By June 1, 2009

Rev’It Turbine textile mesh summer motorcycle jacket review

I love my Rev’It motorcycling gear. I own the Cayenne Pro textile jacket and the Fahrenheit waterproof leather winter gloves. The Cayenne Pro did major duty as my primary commuting jacket during the fall, winter, and spring here in Virginia and also went with me down to Georgia in October. The Cayenne Pro has some innovated venting features, but the jacket’s sturdy construction and Virginia’s humidity meant I needed something more lightweight and vented for warmer temperatures.

The problem with lightweight textile or mesh jackets is that the fabric typically doesn’t hold up well in a crash. The abrasion of an accident quickly wears through most materials. Certain types of mesh, especially those used in less expensive jackets, can even melt to the skin.

So there’s a delicate balancing act with summer gear: comfort versus safety. I had written off getting a mesh jacket until I found the Turbine jacket by Rev’It. I put in an order with Dennis over at Beach Moto and as usual his service was top notch. Yes, you can buy Rev’It gear from a few other places, but none of them will offer you the customer service and elite product knowledge that Dennis can. The Turbine is $350 before shipping, and the SAS-TEC back protector is another $50.

Anyway, on to the review.


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Safety
The concept of mixing highly breathable mesh and tougher textile isn’t anything new. Other manufacturers employ a similar strategy. However, there are a few things that differentiate the Turbine from other offerings. The Turbine uses a tightly-woven mesh fabric that feels more sturdy than the loose-weave chainmail-like mesh found on cheaper jackets.

The Rev’It mesh is placed in low-risk areas, just as the upper chest. The back is fully mesh as well, but the back protector (particularly the upgraded SAS-TEC pad, more on that later) should mitigate off any abrasion injuries. There is also mesh on the inside of the arm. I don’t foresee sliding on my bicep, so I am okay with mesh there instead of thicker fabric.

Next up are layers of a fabric named PWR|shell in 500 and 750 weights. The familiar Cordura brand makes an appearance on high stress areas such as the shoulders and elbows. On top of these high risk areas is Rev’It’s SuperFabric. SuperFabric laminates ceramic plates to textile to provide a claimed five time greater abrasion resistance than leather.

Shoulder and elbow armor is very capable and meets or exceeds CE standards. The stock back protector is Temperfoam. I highly, highly recommend you spend the money to upgrade the back protector. The SAS TEC pad is $50 and well worth it. Plus you can reuse it on the Cayenne Pro, which I believe compliments the Turbine nicely during cooler months.

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The jacket has some reflective material. There is a strip near the kidney line on the back, as well as a retro-reflective Rev’It logo that appears to be black until it is hit with light. There is a similar logo on each deltoid, and two small reflective strips on the chest. I would have preferred a little more on the arms and chest, but I understand it may have interfered with the venting system.

Fit and temperature control
In case you haven’t read my review of the Cayenne Pro jacket, one of the things I like about Rev’It gear is the attention to detail. The stitching is even and consistent throughout the jacket. All of the hook-and-loop material is evenly lined up. The center zipper is very smooth and high quality. From a construction perspective, all of my Rev’It gear beats out the “custom” gear I’ve purchased in the past.

The Turbine is designed to fit a little more loosely than other jackets. The jacket fits great in the upper chest and arms, but there is more material than I would expect in the midsection. I originally thought this was a stylistic concern, but after riding on the highway I think I understand why Rev’It built the jacket this way, and perhaps how the Turbine got its namesake.

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The Turbine’s mid section is very loose. The camera focused on my arm, but you can see the material around my belly. I am 6′ 0″ and have a 32 inch waist. My jacket is a size 52 due to my long arms and broad shoulders.

As I hurtle down the highway, wind enters the front of the jacket, tumbles around my belly, and is pushed out the back. I was put off by this feeling at first, but during a particularly hot ride in South Carolina I was very grateful. It’s a weird experience, and also helps explain my overall summary of the jacket’s temperature regulation: I never felt cool wearing the Turbine, but I never felt hot, either.

Allow me to explain. My Teknic Chicane perforated leather jacket is very heavy. It’s made out of thick goathide. When I am at a standstill, I immediately start to sweat. However, when I take off, the venting on the jacket really goes to work and I feel cool. It’s like someone is pulling the heat right away from my body.

I have the opposite experience with the Turbine. I never get the “wow, this is really working” feeling like I did from the Chicane. However, this is partly due to the jacket keeping me from getting too hot in the first place. Instead of heating me up and then rapidly cooling me off, the Turbine keeps me in a middle state. Unfortunately I really hate the heat, and this middle state is still too hot for my liking. Is it better to be mildly uncomfortable the whole time, or really uncomfortable for some parts of the ride, and then comfy on others? In the spirit of protective gear you can live in, I believe the Rev’It philosophy is to be as consistent as possible. I never wanted to take the Turbine off, no matter how hot it got.

