BikeSocial Publisher. Has been riding since before Frankie said ‘Relax’, owned more than 100 bikes and has written for, edited or published most of the UK’s best known bike magazines. Strangely attracted to riding high miles in all weathers, finds track days ‘confusing’ and describes the secret to better riding as ‘being invincible’.
Date reviewed: May 2019 | Tested by: Steve Rose | Price: £558 (jacket inc back protector) £448 (trousers – inc bib and brace) | jofamo.se
If the thought of spending almost £1000 on a textile riding suit brings you out in a hot flush, consider this; not that long ago most of us would have been happy to and, even maybe aspire to spend similar amounts of money on a mid-price leather suit that has none of the versatility, none of the weather protection and (in some cases) not that much more crash protection than a suit like this. Some of those lovely leathers we all cherished so much were too hot in summer, too cold in winter, lacking in pockets, rarely as comfortable as we liked and, in many cases (from my experience doing product testing on RiDE magazine) not even as protective as we’d hoped.
Some of the latest group of textile suits now meet the (admittedly new and less stringent) CE protection standards, have enough zip-out layers and vents to be truly useful in all weathers across all four seasons, and offer all the flexibility we need as riders in 2019. A good leather suit will still have better abrasion protection in a track crash (where speeds tend to be higher and you slide for longer because there’s less to hit and slow you down), but these latest top-end textiles have crash protection a world away from what we were wearing even ten years ago.
I got this suit in January, and have done around 4,000 miles in it so far. Half of that has been on BikeSocial’s long-term test KTM Super Duke GT, but I’ve also done big miles on Kawasaki’s ZX-6R, BMW’s S1000RR and R1250R, Honda’s CBR650R, Yamaha Niken and my own Yamaha Fazer 1000 and TDR250.
Plenty of adjustment for a snug fit with summer or winter gloves
There’s a good range of sizing and I found it easy to get a jacket/pants combo that fits me well. With all the linings still fitted the suit feels snug as you put it on, but once fastened and on the bike it never feels tight or constrictive… or baggy either. That’s a neat trick.
Zipped together there’s still enough room to move around on a sports bike and there is plenty of adjustment to allow for what you wear underneath. For example, I prefer to use the pants as overtrousers on top of a pair of jeans (because I ride to meetings and need to be able to change quickly) so I chose a larger size than if just wearing them over bare legs. But when I do ride commando there’s enough adjustment to make them fit snugly too.
There’s plenty of adjustment at the cuffs, ankles and collar as well and its worth taking your time to get it right because the Velcro strips on each aren’t the thickest meaning that the flaps will come loose on the move if you don’t fasten them carefully. Also, when fastening the cuffs over your gloves, make sure you adjust the Velcro tight enough to prevent drafts getting up the sleeve. The cuffs are roomy enough to fit winter gloves underneath easily, but that means a big gap for summer ones if you’re not careful.
Knee, hip, shoulder and elbow protectors are standard, back protector is £59 extra
Protection and CE certification
Certified to under prEN 17092 CE Class AA and fitted with Level 2 CE armour (though a back-protector is only an option). AA is the second highest level of certified protection (AAA is the top), while armour rated to Level 2 is the highest standard.
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.
Two internal pockets are completely waterproof, outside ones need an hour of torrential rain to even get damp
Two large outside pockets in the jacket with protected zips keep heavy rain out for an hour or so, but then leak a little bit. Both inside pockets have proved completely waterproof so far. Trousers have two outside pockets, which, remain watertight for an hour or so and never leak so badly that your stuff gets more than a little damp.
Easy-to-use zips are long enough, slick enough and watertight. They feel a bit flimsy at first for a suit costing this much, but 4,000 miles later they are all working perfectly. As mentioned before the Velcro fasteners could be bigger. It takes an extra couple of seconds on each one to get the fastening just right.
Plenty of adjustment available for a snug fit with or without the linings
There's plenty of adjustment on all openings and to allow for different clothing underneath. Easy to use too and always comfortable (while still fitting snugly) on any bike. Very impressive.
Two small jacket vents are surprisingly effective (unless you wear a rucksack), trouser vents are equally good
The Outlast lining (which claims to keep you warm in cool weather and cool when it is warm) has performed well enough not to need the vents much this summer. One vent in each shoulder isn’t a lot on the jacket, but, in conjunction with the rear exhaust vent they are surprisingly effective. Unsurprisingly, they are useless with a rucksack. There are no arm vents, but, as mentioned earlier, you can set the cuff Velcro a little loose that allows airflow up your arms. Trouser vents are effective, but venting is the weakest point of this suit if you're riding in hot climates and carrying a rucksack.
We’ve not had the coldest winter and spring this year so it is hard to be definitive, but one long, cold day on the bike in April was warm and comfortable, without overheating. Mostly I don’t think about my temperature, which has to be a thumbs up.
Outlast lining claims to keep you warm in cold weather and cool when it heats up
The Outlast liner feels bulky when you first pull the suit on, but settles quickly and you don’t notice it. The technology seems to work; I stay cool in the heat (although we’ve not had a proper warm spell yet) and warm in the cold. My Halvarssons dealer tells me that Outlast is more effective against bare skin, so wearing jeans under the trousers probably isn’t helping.
The Halvarssons kit is almost completely waterproof so far. The material is superb and will seemingly resist any amount of rain. As with any suit, you have to get the collar fastening right or water runs down your neck, and the only other issue I’ve had (surprisingly) is that even with the suit zipped together and bib-and-brace trousers, the area of my belly around my belt has been wet a couple of times. It’s probably water running up the outside of the trousers, under the jacket and then over the top of the bib.
One of the big advantages of laminated waterproof kit is that it dries a lot quicker when it's got wet, so when you put the suit back on to go home, it usually bone dry – shake it when you stop and the water will shed a lot quicker than many jackets and trousers with a drop-liner.
Zip is coming away, requiring the jacket to be sent back for repairs
Two year warranty
Last week I noticed a small problem; the main zip has started to come away from the body of the jacket near the top – it doesn’t affect the jacket’s performance but it isn’t going to get any better. The suit has a two-year warranty so I called the dealer who supplied it (J&B Motorcycles in Boston) who explained that because of the structure of the waterproof membranes Halvarssons choose to do all repairs at one specific centre. Even though mine is a simple stitching repair, there is a danger that someone untrained could damage the membrane while doing the job.
J&B say that they send the jacket away, turnaround is typically three days and so if I drop the jacket in on Monday, I should have it back by Friday. I’ll update this review once the repair is done.
It takes a lot of rain over a very long period to penetrate this suit’s defences and, even then you’re left with a damp t-shirt rather than a drenched and wrinkled body. Should we expect a £900 waterproof suit to be completely waterproof? I’d say yes, but I’ve worn other equally expensive suits that leak in the same place.
What sets this one apart is the quality of the rest of it. I feel safe and secure in this kit and it always feels like a good fit no matter what kind of bike I’m riding. Getting to that stage takes some extra attention and care when putting it on, but the results are worth it.
Apart from some reservations about the vents, from a performance perspective I’d gladly recommend it right now, but at this price, longevity of performance matters too and for that, I need at least another 18 months...