Technology

GEAR FROM BILTWELL

ROAD TESTED: GEAR FROM BILTWELL, REV’IT! AND STYLMARTIN

New motorcycle gear recommended by Bike EXIF.
GEAR FROM BILTWELL If I ask riders why they don’t wear All The Gear All The Time, most cite one (or all) of these reasons: style, comfort and price. Motorcycles are becoming less of a lifestyle choice, and more of a lifestyle accessory. A lot of riders simply want ‘casual’ gear that looks good, feels good, and doesn’t break the bank—while still being reasonably protective and functional.

So for this review, I’ve picked out three items that tick those boxes: a technical hoody, a retro full-face helmet, and a pair of everyday riding boots.

Review: The REV'IT! Stealth Hoody
REV’IT! Stealth hoody I’m not really a hoody guy, but when new jacket time rolled around, I wanted something low key and protective. Something I could wear with anything, on any bike, all day long. The specs of the REV’IT! Stealth hoody promised a denim finish, waterproofing and slim armor. And it was available in black, so I added it to my cart. (Yes, I paid for it with my own money.)

As the name implies, the Stealth is supremely understated. A cross between a bomber jacket and a hoody, the aesthetic is more akin to technical apparel than motorcycle gear. The chassis itself is multi-layer affair featuring a polycotton stretch denim outer, REV’IT!s proprietary Hydratex® waterproof membrane, and their abrasion-resistant PWR Shield fabric stitched into key impact zones.

Review: The REV'IT! Stealth Hoody
That denim shell looks absolutely killer out the box, and feels amazing too—both to the touch, and when it’s on. (The manufacturer suggests tossing it in the wash before wearing it, to rinse out any leftover dye, and the second I did I got a taste of how it’s going to fade over time.) It’s trimmed with a heavy-duty ribbed fabric at the cuffs and bottom edge. While the Velcro on my gloves did occasionally stick to the ribbing, the fabric is tough enough to avoid fraying.

A chunky zipper up front gets you in and out, with a neat leather pull-tab for gloved operation. There’s a storm flap behind the zip too, and drawstrings for the hood (for if you actually use it). The rest of the layout is basic: hand warmer pockets, with snaps to keep them closed while riding, a small zipper stash pocket just inside on the right breast, and a larger document pouch inside on the left. There are reflective strips on the backs of the elbows, but they’re oh-so-subtle. Even the branding is tasteful—a blacked-out REV’IT! logo on a rubber patch, placed on a slightly larger Velcro square on the sleeve. Bizarrely, the patch is actually stitched to the Velcro—so I unstitched it to be able to run my own patches.

Review: The REV'IT! Stealth Hoody
Thanks to the denim’s stretch properties (and relatively low weight), the Stealth’s the most comfortable motorcycle jacket I’ve ever worn. According to REV’IT!’s size chart I’m on the cusp of XL and XXL—but years of craft beer and bacon roll appreciation have left me with a bit of tubby belly, so I sized up. The fit is spot on, and although I would have preferred the XL’s shorter sleeves, the built-in flex means I have room to breathe, without the jacket feeling baggy or bunching up.

It also makes for excellent freedom of movement while riding—aided by REV’IT!’s remarkably slim and lightweight SEESMART™ armor. It’s pretty exceptional stuff—virtually undetectable, yet CE Level 1 approved. The hoody ships with elbow and shoulder protectors, but you’ll need to pony up a bit extra if you want to kit it out with a back protector. Like fellow EXIFer Matt Neundorf, I’d rather see manufacturers include back armor as standard—and I’ll happily pay a little more. But since that’s not the case here, I ordered a SEESOFT™ protector and popped it in. Or rather, massaged it in with much fiddling and cursing; it’s a tight fit in the jacket’s back pocket, which also means that it won’t accept anything other than the recommended item. It’s obviously also not as featherweight as the SEESMART™ stuff—so it’s more noticeable when fitted—but it’s still pretty flexible, and hasn’t bugged me yet.

Review: The REV'IT! Stealth Hoody
A few extra details add to the hoody’s overall comfort while riding. For starters, the actual hood is kept from flapping at speed via a press-stud on the back. I did find that my backpack had a tendency to push up against and disengage it, but even then I didn’t notice anything unruly behind my head while riding. Out back, there’s a short connecting zipper inside that you can hook up to some of REV’IT!’s trousers (or a special belt that they make). But there’s also a feature I wish all jackets would have: a small elastic loop with a press-stud, which can anchor the hoody to any belt or belt loop. No one likes a jacket that rides up at the back, so this little consideration is one of my favorite touches.

As for weather, I’ll be keeping the Stealth on hand for at least three seasons. Despite the moisture-wicking mesh liner, it can get a little toasty on hotter days, but for spring and fall—and winter with an extra layer—it’s spot on. Unfortunately I haven’t been stuck in a downpour with it yet, but it’s shrugged off light rain without fuss, so I’m pretty confident it’ll fare well. And if it does come down, it even has nifty little drainage holes built into the hood and front pockets.

Review: The REV'IT! Stealth Hoody

Honestly, if I could change one thing it would be to ditch the hood in favour of a ribbed collar. (REV’IT! do have a jacket in that style, but it’s not available in black and it’s not waterproof.) At around £250 (US$270 at the time of writing) for the Stealth hoody (plus a little more for a back protector) it’s pretty good value though, so I can’t complain. In fact, if we dished out stars around here, I’d give it five.Click Here…