Tested: RST GT Airbag jacket & trousers review

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Date reviewed: March to October 2020 | Tested by: John Milbank | RRP: £399.99 | www.rst-moto.com

 

The RST GT Airbag textile motorcycle jacket on review here offers very good value considering it includes the In&Motion airbag system. I’ve been wearing it on a variety of bikes, including the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and BMW S1000XR to find out if it’s the best value way of getting the extra protection that this airbag technology provides…

 

For and against
  • A great price considering it includes the airbag
  • Potentially safer than putting an airbag under a standard jacket
  • In&Motion system very easy to keep updated
  • Awkward to access airbag controller for charging
  • Not the best in heavy rain
  • Pockets a bit lacking
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Construction and Fit

Very well finished, the RST GT Airbag suit uses a relatively soft-feeling nylon outer shell that gives it a real look of quality. It appears the same as the standard GT Textile jacket, which costs £199.99 and has all the same features, but this model has been re-tailored to accommodate the airbag system.

This change in sizing around several key areas is important, not just to ensure a good fit when riding, but also to give the airbag space to safely inflate.

The In&Motion airbag system was first developed with Ixon to produce a standalone vest (reviewed here), the idea being that it could be worn under pretty much any textile or leather jacket. However, it is important to ensure that the bag has space to inflate, so there is good logic to RST incorporating the system into garments that are made specifically to suit it.

It’s perhaps worth being aware that In&Motion’s licencing deals with each brand meant they all had to use them in a different way; Ixon had the rights to the standalone vest, Furygan could produce a zip-in system, Held went for a clip-in system and RST had the permanently-fitted device. Inside, the airbag tech is the same in all products. Having said that, the agreements seem to be slipping, with Furygan already finding a way to release its own standalone vest.

Thanks to a dedicated team of in-house designers in Derbyshire, and its own factory in Pakistan, RST has consistently nailed sizing over the past few years, and this GT Airbag textile jacket is generally no different. Of course, we’re all a different shape, but the kit seems much more suited to the British form than some Italian brands; while you’re aware of the extra weight from the airbag (the jacket is only 3.5kg though), I found it mostly excellent.

 

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Where I found a slight issue with the size is at the ends of the arms – they’re a good length, but a little snug, which makes it very hard to get hefty winter gloves under the cuffs; I got my Oxford Mondials in, but these aren’t really thick enough for deep-winter. If you prefer to wear your gloves over the jacket cuffs, you’ll have no issues, though this isn’t generally the best way as water can run down the arms into the gloves.

My other gripe is that the jacket’s liner tends to push out of the end of the arm as you put it on; it’s still securely attached but it’s pretty untidy.

I wore this jacket with the £139.99 RST GT Textile trousers, which pair up nicely. Again, the general fit is very good, though I did find them a fraction short for me as the legs can pull up over my boots when sitting down. Still, all RST kit is designed to pair to anything else in the range, so while the cut of these didn’t suit me, they may be fine for you, or you can choose anything else, knowing it’ll still all zip together.

 

Protection and certification

The RST GT Air is rated A, the lowest level for motorcycle Personal Protective Equipment (AA and AAA are the higher two). This will be most likely down to the abrasion performance of the textile outer, but the armour used is the highest Level 2 in the shoulder and elbows, as well as the knees of the trousers. There’s no hip armour provided, though there are pockets for RST’s £16.99 Level 2 Contour Plus.

 

 

And then of course there’s the airbag, which covers the back, neck, collar bone and chest when inflated. The electronic control unit and the inflator (which is an automotive-grade canister similar to that used in car systems) are built into a CE Level 1 back protector, so there’s protection at the rear even before the bag is fired.

The In&Motion system is an excellent piece of technology, its algorithms being constantly updated by users whenever they put it on charge thanks to anonymous data being sent back to the company through WiFi. Updates are quick and easy, and the whole system can be monitored and maintained (not that it needs any real work) through an iOS or Android app.

 

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The In&Motion airbag gives excellent coverage

 

The brain of the airbag is a single removable box that contains the sensors required to detect a crash. Turning on and charging the box requires popping it out of the airbag, and this is where RST’s implementation of the tech can let it down a little; you need to undo a zip in the base of the inside back of the jacket to fish around inside, so while it’s no disaster, it’s not as simple as a standalone vest. Turning it on isn’t an issue for day-to-day use as the system goes into standby mode automatically if you want to leave it powered on; as soon as you move it, it’ll wake itself up, though this does draw a small amount of current. Realistically, you’ll be charging it about once a week.

My other gripe with having the controller hidden inside the jacket is that there’s no obvious sign that the battery is getting low. On a standalone vest, as you pick it up you’ll see the red warning LED, but unless you open the RST up – or log onto the app – you won’t know the state of the controller’s battery. In&Motion really needs to introduce an audible alert when the vest wakes up; maybe one tone when it wakes to a good battery and another when it wakes to a low one; this could easily be done with a firmware update.

I won’t labour the In&Motion system too much here, but I will say that, since using it, I try to avoid wearing anything without the airbag in some form; I am a real fan. To fully understand the device, please read this review.

