Date reviewed: May 2023 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £139.99 | spadaclothing.co.uk
The Spada Vermont on review here is a denim jacket with Kevlar sections at key impact areas, and is proof that good design can go a long way to producing motorcycling clothing that’s both stylish AND protective.
Clever use of materials and reinforcement – not to mention comfortable armour – make the Vermont very easy to wear both on and off the bike, so I’ve been using it on a VFR800 (admittedly, not really its intended style) to find out whether it’s worth the money…
The key impact areas are lined with genuine Kevlar
The denim outer shell of the Spada Vermont is made of 98% cotton and 2% Spandex, giving it a surprising degree of stretch. The inner lining is a polyester mesh that helps keep you cool, while the key impact areas of the shoulders and elbows – as well as the back – are lined with DuPont Kevlar.
It’s available in the blue I have here, or a ‘charcoal’ black, and fits my 5’10” frame well with my usual size large.
The arms are the right length to look good off the bike, though they can feel a fraction short when compared to ‘normal’ biking kit like the average textile jacket. Having said that, the Vermont is unashamedly designed to look like a denim shirt (it’s called a ‘shacket’), and my wife loved the style and fit as soon as I put it on. It’s unusual for her to be this impressed with bike kit, and fortunately, a quick Google told me that Grazia magazine and Levi say double denim is back in again. As an obviously dedicated follower of fashion (just ask the postman when I answer the door in my leopard-print dressing gown), that’s a massive relief to me.
It’s great to see manufacturers seeing the marketing potential of higher safety levels in riding kit. It’d have been easier (and cheaper) for Spada to simply certify this as a Level A garment under EN17092, and hope that buyers wouldn’t care about safety ratings. But through putting that extra bit of thought and effort in to reach level AA, the Vermont is now a good option for riders looking for something stylish on a custom, cruiser or street bike.
Yes, there is a higher Level AAA, but there are very few textiles that achieve this at the moment, and certainly not in this style.
It’s great to find Level 2 armour from Shapeways in the elbows and chest, with a Level 1 back protector also fitted as standard. On me at least, I do find that the armour isn’t perfectly positioned, being a little low on my shoulders and a fraction high on my elbows. I’m pretty averagely sized, but this will vary from rider to rider. I’d also point out that, as with quite a few jackets, the elbow armour has a little too much opportunity to move around on the arm, meaning it could be out of place in an impact. Without adjustment straps you might find on a traditional textile jacket (and that would look out of place here), this will come down more to the way it fits your arms. I’d have preferred it a little snugger here to let the stretch demim hold it better in place on me, but that would likely not suit everyone who bought it. Perhaps using the larger Type B armour, rather than the smaller Type A included would help.
My main issue with the Spada Vermont is that the back could pull up in a slide as there’s no way to retain it, and the material is of course extremely flexible. A longer back protector could have helped, though it would likely have been a bit intrusive to the styling; I’d like to see three loops around the inside that you could pass your belt through if you wanted, in order to help keep the back down.
All motorcycle clothing sold in the UK and Europe is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This is a good thing for riders as it can help them choose kit that has provable levels of safety because, to meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. To fully understand the labels found in all bike kit, click here.
Pocket space is limited, but that’s because the Spada Vermont is designed to look like a shirt, not a bike jacket. The two on the chest could take a wallet, for instance, but it’s the pocket on the inside left that can easily stash even a large Pixel 7 Pro phone under its Velcro fastening.
While it looks like it’s just buttoned up on the front, the Spada Vermont has a hidden, tough metal YKK main zip with an additional useful pull tag fitted. The seven poppers up the front, like the others on the sleeves and pockets, are all rubber coated, so you don’t need to worry about scratching your bike’s tank.
The only point I would make is that the poppers on the sleeves are metal inside, so if you wear a watch, just take care that it doesn’t get scratched. This isn’t unique to this jacket by any stretch, but it’s a small point I always consider.
There’s no adjustment on the Spada Vermont, but the good fit and stretch nature of the outer means I haven’t felt any need for it besides around the elbow armour. It also wouldn’t be in keeping with the style.
There are no vent panels or zips on the Spada Vermont, but you really don’t need them as the denim material is very breathable. The elbows and shoulders are of course blocked by the dense form armour, but they’re also backed with a quilted material similar to that found in a thermal liner. There’s plenty of air moving around, so while these aren’t mesh, and there’s plenty of bulk in these zones, you won’t notice them on the bike. When walking around in the heat, these areas can feel a little clammy, though not a great deal more than most jackets. The back protector has just the lightweight mesh over it, and isn’t really noticed.
It's possible that the Vermont could have been even cooler still were it to feature ventilated armour like D3O’s Ghost (which would also be slimmer), but this would undoubtedly have put the cost up, and Spada has done a great job of making something that’s protective, really easy to wear, but also relatively affordable.
This isn’t a winter jacket, so while you could layer up with it, it’s definitely designed for fair-weather use, not the depths of winter. At 20°C, I was perfectly comfortable in it – much cooler and the windchill would start to get noticeable.
The mesh lining is comfortable against the skin, and doesn’t stick to you if you’re running warm. This material can also help trap warm air to some extent, but of course the breathability of the Vermont’s denim outer means it doesn’t make a difference here when things get cold.
Forget it. The Spada Vermont was never intended to offer any kind of water resistance, but that’s what makes it look so casual, and so breathable.
As brands get to grips with the safety certification standards of EN17092, we’re likely to see more products like this, but the Vermont certainly stands out. Here are a few others to look at…
It’s impressive to find that UK brand Spada backs the Vermont with a two year warranty (as long as you register it online here), and while the minor addition of belt loops on the inside would go a long way for those who wanted to use them, overall I’m really impressed with what the design team has achieved here. It’s a protective top that you can wear on your motorcycle, yet it looks just like a shirt.
It’s not waterproof, it’s not covered in pockets, and it isn’t covered in fancy reflective panels and techy details. Which is why so many people will love it.
If my garage included the Harley Forty-Eight I’ve always wanted, the Spada Vermont is what I’d wear while riding it.