Date reviewed: October 2020 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £499.99 (jacket, plus airbag subscription), £219.99 (trousers) | www.rst-moto.com
The RST pro Series Adventure-X jacket and trousers on review here are the company’s flagship textiles, designed for fairly extreme conditions thanks to the good protection and excellent venting.
I’m reviewing the version that comes with the In&Motion airbag built in – this adds £200 over the cost of the standard Pro Series Adventure-X. I’ve been wearing it on a BMW S1000XR, a Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, and my Honda MSX125 Africa Grom, which I use as an off-road toy…
Needless to say, you should try any kit on for yourself before buying, but the RST Pro Series Adventure-X jacket and trousers both fit me well and with my typical sizing. The company does seem to do a good job of tailoring its clothing to the UK market, and this is no different.
The jacket is heavy at 4.8kg, but once on, while comparatively stiff, it’s not uncomfortable or unwieldy.
There’s plenty of space in the bottoms of the trouser legs, easily fitting over my TCX Drifter enduro-style boots. They cinch up well too, though there’s also a Velcro patch under the zip to keep the tab from flapping about if you decide to leave them open.
Both the jacket and trousers have a real quality feel to them, with tough panels in key impact areas, a stretch section in the crotch and accordion panels in all the right places, while the bottom of the jacket can be unzipped for more space.
The jacket is certified as PPE to Level AA, the trouser to Level A under EN17092; this is a tough textile suit that also includes Level 2 (the highest impact protection under EN1621) armour at the shoulders, elbows and knees. While the trousers do drop to the lower safety rating, they appear very well made with reinforcements in key areas. Interestingly, including hip armour with trousers is a requirement for the AA rating; none is supplied here, but pockets are fitted for it – you can buy Level 2 for £16.99 or Level 1 for £14.99.
The airbag built into the RST Pro-Series Adventure-X jacket covers the back, shoulders, collarbone and chest
Of course, the unique selling point of this jacket is the incorporated In&Motion airbag.
While this Pro Series Adventure-X Airbag jacket is basically the same as the £299.99 standard version, it’s been re-tailored to allow for the expansion of the airbag should it fire.
I’d encourage you to read the separate review of the In&Motion technology here, as the control box is the same as used across multiple brands, including Ixon, Furygan and Held. Basically though, the jacket comes with everything you need, but in order to activate it, you need to pay £120/year to subscribe to the In&Motion service (or £399 to buy it outright). Again, please read the separate article, but while I was very sceptical at first, the fact that replacing the inflation canister can be done at home without having to send the whole thing back for an expensive repair means that it is a system with some real advantages over many of its rivals.
That ability to replace the inflation canister (at £89.99) is important, but it does also highlight a disadvantage in RST’s implementation of the technology; if you crash and your jacket is badly damaged, it likely won’t matter that you can replace the inflator; you’ll need to buy a new jacket anyway.
This isn’t poor forethought on RST’s part; it’s down to how In&Motion has licenced the technology. Originally developed with the help of Ixon, that company had the exclusive rights to make a universal vest. Furygan was then allowed to make jackets with a vest that zipped in (though the company has released a chest panel that kind of makes it a stand-alone vest), Held has the rights to a ‘clip-in’ vest, while RST has the licence to make garments with the airbag permanently fixed in place.
The Ixon IX-U03 vest costs £379.99, which if worn with the standard RST Pro Series Adventure-X jacket would make for a total cost of £589.98 - £180 more than RST’s own airbag version. As the vest in the RST has the same inflator, bag, 3D mesh and back-protector, that’s pretty impressive.
It’s not advised to wear the Ixon vest with snug, zipped-together textiles for risk of getting a nasty wedgie in a crash, so having a textile suit designed specifically for the airbag is potentially a good idea; my reservation lies with the fact that I wear my Ixon vest with my leather jackets and other textiles, so it’s more versatile and in the event of a crash, the chances are that the vest would be undamaged.
Reflective panels are a great additional safety feature, though the writing has started to peel off
RST’s range is extremely competitively priced, so while you don’t have a universal vest, its airbag-equipped GT leather jacket costs £499.99, and its V4.1 one-piece leathers are a reasonable £899.99. You only need one subscription and one control box, which clips into any of the range (and in fact, any of the brands that use it).
I wouldn’t be without an In&Motion airbag now, but there is one more disadvantage to RST’s system, but this time it’s In&Motion’s fault...
When I take my Ixon vest off or put it on, I can quickly and easily see if the battery status light is red, meaning it’s due a charge. I can also easily turn it fully off to conserve battery power, rather than leaving it in standby, which wakes it up at the slightest touch.
With it’s fitted to this jacket, I have to unzip a pocket inside the back, then open a Velcro and zip-closed waterproof panel before I can access the control box to switch it on or see its status. That’s also the case for getting inside to take it out for charging.
The app allows you to check the battery level, but I think there could be a better way…
The battery should last up to 20 hours of continuous riding, and you can check the level with the Android/iOS app, which automatically connects when the box is turned on, so once you get in the habit it’s not a disaster. However, the In&Motion box has a sounder that makes different tones, so surely it wouldn’t be hard to have it sound one tone when it wakes and the battery level is fine, or another when the battery is getting low. This small development tweak could easily be rolled out with new firmware (which is easily installed while the unit is charged), and would – I believe – make a significant difference to safety as it’s far less likely you’d forget to check and potentially ride with a flat battery.
