The west coast of New Zealand has its own climate, which is often very wet, so a 1550-mile riding trip in that part of the world gave a good chance to test this jacket.
The Merlin Lynx 2-in-1 is a textile jacket with plenty of pockets, a comfortable collar and Level 2 CE-approved shoulder and back armour, plus a Level 1 back protector.
Weather protection comes from a removable liner that combines quilted Outlast material for warmth and a Reissa waterproof membrane. The two materials are joined to each other so you either ride with both in the jacket, or neither.
As I set off on my test New Zealand was in the middle of drought, the scorched earth and parched fields crying out for rain. As I approached Milford Sound on my way to the west coast the fields turned from brown to green. A sign of things to come?
I saw rain in the two places I predicted – Milford Sound and on the west coast, where I rode in torrential rain. Thankfully it didn’t last too long, but I’m pleased to say the liner in the Merlin jacket performed well and kept me nice and dry.
Photography: SIMON LEE
Many riders will have experienced the benefits of Outlast and may be big fans of the way it absorbs excess heat and then releases it when the outside temperature drops.
My issue with this bulky liner was that removing it meant the jacket did not feel well tailored. With the liner out the jacket felt too big and loose, and the waist adjusters had insufficient adjustment to give me a good fit in this area.
The poor fit on the shoulders was my main concern – coupled with the smallest shoulder armour I have ever seen in a bike jacket meant it hung on me and didn’t give the security and confidence I expect.
There are adjusters on the forearm, biceps, waist and hem, with stretch anchor points to alter the jacket for a personal fit, but this wasn’t enough to take up the slack.
I chose a medium jacket as the best available fit for me, although it still felt too large. The small was definitely too small and not an option.
Oddly, the matching trousers were on the tight side in a size medium, particularly around the waist, and I was surprised at this inconsistency.
In hot conditions the jacket gave good ventilation despite the relatively small size and number of vents.
Ventilation is provided through a rear zipped exhaust vent, zipped vents on each arm and the chest. In my view Merlin have missed the opportunity to add more and bigger vents, particularly as waterproofing is provided by the inner lining.
I liked the neck band, which has a very soft and comfortable inner liner, and can be hooked back to allow better ventilation, and I also found the external pockets to be waterproof.
It’s not all bad and overall the jacket did the job, although I was disappointed with some of the features and the fit.
Fit & Comfort
Sadly this jacket felt like it hung on me, especially with the waterproof/thermal liner removed. The combined waterproof and Outlast liner is bulky and too thick in warm, wet weather.
The jacket is supplied with armour in the vulnerable places, but I have marked this down as the shoulder armour is very small and the back protector insert meets the lower CE Level 1 while the rest of the armour in the jacket is Level 2.
The waterproofing did the job in some severe rain on the west coast of New Zealand and more persistent rain at Milford Sound.
The build quality seems satisfactory, but doesn’t stand out.
The jacket has all the features needed for use in a variety of riding conditions and is also ready to receive a Merlin integrated airbag.