Date reviewed: February 2022 | Tested by: Steve Lamb | Price: £279 + subscription | www.rst-moto.com
RST have recently replaced the Axiom Jacket with the Axiom Plus. This has additional adjustment at the forearms and biceps, additional hand warmer pockets, and is available in a range of colour schemes. The Axiom plus retails at £399 + subscription. In this review, I will refer to the jacket as the Axiom, and highlight changes to the Axiom plus at the relevant point.
I've been wearing the RST Axiom airbag jacket for nearly six-months, on a variety of bikes including my Long-Term Test Honda NC750X, test bikes such as Honda's CB500F and my own Ducati Scrambler Classic and have covered around 750 miles in that time. It’s the first Airbag jacket I've worn, so I was keen to see if it would feel strange compared my usual combination of jacket and back protector, or if it quickly became by jacket of choice.
Despite the jacket being my usual size (44/L), the Axiom feels quite uncomfortable at first, with the large airbag module in the back making it feel like I'd got multiple back protectors on - I even checked in case I'd left some protective packaging in (I hadn't) and I was unsure if I'd gone for the right size. After a few hours of use, though, you soon get used to the airbag being there, and it soon feels just like any other jacket - with or without airbags.
Aside from the airbag, the rest of the jacket fits well, allowing adjustment in all the right places to enable a good snug fit.
Sleeve length is often something I struggle with (being shorter than average at 5'6"), but, as with other RST products, the Axiom's sleeves are just right - just long enough to prevent bare wrists at full stretch, but not so long that they interfere with getting gloves on.
The RST Axiom comprises a Max-Tex outer (a high denier synthetic fabric designed to be protective yet allow flex for comfort - see the image above comparing the outer material to standard jeans denim at the same magnification) coupled with a SinAqua lining (a three-layer waterproof material which remains breathable) and a combination fleece and synthetic quick dry mesh inner liner.
The jacket does not come with a thermal drop liner, so bear this in mind when sizing if you intend to wear additional layers on colder days.
The RST Axiom incorporates the In&Motion Airbag system as incorporated in a number of other jackets we've reviewed such as the RST Adventure X Suit and RST Fusion Leather Jacket and stand-alone Airbag vests such as the Furygan Fury and Ixon IX-03 vests, so I won't go into too much detail on the working of the system here. We have a full review of the In&Motion system which gives all the info you could ever need about this technology.
The jacket is rated to Level AA under EN17902 which is excellent considering the price. The Airbag back protector provides Level 1 armour protection, as does the shoulder and elbow armour.
Despite its dour, all-black appearance, the RST Axiom has a number of reflective stripes and logos which make you highly visible to other road users at night.
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.
As this is my first experience with an airbag jacket of any sort, so I was unsure of the 'start-up' procedure.
Once I'd flicked through the manual, fully charged the module (3-4 hours), downloaded the app to my phone, logged on to the website, registered with an account, registered a credit card for the subscription service, linked the airbag module to by phone, updated the software on the module and then reinserted the module - I was ready to go.
It's as simple as that!? And here's where the major rub is for me, personally. I'm far from a technophobe, I love fiddling with phones, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and what not, but there just seemed like too much to do for a jacket.
I appreciate that most of it only needs doing the very first time you set up the jacket, but if you don't ride that much, the need to charge the module before a ride, and only being able to check the battery level via the phone app, depletes the spontaneity of riding that I, for one, enjoy.
There are two, large horizontally accessed pockets on the front of the jacket, which provide a good amount of storage. While these are not zipped, they are secured (and protected from the elements) by large storm flaps which are secured with hook-and loop fastenings.
It would have been nice to have hand pockets behind these main pockets to allow you to warm your hands, but I guess this is reflected in the price. (The Axiom plus does have these additional pockets.)
There is also a zipped pocket in the placket of the jacket, accessible when the jacket is fastened which gives you some where to stash your phone.
The routing of the airbag system inside the jacket limits the positions in which pockets can be placed on both the outer and inside the jacket, meaning that there are no other inner pockets.
A large SAB branded main zip, with a large rubber tab, makes the jacket easy to fasten, even if you are wearing gloves, and large and easy to use tabs on the cuffs provide some additional adjustment allowing you to get a nice secure fitment around your wrists.
The main zip is covered by a large storm flap which in turn is secured with sections of hook-and-loop fastening.
As with all RST jackets that I have tested, a large 3/4 circumference zip along the bottom of the jacket allows the jacket to zipped to top of RST compatible trousers meaning that even on the coldest days, you can keep out stray drafts and the rain.
Straps at the biceps allow some adjustment meaning you can get a nice secure fit around the arms and eliminate any loose fabric from flapping in the wind and are secured with hook-and loop.
Waist straps are also provided and allow you to cinch the waist and get a more flattering silhouette (despite the bulk of the airbag system).
The neck strap is also fitted with hook-and-loop fastening, which means that even if you wear neck tubes, you can get a secure fitment and is also easy to adjust on the move, even with gloves, unlike jackets that use popper fasteners.
The two chest vents which at fist glace look like pockets, are fitted with waterproof with zips and are complimented by a single large vent across the yoke, to allow the through flow of air. Due to the workings of the airbag system, you're not going to get much direct cooling, but while riding with the vents open, I did notice a slight difference over the duration of the ride - enough that I made sure that they were closed on my ride home as the sun began to set and temperatures started to drop.
No thermal liner is provided with the RST Axiom jacket but after some early morning starts, heading down to Brands Hatch, and with temperatures hovering into single figures, I felt that, with a rollneck thermal top and a thin waistcoat wind blocker, the RST Axiom was plenty warm enough for a good couple of hours in the saddle. Any longer than this and you will need more substantial mid layers to keep warm and if you plan to ride in sub-zero temperatures then you might wish to add a heated waistcoat.
On warmer days, and with the vents open, I found the jacket provides just the right balance between being too warm and sweaty, and remaining at a comfortable level, thanks to the additional airflow afforded by the vents. This is not a summer jacket and RSTs Adventure-X range is far better suited to summer temperatures, but if this is to be your only jacket, there should only be a few days a year when it's too hot to wear.
I have been really impressed with the waterproofing abilities of RST kit lately, particularly their boots, and the Axiom jacket is no exception.
I took the opportunity of the recent spate of storms to get a good 90-minutes of riding in torrential conditions. Heavy rain combined with road spray from large vehicles and motorway speeds provide a challenging test to all jackets and I was pleased that the Axiom performed excellently.
As there’s no durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the outside of the jacket, the outer will quickly wet out but you really can rely on the inner layers to do all the heavy lifting.
Getting a tight seal is important, but the Velcro adjustments make that easy too.
After 90 minutes I was cold and tired (don't underestimate the additional mental load required to ride in really bad conditions), but very pleased with the outstanding water proofing performance of the Axiom jacket.
There are plenty of textile and leather jackets out there that now include the same In&Motion airbag system, so choosing one will be down to personal preferences, budget and availability. Here are a couple that we've tested and recently:
These are just some of many alternatives – you can find all the textile and leather jackets we’ve tested here and be sure to regularly check for the discounts available through BikeSocial membership.
Airbag tech was once the reserve of race teams or the very well off, but with the expansion of the In&Motion system, this has driven prices down. For the price, the features of jacket could be seen as a little disappointing, but when you take into account the inclusion of the airbag, it does make it a great purchase. Be aware that there will be an annual subscription service on top for the In&Motion control box, which will add £120 per year – or you can buy outright for a further £399 – this does add considerably to the price of the jacket taking it up to £399 or £678 depending on your choice. If that seems a lot, also consider that you can subscribe monthly with cancellation at any time. This means that if you only ride for 6 months of the year, your annual sub rate would be just £72.
It's always difficult to justify benefits of any safety system until they do their job. At that point they instantly become invaluable, but for the 99% of rides that are completed safely and without incident, the side effects of the system should be minimal and as unobtrusive as possible. For me the charging and checking of the In&motion airbag system somewhat hinders the day-to-day use of the jacket, but I'm sure with time, it will become second nature and if, god forbid, the worst does happen, I will be glad I was wearing the addition protection provided.