I write stuff. A lot of it is about cars and motorcycles.

Pilot Motosport Riding Gear Review

ATTGATT. All the gear, all the time. It’s the mantra I live by, especially since my motorcycle is my primary transportation, and I ride every day. That turned out to be a good decision in 2008, when the van driver for a handicapped transportation service, presumably trying to drum up some more business, ran a stop sign and T-boned me while I was riding my FJR1300. I walked away with just a broken toe.

Since good armored gear is expensive, I try to get the best gear I can, and wear it out before replacing it. Since my Olympia Motorsports suit, after four years of daily use, was getting long in the tooth, I decided to replace it.

One of my favorite hot-weather jackets has long been a Pilot Motorsports mesh jacket I bought nearly 10 years ago. For several years after I bought it, however, Pilot Motorsports left the consumer market, and concentrated on making bespoke leather racing suits. But, they’ve returned to the consumer market, and based on my experience with my old Pilot jacket, I went to them for a replacement for my Olympia gear.

I live in Southern California, so I don’t need a winter jacket. I need gear that’s best suited for warm weather most of the year, but that can also handle temperatures in the 40s during winter. Happily, Pilot makes exactly such a suit, so I purchased the following from them:

TRANS.URBAN Air Jacket– $250.00 normally, but currently on sale for $150.00
Omni Air Overpant – $150.00
Super Mesh Gloves – $50.00 
CE-approved Core Backpad T2 Armor – $40.00
CE-approved Core Hip Pad Armor  – $30.00

Pilot’s prices are substantially lower than those of many other gear manufacturers. That’s often a warning sign of less quality—and less protection. So, what did I get for my money?

Pilot Motosports Gear - Front View

TRANS.URBAN Air Jacket

Let’s start with the TRANS.URBAN Air jacket. Available in black, silver or hi-vis yellow, most of the outer shell is a woven 210 Denier mesh fabric, with 600 Denier polyester canvas panels reinforcing the shoulders and elbows. Adjustable pockets inside the shell contain CE-approved polyurethane impact-absorbing armor at the shoulder and elbows. A foam pad is located in the back protector pocket, and this can be replaced by the CE-approved Polyurethane foam armor. I say replaced, but actually, I was able to put the level 2 CE armor into the back protector pocket in addition to the foam pad. More protection is better, right?

Scotchlite reflective panels are sewn into the chest, arms, and back of the jacket.

Pockets are plentiful, with outside of the shell containing two zippered chest pockets and two snap-and-velcro closured pockets at the waist. all of the snaps have a rubberized coating, so that theres no exposed metal. In the back, a large, zippered pass-though pocket gives you capacious butt storage. Finally, a small zippered pocket on the left sleeve cuff is available for storing small items like keys, or a garage door opener.

Pilot Motosports Gear - Rear View

More pockets can be found in the inside of the shell, with a large zippered chest pocket for any sized cell phone, and a large drop pocket on each side with velcro closure. The interior pockets are mirrored on the inside of the jacket liners, too.

The removable jacket liner, by the way, is a two-piece affair, with a waterproof outer shell, and a removable quilted liner. All of the inner pockets, as well as the attachment points for the jacket liner, use a “red-tab” system, which means that all of the pocket markings and liner attachments points use bright red fabric for easy identification in low light. The red attachment points consist of sewn-in canvas loops that mate to canvas tabs with snap closures. Again, all of the snaps are rubberized.

Here’s a look at the inner liners, with the red tabs at the pockets.

Liner Pockets with Red Tabs

The jacket also has velcro attachment points for Pilot’s CE Armor chest protector, which, if you choose to get it, will provide CE armor protection for your sternum.

The jacket cuffs and collar are lined with soft, rolled neoprene, and covered with a microfiber surface for comfort. Adjustable fit is provided by velcro tabs at the waist and cuffs, along with snap tabs on the sleeves.

Finally, a zipper inside the back of the liner can mate the jacket to a pair of pants. All of the zippers are YKK zippers, by the way.

