Ah, Street & Steel: a staple at both every Cycle Gear and motorcycle rally across the nation. It’s a brand that traditionally caters to cruiser riders, offering a lineup of armored, rugged streetwear apparel channeling small town Harley-Davidson dive bar energy. So how did I, a very unthreatening, overly positive street bike rider, end up with a Street & Steel jacket? The truth is, it’s the only thing the store had that fit my shoulders.
I have odd proportions. My waist is relatively small, but my back and shoulders are wide. My entire life, I’ve either “hulked” out of clothes – ripping dress shirts at the shoulder seams – or had them fit well up top but like a garbage bag everywhere else. I also have orangutan arms, which further complicates things. And when it comes to motorcycle jackets, it’s not like you can just get things tailored.
In comes the Street & Steel Runaway. After trying on every other men’s and women’s jacket at my local shop, I finally found one that worked. Sure, my medium frame had to size up to an XL to comfortably fit my shoulders, but the jacket was forgivingly adjustable, with Velcro side straps that tightened things up at the waist. The Runaway was my Cinderella’s slipper, and I was ecstatic when I found it.
Now, the majority of women won’t need to go up two whole sizes to make things work, but the option is there if you need it. The Runaway comes in seven sizes, varying from SM-4XL, so you’re sure to find something that works for you.
The jacket is made of a heavy waxed cotton material and offers an adequate level of baseline protection, featuring CE Level 2 shoulder and elbow armor as well as a generic foam back protector (which can be upgraded to a size medium AXIAL AX1 or AX2). There are two jean loops at the back should you want to connect the jacket to your pants. The interior features a concealed carry pocket; I’ve never personally used this, but the option is there if that’s your thing. I’m usually more concerned with keeping up with my obnoxious reserve of backup earplugs, which I conveniently store in the external side pockets. The pockets themselves aren’t very large – a common issue with women’s riding gear – but they’ll fit a smaller smartphone or similarly-sized wallet.
Moving on to weather protection. The Runaway is a very solid two- to three-season jacket. That said, I live in California where we have no seasons, so I wear it year-round, layering underneath as the temperatures start dropping in winter. The jacket comes with a removable fleece hoodie that conveniently zips into place, but I find that I prefer to wear my own hoodies underneath instead.
If I’m riding in colder weather, especially at night along the coast, I need to layer up significantly. The waxed cotton material, while keeping me more or less dry riding through fog and dense marine layers, is not the best at holding up to the strong winds. This is compounded by the fact that the sleeves don’t have adjustment straps at the wrists, leaving ample entry room for highway-speed gusts.
While the sleeve issue can be solved with a pair of gauntlet gloves, the overall wind permeability means I often end up layering with more than just a sweatshirt. I’ve found that the best combination for winter riding here is a down puffy followed by a windbreaker underneath the jacket. This way, I stay sufficiently warm while avoiding the fashion nightmare of turning into an absurd little Michelin man.
The Runaway manages well in heat, featuring four durable, zippered vents – two on the side and two on the back – with interior mesh linings. I’ve ridden with it in air temperatures up to about 112 degrees. While this wasn’t pleasant by any means, I ended up cutting the ride short not due to a lack of personal comfort but simply because my bike was overheating.
As for rain, the only time I’ve worn it in anything more than a sprinkle was during a full-blown storm. Had my riding partner and I not been on the last leg of a multiday camping trip with a full day of forecasted downpours, heavy wind, and lightning ahead of us, I would have never even considered looking at my bike, let alone riding it. It was a last resort, and all of my gear got soaked through, including the Runaway.
But let’s be honest here, it’s not fair to judge a three-season motorcycle jacket based on how it holds up in either hellish 112-degree weather or apocalyptic deluges. So here’s the deal: In any realistic, normal riding situation, the Street & Steel Runaway is a great jacket, especially for the price. It offers decent protection without sacrificing its casual streetwear aesthetic, it’s easy to layer and adapt to varying temperatures (especially if you size up for more room), and its adjustable side straps and bottom zippers help it fit a variety of body shapes and sizes. All of these things make it a win in my book.
The Runaway is my daily riding jacket, and I love it. We’ve spent quite a long time together, covering thousands of miles of city streets, highways, and backroads. It’s ruffled around the edges and may have a melted interior seam or two from when I accidentally ran it through the dryer, but that somehow just gives it even more character. And at $199, I couldn’t ask for much more.
Sizing: S-4XL available
Armor: CE Level 2 armor at shoulders and elbows, generic foam back protection with room for MD AXIAL AX1/AX2 replacement
Mariya Avtanska is a California-based creative who spends far too much time daydreaming about motorcycles. You can find her writing and photography portfolios at avtanska.com.