Speaking of temperature ranges, the Turbine does a pretty good job at being flexible. It was 45F in the morning and up to 89F in the afternoon here for about a week and a half. I put the Cayenne Pro’s waterproof liner underneath the Turbine and off I went. I’ve had the Turbine on in temperatures up to 92F not including humidity (which is pretty gnarly where I live). I expect to put the Turbine through its paces this summer. I’ve ridden in temperatures up to 120F adjusted for humidity with my Chicane perforated leather jacket, so the Turbine has some tall shoes to fill.

Accents and accoutrements
The Cayenne Pro and Turbine both share little nifty doodads that I didn’t know I wanted until I experienced them. For example, the multiple position adjustable collar snap and collar hook. I use the collar hook just about every time I wear the Turbine jacket, and at this point I would miss this if I bought a different jacket. It may not seem like much, but these types of touches add up to a superior jacket.

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The Rev’It Turbine’s multi-point collar adjustment snap.

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Collar hook. Super handy.

Another example are the zipper pulls. Other jackets I’ve owned, like my Teknic Chicane or Tourmaster Transition II, have pieces of material around the zipper to help you manipulate them with gloves on. The Turbine’s zipper pulls are rubberized with a squishy layer of material underneath. It has little to do with the “performance” of the jacket, but that’s Rev’It edges out other manufacturers. I know, intellectually, that the Rev’It gear is mass produced. However, these details make me feel like their gear was designed and built by true motorcyclists, and not a manufacturing efficiency expert that deduced that a nylon zipper pull would save the company $0.37 per jacket.

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The main zipper’s zipper pull.

Unfortunately, these accents are a double-edged sword. For example, the wrist hook-and-loop adjusters are mounted on a thin, coated strap. Yes, the strap has a nice tactile feel, but it isn’t as usable as if it had a rubberized tab at the end of the strap. I had a similar complaint about the Cayenne Pro jacket I own: with all of the other well considered details, is it difficult to grasp the wrist straps with gloves on?

I also dislike the jacket pockets. I am sure this is due to the design of the mesh on the front, but the pockets are straight up and down. This sucks for a few reasons. The orientation of the pockets makes it hard to put a gloved hand inside, especially while riding. The pockets are difficult to zip up with one hand. If you are off the bike it’s not a big deal — you can reach down with your off-hand and hold down the bottom of the jacket. However, it is sometimes hard to zip the pocket up when you’re on the bike, or carrying something with your off-hand. This is a huge usability design miss that sours my overall satisfaction with the jacket. I think a little more foresight into the pocket design would have gone a long way, especially for a jacket in this price range.

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My Teknic Speedstar gloves in a pocket traffic jam. Expect other sport-oriented gloves to have tight quarters inside the pockets.

I wish the Turbine had better adjustment straps for the torso. There is one on either side of the waist, but due to my physique I need another set right under my rib cage. I think this would interfere with the Turbine’s temperature control strategy, but more on that later. However, I haven’t worked out this hard and restricted my diet this much to look like a rectangle. Yes, the Turbine (along with Rev’It’s other gear) is “European cut” for the slimmer bodies overseas. However, I could use just a little more adjustment. I have really long monkey arms, and that puts me in a weird situation regarding jacket sizes. I also with Rev’It would make “tall” sized jackets, as they do for some of their pants.

My last dig on the Turbine is the lack of a way to attach the liners from the Cayenne Pro. Yes, the Turbine has big ass mesh panels in it and is not meant to be weather resistant. However, would it have killed Rev’It to put zippers and sleeve snaps on the inside of the Turbine? I can see not including the waterproof liner and insulated liner that come with the Cayenne Pro, but if we already own these things, why force us to rig a way to use them? I put the Cayenne Pro liner on, then the Turbine, then fish out the sleeves and stuff the extra liner material into the jacket so I can zip it up. If the jacket had mounting zippers and sleeve snaps, I wouldn’t have to do any of that crap.

It’s the little things that make this jacket great, and the little things that make me frustrated with it.

I’ve owned the Rev’It Turbine textile and mesh jacket for just over a month and I have logged about 2200 miles in it. I am glad I bought the jacket, but with a few more touches it could have been even better. At $400 for the jacket and SAS-TEC protector, my current setup is not cheap. But I feel that that the Turbine is the best compromise between comfort, safety, and fit.

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1 Comment on "Rev’It Turbine textile mesh summer motorcycle jacket review"

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  1. Katherine says:

    Hey
    That a really nice jacket thanks for the motivation with p9o.When I google reviews for p90 your posting came up and after reading I am truly motivated by your success with the program. thanks for posting any advice on any extra exercise you may have add I am looking forward to losing 40 pounds with in the next few months any advise would be highly appreciated