Date reviewed: March 2020 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £99.99 | www.rst-moto.com
While not the very cheapest jacket available from RST, the Axis is still a relatively budget-friendly textile at an attractive price for riders looking to save money on their bike kit. I’ve been using it on a Kawasaki Versys 1000 in everything from torrential rain to sunny days…
I’m 5’10” and typically take a large jacket; the RST Axis fits me very nicely. The company tends to tailor its kit for a UK figure, which in my case means my paunch doesn’t feel uncomfortable (some Italian-made gear can be a little more judgemental of cake-retention.)
While there are no specific trousers to pair with the Axis jacket, I’ve been wearing the RST GT textile jeans, at £139.99 – like the Axis jacket – these fit me very well, feeling comfortable on the bike and when walking around. Also available is the Syncro textile jean at £99.99 (with removable thermal liner) and the Alpha IV, which costs £79.99 and has a fixed thermal liner.
The RST Axis jacket includes CE Level 1 armour at the shoulders and elbows. There’s a pocket for a back-protector, with RST’s own option costing £17.99.
The Axis is certified as PPE to level A – this is the minimum standard for motorcycle kit, though given the budget nature it’s unlikely we’d see anything higher. Currently, most textiles only tend to reach AA, AAA being the top level under the new directive.
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 laws, click here.
There are two zipped pockets on the outside – vertical so you can tuck your hands in – and two on the thermal liner, which are mirrored on the jacket liner, one being zipped and one open-topped.
The outer pockets aren’t waterproof, but being set behind a flap they don’t let water in too quickly. They’re also a little small and can be a bit fiddly to get stuff in and out of; I prefer a horizontal pocket as my wallet and phone feel safer, but these have still managed to swallow all my gear.
The main zip has a good-sized toggle with small hook-and-loop covers at the top and bottom, though there’s no collar fastener.
The cuffs are cinched closed with a length of hook-and-loop that secures well, though you’ll need slim gloves to get them underneath.
The jacket has a zip around three quarters of the bottom, which is compatible with all other RST products (leather and textile).
The bottom of the jacket can be drawn in with a pair of hook-and-loop belts; the material behind these tends to ruck up a bit, so it’s not the most elegant system, but for the price it’s fine.
There are also hook-and-loop straps at the tops of the arms, though if you have slim arms and aren’t using the thermal liner, the hooks soon run out if you’re trying to cinch it tight; the adjustment appears to be in place for particularly swol riders.
There are small zipped vents over the collar bones and at the back – while the waterproof drop liner is behind these (so you won’t get direct to skin ventilation), the air movement can be felt.
Of course, in hot weather this isn’t the most ventilated of kit – arm vents and direct air flow are the most effective – but it’s far from clammy like some of the budget kit of a few years ago.
My morning commute seems to have been exclusively at 3°C for the past few weeks; riding with the thermal liner fitted and just a tee-shirt underneath, the RST Axis has been fine for journeys of half an hour or so, and it doesn’t stick to you when you get into the warm office.
The thermal liner zips in and covers the full upper body and arms. With it out, a comfortable mesh liner helps reduce sweatiness in warmer weather. It’s best to wear a technical top rather than a cotton tee-shirt with any bike kit, but compared to the shiny linings of old, and given the price, I’m impressed with the Axis.
The proprietary ‘Sinaqua’ waterproof drop-liner has a claimed hydrostatic head of 10,000mm/cm2 and breathability of 5,000g/m2/24h. This is in line with many other products, though as you’d expect, the more expensive brands do claim higher figures – Gore-Tex for instance has a claimed hydrostatic head of 28,000mm/cm2 and breathability of 17,000 g/m2/24h (and even higher for its laminated kit). When you start sweating, whether in rain or dry, the cheaper liner used here will struggle to perform as well, but you’ll be paying anywhere between two and ten times more for some other kit.
There’s a very strong DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating on the outside of the jacket, which causes water to bead very well, helping to keep you dry. Over time this will wear (though can be replenished to a certain extent with products like S100 Textile Reproofer), which will mean more water gets through the outer lining and onto the drop-liner, making it work harder. The other problem with this ‘wetting out’ on any garment is that when the outer gets soaked, the liner can’t breath, so you feel wetter due to your own body moisture being unable to escape.
The Axis is never going to be a wet-weather touring jacket, but for a commuter not travelling too far, it’s fine; if you are expecting to ride for longer distances in bad weather, either consider spending more, or grab a water-proof over-suit to ensure you’re fully sealed.
The neck doesn’t seal, so this is where the majority of water – and cold – gets in, though while the main zip has no outer cover, the storm-flap behind it does a surprisingly good job.
The arms have small drain holes in the ends of the sleeves, where water that gets through the outer can drain out. This is fine, but it means that you really need to have the cuffs of your gloves inside your jacket, or those holes will drain into them. The cuffs don’t open very far (there’s no zip expansion), but they are better than some other more expensive jackets that I’ve used. My waterproof Oxford Mondial Long gloves and Alpinestars Patrons for example fit under the sleeves fine, but thicker-cuffed winter gloves won’t go.
For the price, the RST Axis is a great bit of kit; it’s well cut, looks good, and offers reasonable weather protection for many riders. Those after higher standards of safety or greater weather protection will need to invest more money, but as a jacket for those on a budget, the RST Axis is well worth considering.