Still, the advantage of having it built into the jacket is that more air can potentially move around under it, and the inconvenience of having to turn the airbag on is less impactful on an adventure suit that you're likely to put on in the morning for a full day's riding.
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.
Getting to the In&Motion box requires opening up two zips in the back of the jacket
Being an adventure suit you’d expect this to be designed for all types of riding, and indeed, off-road legend Mick Extance wore it in the 2020 Dakar, though with a development algorithm installed in the In&Motion box.
I’ve used the system with the current retail software on green lanes, and while I’m no trail expert, I had no problems. RST also told me that “The Adventure-X Airbag is suitable for most types of Adventure riding, including light off-road use such as unpaved roads etc.
“We anticipate a more adventure-focused algorithm suitable for heavier off-road use will be available in the near future.”
Mick Extance wore the Adventure-X during the 2020 Dakar. Pics courtesy RST / Dakar Rally
So don’t wear it for motocross, and beware of heavily rutted trails, but the reality of adventure riding is that for most, it’s about exploring new places in the UK and beyond, predominantly on tarmac and fire trails.
If you are going to be taking on some serious off-road sections, you can always turn the airbag off – you’ll still have all the Level 2 armour, and the back protector is rated to Level 1 without the airbag deploying.
There aren’t currently any electronic airbags that work for true off-road riding (though Alpinestars was looking to develop one back in 2016), so only the mechanically-tethered systems could provide some protection.
The worry that some manufacturers say they have is that if a system doesn’t fire correctly during an off-road crash, it could make any injuries worse; if, for instance, you fall off the bike and break some bones before the airbag fires (for instance if you fall next to the bike with a tethered system), the bag can compound the injury by displacing the separated joints.
Developing an algorithm for off-road use is going to be a very tricky job; on the road (and track), it’s a lot more logical, and In&Motion’s constant data feedback from all its users does put it in a strong position for real-world road riders.
The large vents naturally mean that space for pockets is restricted, but the two main ones on the front of the jacket are secured with poppers and Velcro, and are big enough to easily take my Samsung Galaxy S10, wallet and keys. And everything stays completely dry.
On the rear is a good-sized zipped map pocket with a Velcro storm flap over the top. This pocket can also be removed (it’s held in place with another zip and three poppers), to be used as a handy bum-bag – a very neat touch and handy for keeping your valuables in when you’ve taken the jacket off.
The removable map pocket is really handy
A slight gripe is that some of the poppers on this jacket can be quite strong, making them a little awkward to operate.
There’s another pocket over the left breast, behind the storm flap, though if you fill this it does cover a lot of the space behind the chest vent.
There are no more pockets inside the main shell (due to the airbag), but the waterproof/thermal liner does have two of a good size – one zipped and one closed with Velcro.
There’s an expanding pocket on the outside of the back to hang a hydration pack, with a rubbery exit port and retention straps for the pipe.
The trousers have two zipped jeans-style pockets at the top (which aren’t waterproof), and a cargo-style pocket on each thigh (which are). I don’t tend to carry much in my trouser pockets when I’m riding, but these are particularly handy for when you’re walking around.
The main zip – hidden behind a large, Velcro and popper-secured storm flap – is a chunky Max-branded one with a plastic toggle.
The trousers are secured with an RST-branded zip fly and a Velcro cover. Behind the zip and running right up to the top of the waist is a water-proof gusset.
The top of the trousers secures with a Velcro belt. This is fine in itself, but because the end of the belt reaches a little way under the long jacket/trousers connecting zip, it’s fiddly to get out when you’ve got cold hands and you’re fumbling to undo the trousers for a wee – the high gusset means you have to fully unfasten the trousers to gain access.
A small point, but if RST had put the connecting zip on the opposite way around – so it fastened from the left to the right – it would have been possible to slide the zip back a little and have much easier access to the belt when necessary. As it is, depending on how tight I’ve pulled the trouser belt, I sometimes have to fully undo the connecting zip to get the trousers open.
Poppers on the arms give adjustment at the biceps and forearms, while Velcro straps allow the waist to be drawn in (something I’m needing to do less and less now). Zips running from just below these straps on either side of the jacket allow the lower section down to the hips to be expanded.
The trousers have plenty of Velcro around the waist to get them sitting comfortably and securely on your hips. At the bottom of the legs is another long section of Velcro loops that allow you to seal the trousers around pretty much any boots.
The covers over the chest and thigh ventilation tuck away in their own pockets
By its very nature, an airbag can’t be breathable, so I expected the ventilation performance of the jacket to be a little lacklustre.
While the airbag does block air flow, all the vents go straight through, with no waterproof membrane to reduce performance. Combined with the 3D mesh liner, the large chest vent panels, long arm vents, and the little ones at the collar bone give extraordinary flow, exiting out of the two long zipped vents at the rear.
