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RST Pro Series Ambush review | Waterproof motorcycle textiles tested

By BikeSocial Member

The BikeSocial member Test Team is made up of experienced riders covering high mileages who are able to subjectively analyse and review kit that they use day-in, day-out.

Posted:

03.05.2023

RST Ambush review waterproof textile_01
RST Ambush review waterproof textile_02

 

Date reviewed: May 2023 | Tested by: BikeSocial member Jon Ashley | Price: RRP: £329.99 (jacket) & £249.99 (trousers) | www.rst-moto.com

 

The RST Pro Series Ambush Men’s textiles on review here have had a thorough test during late winter and early spring (February through to May), riding in all weathers. So far I’ve covered around 1,800 miles in the kit – including a good 600 mile weekend – riding a Yamaha MT09 Tracer, with excursions around Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Wales. This has included using the Ambush with the thermal liner in and with it removed. The kit is also festooned with an amazing array of pockets and practical loops and Velcro patches. So is it any good?

 

pros
  • More pockets than you’ll ever need

  • Great all round performance including wet weather

  • Excellent price point

cons
  • Over-reliance on Velcro in some key areas

  • Bulky with liners in place

  • Fixed waterproof liner

Velcro morale patches are supplied, or you can use your own

 

Construction and Fit

The RST Pro-Series Ambush suit is constructed from heavy duty nylon, with ballistic reinforced material at key points such as the shoulders, knees and elbows. It has a fixed Pro-Series Sinaqua waterproof membrane drop-liner, along with a removable thermal liner.    

The Ambush range includes a regular or short leg trouser option, which is an absolute must for me. With that good start, I also opted for my normal RST jacket size of XL. RST has remained consistent with its manufactured sizing, which for regular customers is good news: the XL jacket is a perfect fit, with great armour placement and sleeve lengths. I will admit to being at the upper end of the scale for this size, but movement is good, and everything is where it should be.

The trousers were a perfect length and again the armour sits well with no adjustment required (I picked a 36” waist equivalent, even though I’m a firm 38”). I’ve been wearing RST products in one form or another for the best part of a decade, and in terms of fitment they’re, for me at least, a very good match and are all-day comfortable both on and off the bike.  

 

It’s great to find Level 2 armour throughout the Ambush, including chest protection!

 

Protection and certification

Both the RST Ambush jacket and trousers meet EN17092 level AA (AAA is currently the highest level in this standard, though it’s rare to find textiles that achieve it) with CE level 2 (the highest level) back, shoulder, elbow and hip protection fitted. On top of this, and really impressively, is the inclusion of chest protection too, again at level 2. Torso impacts are a serious issue, so seeing RST focussing on safety like this is superb

As I’ve previously found with RST protection inserts, they always sit in place well and here there’s no exception. All the internal armour is held securely, can be accessed or removed, and there’s also the ability to make slight adjustments to the armour position (for elbows and knees), using the Velcro positioning tabs within the armour pockets.    

The knee armour seems a little longer than in previous RST trousers I’ve used, giving even more shin protection while presenting no hindrance. RST back protectors can seem a little bulky to me, and this Level 2 item is on the heavier side, which slightly bulks up the jacket, especially with the thermal inner liner in place. Still, it hasn’t caused me any problems, so it’s good to have the highest levels of protection.   

Unlike a substantial range of the new Pro-Series gear from RST, this jacket does not include an internal airbag, so that’s worth noting if it’s an upgrade you’re likely to consider in future. RST offers plenty of airbag options, but if you want to add your own, underneath, ensure there’s enough space as specified by the airbag manufacturer.

Having severely crash tested a Pro-Series Adventure six years ago, I do have a lot of confidence in this company’s products and this performance level, so it’s great to see the AA rating and extensive inclusion of Level 2 armour protection.   

All motorcycle clothing sold in the UK and Europe is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This is a good thing for riders as it can help them choose kit that has provable levels of safety because, to meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. To fully understand the labels found in all bike kit, click here.

 

 

Pockets

The RST Ambush appears to have more pockets than anyone could imagine needing. There are a total of ten outer pockets, four internal pockets and a hydration pack pocket on the jacket alone, plus a further two external and two internal pockets on the trousers.

I’m not sure where to start on this as there are just so many features, along with tabs, zips, velcro patches… you name it. I own another brand’s two piece kit and had a rude awakening when I found it had only two pockets in the whole outfit. So here, RST absolutely excels, with a variety of sizes, positions and functions.

On the Ambush jacket there are two traditionally-sized large pockets to the front of the hip, with storm flaps and Velcro fastening with a waterproof liner. The flaps also have cord tabs on them to ease opening. The same pockets also have separate side zips unleashing additional storage or somewhere to stow your hands on a cold day.     

