Review: New Protective Gear from REV’IT!

We at Canada Moto Guide have long been advocates of ATGATT (all the gear, all the time). We’ve also heard all the excuses from people who skip protective equipment that range from, “I’m a safe rider, so I don’t need it,” to “it’s too hot,” and “it doesn’t look cool.”

That first response is blind naivety since no matter how skilled a rider you are, there can always be some oblivious cager on a phone who does something utterly, inexplicably stupid, causing you to take an unexpected and lengthy flight or a slide across the tarmac. Broken bones suck and so do skin grafts, and both will keep a rider off their bike for a while.

The “too hot” and “uncool” excuses carry less weight these days, too, with gear manufacturers continuously releasing new and better products that are generally more comfortable, but also in styles that should suit a broader range of tastes than ever before.

Last year REV’IT! sent me their Trench GTX jacket and after a road trip around Eastern Canada (that included a particularly fierce deluge in P.E.I.), I came away impressed with the fit, quality and functionality of the Gore-Tex ADV-style jacket.

I was keen to see if the Trench GTX was a one-hit wonder for the brand, and they were kind enough to send a few additional products to try this year.

REV’IT! Pioneer GTX Boots

I’ve tried to avoid the adventure-rider style, but I have to admit that the ADV products make a lot of sense for touring since they tend to be rugged and well-suited to all manner of weather one encounters on the road (or off it). My go-to footwear on the bike for the past few years has been a well-loved pair of waterproof TCX riding shoes, which, admittedly, don’t offer the same sort of protection, especially for the toe-box, as one might like. But when commuting to and from the office, or on fair-weather road trips, they offer so much off-bike versatility that they’ve been hard to give up.

The trouble is when it rains, they’re so short that my waterproof riding pants don’t always cover the top of the boots, resulting in a river of rain funnelling down the top of the boots, rather than staying out.

The Pioneer GTX is a mid-height boot that looks a lot like a hiking boot. Having experienced how well Gore-Tex works for waterproofness and breathability, I continue to sing its praises with the Pioneer GTX. While I’ve only been blessed with fair weather rides so far this season, I did test the waterproofing by splashing around and submerging them in puddles, with no leaks at all. Sure, it’s not the same as having a driving rain pelting them at 100 km/h for hours on end, but it’s something. Being a good few inches taller than my riding shoes, it should solve the rain funnelling problem, too.

Despite their old-fashioned name, the Pioneers make use of a decidedly modern BOA closure system. Pop the twist knob out and the cables release, enabling the boot to be easily slipped on or off. Click the knob down and twist to tighten and it quickly tightens uniformly around the foot and ankle, taking barely any longer than it would to zip or Velcro the boots into place, but with arguably better waterproofing.

The BOA closure does thicken the tongue and creates a bulkier ankle that my slim-fitting riding jeans struggle to cover. Of course, these are meant to be ADV boots and my poor-weather riding pants have proper boot cut ankles and fit over them no problem.

Those looking for a more traditional biker style boot may not dig the Pioneer’s contemporary hiker style, but their all-black, suede-like construction is pretty subdued. Consider their style function-over-form.

I found the fit to be quite comfortable and while the mid-height cut doesn’t offer quite the level of safety of a taller boot, they’re nowhere near as heavy or clunky to walk around in. That said, those used to a broken-in pair of leather boots or riding shoes like mine will find the Pioneer’s structure to be quite stiff, causing a bit of Frankenstein-walk. The OrthoLite insoles are comfy and the Vibram outsoles give them decent grip and good flexibility on terra firma, while the toe area is compact enough to keep shifting easy enough.

Perhaps most importantly, the Pioneer GTX gets a solid CE level 2 rating with a firm foot structure and good ankle protection, and even that bulky tongue gets REV’IT!’s SeeSoft impact protection. For the lightness of these boots, they’re impressively well-built.

Canadian prices for the REV’IT! Pioneer GTX range between $649 and $735 at the time of writing, which isn’t cheap, but for the quality and technology of these boots, seems like good value.

REV’IT! Contrast GTX Gloves

Much like my riding footwear, I’ve grown accustomed to short gloves that barely extend past my wrist bones for their dexterity and their compact fit. But, when they get wet, my hands get cold in a hurry, so the Contrast GTX Gore-Tex gloves promised the breathable waterproofing that I was after.

With a stretchable fabric back panel and a double-adjustable wrist closure and gauntlet, the Contrast GTX provided the form-fit I was after to keep from feeling like I was wearing ski mitts while riding, but still offers a 500D construction for tear and abrasion resistance. There’s a small thermoplastic polyurethane panel on each the thumb and palm near the heel for some serious pavement resistance, but the rest of the palm is constructed of goatskin leather.

The thinness of the stretchy fabric material on the outer portion of the fingers and thumb feel particularly vulnerable but they’re lined with Temperfoam for impact protection while allowing maximum dexterity. The elevated knuckle protection is also flexible, allowing for further dexterity and comfort.

As hoped, the Contrast GTX gloves require very little break-in time thanks to the stretchiness of their construction. While dubbed a summer touring glove, their waterproof construction means they don’t offer any actual ventilation, just the Gore-Tex breathability, so they can get pretty warm in a hurry on a hot day. In the submerge test, they kept my hands bone-dry, delivering on the waterproof promise.

The REV’IT! Contrast GTX gloves retail for $230.

REV’IT! Reed Riding Jeans

Most of my riding companions have tried and ditched riding jeans, instead opting for more stylish or comfortable alternative riding pants, but I’ve gotten great use of my Dainese Todi Slim jeans so I thought I’d supplement them with a pair of REV’IT!’s Reed Slim Fit riding jeans.

The medium blue finish has a nice worn-in look, and the slim fit cut is slender but not skinny, and despite a fairly high waist, the overall style suits me well enough. The trouble with the Reed jeans stems from one of their primary benefits: their sturdy construction. The 16 oz Cordura denim surely provides incredible abrasion and tear protection, but the denim is so thick and heavy that it affects their wearability.

I’ve worn these jeans a few times on the half-hour commute to the office, and while on my fairly upright Kawasaki Z900RS they’re manageable, sitting on my girlfriend’s ZX-6R gives a leg workout just trying to bend the jeans enough to get my feet to the pegs. While not terribly tight, the jeans are so unrelenting in their structure that it’s even a challenge to lift my leg high enough to kick it over the saddle. Sitting in them for a day in the office wasn’t particularly fun, either.

After a few day-long wears, they have broken in just enough to give a tiny bit more mobility, but they’re still a chore to wear. Adding insult to injury, the button-fly holes were so tight that I had to actually enlarge them slightly just to undo the pants the first time. My sympathies to anyone who buys these and needs to get them off in a hurry.

Commendably, the REV’IT! Reed jeans come with CE-level 1 hip protection (something few other riding jeans come with, standard), as well as SEESMART knee protection that can be optimally placed over the knee thanks to adjustable height pockets. Despite their fairly slim profile, the safety padding adds odd bulky bulges to the fit of the jeans, which is rather unavoidable with slim-fitting jeans, I suppose. There are safety seams, triple needle stitching and reflective trim when the cuffs are turned up, which, altogether with the damn-near-bulletproof denim earns the Reed jeans a commendable CE AAA rating.

If there’s been one constant across all the REV’IT! products I’ve experienced, it’s that they’re always built with the best materials and to a very high standard of quality. The Reed jeans are no different, it’s just that they’re constructed so safely that riders may avoid wearing them, which completely defeats their purpose.

The REV’IT! Reed SF jeans retail in Canada for $350.

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