Omni Air Over Pants

The Omni Air pants are available only in black, which I don’t particularly like. I’d prefer a lighter color for less heat absorption—ideally hi-vis yellow—but that’s not an option. There are Scotchlite panels on the legs, though, so there’s that.

Adjustable-height pockets at the knees contain more CE-approved polyurethane armor, while the hip pockets are just plain foam, though, again, the CE hip armor can be placed in the pockets in addition to the foam.

Generous panels of 210 Denier mesh make up a large portion of the upper and lower legs, while waist, knees and crotch are covered by 600 Denier panels. Expandable gussets at the waist and knees provide extra flexibility and movement, as does the 1000 Denier FlexDura canvas at the crotch and behind the knees. The seat has a double wall of 600 Denier polyester canvas for durability.

The waist is closed with a large zipper and rubberized snaps. Behind the fly is a waterproof gusset to keep you dry if you get caught in the rain, The waist is also adjustable via velcro tabs on each side. Like the jacket, the pants have a zipper in back to mate jacket to pants.

Leg closures consist of double-sided zippers that run from the cuffs to the waist. When the legs are zipped closed, the top of the zipper can be unzipped for access to your inner pants pockets. In addition to the zippers, outer storm flaps with velcro closures run the full length of the legs. The velcro tab at the leg cuffs are fully adjustable to give as tight a fit over your boots as you desire. The cuffs also contain integrated rain gutters for shedding water, if necessary.

The only available pockets on the pants are two small zippered pockets at each side.

The inner liner of the pants attaches with a full zippers at the waist and cuffs. The liner itself is rubberized nylon with taped seams to make it both wind- and water-proof.

Omni Pants Waterproof Liner with Taped Seams

Super Mesh Gloves

The Super Mesh gloves are lightweight with a neoprene mesh on the top of the fingers, thumb and back of the hand. Leather overlays at the knuckles and back of the hand have carbon fiber armor inserts, while more leather covers the palms, with a double coating of leather at the knuckles and heels of the hand. Air flow inserts allow more air flow through the three middle fingers, while another double-coating of leather protects the outside of the hand and little finger. The wrist closure is velcro, and a Scotchlite piping strip is sewn along the back of the hand.

What’s Good About Them

First off, all of the items appear to be very durable and very well-made. I was not disappointed about the construction—with one exception that I’ll discuss below. Based on my previous experience with my old Pilot jacket, I expected the gear to consist of high-quality items, and it did. I’m not sure how Pilot manages to sell gear of this quality at such discounted prices, but I’m beginning to suspect that other gear manufacturers are wildly overcharging for their goods.

Airflow when riding is excellent. It’s better than my old Pilot mesh jacket. Even under the armor, you can feel the airflow while riding. Of course, you have to take the good with the bad, so I can also feel the heat that pours out of the left side of my Triumph Trophy at low speeds around town, too. 

Once adjusted, the armor fits right where it’s supposed to. One of the things I didn’t like about my Olympia Motorsports pants was that the knee armor never quite stayed where it was supposed to. That’s not a problem with the Omni pants or the TRANS.URBAN Air jacket. When you’ve adjusted the tabs properly, the armor stays put, right where it’s supposed to be.

Indeed, the jacket fits perfectly, thanks to the generous adjustment tabs. Assuming you buy anything near the right size, there’s enough adjustment so that the jacket feels like it was custom fitted when you set it correctly. The key takeaway here is that the sizing chart provided at the Pilot web site is spot on, so you can trust that the sizes you buy will fit in the ways you expect.

The outside left chest pocket has a plastic snap hook built into it. I don’t know why. But if I ever have some sort of thingy that needs to be secured with a lanyard, I can snap the lanyard onto the snap hook, and my thingy will be secured. I’ve never seen this in any other jacket, and I have no idea what I’d ever use it for. But, the thing is, if I ever need it, I’ll have it. So, I got that going for me. All of the jacket pockets are nice and large, too, so there’s plenty of storage.

The jacket also has both a cable pass through and wire guides built into the inside, so you can run the wires for your headphones or heated undergear, which is another nice touch.

