Date reviewed: April 2023 | Tested by: Steve Lamb | Price: Jacket - £1,099.99, Trousers - £749.99 | www.nevis.uk.com
The Richa Armada Pro GTX represent the Belgian firm's push into premium textiles – at this price point they are competing against well-known premium brands such as Rukka, Klim and Halvarssons, specialist brands such as Stadler, premium fashion-led brands such as Belstaff and even made to measure suits from the likes of BKS and Held. It’s an incredibly tough market where buyers will naturally favour spending with well-known brands, so how does the Richa Armada Pro GTX offering stack up against such stiff competition.
I've been wearing the Armada Pro GTX jacket and trousers for the last 7 months and have done over 2000 miles in them in that time. From full days riding up to Scotland, to quick trips to the shops or into the office, these have been my daily textiles and I've used them in all weathers – hot and cold. I've mainly used them on my own Honda NC750X and Ducati Scrambler but also on test bikes such as KTMs 390 Adventure.
So how did they perform?
As you would expect at this price point the Richa Armada Pro GTX laminate textiles comprise a range of familiar and market leading brands including Gore-Tex Pro, D3O Armour, Coolmax linings, and Armacor and Superfabric outers – all of which bode well for both performance and comfort.
Both jacket and trousers have a premium feel and this is reflected in their not insignificant weight – the jacket weighs in at 3.4 Kg, while the trousers are 1.5Kg. Of course, weight is no real indicator of performance but once on, both Jacket and Trousers give a great feeling of protection. As well as the inclusion of the premium components brands listed above, the 'more-is-more' ethos continues when it comes to features with both jacket and trousers being packed full of vents, pockets and some nice details - all of which we'll expand on later in the review.
With a chest measurement of around 42 inches and waist of around 34 inches, and using Richa's sizing chart, I opted to go for a size Large jacket and size Medium/Short trousers hoping that the jacket would allow some wriggle room and the opportunity to add an extra layer underneath should I need to.
On arrival, the sizing was spot on with the trousers offering a great fit, both in terms of waist and leg length (something I usually suffer with, being a below average 5'6" tall), and the jacket fitting nicely, but still allowing room for extra layers. When I say the jacket fits nicely, it feels comfortable, the arms are the right length and the bottom hem sits nicely when I'm on the bike. Looking back at the photos, the jacket looks way too big, but this is just the design of the jacket - the armour stands quite proud giving it an oversize look.
It's always a bit of a gamble ordering clothing without trying it on, so we'd always recommend visiting your local stockist to try on all sizes, especially when spending as much as this. Both the jacket and trousers are available in three lengths (Short, Regular and Long) meaning that, whatever your body shape, you should be able to get the right fit – though bear in mind that some sizes may be special order only.
All laminates have a tendency to be quite stiff when new (due to the waterproof layer being bonded to back to the outer) and the Richa Armadas are no exception feeling quite restrictive at first but never uncomfortable. After a few uses they soon bed in and feel comfortable.
Despite what you may have seen in other reviews or on YouTube, both the Richa Armada Jacket and Trousers are rated to EN17092 AA (some early stock may have been incorrectly marked as being single-A rated, so make sure you check before buying).
While this is clearly not the highest rating achievable, its on a par with other products at this price point from Rukka and Klim.
If ultimate protection is your aim, then you may need to stretch the budget a little more – Klim's Badlands Pro A3 kit meets the AAA standard, but at £2,400 for jacket and trousers, you'll certainly pay for that extra protection.
Combined with the AA rated outers, the Richa Armada Pro GTX comes with an almost full complement of 3DO armour, all rated at Level 2 – the highest rating.
The jacket includes a Level 2 rated back protector, shoulder pads and elbow pads, while the trousers include Level 2 armour at the hips and knees.
I say an almost complete set of armour as, despite the price, chest amour isn't included in the jacket though a Level 1 set of split armour (one piece goes either side of the main zip) is available at most stockists at an additional £34.99 (the jacket has pockets to accommodate the armour).
