Sump Review: Bradwell Jacket

Sump Review: Bradwell Jacket

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Oxford Bradwell wax cotton jacket for me


 Oxford Bradwell Jacket in Onyx Black. And no, it doesn't glow in the dark. For clarity's sake, we threw a digital spotlight on it. That's all. The black is actually very deep and rich.


Oxford Bradwell wax cotton jacket


Story snapshot:

Well made, tough, comfortable and secure riding jacket

Doesn't smell fishy


Look, if there's anything good on TV right now, or if you've got some chores that need sorting, we suggest you go and attend to them. Life is short, and time is precious. Suffice to say that this Oxford Bradwell jacket in Onyx Black is a great piece of riding kit and well worth the £199 price tag. So you can leave it right there and move along.


...however, if you're the kind of bloke who wants a little more detail before parting with his cash, we'll be happy to supply it.


A few weeks back, Oxford Products sent us this jacket for review. Our expectations were neither high nor low. Actually, we'd almost forgotten about it until a courier arrived and chucked a box at us. Hurry up, mate. Sign here. Goodbye. Vrooooommmm.


You know how it works.



Since then we've been wearing this jacket daily and laying down a lot of miles. And we're impressed. The fabric is premium British Millerain wax cotton. British Millerain Co Ltd has been around for well over a century and is one of the pioneers of wax cotton technology—and "technology" isn't too fancy a word for it. 


There's a lot of science and history behind this waxy fabric, most of it hailing from the needs of maritime world. British Millerain were among the first—if not the very first—to export this material to the rest of the world.


To cut a long story short, wax cotton sail technology greatly improved the efficiency of the schooners, clippers and sundry vessels of the 18th, 19th and even 20th century. It was far more durable and lighter than ordinary, untreated cotton sails that habitually became saturated with brine and thereby slowed progress. So over the decades, various people experimented with fish oils and paraffin wax and stuff, and that experimentation is on-going with new ideas coming along at intervals.


Old time sailors also made personal good use of wax cotton with homespun jackets and hats and stuff, and eventually the fabric was taken up by country squires and horsemen and aviators and, of course, motorcyclists.


The Bradwell Jacket, you'll be pleased to know, doesn't smell of fish or paraffin. In fact, it doesn't have any kind of smell, neither wet nor dry. It doesn't feel waxy either. It just feels very durable, holds its shape well and is extremely tough.


The cut is, okay, fairly basic, so forget high-end tailoring. Oxford could perhaps have trimmed an inch or two from the waistline. That's because we're all very slim and trim around here. However, most folk will be glad of a little breathing room for that excess flab. And to keep it all in, there's a belt that will help you control those convex curves.


But don't misunderstand us. It's not a loose or baggy cut. It's just a little ... generous. On the bike, that's no problem at all. You need the manoeuvring room. We notice the extra inches only when off the bike and walking around with the jacket undone and admiring ourselves in passing shop windows.  


It's a fairly heavy jacket, mind. We were sent a LARGE size, and it weighs a little over six pounds (2.7 kilos). That weight might not suit everyone, but it gives us a welcome feeling of security which is backed up by elbow and shoulder protectors (and a back-protector is optional).



The seams are triple stitched in the high impact areas, and that stitching is very neatly done all over. The pockets are pleated (to lay flat) and are reasonably accommodating. The back of the jacket has a generous box pleat—which is a prerequisite if you've got handlebars of any width or reach.


The brass poppers feel like good quality. The zip is heavyweight and is protected by a storm flap (with poppers). Somewhere in the package is a HUMAX membrane designed to keep the wind and water away whilst still being able to breathe (seems to work). And the cuffs and high collar have so far also done a stand-up job of keeping the autumn elements at bay (and currently in our neighbourhood we're suffering from a surplus of autumn).


We could nitpick about the buckles (one at the collar, one on the belt). Nothing major to whinge about, but we found them just a little fiddly. No problem when you're at home dressing up to ride. But when you're on the move and need to loosen something (or fasten something), you need to factor in a few extra seconds to do whatever you have to do (alternately, you can be smart and just pull over and sort out your gear). Mercifully, there's no Velcro on this jacket.


We like the corduroy collar padding. We also like the tartan lining and have to resist the urge to show it off. That lining is removable and needs to be. Come the summer, you'll die in this jacket unless you strip it bare.


Beyond that, we really can't think of anything to bitch about. The Oxford Bradwell jacket looks well thought out, is simple in design, is well cut (like us), is sturdy, tough, warm, protective, and good value (also like us).


There is a ladies version around, but it seems that they're in short supply. So if you want one, girls, you'd better start hunting. And note that we haven't compared this Bradwell to any high-end wax cotton jackets because most riding folk, in our experience, want more cost-effective apparel (as opposed to big name fashion gear that offers no more protection or comfort).


As for sizing, the Bradwell starts at SMALL and ends at 5XL—which is pretty much a tent for us. The £199 price tag, incidentally, is the recommended retail price (RRP). So the jackets are bound to be on offer somewhere or other. Consequently, if you're looking for a cheaper (but not "cheap") wax cotton biking jacket, give this one a try.


It certainly suits us.

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