The new Rev'it Axis pants were announced in 2011 as a match for the Rev'it Energy HV (review) commuter jacket.
These lightweight pants have a clever and unique design, but they're missing a few important features, perhaps making them too much of a compromise.
See Part I: Rev'it Energy HV Jacket Review
The Rev'it Axis pants (or trousers as they're known in the Rev'it catalog) were announced with the Energy HV jacket as a paired solution for commuters and city riders.
I was introduced to the Axis pants during my visit to the Rev'it USA showroom at their headquarters in Red Hook (Brooklyn), New York in January of 2011.
The report from that visit was detailed in this article on the 2011 Rev'it clothing lineup.
The Axis pants were one of the last articles of clothing I viewed before leaving, so I didn't get a chance to give them a careful inspection at the time but I've been wearing them now for a few weeks, paired with the Energy HV jacket and a pair of Rev'it "Air Blend" boots (review) for evaluation.
If the Energy HV jacket represents a new avenue of design for Rev'it, then the Axis pants are a completely different freeway.
Well, that's a pretty bad analogy I suppose, but the Axis pants are unlike anything I've seen before from Rev'it. They are designed to be overpants, "purpose built to meet and exceed the demands of the daily commuter", according to the company.
The Axis pants are not claimed waterproof, just water resistant. They don't have a Hydratex liner, instead using a polyester lining permanently attached inside the pants.
The pants have a full length, two-way YKK Vislon (teeth) zipper on the outside of either leg, which allows the legs to be zipped up or down from the bottom of the cuff to the top of the waistband -- your preference.
While this makes it easy to put the pants on or take them off, it does take a bit of practice because there's so much material floating around it can be hard to grab and hold the right parts, especially up at the waist. Each person I've loaned the pants to seems to take a different approach, which is kind of funny to watch actually.
My advice is not to unzip the legs all the way. I found that unfastening the zipper up from the bottom along the leg to about the knee is all I need to stick my legs in and get going. The zipper pulls will not open all that way; that is, the zipper runner is designed to stop when the bottom one hits the cuff end or when the upper pull hits the end of the zipper at the waist.
These leg zippers are covered by a simple external flap that does not have hook-and-loop on the outside or inside of the pants. On the inside, in back of the zipper, a "water resistant" (according to Rev'it) flap is supposed to keep out the water, but when you put the pants on, you have to make sure the flap is indeed backing the zipper and not folded over the other way.
There's a small hook-and-loop strap at the bottom of the cuff to cover the zipper opening down there, but no dart or "V" has been sewn in to the pants, so there's not a lot of room to adjust the leg cuff tight (although I don't have much of a problem fitting it snugly around the Air Blend boots).
Besides the full-length zippers -- which are pretty easy to use, by the way -- the most unique feature of the Axis pants is the waist. I also think it's the least successful feature.
The pants are very roomy, as I suppose they should be for an overpant. They're almost too roomy, at least in the size large shown here, which fits more like an XL. They are definitely big enough to wear as an overpant but perhaps a size smaller would provide a better fit for me, even over street clothes.
The pants look too big on the model in the photos, and he usually takes a size XL (but he does fit into most of our size L garments for the photos). Note that he is wearing only a pair of shorts underneath, not jeans or khakis, so that may make a difference. But I have a 35" waist and the size large Axis pants feel too big for me, especially at the waist, even over jeans.
The waist of the Axis pants is tall, which isn't a problem in and of itself. It also has wide elastic sections built into the rear and sides at the waist for expansion and adjustment. For this size large, I'd say the fit is probably geared towards a 36" to 38" waist.
The waist has two snaps in the back, on either side, just around the back of the waist. These are slightly difficult to work because you have to reach around the back at that spot, which can be tough.
The front of the pants have one snap, located on a tab on the front section of the pants. So after you zip up the pants, you snap them closed at the side of the waist to one or the other of the snaps located in the rear. There are no other straps or hook-and-loop tabs or adjusters at the waist.
This is the biggest issue with the pants, in my opinion. The waist feels slightly oversize to begin with and the elastic is comfortable, but doesn't do much to keep the pants up, especially for anyone with a waist circumference at the bottom end of the size.
