Merlin Stafford Airbag Ready wax jacket review

Merlin Stafford Airbag Ready wax jacket

Overall SBS Rating 94 /100
Reviewed by: Andy Davidson
Review Conditions
Yamaha XT660R

Stylish, functional and fits like a dream – this is one seriously cool riding jacket.

Merlin’s recent jackets look, feel and perform as well as their far more expensive counterparts – but for half the price – and their Stafford wax jacket is right up there with the best of them.

I used this jacket to ride over 1000 miles through Japan’s cities, suburbs, mountains and coastal roads and it didn’t disappoint. It’s pretty much got all you need for a variety of riding styles and is packed with extra features.

Firstly, it’s a wax cotton jacket, so you’ve got to not mind that waxy feeling on your fingertips every time you slip it on.

The wax coating does a decent job of keeping the rain off, but the Stafford also has a Reissa waterproof and breathable removable liner and a removable thermal liner too.

But here’s the cool thing: wax jackets don’t normally have any ventilation, and quite often the waterproof liner is fixed under the outer wax layer, as is the case with Merlin’s alternative Atlow jacket, which would be more suited to colder conditions.

The Stafford’s membrane is not only removable, it has mini zipped vents on the back and upper sleeves, making it much more suited to a variety of conditions.

When the temperature shot up on the coast roads flowing beside the Pacific Ocean, an unzipped collar and vents were enough to keep me cool.

And when we rolled up into the mountains of Hakuba and the mercury sank, the hefty front wind flap, liners and plush collar were enough to keep me warm.

Another plus… get into the city, whip out the protectors and you’ve got a jacket that looks great in your local sushi bar… or British pub.

It also comes with two large zipped pockets at the bottom, an inside zipped pocket, a diagonal zipped pocket on the left chest and a popper pocket on the right complete with a Union Jack flag!

The cuffs also fasten up with a zip and Velcro making it easy to slide gloves under the sleeves.

Features aside, what stands out most about this jacket is its style and design. Because it’s a short jacket, it can easily be worn out and about when not riding. It fits in Tokyo’s bustling Golden Gai district just as well as it does bimbling round Devon’s bucolic backroads. It’s not particularly heavy like other wax cotton jackets and the overall fit is sublime.

The Stafford is a sleek, British styled jacket which performs as well as it looks. It can be worn in hot or cold climates, has removable liners, ventilation, neat little touches and is an all-round excellent bit of kit.

Former MCN journalist Andy Davidson and his partner Alissa Potter are travelling the world by bike, and reviewing products for SBS Mag while they’re on the road. You can read more about their adventures at their Mad Or Nomad blog.

Textile jacket scores
  1. Fit & Comfort
  2. Protection
  3. Breathability
  4. Build Quality
  5. Features


    1. Removable waterproof membrane
    2. Elbow and shoulder armour
    3. Sleeve adjusters
    4. Short connection zip
    5. Zipped front vent panels
    6. Zipped front rear panels
    7. Internal pocket
    1. Back protector not included
    2. Light reflective panels

Fit & Comfort

20/ 20
The Stafford has a fantastic fit and is very comfortable both on and off the bike.


18/ 20
The fact it doesn’t come with a back protector as standard drops the score. But it is prepared for Merlin’s CE Level 2 airbag if you wish, which brings the score back up again.


18/ 20
Far more breathable than other wax jackets as it has vents and a removable waterproof liner.

Build quality

20/ 20
Excellent build quality and no signs of fraying or damage.


13/ 20
A back protector as standard would raise the score, as would light-reflective panels. The jacket is prepared for Merlin’s airbag, for the most safety-conscious riders.