilted liner and let me tell you, this fucker is WARM with that liner in. Personally I'm a huge fan of mandarin collars on a jacket as well, not crazy about things on my neck, and when it does get a bit too snotty out, I just whip on one of our Shemagh Tactical Scarves or Authentic Kustom Baja Hoodies. Instant bug-snugness and comfort!
Great trade-off in the weight to performance side of things all around with this design too, seems to be a running theme with these guys and I approve in a big way. Now that I think of it, I was in a bit of a rush to go pick up a client's bike the day the jacket got delivered and I remember thinking, as I chucked the package in the door to head to the truck, that it was kind of a light and small package for a serious leather. Well I may have had a bit of Hulk-smash going on that morning, because this thing is substantial. Everyone I've shown it to remarks on the quality and the heft, but when I wear it it feels just right. Total Goldilocks zone for walking around. Just right for not feeling like you're packing a two stroke on your tits while still feeling secure.
I have torn this jacket apart repeatedly now, checking out the features and looking for fails and I've gotta say, the more I root around the more I love this thing! Viking Cycle's designers have obviously put a shit-ton of thought into this jacket. It's the little things that really make life better when you're tired and dragging ass out in the wind and the rain and the Bloodaxe has a whack of feel-good bells and whistles. From the little pictogram labels on the different pockets for your phone, shades and even a pen holder, to the sneaky but spacious pocket that holds an 11" Ipad or tablet, to the media and earbud cable routers, to the velcro fasteners at the bottom rear of the removable liner, there's just more and more reasons to smile. You know that private grin you get when you're pushing hard and you get confirmation that you've spent your gear money wisely? You will if you're wearing the Bloodaxe.
* A quick heads-up. I made a bit of a booboo when I asked for an XL. I've dropped over 50 pounds since last Christmas but I'm still a wide son of a bitch, just less round, so sizing can be a hassle for me. At 5'10" and 185 pounds I found the back a bit loose, so I'll be going for a Large on future orders.
More in your face matters, like the ease of insertion and removal of the interchangeable CE rated armor and the high reflectivity of the old school looking stripes, are all marks of the forethought and quality that's gone into this solidly sexy beast. Other pleasantries included subtle blousing of the zippered cuffs. Meaning I can actually fit a decent pair of longer gloves instead of knuckle dusters under there if I want to, while still maintaining a smooth line. They also included felt-lined front pockets, don't know about you all, but I freaking LOVE toasty front pockets and it's even better when they zip from bottom to top to keep my shit from falling out.
So, let's kick the crap out of the elephant in the room now. Price and place of manufacture. No bullshit, I was ready to hate on this thing when I saw the prices. Figured it was going to be more cheap, poorly made crap. Joke's on me though. I can't believe I'm recommending a price hike, but straight talk, these guys are doing themselves a grave disservice by offering this gear at these price points. It gives the impression that the quality just isn't there and it's going to scare folks off. I get that their website says Viking Cycle are fellow riders looking to put out quality gear at an affordable price, but sometimes you just need to price for perception. This is one of those times.
I'm telling you hooligans right now, grab this gear at these rates while you can, because deals like this are hard to find. As for the label saying Made in Pakistan? Well, if Harley can charge your left testicle and your right ovary for Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean horseshit with an eagle on it, I'll nod and smile at the quality and price of my Bloodaxe all day fucking long. Don't get me wrong, I love my Vanson leathers, but they're a bit of a bitch to bop around town in and that's the sweet spot that Viking Cycle has hit so very, very well here. By the way, you know what Pakistan is famous for? That's right, leather. Let's be honest with one another here, there are times to wave your plastic around and be a wanker and there are times to shut the fuck up and spend your money wisely. Personally, once I feel pretty sure that my skin is going to stay where I like it, I'm a fan of having some extra cash for ass, grass and gas.
All of that being said, I do have a few small and one solid beef with the Bloodaxe. The solid gripe is the zipper on the quilted liner. I get that they were going for a lower profile for comfort. Some of my other jackets have heavier inside zips that can feel like a mini cheese grater after a while. It's just one of those annoyances that starts to bug you on a longer day, but the lightweight zip on this liner has already separated once, so it's going to need an upgrade on future iterations. I'd also like to see some contrast stitching on the quilted liner itself. A red, orange or copper stitch could be a hot styling cue, something to think about. Lastly, the zippers on the rest of the jacket are nice and solid, but on colder, wetter rides they can be a pain to grab with bulkier gloves, which was another non-issue, once I threw on some of our zipper pulls. One last addition I'd like to see would be some moleskin or felt at the neck and cuffs, but all things considered it'd really just be a cherry on top kind of thing, still not a bad idea though. Okay, I'm done being a dick now.
So let's let you in on a little secret, I've already got my eye on a couple of Viking Cycles' other offerings and after I've shown them the Bloodaxe to get their opinions, I have clients asking me to hook them up too. One of my "thriftier" regulars honked that it was a shame there wasn't a big ass fucking harley logo on it, because he loved the thing and wanted one. I suggested a nice embroidered patch and he got the warm and fuzzies pretty damn quick. No one guessed the price of the Bloodaxe at less than USD $500 and a couple of the Brit and Euro machine owners actually estimated around a grand. With a better known brand name this gear will easily start commanding a higher cost in days to come. This is one seriously sexy piece of kit and I've had it on the backs of literally dozens of riders over the last month, with a whole lot of love thrown it's way. Every single one of them commented on the quality of the leather and pointed out something else that they loved about it. So good job, Viking Cycle, you got all the points from the leg over crowd!
Now for the question all you dudes really want to ask. If I wear this to the bar am I going to get laid? Well, experiences may vary, but I wore this thing out a "few" times to get reactions and comments and holy flaming hooters gentlemen, did I ever get a lot of attention with this leather! Of course I pulled the armour out so I didn't look like a flippin' wannabe power ranger, but I keep coming back to the words, "sexy", "solid" and "badass" when I think about the Bloodaxe and we all know that when you look good you feel good. So yeah you're going to feel pretty goddamned good about yourself when you're out and about. Just smile at the pretties, don't be a douche and you're off to a studly start. Killman Customs definitely offers it's seal of approval on the Bloodaxe as hottie bait!
So, in conclusion, is the Bloodaxe Leather Motorcycle Jacket by Viking Cycle good gear? Yup. Is it worth the money? Abso-fucking-lutely!
Well that's about it. Hope you enjoyed the read. Any other companies that feel confident in their shit, feel free to reach out if you dare and If anyone's got any further questions get at me!
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