Master of disaster

New Master jacket. Hair model's own
New Master jacket. Hair model's own Picture: Alan Dowds From: Hein Gericke Price: 459.99 Sizes: 50-60

It’s turned mild again, but proper disastrous winter weather can’t be far off. Al’s ready for it though, with a new Hein Gericke Master suit

‘Past performance may not be an accurate guide to future performance.’ We’ve all seen that line in those financial ads where the small print takes up more space than the main ad.

But I’m hoping it doesn’t apply to winter riding gear – because I’ve just replaced my ten-year-old Hein Gericke Master suit with a new one. The Master was a high-end stalwart of the HG range in the early 2000s. Your Germans (HG first opened in Dusseldorf in 1970) get plenty of crappy weather, so their winter gear has to be top notch. And the Master suit ticked all the boxes: high-tech abrasion resistant materials, breathable membranes, removable thermal liners, CE armour, loads of smart pockets, clever design everywhere.

My old Master suit (I think it’s version 3 or 4) has been kept in reserve for properly shitty weather for years now, and while its performance has dropped a little with age, it’s still an excellent suit: warm, (almost totally) waterproof, comfy, and protective. But there are signs of age: the trousers have started to let in the odd spot of dampness at the crotch, and the thermal liner in the jacket is feeling a bit thin in places. No shame of course – it’s served me well for tens of thousands of miles of road testing, commuting and general wear.

Enter the new Master 7. This is HG’s latest version, and you can see the echoes of the old design. There’s no fancy-dan Italian hipster schtick here: just solid, black ballistic Kevlar-y shell, with reflective strips, subtle logoing, and a heap of features. Reading all the tiny elf-pamphlets that are hung on the jacket, I’ve got Schoeller Keprotec, SAS-TEC CE armour, 3M Scotchlite, Sheltex Pro membranes, and much more. The jacket has a removable neck collar section, zip-in thermal liner and stacks of pockets.

One thing that has changed is summer venting – back in 2003-4, people weren’t as bothered about summer use of winter gear (or maybe the venting zips couldn’t be made waterproof enough?) So the old Master has no vents, but the new one does, yay. What’s not changed much is the price – the new jacket is £459 – which is actually about the same as the old one was when new. So still steep, but more of a bargain than before. And if you also get a decade out of the thing, less than a pound a week for top-notch bike jacketry. The trews are an additional £295, so a hefty chunk of change for the whole ensemble, but then kwality and komfort kosts kash…

So. The Master is dead, long live the Master. I’ll be using this outfit in the very worst conditions this winter, and will report back on how it all goes. And if that future performance is anywhere near the past performance of the Master suit, it should all go very well indeed…

Old Master jacket. Ropey Burgman 650 model's own
Old Master jacket. Ropey Burgman 650 model's own Picture: Alan Dowds
Proper pic of the jacket. Trousers are similar, but with legs.
Proper pic of the jacket. Trousers are similar, but with legs.
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