The strangest thing is that there is no attachment zipper on the Axis pants, while the Energy HV jacket does have one. So basically there is nothing to hold the Axis pants up or on the rider other than friction.
The pants do have belt loops, as you can see in the photos. Rev'it should have at least provided a webbed adjustable belt with the pants -- preferably a built-in webbed belt. You'll definitely need one.
Without a belt, I just don't feel safe enough wearing these pants because I feel like they'll be pulled off as soon as I take a tumble down the road. I don't have any data to prove that, just my feeling. Putting a brown leather belt on the pants looks kind of foolish but it is the only belt I have.
The Axis jeans have removable CE-approved Knox "Flexiform" knee armor, but like most (all) overpants in my experience, the fit is too loose for the armor to do any good, so I wouldn't count on it for protection. There is no other padding or armor in the pants and no adjustment that might help snug up the leg fit.
My benchmark for motorcycle overpants are the original Tourmaster overpants (review) I've been wearing for over 10 years (yes, the same pair!). That review was published back in 2002 and they are the only pair of overpants I've kept and worn through the years and, I'd have to say, one of my "must have" items of motorcycle clothing.
They're not the most protective in the world...but what overpants are? They're not fully waterproof and they're hot in the summer. But when I need to go somewhere -- summer or winter -- and get off the bike at the other end wearing decent street clothes, the Tourmaster pants are it.
In comparing them to the Rev'it Axis pants, I find the Tourmaster overpants to be just as easy to put on, even without the unique "clamshell" waist of the Axis pants.
The Tourmaster version also has full-length hook-and-loop on the flaps up the side to cover the zippers. They have a built-in webbed belt to cinch the waist tight and a longer closure strap at the cuffs to keep the legs closed tight around my boots.
The fabric used in the shell of the Tourmaster pants feels much thicker and heavier than the Axis pants, which gives me a better feeling of security, at least in terms of the potential for abrasion resistance. They do feel slightly oversized also, so maybe I'm too thin for them, even with street pants (I never thought I'd say that!).
The bottom line here is that the Axis pants don't offer a compelling enough reason to switch, so they won't be replacing the Tourmaster pants any time soon. Tourmaster has been making these pants, known simply as the "Tourmaster Overpants", for at least 12 years that I'm aware of, so they must be a pretty popular design.
I'd suggest to Rev'it that they need to re-think the waist design of the Axis pants by adding an attachment zipper for the Everest HV jacket; add a built-in webbed belt with adjustment and a big clip-lock buckle; and perhaps add a hook at the waist also. I'm actually not sure about the value of the "clamshell" waist; I think making it one piece and eliminating the snaps on either side at the rear would help both security and ingress and egress.
|The wBW Opinionator: Rev'it Axis Pants|
As much as I appreciate the effort that went into the design of the unique Axis pants, I'd have to say that they fall below my expectations in a couple of areas.
The inability to secure the waist in a reasonable fashion is definitely a problem gives me an insecure insecure when I'm wearing them; I just don't trust that the pants would stay on in a crash. They barely stay on as I'm walking out to the garage!
They're mildly water resistant, but you can see just by looking at the photos that other than some protection in a light rain, the Axis pants aren't going to do much to keep you dry, and that's an important factor if you're wearing them as intended, for commuting with street pants underneath.
Probably the most puzzling aspect is the absence of an attachment zipper for what was supposed to be the matching Energy HV jacket.
So the Energy HV jacket is the real winner here, and at this point I'd match it with a pair of Tourmaster overpants for decent commuting/city/touring protection. The Rev'it designers will probably faint when they read this, but hopefully it will act as a motivator for designing the Axis Pants, Version 2.0.
Part I: Rev'it Energy HV Jacket Review
wBW Product Review: REV'IT! Axis Pants
|Manufacturer: Rev'it||List Price: $139.99|
|Colors: Black.||Made In: Unknown|
|Sizes: S Short to 3XL Short. XS to 4XL. M Long to 2XL Long.||Star Rating (1-5):|
|Review Date: June 2011|
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From "M.H." (July 2011): "As a daily "two-wheel commuter" I read your review of the Rev-it overpant with great interest.