Above these are two medium-sized breast pockets, with similar flaps, although these aren’t fully waterproof. There’s an additional small pocket on the top of the left arm and a ‘payage’ pocket on the cuff to put your credit card in so you can just swipe your arm across a payment point (register or toll booth etc)!

Finally, in addition to the hydration pocket and the large removable map pocket on rear of the jacket, there’s also the inclusion of two outer mesh ‘glove-pockets’ placed to the sides of the jacket at the hip. The idea is that you can stow your gloves there when you’re off the bike. Personally I’ve not used them for this but if you’re going all in on the pockets theme, why not? 

If that’s not quite enough, The trousers then provide two traditional zipped jeans pockets to the front of each hip, along with some very handy and well-proportioned cargo pockets placed on the thigh of each leg.

RST also provides two discrete internal pockets in addition to those accommodating the chest armour. I’m not a fan of internal pockets for routine access, as you basically have to unfasten everything to get in there and in the rain that’s no fun. The plethora of external pockets is of course handy here, but that said, internal pockets will certainly have a use and function for some riders.

Frankly, this is a very practical jacket and perfect for long journeys, especially where you need key items on your person and to hand.  From experience, I find this very useful, having previously stowed a mobile phone in my tank bag and then losing it 100 miles from home!    

 

Braces are supplied, but are removable if you don’t want to use them

 

Fastening

The RST Pro-Series Ambush jacket, as the name suggests is a very robust garment. A chunky central zip takes care of most of the business with an extended flap then fastening down the chest using some very chunky press-stud fasteners.   

The cuffs on the jacket are closed using a Velcro fitted band. Not my preferred method (as opposed to a zip combo) but good enough. I wear short gloves and the seal was good enough and will also easily accommodate a gauntlet worn inside the sleeve. 

The biggest single, but occasional issue I had with the jacket was with the central zip. The thumb toggle on the zip itself would sometimes jam itself at an angle, freezing the zip. It looks as though this is due to the angular shape of the zip tab. Not only was it a bit irritating, but the zip got jammed whilst 3/4s closed, so much fiddling was required to free it.  

 

The zip tab can get caught up, which can be annoying

 

The jacket and the trousers – as with all RST garments – can be linked using integrated ‘360’ waist zips, with compatibility across the whole two-piece RST motorcycle clothing range, leather and textile.

The Ambush trousers are fastened via a fly zip and a central waist strap that then fixes via a press-stud and a buckle that joins to the integrated waist band. It sounds more fiddly than it is, but it works well and is secure and easy to open/close.     

I have a mixed view on the trouser leg fastening. The pants are flared (to easily accommodate putting your boots on) but have three Velcro strips and bands to close the leg around your boots. On one hand they are quick and easy, but I have found them a bit hit and miss when locating the Velcro. Zips may have been better, but obviously come with their own issues. Functionally though, they just about hold their place and work, but it is the thing I think I like least about this kit. Though that fact is probably quite telling about how much I like this gear.

While a few minor issues have been highlighted above, these are by no means show-stoppers and the jacket and trousers are very easy to use and get on with.  

 

 

Adjustment

The jacket has adjustable tabs on the arms and waist. The waist band is a substantial size and can be adjusted via tabs placed at the front of the garment, making it really easy to do while out and about.  The upper sleeve can be adjusted slightly, again using a fairly robust tab placed around the bicep.  A very neat touch was the inclusion of adjustment tabs to the neck collar; a feature that’s missing from many other products and really helps get the neck adjustment within a more comfortable position. You can also use the pop fastener to hold open the neck cuff, which is a good option during a hot summer’s ride or when off the bike.

The sleeve lengths are very good, with Velcro fastening at the cuff, which does work although I do tend to prefer a zip. Overall the jacket offers a good range of adjustment.  

The trousers, in the size I chose, were great in (short) leg length and offer a solid couple of inches in the waist adjustment either side the manufactured size.

 

 

Ventilation

Your enemy on a blazing hot day here is the 100% black material used across this garment. That’s going to soak up a lot of sunshine. In addition, the fixed waterproof liner isn’t going anywhere. Wearing relatively heavy black trousers isn’t going to help either.

However, with the liners removed from both the RST Ambush jacket and trousers, the bulk is gone and the ventilation and cooling factor without opening the vents on this jacket is very good to start with. Most of your cooling will be delivered via the jacket as the trousers provide just two front vent panels, though as these cool the upper thigh, they offer the most practical option and work very well when on the move. 