Aside from the armour, the construction of the Richa Armada Pro GTX jacket impresses with the outer being a combination of ripstop polyamide panels, oversewn with Kevlar and Cordura woven Armacor reinforcements at the high stress areas such as shoulders and elbows, and further enhanced with Superfabric – a synthetic alternative to materials such as stingray skin - which provides excellent cut and abrasion resistance. On top of all this physical protection, a smattering of Hi-Viz and reflective panels, logos and stripes provide some much-needed visibility at night.
Finally, a kidney belt passes through the liner and behind the back protector where it attaches with Velcro, meaning that you can get a snug fit around the waist with no fear that the back of the jacket will lift at higher speeds.
The trousers are no less well-specced, with a combination of tough polyamide panels, stretch panels where you need them (inner thighs and backs of the knees) and accordion stretch panels at the knees and across the bum for those high mobility areas.
In addition, there are leather panels in the inner knee and on the bum to aid grip on the bike, and Superfabric panels on the kneecaps. Finish all this off with the coolmax lining, and the Armada GTX trousers provide the perfect pairing to the jacket.
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.
Due to the feature packed construction of the jacket, pocket locations on the jacket outer are naturally quite limited. With much of the surface area given over to vents and protectives panels and the inside surface to armour pockets, it's perhaps unsurprising that that we end up with just three pocket locations on the jacket outer – two large pockets on the front, and one large map pocket at the rear.
The front pockets comprise double pocket construction though, with front, horizontally opening pockets (protected from the elements by waterproof zips and fold over, poppered, storm flaps) hiding further pockets behind which have vertically zipped openings and are ideally placed for hand warming. The zips on these pockets are not waterproof, but thanks to being hidden behind the main pocket, water ingress is neigh-on impossible.
Inside the jacket, the pockets for the optional chest armour take up much of the chest area, but there is still room for a 'tech' pocket which has a headphone cable grommet installed, a general-purpose pocket with a Velcro tab closure and two pockets at waist level which, though oddly shaped, provide some additional storage for softer items such as neck tubes or wipes etc. Finally, a zipped 'Nelson' pocket in the placket provides easy access for your phone or wallet while the jacket is secured.
For the trousers, we get two front, horizontally zipped pockets in the groin – ideal for small items such as keys, or soft items such as earplugs, but not really suited to phone or wallet storage. That’s it for the trousers – it would have been nice to have had a single thigh mounted pocket for toll tickets, passes, or the like, but these seem to be limited to the more adventure orientated trousers such as RSTs Pro Series Adventure-X Trousers tested by John.
The Richa Armada GTX jacket has a well-designed double fastening – a smaller YKK zip does up first closing a more breathable panel before a chunky YKK fastens the main closure. This double closure would allow you to ride with the jacket done up with just the first zip in extreme heat, allowing more air flow through the front of the jacket. The main fastening zip is protected from the elements by a double storm flap. Not only does this provide double the fabric for any water to get through, but the channel formed between the two layers encourages any water to run down and away from the zipper.
Once on and done up, the neck covering is secured with a Velcro strip, or can be held open by hooking a small loop onto plastic hook in the collar.
The sleeves have large double toggled zips along the forearms, meaning that the wrist openings can be cinched down around your glove tops. The zips can then be opened from the backs, to provide some additional ventilation.
Two zips around the hem of the jacket allow it to be secured to the top of the trousers – either with a short run to stop the back of the jacket riding up, or with a zip run that covers around half of the circumference and provides a good secure closure against the wet and cold.
Moving onto the trousers, and the waist is secured with a large hook and bar arrangement and a popper, to provide a two-stage fastening. Both work very well and provide a very secure closure. The trouser come with removeable braces as standard for those looking for a little more support, but I found that the waist support was enough to prevent any sagging or drooping.
The fly is secured with a non-waterproof zip but is covered with a storm flap which can also be Velcroed in place.
