Gear for the Year: Olympia Airglide; Two Suits In One

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High praise from Assistant Editor Zac for his Olympia AST jacket prompted Fatima to choose the Olympia Airglide 4 Mesh Tech jacket and Airglide 3 Mesh Tech pants for our 2013 riding season.

As you may remember from our Gear For The Year intro article, our goal was to test gear that could be as versatile as possible, and versatility is one many areas that these Olympia products excel.

What Fatima really appreciates about the Airglide suit is that it is actually two suits in one. The windproof, waterproof liner can be used as a stylish standalone weatherproof suit. This additional suit was great for when we got to where we were going for the night and we needed something for inclement weather or just cooler temps, when Fatima didn’t want to look overtly motorcyclish.

The suit still looks great after a season of use.
The suit still looks great after a season of use.

Fatima loves it and grabs this liner jacket often if the weather is bad, even if we’re simply going for a walk back home. She also uses the pant and jacket liners for bicycling when it’s raining, and they work perfectly in this application.

Olympia have incorporated another thoughtful touch into the suit; the jacket liner itself has an inner removable liner.  It’s a quilted piece that provides additional warmth when you need it, and it quickly unzips when it is not required.

We had another box to check on our wish list for selecting a suit; it had to be supremely comfortable for three seasons of use. The Airglide’s multiple liners promised to help with the cooler temps of spring and fall but in order to be comfortable in the summer meant that Fatima’s suit of choice had to be a mesh suit, which the name Airglide implies. The Airglide suit uses Cordura fabric with ballistic nylon mesh panels that provide great airflow; these fabrics are said to have superior abrasion resistance.

Further on the protection front, the pants and jacket have a good supply of reflective piping that is tastefully blended into the design of the gear. Both pants and jacket also incorporate CE approved Motion Flex armor in all the usual required areas, including a back protector. Thankfully we didn’t get a chance to test out the crashability of the suit, but the quality of workmanship and materials leaves us feeling comfortable it would do what it needs to do.

Camera flash demonstrates the effectiveness of the Airglide's reflective piping.
Camera flash demonstrates the effectiveness of the Airglide’s reflective piping.

Hey, Wait A Minute…

Some of you may be scratching your heads at this point and questioning the three-season ability of a mesh suit. Extra marks for those of you who caught that.

Fatima's breathable, waterproof outerlayer ensured she stayed dry and made the Airglide into a three-season suit.
Fatima’s breathable, waterproof outerlayer ensured she stayed dry and made the Airglide into a three-season suit.

To help ensure this suit would do the job in the spring, summer and fall we added a Klim Stowaway jacket to Fatima’s kit, along with a set of Frogg Toggs Toadskinz rain pants (full reviews on these items to follow).

In a nutshell, this scheme worked out beautifully as Fatima had a double layer of wind and water protection during the colder part of the riding season and everything was still breathable. Only when the temps dropped below about five degrees Celsius did Fatima feel we were starting to push the envelope of comfort with her triple-layer setup (quadruple, if you include all the liners).

Riding with this arrangement meant that we never fully tested the waterproofing of the Olympia suit liner, as Fatima always put the outer rain suit on when the clouds were getting ready to unleash the wet stuff.

“Why bother with a rain suit when you have a weatherproof liner,” you ask?

Well, experience has taught me these liners, no matter how good they are, are not very practical. During the summer, who wants to drop their pants and shed their jacket and then struggle to install the waterproof underlayers before they get soaked? Not us. (I agree-Ed.).

For those of you who don’t mind doing that sort of thing, Olympia had the forethought to install long zippers down the sides of both layers of the pants so you should not have to take off your boots during the whole operation, thus the process of installing the liners is relatively easy.

I’ll cover some additional benefits of this triple-layer arrangement in the rain suit reviews to follow but suffice to say, with Fatima’s setup, she never got wet. And, although it’s not a proper test of the capability of Olympia’s weatherproof liner, she never got wet riding her bicycle in the rain either.

The Niggles?

It’s difficult for Fatima to find clothes off the rack that will fit her perfectly. She’s 5’ 8” and has long arms and legs. The Olympia sizes that fit her the best were the size 6 pants and a medium jacket. Olympia has a plethora of adjustments on the jacket to get the fit just right, and the pants have a beautifully designed stretch area on the hips for comfort and a good fit.

With Fatima’s extra-long arms, the sleeves of her Airglide jacket are barely covered by her gauntlets. Note also the nicely done stretch panel on the hips of the pants.
With Fatima’s extra-long arms, the sleeves of her Airglide jacket are barely covered by her gauntlets. Note also the nicely done stretch panel on the hips of the pants.

Once everything was adjusted to suit her form, Fatima was very happy with the look. The only down side is that the sleeves are too short on the jacket and the pants are a tad short in length. Ideally, if Olympia provided a “tall” version of the gear, Fatima would have absolutely nothing to gripe about in terms of fit. That’s really about it for the niggles.

In use, nothing pinched, or chafed, or bothered her when wearing the suit. Fatima also appreciated some of the thoughtful design touches, such as the replication of the position of the pockets on both the liner and outer jacket. Both layers even have an identical inner cell phone pocket. Nicely done.

The Final Word

A very happy camper with her Airglide suit.
A very happy camper with her Airglide suit.

After a season of use, nothing has torn or broken, and the suit would look as good as new if we bothered to wash it. At north of $600, the Olympia suit is competitively priced for what you are getting and all signals seem to be indicating that this suit will serve its buyers for years to come, which makes it excellent value in our books.

Speaking of the long haul, as the suit is designed to be functional and well-fitting without any unnecessary frills or trendy designs, it won’t get dated quickly which makes it an excellent long-term proposition.

Enjoy the ride!

Cheers, Fatima and Richard


GALLERY

Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.

 

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