The liners for the pants and jacket are both great. With the full liner in place, I suspect the jacket would be perfectly suitable for even fairly cold weather, unless you’re in some God-forsaken place like North Dakota or Maine. Still, it’s a fully three-season jacket, at least, and will certainly be a four-season jacket for Southern California, and other temperate areas of the country.

What’s Bad About Them

The pants and jacket have mating zippers to connect them. Sounds good, but in the pair I got, the mating zipper doesn’t work. I don’t know if the problem is with the pants or the jacket, but the teeth are misaligned. I can zip about one inch together, then the zipper gets stuck, the teeth misalign, and you can’t zip them any further. If you try, the zipper locks, and you’re stuck wearing them forever. So, that doesn’t work. That’s the only quality defect I can find in this gear, but it’s one that irks me.

Zipper Fail

The Omni Air pants have a couple of things I don’t like. First, there’s not enough room in the seat and crotch. When you’re wearing pants, the Omni overpants are too tight, though without pants, they’re fine. They just need to be more generously cut in the crotch to be comfortable with pants. Also, the Omni pants have no rear pockets, and the side pockets are far too small. Next, the pants have velcro storm flaps that run the entire length of the legs. They are a pain in the ass. The velcro always gets stuck together when you’re trying to put them on or take them off, so you constantly have to fiddle with the legs to keep them open so you can stick your boots through them. Then, of course, you have to seal the whole leg when you finally get the legs zipped. Taking them off, you have to reverse this annoying procedure. There’s simply no reason to have full velcro storm flaps on a pair of mesh pants. All you really need is a zipper. The TRANS.URBAN Air jacket, for example, has a sort of storm flap, but it’s inside the jacket. I’m certain the Omni Air pants would be a lot more convenient to use with the same type of closure.

Finally, except for the main zipper on the TRANS.URBAN Air jacket, none of the other zippers on any of the gear have any pull tabs. So, every time you need to get into a pocket, or unzip the top of the pants legs to get to the pockets of your regular pants, you have to pull off your gloves, because the metal zipper handles are so small. The zipper handles all have big loops, like there was supposed to be a nylon tab looped through them, maybe with a nice, big, plastic gripper attached at the end, but there isn’t one. I suppose I could go get some parachute cord to loop through the zipper handles and knot the ends together, but I shouldn’t have to. Every piece of motorcycle gear I’ve ever had has big pull tabs on all the zippers, so that you can manipulate them while wearing gloves, but none of the Pilot gear does. This is an inconceivable oversight.

Conclusion

I’ll probably get some black parachute cord to cut and loop through the zipper handles so I can unzip things without gloves. I’ll live with full length velcro on the legs. None of the small things that bother me about this gear are really deal-breakers. I expect I’ll be wearing this gear for a long time to come, even if it isn’t perfect.

The Super Mesh gloves are perfect for summer wear, with all the protection you could want. The TRANS.URBAN Air jacket is amazingly good for the price. The Omni Air pants are where most of my irritations come from. If I had to make the purchase again, I’m not entirely sure I would buy the Omni Air pants, but I’d certainly buy the gloves and jacket. Those are definitely keepers.

Overall, this Pilot Motorsports gear checks all of the boxes for the big items. Quality, affordability, utility, and safety are all covered. So, Pilot Motorsports excels at the important stuff. Where it falls short, thankfully, are just the small—albeit irritating—things. Most of my main irritations are with the Omni Air pants, which are just ridiculously over designed. Still, what you want in this sort of gear is protection and airflow, and Pilot Motosport’s gear provides that in spades.

Update

Pilot, contacted me after reading this review. They told me that did a random pull of 25 sets of jackets and pants in their inventory and were unable to replicate my zipper issue with the pants mating to the jacket. They also offered to replace the gear for free.

So, the Pilot’s customer service was pro-active and helpful, and, clearly, concerned about the quality and usability of the gear they produce. So, add points for good customer service, and concern about your satisfaction f anything is wrong.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone