RST TracTech Evo 4 | Leather jacket and pants review

RST Tracktech Evo 4 review two piece leathers_01

 

Date reviewed: April 2020 | Tested by: Stephen Lamb | Price: £299.99 - Jacket, £229.99 - Trousers | www.rst-moto.com

 

I've been wearing these RST TracTech Evo 4 leathers for around a year on both road and track, and on a variety of bikes including John Milbank's Kawasaki ZX6-R, my own Ducati Scrambler Classic and Honda's CB500F. After several years of wearing textiles, or just jackets and aramid jeans, how do two-piece leathers stack up for comfort and usability?

 

Pros and Cons

  • Great looking styling
  • Comfortable right from the off
  • AAA rating at a great price
  • Sizing is a bit hit and miss
  • Some colour choices may date quickly
  • Not very warm for out of season use

 

Fit and Construction

Taking the jacket and trousers in turn, I have always found RST kit to fit the British (more portly?) frame very well, and the TracTech Evo 4 jacket is no different. Being an under-average 5'6" tall, I often find the arms on jackets just a bit too long but was pleased to find that the RST jacket's fit was just right providing sufficient coverage around to wrist to provide ample protection without interfering with glove fitment or looking like you've borrowed your leathers. The fit around the chest was also good, with the Large fitting my 42" chest just right - snug but not restrictive.

I had to take a couple of tries to get the trousers to fit right though, as the 34" waist trousers I assumed I needed were far too large and baggy around the bum and crutch. I should have known this to be the case as I have a pair of RST SRT 6-7 trousers that I've owned for (far too many) years and they are a 30" waist. Assuming that lockdown had taken away any chance of getting back in a 30", and swapping the overly large 34"s to a 32" gave a much better fit, but they are still not quite as snug as race leathers should be and I do wonder if I should have gone for a 30" again. The leg length is spot on though, though I did order the short leg option which are always available with RST trousers, and once I'd put my boots on, the knee armour was sitting in just the right places without further adjustment.

All this stresses the importance of trying on kit in person if you can. While manufacturer sizing guides are useful to a degree, they are guides and its only when you try the goods on do you get a feel of how they will fit.

The TracTech Evo 4 jacket and trousers are constructed from full grain cowhide leather (see our guide to the different types of leather for more details), with fabric stretch panels on the insides of the arms and sides of the torso for comfort and ease of movement, and perforated leather panels on the front and back to aid ventilation.

 

 

Protection and certification

If you've chosen to ride in leathers over say textiles or a jacket and jeans, then you're probably looking for protection over comfort, and the RST TracTech Evo 4's deliver a good showing in this area.

Both the jacket and trousers are AAA certified. It’s a shame that the jacket's elbow and shoulder armour and back protector are only certified to level 1, but at this price you can easily upgrade to level 2 armour should you really feel the need. The jacket is also fitted with what appear to be 'shoulder sliders', but I think these are more a nod to the styling of MotoGP race leathers than a useable feature (there are no elbow sliders for example).

It's worth noting that from 1st March '22, MSV owned circuits are mandating the use of a full-length back protectors at their track days.

The trousers have removeable level 2 armour at the hip and level 1 knee armour, meaning that these will give you the great protection in the event of an off. Knee sliders come as standard with the trousers, though of course, being held on with Velcro, these are easily removed if you find them a bit 'showy'.

From April 21 2018, all new motorcycle clothing is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. For more information on the new laws, click here.

 

 

Pockets

While you don't expect race-orientated leathers to come equipped with a plethora of pockets, it's always nice to have somewhere to stash your keys, a bit of money, and even your phone, and the RST TracTech Evo 4 leathers don't disappoint in this regard, with two zipped pockets on the jacket outer (big enough to get your hands in for some much needed warmth between sessions on a windy racetrack) and two inside pockets (one zipped) in the jacket lining - plenty big enough for your phone. The quilted liner also has two deep pockets, again one of which is zipped.

The trousers are a little less equipped with two zipped pockets on the front – just big enough to keep your keys safe and to stash some loose change for a coffee between track sessions.

 

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Fastening

The jacket's main fastener is a MAX branded zip with a nice chucky plastic-coated tab - plenty big enough to allow use on the go and with gloves on. Once zipped up, a large Velcro tab secures and covers the zip toggles, just for a bit extra security. The cuffs are also closed with zips and a further tab which velcros across the zip to prevent it being damaged in the event of a spill.

As with all the other RST jackets I've used, there's a 3/4 circumference zip along the bottom of the jacket to allow it to be zipped to your trousers - also a requirement at many track days.

The TracTech Evo 4 trousers are fastened at the waist with a single Velcro tab and at the fly with a MAX branded zip. Ankles are also fastened with zips, though there is no protective tab on these as, for most riders, these should be inside your boots.

I found all fastenings easy to use, even with wet or cold hands and the added feeling of protection afforded by zipping the jacket and trousers is a real advantage if you not prepared to tolerate the inconvenience of one-piece leathers.

 

 

Adjustment

The jacket and trousers have stretch panels in areas where maximum movement is required and so will naturally allow a certain amount of variation in body shape, allowing a good fit for most.

The jacket has Velcro tabs around the waist to allow a small amount of adjustment or to allow some extra post-lunch room, but that’s it. The trouser's waist can be let out a small amount, but this is limited by the zipper fly.

It really is important to get the sizing right in the first place to avoid uncomfortable flapping of the arms at speed, or even worse, the sleeves riding up in the event of a slide.

 

 

Ventilation

The jacket has perforated areas on the torso, sides and across the shoulders either side of the speed hump, while the trousers have perforations on the thighs only.

Despite this limited ventilation, the leathers perform well, even under hard use on hot days, helped by the stretch panels under the arms and in the groin which also allow some extra cooling.

 

Warmth

Despite what most non-riders think, leathers are never very warm on cold days and the TracTech Evo 4 are no exception. On cold spring or autumn mornings, you will need some additional insulation, either from the provided quilted liner, or from thermal mid-layers.

The trousers are nowhere near warm enough for winter riding due to the lack of thermal lining so you'll need some good wind-stopper tights to go underneath if you are considering cold weather riding (come on, we've all worn tights under leathers… haven't we?).

 

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Liner

Both jacket and trousers have a perforated mesh lining which, even when you get hot and sweaty, makes putting them on a breeze, while the close fit of the lining to the garment inners make sure that don't drag out the lining when taking them off.

The jacket is also supplied with a quilted thermal gilet which zips in along the jacket placket and secured to the jacket inner with press studs to ensure a comfortable fit.

 

Alternatives to the RST TracTech Evo 4 Leathers

I guess it’s a sign on the times that we test more textiles than leathers but if you are looking for some alternatives, then the following reviews are worth reading:

  • John was mightily impressed with the RST GT Leather jacket and trousers, which are slightly more road focused than the TracTech Evo 4 and undercut them on price by a small margin.
  • If you are looking for a more budget pair of leathers then the RST Axis Jacket and Trousers might fit the bill - you'll need to add a back protector for track use, but these could be ideal for your first track day.

 

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RST TracTech Evo 4 Leather Jacket and Trousers - Verdict

When I started riding in the late 90's, two-piece leathers were everyone's first choice, but we all rode sports bikes back then. With the meteoric rise in popularity of adventure bikes and retro naked bikes, we all seem to have moved over to textiles or aramid jeans and retro leather jackets, but for those looking for ultimate in protection, then leathers still have a role to play.

The convenience of a two-piece suit (over a one-piece) shouldn't be underestimated and while 'only' having level 1 armour may let the side down slightly, it can easily be upgraded to level 2 with replacements available from RST.

The RST TracTech Evo 4 jacket and trousers offer a fantastic balance of comfort and protection while delivering a stylish package that won’t break the bank.