This is where the airbag implementation works very much in RST’s favour, as the air can get past the chest bag and straight into the 3D mesh, rather than having to work through outer materials as it would on a zipped/clipped-in, or a separate system.
Even on a bike with a fairing, there’s plenty of airflow, and when standing up, or on a naked bike, it really is some of the coolest kit I’ve ridden in. Even the legs and bum get a cooling blast thanks to large panels in the thighs, perforations above them and exhausts at the calves.
The jacket cuffs and trouser legs can be left open for even more air movement, making the RST Pro Series Adventure-X airbag one of the most protective yet cool to ride in jacket and trouser combos available.
There’s room for improvement of course; little things like the cinch-straps on the arms that cover the long ventilation zips – leave these open and more air can get up your arms but the straps flap in the breeze. Or the slight fiddle of opening the main vent panels and closing them – it’s brilliant that these large sections are properly closed off, but you can’t open or close them while riding. In fact, you’ll need to take the jacket off to do it properly.
These really are minor points though, and while an extra popper on the opposite side of the arms would solve the cinch strap niggle, I can’t think of a better way that RST could have such large ventilation panels that can be rolled away into their own little compartment.
While the vents do close well, inevitably air will get past the zips, especially in the arms where water-resistant zips could have helped, but would have been stiffer in the crease of the elbow.
The jacket’s thermal liner is also the waterproof liner. It can be worn on its own when on an adventure, but it’s got visible connecting zips, so it’s not a ‘down the pub with the mates’ fashion garment.
It’s snug and pretty warm, and combined with the lovely plush detachable neck warmer, it does a pretty good job, but this isn’t a suit to wear while sat on the M6 in December sleet.
This isn’t a hot suit, but it is snug.
The trousers have a comfortable airtex mesh liner to keep them from sticking to you in the heat. There’s also the neat touch of a grippy, rubberised strip in the back to keep the trousers up.
The jacket’s sleeves are lined with the same fine mesh, but it’s in the main body that things really stand out – the airbag panels are covered in a soft, comfortable material while the rest of the body is treated to a superb 3D mesh that allows air to move freely. This is exactly the same as that used in the other brands’ implementations of the In&Motion airbag, but because it’s the lining of the jacket in this RST, it’s even more airy than usual.
This is where expectations need to be managed. An adventure suit is designed for hot conditions, and where the rider might be more active on the bike than the average commuter or autobahn tourer.
Everything is in place for excellent performance:
But still, this is not something I’ll be wearing for the winter commutes.
To have such excellent ventilation, the outer shell is covered in zips and panels. It will of course also wet-out (soak with water) during a downpour, and the perforations in the upper thighs let the water straight in. While all that water is pretty much stopped by the thermal/waterproof liner, it draws the heat away in the cold and reduces breathability (making you feel damp). And it takes ages to dry out unless you take the liner out.
More than 24 hours after a 50 mile ride in pouring rain, the space between the liner and the outer shell was still damp.
Keep in mind that, while the airbag tech is protected from the rain, you can't put this jacket through the washing machine, or even submerge it for hand-washing. This could be a consideration for some adventure riders, especially in very dusty environments – you will have to be careful how you clean it.
After that ride there were wet patches on the front of my boxers, the bum and the bottom of my T-shirt through water driving up under the jacket’s hem. It wasn’t terrible, and it was better than on many others I’ve used, not to mention that I was on an un-faired Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. A more adventure-styled bike would provide better protection, but there’s still that problem of the outer jacket staying wet. Though in the situations it’s designed for (ie not trudging up and down a motorway in winter every day), it would quickly dry out as the weather improves.
Consider also that the thermal and waterproof liner are combined, so it could get a bit toasty if you’re caught out in a summer shower. Not that you’d be likely to go through all the hassle of getting the liner out of your luggage, taking off the jacket, zipping the sides in and zipping in the cuffs. Or stripping the trousers off at the side of the road to zip in their liner.
Combining the thermal and waterproof liner is probably my preferred option here as I wouldn’t bother putting it in to stay dry; far better to have a separate, cheap over-suit to just throw on, and use the supplied liner to keep warm. Sure, some adventure jackets (like the non-airbag £499 Spidi All Road), have a separate waterproof and thermal liner, but these add bulk and hassle that I won’t benefit from.
The vents go straight though, which is why this jacket works so well in the heat
Any bike kit is a compromise between warmth, ventilation and waterproofing, and while the focus of this gear is on warmer weather riding, there’s no compromise in safety.
If this were a premium-priced brand without the airbag I’d be singing its praises at £500 thanks to the great build-quality, AA safety rating (the non-airbag version is certified to the same level), brilliant ventilation and overall high spec.
But considering it has the airbag built in, it’s outstanding.
Keeping in mind the fact that you need to pay £120 per year for the In&Motion subscription, or £399 to buy it outright, this is not cheap, but it is a hell of a lot of product for the money.
The waterproofing means it’s not going to be right for everybody – this isn’t a year-round commuter suit – but that’s the compromise that had to be made for the strong ventilation. For summer rides on my S1000XR, this kit is perfect, and if I were exploring further afield, I’d be happy to chuck an over-suit in my luggage.