Finally, the ankles with calf length, non-waterproof YKK branded zips which are then covered with storm flaps, secured in place with Velcro.
It's important that jackets and trousers allow some level of fine adjustment, both for comfort of fit, but also for safety in the event of a spill and the Richa Armada GTX pro jacket and trousers are both well-equipped in this area.
Starting with the jacket, and the main adjustment comes via a large waist band, adjustable on both sides with large plastic slide-buckles. I found these to be a stiff at first, but its worth spending some time to get these right as I always find the overall feel of a jacket is determined by how well it fits around the middle.
The sleeves have strap adjusters at both the forearm and the bicep, meaning you can get a good snug fit all along the arms and avoid any fabric from flapping at speed.
The wrists do have velcro adjustment flaps but, as you'll need to double over the outer fabric to get any tightening here, the adjustment afforded here is minimal.
The neck flap has long velcro patches allowing a range of adjustment for both weather conditions and underclothing (I prefer to wear a neck tube when riding, so it's nice to be able to cinch the neck up quite tight).
Two small zips at the hips on the jacket allow some 'flare' to the bottom of the jacket if you feel that this is restrictive on the bike, while a draw string around the base hem of the jacket allows you stop any cold draughts or rain finding their way up. There are two small adjustment tabs the bottom of the jacket rear, but as with the wrist tabs, you need to double over the fabric to get any further closure from them.
Turning to the trousers and a large waistband allows you to get the waist adjustment to your liking. In contrast to the slightly fiddly waist adjusters on the jacket, I found the trousers to be incredibly quick and easy to adjust allowing me to do away with the supplied braces and still get a secure yet comfortable adjustment.
The only other adjustment on the trousers is at the ankle, where oversized velcro panels allow some adjustment of the storm flaps but, again, you need to fold over the outer fabric to get a tighter cinch.
The Richa Armada GTX pro jacket and trousers are marketed as 'mid-season' wear rather than all season so, while they are not intended for extreme cold without the optional thermal liners, I would expect them to have sufficient ventilation for the majority of summer rides. Putting this to the test was easier than expected, with the exceptional heat that most of the UK experienced last Summer.
The jacket is equipped with two large vents in the chest, to be used in conjunction with three vents around the back panel which should help vent the warmed air from the body. Covered by zipped panels when not in use, the front panels can be clipped open to provide access to the vents. While these are large and you would expect them to provide direct air flow, the covers obscure most of the vent, even when secured in place, and if you go digging into the insides of the jacket (there's a large zip in the hem which gives access), you'll see that the waterproofing layer only has very small perforations, further limiting the airflow. Combine this limited airflow with the fact that both the armour pockets and inside pockets sit directly behind the vents and you it's clear to see that very little air flow will result. This is borne out in use, where I've ridden in near freezing conditions and noticed very little difference between them being open and closed.
There are two additional small vents just above the waist of the jacket, but as they are equipped with non-waterproof zips with storm flaps behind them, they naturally want to stay closed and, combined with their size, are pretty much useless.
The sleeves of the jacket have large adjustment zips which run pretty much the length of the forearm – there are double zipped, meaning that once closed, you can open them from the back, to allow venting to the arms.
Two waterproof zipped vents under the arms, again with double zips allow air flow to your pits.
If you really need some extra air flow, then there is an airflow panel behind the main fastening meaning you could ride with the main fastening zip opened, though with no way of securing the storm flaps open, it's unlikely that this would stay open.
When it comes to the trousers, there are two vents on each leg, one facing forwards, and one on the back allowing air flow across the thigh. Again though, because these are regular zips and the storm flap sits behind the zip, even with the vents open, you get no direct air flow to the body due to overlapping fabric.
Despite the premium price, the Richa Armada Jacket has no detachable thermal liner included, though to be fair, as I mentioned above, it is marketed as a three-season jacket rather than being suitable for all year riding.
That’s not to say that there is no lining to the jacket though, and the 'CoolMax' lining that forms the jacket inner does a good job, up to a point.
