Please note that the studio photos were taken when we gave the jacket to Jon, so it was new. However, it’s showing no undue signs of wear after the 1,000 miles he’s covered for this review, as shown in the final image.
A fairly new name to the market, Enginehawk is a CE-approved clothing brand from the company behind Ruroc helmets. We gave the red leather .50 Cal Carnage jacket to BikeSocial member and riding instructor Jon Mansfield back in May to find out how good it is, and he’s been wearing it regularly since on his Kawasaki ZZR1100, Honda Deauville and a variety of his training centres bikes (1on1 Rider Training near Bedford)…
We’re all different, but I found the fit of the Enginehawk .50 Cal Carnage jacket to be spot on; I’m usually an XL and this was perfect, being on the right side of big to look good, but still have room for an extra layer.
The arms are a good length, but what really impresses me is how comfortable the jacket is, despite being fully armoured. It’s helped by the wonderfully soft leather of course, not to mention the accordion panels on the back, but the armour also feels like it’s not there at all.
On the bike nothing rucks up or sits uncomfortably, and walking around it doesn’t feel unduly bulky or restrictive.
Needless to say, you will have to check the fit for yourself, but Enginehawk offers free returns up to 14 days after delivery, as long as the items are in the original packaging and unused.
The Enginehawk .50 Cal Carnage is CE approved under EN17092 to Level AA. AAA is the highest current level, and what we’d typically expect from off-the-shelf leather products, though there are some details of leather jackets that can restrict the certification they reach. The reason for a jacket not achieving AAA might not be due to its abrasion resistance or tear / seam strength – it could be down to the design of the cuffs, for instance. However, this would be guesswork, but a large proportion of casual-style leather jackets fall into the AA category.
It's great to find Level 1 armour not only in the required shoulders and elbows, but also in the back. I often don’t like back protectors, but all the armour here is extremely slim, flexible and lightweight, looking and feeling great both on and off the bike. I’m impressed.
The armour is from relatively new British company Rheon and doesn’t act the same way as D3O in that if you rapidly flex it, it doesn’t stiffen up, so it’s not got the same non-Newtonian properties. It’ll be interesting to see what other companies start including it too.
Higher impact resistance Level 2 Rheon armour is available at £60 for the shoulder and elbows, and £30 for the back protector, though if bought at the same time as the jacket it costs half that.
For everything you need to know about the safety labels in your motorcycle kit, click here.
The two zipped pockets on the front of the Enginehawk .50 Cal Carnage are well-positioned to shove my paws into, and there’s space for my wallet and other clobber. While I’ve had no problems, I would mention that they’re lined with a mesh material, and I’d question how tough this is for keys and the like being dragged repeatedly in and out.
There’s also an open-topped pocket in each side of the lining, and a zipped ‘Nelson’ pocket just behind the zip at the chest, though I don’t tend to use any of these, or the small pocket that’s on the outside, on the left of the chest.
The main zip is easy to use with a decent-sized toggle, while the collar fastens with a popper and is comfortable. I do often ride with the zip open to let some air in, but it stays where I set it.
There are elasticated belt loops on the inside of the hem of the jacket, which can be used to secure to your trouser belt; handy to stop the jacket lifting up and it reduces drafts, though I don’t tend to bother as I find the length works well.
There doesn’t tend to be any adjustment on most leather jackets, though the short zip at the bottom on each side is a neat addition here to allow bit of expansion; something some riders might appreciate on certain bikes.
I do really appreciate that when the cuffs are unzipped I can easily see my watch – on some jackets it’s a real fiddle to pull the gusset out of the way, but one’s not fitted here. A minor point maybe, but it matters to me!
There’s no ventilation or perforation on the Enginehawk .50 Cal Carnage, but it’s not an overly heavy jacket. When it got really hot this summer I switched to my ventilated RST jacket, but for the rest of the time that it’s not raining, this is usually fine.
There’s no additional thermal layer, so if you intend to wear this in the cold, make sure you can get some layers underneath it. I’ve found my fleece fits fine.
The Enginehawk jacket’s lined with a comfort mesh that doesn’t get sticky in the heat, and feels comfy in most weathers.
At full retail price, the Enginehawk has some competition, but it holds its own well. Here are some others to consider…
I’m really impressed with the Enginehawk .50 Cal Carnage; it’s got a bit of a ’70s vibe that I really appreciate, and it doesn’t look too much like a motorcycle jacket.
From the little details like the chain-design hanger in the collar, to the quilted sections and the lovely red colour that goes well with anything (and looks even better in the flesh than these pics), it’s one of the best I’ve ever worn, and it looks as good now as it did when I got it. It feels and it looks great quality.
I’d prefer it without the big logo across the back, but it’s far from the worst I’ve seen, and overall I’d be happy to recommend this to any of my pupils. I’ve also seen a few discount offers from Enginehawk, so keep an eye out and you could get a real bargain.
Do you have one of these jackets? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell everyone what you think of it…