 

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While RST’s implementation of the In&Motion airbag means it adds a very reasonable £200 to the cost of the non-airbag GT Textile jacket (the standalone Ixon airbag vest, and the Furygan vest, which have the same system in, are £379.99), as with all the other brands you do need to pay a subscription to use the airbag controller. This is £120/year or £12/month, which gives you an unlimited warranty with a replacement box if ever you need one, and the option to purchase it outright for £99 after three years.

The alternative is to buy the box in full at the outset for £399, which still gives you the constant optimisation through algorithm updates, but only includes a two-year warranty.

These costs can seem a bit high at first, but compared to other technologies out there, they’re pretty reasonable, especially when you consider that, if the airbag deploys, you can fit a new canister by yourself after buying it for £89.99; some other airbag systems demand a return to base and charge a hefty fee.

Also, when considering the cost, know that the one control box (and hence one subscription), will work across any In&Motion-equipped jacket or leathers, so you could have one subscription covering your textiles and leathers. Note though that you can’t use one subscription on multiple boxes – you will need to move the box between jackets / leathers.

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 law, click here.

 

 

Pockets

The RST GT airbag textile jacket has two pockets on the outside and a ‘Nelson’ pocket under the main zip on the upper left chest. And that’s it. The trousers don’t have any, though if you wear the thermal liner, you do get a good-sized internal zipped pocket, and another with a Velcro closure.

The two outer pockets will take my wallet, keys and Samsung Galaxy S10, but little else. They also have vertical zips, which I’m not a fan of as it’s easier to lose stuff if you forget to do them up; I prefer pockets with horizontal zips.

 

 

Fastening

The jacket is fastened to the trousers with a long and nicely chunky zip. The main fastener has a handy rubberised toggle, then the waterproof membrane has to be zipped up separately (despite being permanently fixed into the jacket). There’s a good-sized storm flap over this, which sits behind the main zip.

 

The concertina sections on the jacket and trousers help with the fit

 

Adjustment

There are Velcro-fastened adjusters at the biceps and around the skirt of the jacket, with belt adjusters on the waist of the trousers. The jacket cuffs have very little room to expand, though they can be cinched tight around the wrists.

There’s no adjustment to seal the collar around the neck.

 

 

Ventilation

Needless to say, an airbag will restrict ventilation in any jacket, though RST has done an incredible job with its outstanding Pro Series Adventure X Airbag jacket. There are small zipped vents on the tops of the shoulders, and an exhaust at the rear of the GT, but these aren’t particularly effective.

Having the separate zip for the waterproof liner does mean you could leave this open to allow a bit more air to reach the body, and the In&Motion liner is covered in a 3D mesh (as it is on all other brands), which does allow air to move around the body very well.

 

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Warmth and thermal liner

Warmth is pretty good on this jacket – the removable thermal liner isn’t very thick but it helps keep some heat in, and the airbag layer adds to this. You’ll also be able to layer up fairly well, and shouldn’t have any problems with a heated vest fitting, if you want one. Chances are though, in deep winter you’ll be wearing an oversuit anyway…

 

 

Waterproofing

I tested the RST GT Airbag textile jacket – along with the GT textile trousers – for a solid hour in storm Francis and sadly a fair bit of water got in.

Rain appears to have blown up under the waist of the jacket, soaking me up to the chest; to be fair, I was on the naked Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, so a faired bike will have better weather protection, but a drawstring around the waist would help, as would a longer cut, but that’s not the style here.

The two outside, and the Nelson pocket both leaked – my earplug case attached to my keys was full of water.

No rain appeared to get in around the collar, but some did get past the cuffs. It’s also worth noting that the ends of the sleeves have drain holes inside, which allow water to escape from between the outer shell and the inner waterproof membrane… straight into your gloves if you have them on the outside of the jacket. Unlike the bottoms of the trouser legs, the insides of jacket’s sleeves also have a material that can wick moisture up, compounding any problems in this area.

Sadly though, the trousers also soaked through, despite having the thermal liner in. And with no adjustment at the bottoms of the legs, some water can be felt to flick up under here too. It was very rough weather, clearly too much for this kit.

The material wets out significantly (meaning it gets soaked), and can take all day to dry out when draped over the back of a chair in the house.

Ultimately, the RST GT textile jacket and trousers are fine for light rain and commuting in showers, but when the weather really gets nasty, it’s worth putting an oversuit on, even if it’s a cheap one from an army surplus store.

Note that you can’t put this jacket through the wash, or submerge it for cleaning; while the airbag electronics are well protected from the rain, they do mean you’ll have to hand-wash this more carefully if needed, even if you take the controller out.

 

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RST GT Airbag textile jacket and trousers review: Verdict

There’s no denying that the this RST kit offers excellent value for money considering it includes the airbag system. Unfortunately though, it’s let down by the waterproofing, and I can’t help thinking that something designed for daily commuting could do with more easy access to the airbag system for charging.

This isn’t the only RST kit to use the In&Motion airbag this way; I’ve tested the £499 Pro Series Adventure-X airbag jacket and thought it was absolutely fantastic; a superb implementation of the technology, and given the intended use, having the controller tucked inside proved less of an obstacle.

At £399, this is an excellent price for an airbag jacket, but if you’re planning on riding in really bad weather a lot, it might be worth spending a bit more, or considering a standalone airbag vest that you can combine with something more waterproof. Otherwise, grab yourself a cheap oversuit and you’ll have no problems.

 

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