In practice, I find the jacket is just about warm enough for UK riding from around April through to October (climate change allowing) – outside of these times you will need an additional jumper, jacket or fleece to keep yourself warm, especially at motorway speeds. Be warned though, adding anything too bulky soon adds to the 'Michelin man' feeling, so thin technical-fabric layers are the way to go.
Richa does state that the jacket is compatible with their Houdini Primaloft jacket but at £149.99 for this liner jacket, you're back in to the 'premium brand' jacket range where thermal liners are included in the jacket price.
By contrast to the jacket, or perhaps because it rare for me to have cold legs, the trousers have been plenty warm enough in all weather conditions. I guess this is, in part, due to the wind shielding from my Honda NC750X meaning if you are riding a naked bike, you may get more wind blast, but the weave of the trousers mean that they offer great wind penetration resistance – much as a lightweight wind cheater jacket does.
As I've detailed above, there is no removeable thermal liner with the jacket, so in this section I'm referring to the lining materials of the jacket and trousers.
The jacket lining provides a nice, soft feel and makes the jacket easy to take on and off – some linings have a tendency to grab onto fleece tops making them a pain to take off.
The lining of the jacket incorporates 'Coolmax' material – a brand name of Lycra (and an alternative to Outlast), this is a wicking material which helps keep a stable body temperature by absorbing heat when you are warm (usually when you put the jacket on) and radiating this heat back once your body temperature drops.
The trousers have a waffle weave lining made of a silky and slippery fabric, meaning that its easy enough to slide them over any leggings, tights or long-johns you might be wearing to combat the cold. I did find though that the slippery fabric, combined with the extra weight of the knee and hip amour made the trousers liable to sagging as the day wears on. This makes the waist adjustment all the more valuable.
As you can imagine, riding in the UK means that we get plenty of opportunity to weather test kit and my test process if the same for all clothing – at least 2 hours and 100 miles of motorway riding, getting as much spray and wind blast from other vehicles as possible.
After a morning testing the Richa Armada, I was impressed and disappointed in equal measure.
Firstly, I was impressed by the overall resistance of the jacket and trousers – many of the areas that typically fail on lesser jackets, such as the front zip or the crotch/waist area between the jacket and trousers performed really well – not a drop of water got through.
Everything stored in my pockets was equally well protected, meaning that I have no issues carrying valuables in the front pockets on wet journeys.
The trousers did a great job of keeping my legs both warm and most importantly dry.
My disappointment came when I took off the jacket to find two wet patches on my forearms – exactly where the adjustment zips end. It seems that, while the zips on the forearms are great for cinching the jacket around my gloves, they provide a weak spot which allows water to creep through the zip. It seems a massive oversight not to have made these zips waterproof – the ones under the arms are, despite being hidden away and barely visible during most riding, yet these, positioned in the most exposed part of the body are standard zips... and they leak!
The detachable storm collar, which I found quite difficult to install and seat properly did prevent some water ingress at the neck, but a combination of an ineffectual magnet holding it in place and water wicking down from the underneath of my helmet into my fleece neck, meant that I had a wet neck by the end of the ride. Not the end of the world – more a discomfort than a problem.
At this price, the world is your oyster when looking for Textiles. The alternatives below cover a range of prices, some more, some less but have all been thoroughly tested by BikeSocial:
While many of the design and features of the jacket and, more so, the trousers hit the mark, there are some bits that just don't work, or could work much better.
The waterproofing is hit-and-miss with focus put in the wrong areas, the venting looks useful but fails to deliver as expected, the plethora of pockets are good, but many compromise either the venting, or are just placed awkwardly.
It seems as if Richa have taken an attitude that 'more is more' with over design and extra features for feature's sake, while failing to really think about the fundamental use and design of the products.
At this price, there is lots of competition from brands who have tried-and-trusted products developed over many iterations, so to compete on level terms, products have perform flawlessly.
Sadly, the Richa Armada Pro GTX Jacket and Trousers just have too many design flaws to make the cut.