I ride 50 +/- miles every day, rain or shine, for nine months out of the year. The only reason I don't ride the other three months is because of the danger of one or more of the seven bridges being iced over (that's another story).
I'm always interested in new developments for riding suits, so your article quickly caught my eye. Your review is well written and spot on. You remind me that an investment in a quality riding suit is money well spent. Thanks for a great resource.
I remember how poorly educated I was when I began looking for a good commute suit. I started with the concept of spending the fewest dollars to get a jacket and pant that would keep my work clothing from being soiled during the commute. Waterproofing was high on my list, as was visibility. Any padding that the suit offered would be a bonus.
My first suit was a Joe Rocket mesh jacket and pant. The suit was advertised as water resistant and offered some padding. The local dealer was helpful and offered that she and her husband used the very same suit. I was sorely disappointed. The pant was so ill-fitting that I eventually did not wear them.
I resorted to an old pair of leather chaps to go over my business attire. The jacket did not fit well either. Although it did offer some Velcro bands for adjusting the fit around the arms and waist, the fabric was so light that the jacket would not offer much protection in the event of a crash. The bright red jacket was not as visible as I desired.
The final lesson in my education came with the first summer "shower". Approximately 3/4" of rain fell in about 30 minutes. I was in mid-commute. I guess I have a different opinion of what constitutes "water resistant". I poured water out of my boots when I got home. Every stitch of clothing was soaked through. The jacket held on to the water like a sponge; there was very little evaporative drying when I cleared the storm.
Several years ago I applied my newly-acquired education and began looking for a proper riding suit. Fit and comfort were at the top of the list (if you don't wear it, it's not working). Multiple layers for warmth and water resistance were important factors. Quality armor ranked high as did the weight and composition of the fabric.
My choice narrowed down to an Aerostich product and a Cycle Port product. After speaking with representatives from both companies I decided to invest the $1,000+ for a Cycle Port Kevlar Air II two-piece suit. It's best "accessory" I have purchased for my bike.
Cycle Port provided detailed instructions for making the measurements at home and faxing them to the factory. When the factory received my measurements someone called me to review and confirm my order (note: that "someone" was the president, Wayne Boyer).
Cycle Port promised a six week delivery date. If I recall correctly, I received my suit in about three weeks. I can't begin to describe the benefits and comfort offered by a custom-fit suit. The fit is amazing. There's no binding and the jacket is "pre-bent" to reduce fatigue in the arms/shoulders. The quality of the suit is outstanding.
I'm starting my fourth year with the suit and it still looks and feels new. Zippers, snaps, buckles, seams, stretch materials and Velcro are still in great shape. The high-visibility yellow/green color appears to glow at all times. The fabric is a coarse Kevlar blend that breaths well, turns water, and looks and feels tough. The only maintenance I perform is the occasional washing (per label instructions) and the application of a water-proofing agent recommended by the manufacturer.
The suit has been worn in temperatures down to 19 degrees F and in stop-and-go commute traffic in 100+ degree F temperatures. Only the strongest rains have managed to get through the suit, and then it's very little. The suit is easy to put on and can be donned in less than a minute after a bit of practice. The suit added very little (if any) discomfort to the conditions.
While I do not ride recklessly I can tell you that I have a great deal of confidence in the suit's ability to protect me in a crash. I hope I never have to find out if that trust is misplaced.
Yes, $1,000+ is a lot of money to invest in riding gear. And I certainly understand that not everyone can make that kind of investment. But, for those who can make the investment, it really is worth strong consideration. After all, $1,000 is cheap when compared to skin grafts. Thanks again for an excellent resource."
From "B.Z." (06/2011): "My weird question is this. I noticed the lack of a zipper for to go to the bathroom on the fly, is this an expectation to open both side zippers and peel down the front. Was this a lost afterthought or on purpose? Seems to me to be a necessity IMHO.
I have a 12+ year old pair of Mountain Hard Wear Gore Windstopper pants that I wear as an underlayer in the cold that go on in a similar fashion, and still have a fly zipper front and center for going to the bathroom or whatever."
Rick's Reply: Not such a weird question actually. BTW, I can understand the need for a zipper in case of a bathroom break but not sure about the "whatever"?!