By July 3, 2009

Rev’It Turbine textile mesh motorcycle pants review

You’ve had one of these relationships. You were crazy about her sleek figure, how she felt under your fingers, and — not to be too crude — appreciated how well she was put together. You liked her, she liked you, but the timing wasn’t right. She was new in town, you were in transition after a major change, etc etc. You know how it is – like ships passing in the night.

Such was my brief relationship with the Turbine ventilated textile and mesh motorcycle pants from Rev’It. I have lost weight since purchasing my Motoport / Cycleport mesh kevlar pants, and needed a smaller waist. The Rev’It Turbine pants were good (with a few exceptions), but they didn’t make the cut considering my existing stable of protective pants.

The Turbine pants are at the apex of Rev’It’s summer performance textile product line. Think of them as the warm weather Cayenne Pro: top features, top protection, top price. The Turbine pants differ from Rev’It’s other pants in that they have a combination of both breathable mesh and tougher textile — as well as the ceramic-plated SuperFabric. The SuperFabric adds more abrasion resistance to high impact areas. The knees of the Turbine pants have a very large swath of SuperFabric on them, but I was surprised that the hip didn’t have any. I suspect most motorcycle dismounts involve a smash to the knee, then a slide on the hip and ass. I think it would be weird to have the rough material on your butt, but perhaps a strip of SuperFabric on the hip area, maybe?
The Turbine pants have a zipper on each calf. The zipper is of high quality and was easy to manipulate with one hand, something I had a problem with on the Turbine jacket. The unfortunate thing about the zipper is its length. It is entirely too short, and you have to take your riding boots off before removing the pants.

Taking the pants off is made more difficult by this sticky material on the inside of each leg:

I am not sure what it is, or why it is there. I have a feeling it’s to help keep the pants from sliding up in the event of a crash, but it’s not that sticky. All I know is that it made the bottom of the pants more hot and snagged on everything.

Rev’It gear has some really nice touches to it, and my favorite part about the Turbine pants is how the waterproof liner attaches to the textile shell. Most pants have a series of snaps, or hook-and-loop, or buttons (or worse yet, a combo of snaps, hook-and-loop, and buttons). The Turbine pants have a zipper around the waist and then a zipper around the bottom of each leg. It is, by far, the easiest system I’ve encountered for attaching and removing a liner from a pair of motorcycle pants. I think this should be standard on every pair of pants, but I think most companies use snaps to save a few production dollars. Yeah, the Turbine pants are expensive, but this is the kind of attention to detail you will get for your money.

The Turbine is available in short, normal, and tall lengths. I have (as of this writing) a 32 inch waist and a 34 inch inseam. This put me under the smallest Turbine size, which is a size 50L (tall) in European sizing. That’s about a 34 inch waist. Dennis over at Beach Moto is very good about exchanging sizes, so I gave it a try.

Unfortunately the waist was too big for me. Rev’It made a mistake by only offering one snap on the waistband; I needed one about an inch further in. My Teknic leather riding pants both have a strap-and-buckle system instead of a single fixed attachment point.

Speaking of design mistakes around the waist line, check out this belt buckle:

There are two huge usability problems with this design. One, it’s really hard to clip together. I don’t know why Rev’It didn’t use a typical thicker three-pronged plastic buckle like on a variety of other pants, luggage, firearm slings, or backpacks. Here is the clip from one of my Timbuk2 bags: they are heavy duty and have never broken or come undone. This clip is about eight years old and going strong:

I guess the thinner design might be more comfortable, but it’s tough to deal with, especially when they pop open and you are wearing gloves.

The second thing that sucks about this buckle is that it popped open repeatedly while riding. I wore these on my FZ6 and on my FJR1300A, which both have riding stances in between a sport bike and an upright Japanese Universal. I am not leaning heavily on the buckle in a racing crouch. The buckle is released by putting pressure on the top and/or bottom part of the clasp. Apparently I put just enough pressure on the top to open it. The whole assembly is really poorly designed and frankly I am shocked that Rev’It used it on the Turbine. Their gear is normally put together very thoughtfully. I don’t own any other Rev’It pants, but hope this buckle is a one-off for the Turbine.

The pants vent pretty well, especially compared to solid textile pants. They are lightweight, which helps keep you cool at a standstill. The Motoport / Cycleport mesh kevlar pants I owned were made of a looser weave, but were super heavy. The kevlar pants heated up very quickly at a stop. The Turbine pants didn’t vent as well as the Motoport pants, nor as well as my perforated leather pants, but they were comfortable in the humid June weather of Virginia.

Out of the box, the Turbine was the most comfortable pants I’ve owned to date. Yeah, my leather pants are broken in now, but boy were they stiff when I first got them. The Motoports were a joke and probably could have stood up on their own. I laundered them three times and smashed the hell out of them with tennis balls in the dryer each time before they approached a comfortable fit. As I have said on my other Rev’It reviews, the cut is for European-style bodies, so if you are long and lean like me then Rev’It will make you happy.

Remember what I said about a “ships passing in the night” relationship? The Turbine pants are good, but I didn’t need them. I commute to work almost every day in all sorts of conditions. I work in a dress casual environment, and wear twill cotton pants just about every day. As much as I hated dealing with Wayne Boyer over at Motoport / Cycleport, he really nailed the commuting aspect of his kevlar pants. It is very convenient to unzip those overpants and get right to work. The Turbine pants are true “riding pants,” meaning that they are not designed to be worn over regular clothes. I already have two pair of leather riding pants for when I am riding for fun. Through no fault of their own, the Turbine pants didn’t have a place in my motorcycle safety gear wardrobe. I needed a pair of overpants, the the Turbine isn’t designed to be worn that way.

If you don’t already have a pair of dedicated riding pants, the Turbine may be for you. Depending on where you live, they could be three-season, or even year-round pants. I could probably wear them all year long with the included waterproof liner. I wore the Motoport mesh pants in temperatures from 100F to 9F, so I imagine the Turbine is good for that temperature range, too. I wore the Turbine in 94F Virginia humidity and while I wasn’t super comfortable at-speed like I am with my perforated leather pants, I found them to be much more tolerable at traffic lights. Recommended.

If you do have a pair of riding pants and/or need overpants, you may want to continue your search. I don’t consider the Turbine to be near-flawless like the Cayenne Pro jacket, and as such don’t think they are priced appropriately. I’d be much happier with the pants for $50 – $100 less, but at the $320 price point they need to figure out stuff like an adjustable waist and a buckle. Not recommended.

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