I’ve been eyeing up air bag vests since I got into a conversation with a representative from Helite back in 2017. Considering airbags have been a standard in cars for many years, it was a given that someone clever would figure out a way to adapt the technology to suit the motorcycling community.
Fast forward to February 2022 and I finally got an opportunity to wear cushioned PPE with the RST Paragon Pro 6 with In&Motion airbag. I’ve been wearing this kit continuously since then in all weathers, covering about 5,000 miles on all kinds of roads, including a recent trip to Germany on my CBR650R and, to a lesser extent, an Aprilia RS660…
Both jacket and trousers have a solid feel thanks to RST’s own MaxTex 600 denier outer fabric. I’ve not had the misfortune to test out the abrasion resistance, but my partner has with an earlier version of this ProSeries jacket and we were both impressed at the minimal damage his accident left on the jacket.
The most appropriate words to sum up this kit are ‘good quality’ and ‘substantial’. The jacket feels quite heavy (3.7 kg according to my scales) and it’s not what I’d consider form-fitting. While it is a lady’s jacket and is cut for the chest and waist, the sewn-in airbag will always make this a relatively bulky-looking affair as the entire jacket has to be tailored to allow for proper expansion of the airbag in case it deploys. Add the very high-waisted and roomy trousers and it feels more like you’re immersed in your clothing, rather than just casually wearing it.
In colder weather this feels perfect, but on warmer days it can feel a bit cumbersome. I have to say though, apart from the back protector area, I can’t feel any part of the airbag in the jacket.
Both jacket and trousers are generously cut and even if you think a size 14 in motorcycle clothing will be too small for you because so many brands cater to a more ‘slimline’ audience, I think RST will not disappoint.
My Richa textiles are the same size and have a tighter fit; they were never uncomfortable, but RST offers a more generous size 14, which is especially helpful when you spend a major part of the year covered in many underlayers and/or heated undergarments.
The collar linings are soft and not constricting in any way, and there’s space for multiple layers in the winter. The shoulder and elbow protectors are not noticeable while moving around.
A very thoughtful design is the accordion panel running under the armpits and continuing up the back to the top of the shoulder bone. Not only does it eliminate any pinching and tightness if you have slightly larger upper arms, but RST probably had the inflation of the airbag in mind again. There is another accordion panel covering the back of the upper arms above the elbow, which is not just for extra comfort but also helps keep the impact protectors in the right position I would assume.
The length of the jacket is just perfect for me, with the connecting zip to the trousers neither pulling nor hanging down.
The trousers have quite a wide cut, which leaves room for base layers, and at the bottom lets you wear quite thick winter boots without struggling to close the zippers. This was a welcome change from the Richa textiles I’ve had for a few years, where I ended up breaking the zip pulls a long time ago in the struggle to close them over my winter boots.
The hips and waist are cut for comfort but still shaped, and there’s stretch fabric in the crotch area for extra comfort. The hip armour sits where it should and the waist is high but, as the belt area is adjustable on both sides, the size of any meal before a ride has never been an issue.
As with elbow armour in the jacket, the knee protectors are also height adjustable with an extra set of Velcro strips in the protector pocket. The accordion panel over the knees is not very long but it certainly works well in keeping the trouser legs from riding up.
The jacket and trousers are CE certified to prEN17092-2:2020 and offer Class AA protection. Shoulder, elbow, back and knee armour consists of EN 1621-2-2012 Level 1 armour, with Level 2 at the hips.
The major protective item in the jacket is, of course, the airbag. The In&Motion system is sewn into the jacket and covers the front with two vertical, full length inflatable cushions that run over and across the shoulders and down the back on either side of the spine. At the top there’s a ring that covers the neck and collar bones. Besides the airbag, the spine is also covered by the Level 1 back protector that houses the In&Box brains, which determine when you’ve reached body angles and speeds that indicate you’re crashing, rather than riding. I’m being a bit simplistic here but there’s an excellent article on the technical aspects of the In&Motion system here.
Turning the unit on or off is a quick double click on the power button, though you have to delve into the back to the jacket to get to it. For commuting one hour each way every day, I can easily get a week out of it before I see the red light indicating a charge will soon be needed.
The control unit is transferable to other airbags using the same system, but it is based on a subscription model, costing £120 annually for normal road use, or £399 to buy it outright. For £25 each you can add Track and Adventure subscriptions. Full details of the benefits and restrictions of the two payment methods are explained in full here.
