The Pea-style motorcycle jacket is the epitome of understated style.
BIKER GEAR IS a style challenge. I was once reliably told that biker gear is ugly for a perfect reason – because motorcycle clothes have NOTHING to do with fashion. I disagree because some riders want an unintimidating cool image and not look like a shapeless sack of potatoes. A vital part of riding a motorcycle is your gear choice, which is just as important as buying the right bike.
More and more bikers are looking for light and comfortable casual clothing. With the growing popularity of a more relaxed riding style, I've noticed an inflow of new gear to cater to every biker out there.
However, choosing a jacket can be a compromise decision: the style, material, technological features, and level of protection you want from a jacket can all have a massive impact on what you purchase. Some jackets look great but will not protect you if caught in the rain; others keep you warm and dry for miles and miles but look naff.
As a result, most riders have a jacket for each season, but what if you want an all-seasoner? I've accumulated a lot of road gear over the years, including Alpine Stars, BKS made to measure, a "Lewis leather jacket," and a "Belstaff Trailmaster." My leathers tell people I’m fast, sleek, and cool – but they're not waterproof. The Alpine is my go-to jacket for almost every ride, particularly touring, but it's as dull as hell and just not as cool as my leathers.
My riding is much more casual these days, so I want a jacket that accomplishes everything listed above and that I can wear on and off the bike. I quickly discovered that I am not alone; other bikers wish to wear classic, well-made clothing and call it a day. Enter my Biker Pea Coat, which may appear absurd at first. But don't let preconceived assumptions about what a motorcycle jacket should look like deter you.
The Pea Coat has been a fashion mainstay, yet designers have constantly attempted to improve and reinvent it since the 1800s. It’s a timeless classic like T-shirts, chinos, trench coats, cargo pants, desert boots, bomber jackets, and aviator sunglasses.
It is based on apparel used by sailors in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Dutch are widely regarded as the innovators and can almost likely claim naming rights: it is commonly assumed that the term 'pijjakker' is derived from the words 'pij' (pronounced 'pee'), indicating the sturdy blue woollen cloth used and 'jakker' being a man's short, thick coat.
The coat was cut shorter to offer the sailors who first wore it more freedom of movement. Men known as' reefers' were tasked with unfurling sails and climbing a ship's vertiginous mast rigging. The reefer jacket gets its name from the rugged seamen who make it.
The double-breasted, eight- or ten-button front and 'convertible' Ulster collar of the pea coat were designed to be readily secured, shielding the chest and neck from searing winds, rain, and spray – everything needed for motorbiking.
Despite its wartime origins, the garment eventually became a favourite of the "peace and love" set, giving the term "reefer jacket" a whole new meaning. The pea coat was issued to American sailors throughout the twentieth century.
Originally made of heavy 30-ounce wool, Rokker has reimagined the coat in a technical biker version of a pea coat that is a great all-rounder and abrasion-resistant. Nearly all of my biker gear is black, but it can be hell in summer because I get too hot from the clothing absorbing the heat. But the clever guys at Rokker have that covered with their patented Coldblack® coating that reflects heat and UV radiation. Now I can wear my jacket during the summer without feeling like a roast chicken. Who said bikers can't be stylish, cool, and wearing black during the summer?