On the Ambush jacket, additional venting zips cover the arms, chest and waist, with exhaust vents featured on back of the jacket. At the front you have two vents placed at the collar bone, two at the waist and a vent on each sleeve at the bicep. The outlet is covered by those two large rear vertical vent zips to the rear.   

As the jacket and trousers have the waterproof drop liners permanently present, the venting isn’t as effective as it could be. However with all zips open, the jacket is certainly cool enough in spring, and on the very hottest days you’ll be reasonably accommodated.  

 

 

Warmth

The cold weather performance of the RST Ambush is very good indeed. I’ve not felt the need to bulk up too much with extra layers, and riding in temperatures of around 5°C – without considering wind chill – I’ve been reasonably comfortable. I won’t pretend to have been toasty warm, but armed with heated grips and a fairing, this outfit more than encourages you to get out on a winter ride.

Riding well into Spring and as the temperatures have risen, you’re entirely comfortable at anything above 10°C.

On a slightly warmer but sunny weekend of 14-15°C, the thermal liner was removed and the jacket and trousers were suitable for a whole day’s riding through to the Elan Valley in Wales.     

I’ve used plenty of RST kit in the past and the winter liners have always been bulky. Ironically, RST states that the Ambush carries the lightest of the internal liners (rated at 150g per SqM), but again this still really fills the jacket. As highlighted, the waterproof liner isn’t removable, so peak high summer would be an interesting test of the real ventilation capabilities of both jacket and trousers.

 

Liner

The Sinaqua waterproof liner is fixed on both garments, although it should be noted that this is not a laminated liner. It works well, sitting close to the outer garment and does not interfere with the general interior of the jacket.

The thermal liner is very good indeed on both the trousers and jacket, firmly rooted in place using zips on the main body and also at the cuffs and ankles. As mentioned, the thermal liner is quite bulky, which I’ve found is the normal territory for RST kit. 

 

Waterproofing

The Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment to the fabric that RST has used offers an initial resistance to light rain. It’s not exactly water off a duck’s back, but it does seem to limit any extended showers you may encounter to a very light penetration of the fabric. This dries and wicks off very rapidly as you ride, once the weather clears. Nothing got past the inner liner; my old ‘waterproof’ gloves were very wet by comparison.

The Sinaqua drop lining in this jacket is the ‘Pro’ rated specification and is 50% more water resistant than the standard membrane while retaining good breathability. 

After a couple of rides in showers, I did eventually get caught out in some heavy rain. Again, there’s some quite good initial protection, but water does eventually begin to soak into the fabric of the outer shell. The DWR coating is applied at the factory but does wear off over time, so further conditioning can be applied at home, using the usual aftermarket treatments from the likes of S100, Nikwax and Grangers. I was riding my Yamaha MT-09 Tracer at the time, so I was afforded a little more protection than some bikes. Then again, this outfit is targeted more at Adventure/Touring pursuits.

Despite the increased soaking, nothing made it through the waterproof membrane in the jacket or trousers, so I stayed totally dry.

On checking the pockets at the end of the ride, my phone in a trouser leg pocket was fine. However a front pocket on the jacket (which was lined with a storm flap and is meant to be waterproof), did let a very small amount of water in.

While no water made it through the jacket or trousers, I was very slightly damp in the stomach area where the fastening between the jacket and trousers is not completely closed.  As with most kit equipped with waterproof liners, the outer garment does eventually sponge up the water and the kit was decidedly damp after a good hour or two in the rain.

A real test of textile suits is their recovery after a good soaking. Hanging the outfit up after the ride in a ventilated area at home, I found the kit pretty much dry and ready for use the next day, which was impressive. There appears to be some good technology built into the material, compared to the accessible fabrics in this price range of a decade ago.

 

Three alternatives to the RST Ambush textiles

This is a hotly contested market these days, with many riders looking for ‘do it all’ textile riding kit. Here are three other options…

These are just three of many alternatives – you can find all the motorcycle textiles we’ve tested here and be sure to regularly check for the discounts available through Bikesocial membership.

 

 

RST Ambush textiles review | Verdict

I would say that the Ambush is more suited to touring and adventure bike riders, but I splashed out recently on some Gore-Tex kit from a well-known Italian brand, but that’s been in the cupboard so far throughout 2023. It cost about 50% more than the Ambush, but I’ve really enjoyed using the RST suit and never felt tempted to put on my other gear. 

The RST Ambush jacket and trousers have a rugged military look to them, but are entirely functional, reliable and built to an incredible price and quality point.

The safety ratings and fully inclusive armour package are impressive, you’ll never want for pockets, and this is truly an all-day riding set-up that performs admirably in all conditions, including wet weather. It’ll provide many good years’ service for your investment .