For everything you need to know about the safety labels in your motorcycle kit, click here.
The trousers feature two pockets, closed with a horizontal zipper covered on the lower side with a thin waterproof membrane, and on the upper side with a flap of the outer trouser material. The pockets are narrow, but deep enough for me to get my hands into.
The jacket has a few more pockets, with two good-sized, waterproof membrane-lined pouch pockets on the sides with a horizontal zipper as part of a fold over flap, held down with three short Velcro strips and a helpful pull-tab. I can put my iPhone SE in vertically and close the flap easily without it obstructing me while riding. There’s a slightly smaller pocket behind/underneath the pouch pocket, but taking up the same space, which is lined by a soft material and accessible via a vertical, covered zipper at the back.
There’s a large map pocket that goes across the back of the jacket, but there are no inner pocketsdue to the airbag; there are two in the thermal lining though.
I’ll cover waterproofing more later, but so far I’ve had no rain ingress in any of the pockets.
The connecting zipper between jacket and trousers is very sturdy, zips smoothly from right to left and is sewn into a nice stretch material on the jacket, while attached to the outer shell on the trousers. Zipped together, nothing has ever pulled or felt uncomfortable either on or off the bike.
The leg and waist zips have a rear gusset, with a Velcro fastening for the covering flap, while the jacket has a sturdy main plastic zipper with metal toggle. It’s backed by a double-layered storm flap, though this tends to get caught in the zip as I’m doing it up.
There’s a smaller, rubber-covered zip covering the main zip that’s finished off with a popper-secured flap at the bottom, so no part of the zipper has a chance of scratching the tank. At the top of this is a small cloth strap with a Velcro strip that fastens on the right-hand side of the inner collar. There’s also a thin metal loop at the end that can be attached to a small hook if you want to wear the jacket open and don’t want that throat flap to get in your way, but I found the loop slides out of the hook as soon as I turn any part of my upper body to one side or the other.
The detachable outer collar is zipped around from right to left and is closed via a sturdy popper that is fastened on the other end of this collar and two Velcro strips, one of which latches on to the inner collar, and one that closes on a corresponding strip on the outer collar. This creates an extra protective flap over the top of the outer zipper and is a very nice design touch, but it’s a bit fiddly to adjust the fit properly. If you have long, thick hair, all that Velcro on the outer collar can be a bit of a painful affair if the hair isn’t tidied away before putting on the jacket.
The sleeves have a long Velcro-lined fastening flap, which gives plenty of room to close over or under gloves. I find the end of the sleeves quite rough against the skin though, and I usually pull the sleeve of whatever I’m wearing underneath forward, to cover the harsh edge.
The adjustment options are well thought out; from the bottom up, the trouser legs have a generously wide cut, but enough Velcro fastening for pretty much any boot. Some may prefer a more slimline, tailored leg, but I like this more versatile option.
The waist adjustable on both with looped Velcro straps, plus elastic fabric on the sides for extra give; along with the wide accordion panel at the back below the waist section, these trousers should fit most body shapes. The braces are quite a new feature for me, but they’ve proven useful in keeping the trousers from slipping down for women like me with more straight hips. They’re made of very soft elasticated material, so they never become uncomfortable and are adjustable with sliders, but I have noticed that the edges are starting to fray. They’re attached via double-sided Velcro tabs tucked into a well-stitched groove in the belt area.
The jacket has a three-setting adjustment at the skirt, and there are also slimline and very generous Velcro straps for waist adjustment just above the pockets. There are Velcro straps on the upper arms and elasticated bands with poppers on the lower arms, plus Velcro-lined flaps the bottom of the sleeves. While the adjustment flaps for the gloves are very accommodating for even the widest-cuffed gloves, they can be a bit problematic when they are closed just around the wrists as the end of the fastener is quite bulky and will push the sleeve out of the cuff area of the glove surrounding it while riding. This lets air into the sleeve, which is fine on warmer days but not very desirable in cooler temperatures. I find, even closed over glove cuffs, that it doesn’t form a tight seal. The cloth that folds in when you want a tight fit around the wrist has to be tucked away carefully if you don’t want it pinching the blood vessels on your wrists. Thankfully, the extra cloth is thin enough to not become too bulky.
Ending at the top, both outer and inner collar are adjustable.
