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GEAR REVIEW / the best jacket money can’t buy

October 24, 2013



October, 24, 2013

Why is it that I always seem to find the best product after it’s out of production?  Lately, I’ve been looking at textile sport and/or adventure touring jackets.  After watching me purchase and discard a dozen or so motorcycle garments, my brother Mark learned a different approach.

While I am usually driven by “bargain’ hunting or perceived “value” purchases, Mark is extremely selective with his purchases.  Usually this involves traveling to a retailer – Bob’s BMW in Maryland, RevZilla in Philadelphia, and until recently, Knee Draggers in Delaware.  We used to visit Cycle Gear but they seem to be less and less oriented toward high end manufacturers and more focused on in-house brands.

So after trying on dozens of jackets, ordering a few online and returning them, Mark finally found a jacket he loved.  The Held Cardona.  This jacket retails (at closeout!) for just under $600.00.  Full retail I imagine, was in the same range as the KLIM Badlands (about $900.00). 

Held’s gloves are well known in the USA.  Their clothing lines are relatively new.  I imagine it is a challenge to get retailers to stock their products in-house when your average moto-scooter store carries Joe Rocket, Olympia, Triumph, and Alpinestars.  This stuff is on another planet entirely.   The Held Cardona jacket competes, in my opinion, with BMW’s Rallye Jacket (considered to be the global standard in textile jackets), and the excellent and built like a tank, Klim Badlands Pro. All are serious jackets and all carry serious price tags.

Let’s take a look at the jacket and list the Swiss army knife-like features:



  • Outershell of GORE-TEX® Pro-Shell textile laminate mix: – Superfabric (32% polyester, 68% epoxy resin) – Darley (100% cordura) -Misano (100% polyamide)
  • Cool System lining – detachable, breathable
  • Cool-MAX® mesh inner lining (100% polyester)
  • 4 outside pockets, of which 2 are waterproof
  • 7 inside pockets, including internal cell phone pocket
  • AIR-VENT zippers in front, back and the arms
  • Double arm adjustment
  • Hip adjustment
  • Waist belt
  • Soft collar
  • Schoeller® -Kevlar stretch panels below arms and inside arms
  • EN 1621-1 certified 4t soft protectors from SAS-TEC on shoulders and elbows
  • TEMPERFOAM® at back
  • EN 1621-2 certified back protector, upgradeable
  • Connecting zip

Held Cardona Review (Continued)

Wow does this jacket FIT! – I imagine this is what a Savile Row tailor would create should Gieves & Hawkes jump into bespoke motorcycle clothing.  The jacket cut is more street/sport oriented and the design is subtle enough to walk into a restaurant or mall and not immediately be mistaken for riot gear.

One note about the fit while riding.  The jacket sits on the rider perfectly.  No flapping, no shoulders turning into a gigantic air dam, nothing.  It’s just perfect.  Whatever Held does with the cut design of their jackets, the end result is absolutely fantastic.  You really have to try one to understand HOW well it works.

As you can see in the photos below, the Cardona looks more suited to street/sport/touring.  It does not have the ‘take over the world” look of most ADV style jackets.  The lines are clean and the styling is muted.


Details – Zips, snaps, Velcro closures, you name it.  This jacket is all about details.  It’s perfectly executed and extremely  well though out.  The interior is beautiful and the Gore-Tex Pro shell is guaranteed not to leak.  That’s important at this price point.

The insulated inner liner (pictures shortly) is also extremely high quality and can easily be worn as a causal jacket.



A note about protection:

This jacket is loaded.  Held’s proprietary “Quattrotempi” SaS-Tec armor is everywhere – and I mean everywhere.  Shoulders, elbows, back, tailbone, neck, everywhere.  And the fit of the armor is distinctive.  So many jackets feel like the protection was an afterthought.  Elbow protection too low, in the wrong place.  Back armor that’s pitifully too small, rides sideways, and generally does nothing.  Not so with the Cardona.  Every piece is perfectly located and balanced in the jacket.  By balanced, we mean the protection is located correctly and stays where it belongs.  When wearing the jacket it functions and fits like a single unit -  not a collection of armored parts.


Exclusive ‘cloverleaf’ technology means you don’t have to rely on being lucky.

The four-leaf clover is widely recognized as a traditional symbol of good fortune, but a link with motorcycling is not quite as obvious. However, the two are now united thanks to an innovation from Held, in partnership with one of the world’s most trusted developers of protection.
The four folding leaves of the clover inspired Held to work alongside SaS-Tec, to reach a new level of protection. Extensive R&D has produced an improved version of SaS-Tec’s already outstanding SC-1 material, perfect for a unique range of protectors with the following features:

  • Safety
  • Comfort
  • Ergonomics
  • Innovation

Held Quattrotempi cloverleaf protectors, in distinctive green, set new standards of excellence. Aside from the CE-approved level of protection, vast advances in fit and comfort have been achieved. The ultra-comfortable protectors become extremely pliable with body heat, so that the ‘leaves’ mould around the most vulnerable body areas and, a ‘stalk’, which [in the shoulder application] can be positioned over the upper arm or shoulder blades depending on preference. Because if a protector fits better, it will work better.

PHOTO: Miles and miles of Superfabric.  This stuff is expensive and supremely abrasion resistant.


PHOTO: The ONLY thing I would change in the design of the jacket would be to install zippered ventilation in the sleeves (like with the Klim Badlands Pro).



QUALITY – A (You have to see and wear one)

VALUE – A (We are talking about serious $$$ for serious clothing)

FIT AND FINISH – A++ (About the best we have seen)

OUR RECCOMENDATION – If you can find one – buy it!

Up Next:

GEAR REVIEW / Held Awara Jacket (we’re not so happy with this one)


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