Riding Gear Review: Olympia Moto Sports GT Air Transition Jacket & Airglide 3 Mesh Tech Overpant
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an ATGATT guy. I put on all the gear every time I ride, and I ride every day, a minimum of 50 miles. So riding gear is kind of important to me.
Because I ride a motorcycle as my primary transportation, my gear has to be relatively tough, and, considering the expense, durable and reliable. So, when it came time to toss out my 4 year-old set of riding togs last week, I went immediately to the BMW dealership, where the more high-end apparel is readily available, and picked out a new Olympia Moto Sports GT Air Transition Jacket and Airglide 3 Mesh Tech Overpant, both of which are textile items, made from 500 and 2000 denier Cordura® fabric. They are both provided with removable CE armor as well.
(Click on the pictures to see high-res versions)
I’ve personally crash tested Olympia riding gear on the street, so I know it works. It didn’t prevent my big toe from getting broken, however. But the rest of me came through with nary a scratch, no thanks the driver of the transportation van for the handicapped, who decided stop signs didn’t apply to him.
But, I digress.
The pants are pretty straightforward, so I’ll tackle them first. The Airglide 3 Mesh Tech Overpant is an armored mesh pant with hard, form-fitting knee armor and soft hip armor. The knee pads are not a single hard outer shell with a foam backing. Instead, the armor consists of connecting hard plastic, squarish "bubbles" with a gel backing. Take them out of the pants, and the knee pads lay flat. When worn however, the pads wrap themselves around your knees, and fit to the countours. The pants have a wide adjustment area, so the pads can be moved up or down the leg approximately 8 inches, which should assure knee coverage for just about anyone. One neat idea they incorporate is that the hard plastic actually has a velcro cover, so when you move the knee armor to the desired position on the leg, there is velcro sewn inside the armor pocket to secure the kneepads where you put them. The hip armor is simple memory foam padding, sewn into pockets on each side of the pants.
Unlike my old set of Airglide pants, the removable nylon liner, while water and windproof, is not, sadly, insulated. Still, it is a mesh pant, and I live in Southern California, so really cold temperatures are pretty rare. And, really, it’s only suitable as a summer pant for most regions, anyway.
The zippered front pockets and capacious snapped rear pockets will hold just about anything you might ask of them on a motorcycle. I especially like the fact that, unlike other brands of pants I’ve tried, the side zippers go all the way up to the waistband, which makes getting into and out of the pants a breeze, even with the big, clunky, felt-lined, Czech army jackboots I wear in the winter.
The waist has expandable gussets as well as a two-position snap closure. This, along with the well-anchored belt loops, make the pant suitable for wear without street clothes underneath, if you’re feeling sufficiently naughty.
Unlike the pants, which, while of excellent quality, are fairly simple, the GT Air Transition Jacket is much more complicated and feature-filled.
Like all of the Olympia Moto Sports "Transition" line of apparel the outer shell of the jacket has panels on the front and back that zip away, and can be folded down into integral pockets during warmer weather. When zipped up, each panel contains an additional zipper in the middle of the panel, which turns them into rather large breast pockets. When zipped up, the top of the outer panels are secured under the yoke with long velcro closures, making them relatively secure pockets as well. When unzipped and folded down into the integral pockets, there is reasonably good airflow across the chest. Similarly, the arms have zippered vent closures that open up to expose more mesh for extra airflow around the elbow and shoulder armor.
There are waist, chest, and arm adjustments to make the jacket looser or more form-fitting, as desired. The adjustment straps have snaps for the chest, while the arm and waist adjustment is velcro, as are the wrist and neck closures.
The jacket I bought, as you can see, has hi-vis orange panels along the yoke, the sides and the arms, though those looking for more subdued colors can find them, as well as those looking for hi-vis yellow. All colors, however, are trimmed in Scotchlite® reflective piping across the yoke, across the waist, and down the arms, with an additional large patch of it at the rear of the neck.
Armor at the shoulders, elbows, and forearm consists of the same type of hard plastic/gel system employed in the pants, making the armor both form-fitting and comfortable. The jacket also has a back protector, which consists of a hard protector sewn into the back of the inner lining, as well as additional foam pads sewn into the outer shell.
The jacket also comes with a two- piece, removable inner liner. As you can see from the picture, the liner consists of a water- and wind-proof outer shell, and an insulated liner that snaps into the shell. As such, you can remove the insulated liner for warmer days, while keeping liner shell in the jacket for wetter days.
One extra plus to this two-part liner is that the layering makes it significantly warmer than an insulated liner alone. So, it can do service in temperatures down into the 30s. Even without the liner, the outer shell of the jacket is wind-resistant enough to be serviceable for riding with temperatures down to the mid-50s.
Assuming you zip up all the vent panels covering the mesh, of course.
The downside of the two-part inner liner is that it is noticeably more bulky than a one-piece liner, but the chest, arm and waist adjustments for the jacket are versatile enough to loosen the outer shell to comfortably make room for the added bulk.
All of the zippered closures for both the pant and the jacket liners are waterproof, as well, so they are both suitable as wet-weather gear. The jacket, with its large mesh panels front and back, along with its two-piece insulated inner liner, and wind-resistant outer shell, should make for a great all-year jacket for those who live in more southerly climes.
Manufacturing quality and materials are exceptionally good for both items, as is comfort, and the ability to take a fair amount of abuse. They are, however, priced accordingly, with the list price for the jacket at $329, and the pants at $199. Happily, I got them both on sale, and saved a substantial amount over retail. They can be found online for significantly cheaper, as well.
Considering the quality, features, comfort, and durability of these riding clothes, I’d say they were well worth the money, and can heartily recommend them.