There’s a plethora of vents on the jacket, and two on the trousers at the front of the upper legs. When not in use, the zip toggles for all vents are tucked away in small, stitched covers; another quite elegant design touch. Keep in mind though that the vents to blow direct to the body – the waterproof drop-liner sits behind them.
Once opened the water-resistant zips reveal a thickly-woven mesh. The jacket has a short vent on the front collar bone and on the chest next to the zip. There are longer vents on the upper sleeves and on the back, just below shoulders; RST has clearly thought about how to improve the vent function on the chest and the legs by adding elasticated straps with poppers for holding them wide open (with two settings).
Overall, I’ve found that the vents do not have a massive impact on air circulation. It’s certainly a pleasant effect but, in all honesty, this is not so much kit designed for hot temperatures; it doesn’t help that the extra cloth needed for the air bag interrupts the mesh inner liner for the jacket so it will never get quite as cool as a one-piece liner. And of course, the airbag itself will restrict airflow. If you intend to ride more in the heat and less in the wet winter months, RST’s Pro Series Adventure-X – which also incorporates an airbag – might be the better choice, though it’s not available in a specific women’s fit.
These are the warmest textiles I’ve tried to date. The thickness of the outer shell definitely contributes to the insulating effect, as do the storm flaps behind the zippers and, on the jacket, the extra zipper over the main one. The feature I’m most enamoured with though is the collar; I usually wear a thick ski tube in the winter over all the clothing I have on, but don’t need it now. Not enough that the inner collar is very cozy and finished with a neoprene rim, the outer collar is thick, soft and utterly comfortable, forming a complete seal around the front and, if you arrange it correctly, your neck stays cozy and warm on the coldest of days. Admittedly, I have a Keis heated vest to help on very icy days, but I find I can keep the heated gear on a lower setting than with my other textiles.
The thermal lining is very plush with its quilted patchwork design and really keeps the body heat from escaping. Due to the wide tailoring, the inclusion of the thermal lining does not feel restrictive when moving around on the bike, and also leaves room for more base layers. What’s also helpful is that the linings zip into both jacket and trousers at all connecting points, so there’s no gap at the trouser legs or the sleeves.
Really, the only fly in the ointment is the sleeve ends, as I can’t get a tight fit around or below my various gloves, and there’s often a draft seeping up the lower arms. This is not helped by the bulkiness of the back protector/air bag pulling the sleeves back a bit.
Despite having covered quite a few thousand miles in these textiles since February, only a hundred have been in the rain. I will need to update this at some point when I have had a few bouts with torrential, persistent downpours but what I can report so far is that the trousers are absolutely waterproof and the jacket is to a large extent, if not completely.
The outer collar will get damp because it is not a complete seal. It’s still better than my ski tube which is of course absolutely sopping after a ride in any kind of rain. Driving rain will come in between the bottom of my helmet and the outer collar, however, the inner collar does not let any water through, mainly because of the neoprene rim.
What I can say with certainty is that the sleeves are not waterproof at the shoulders, elbows or sleeve ends. It was a day of persistent but not super-heavy rain and I arrived at work with three damp patches. I’m not surprised about the sleeve ends, but I have absolutely no explanation for the damp patches on the other parts of my arm. I can only say that they are in close proximity to the vents but, as I’m not in the habit of having those open in the rain, I can only assume that the waterproof strips over the zippers are not quite sealed.
It can be hard to find women’s kit, so getting some with a built-in airbag is even trickier. Here are three airbag options that could work for you…
The quality of the materials throughout and all design touches make both the RST Paragon jacket and trousers good value for the money.
The airbag system is innovative and definitely makes me feel a lot safer; it’s been integrated quite well into the jacket and I think it would be difficult to get better PPE textiles without upping the price tag quite substantially.
This kit is comfortable, warm, cozy, roomy and mostly waterproof. If you don’t mind trousers that are not body-hugging, they’re absolutely spot-on and I can highly recommend them.
However, there are some features that keep me from giving a no-holds-barred recommendation for the jacket. The biggest let-down is the sleeves; the fact that they’re not completely waterproof and don’t close in a satisfactory manner is a bit of a design flaw. Also, the £120 annual charge for the airbag is a lot. Needless to say, it’s so much more than just a back-protector, offering substantial protection to the chest and neck, but I still think there’s room for improvement in the pricing model.