the so-called “good old days”, when motorcycle riding gear meant a pair of jeans, work boots, some old leather work gloves and a plastic helmet?
When the latest thing in “cool” was an old Air Force or Police surplus leather jacket? Yep, the good old days… We had two strikes against us, I guess. First, we were probably too dumb to know any better. Second, the choices just didn’t exist.
Well, guess what? These are the “good old days”! There’s just no excuse to ride without proper gear any more, because there are literally thousands of choices of high-quality gear in price ranges that can fit any budget.
If you can afford to purchase, insure and maintain a motorcycle, you can afford to wear proper riding gear. In a certain sense, there really aren’t any poor quality products any more – one of the benefits of global competition. Consumers expect nothing less than the best, and the market responds in a Darwinian fashion, where only the best products survive.
Which brings us to the Tourmaster GX jacket and pants combo.
Sure, you can spend more money – maybe a lot more. And maybe you’ll get something extra – better protection? more armor? status?
But I think Tourmaster has hit a market niche with these products. This is a nice, high quality set of riding gear at a reasonable price. This suit can easily serve as a year ’round riding setup for a large percentage of motorcyclists – beginners or old-timers – or anyone who just doesn’t want to spend a fortune on a set of motorcycle riding apparel but understands the importance of wearing specially designed clothing.
The Tourmaster GX Jacket
Somebody at Tourmaster really thought through what would be needed in an every-day riding suit. The GX jacket and pants are modeled after many of the leather two-piece suits on the market, but manufacturing them out of nylon material makes them much less expensive to manufacture and easier to maintain.
There are pros and cons regarding the use of nylon as a protective material, but note that the GX is made from nylon that Tourmaster claims is abrasion-resistant; it’s a combination of 800 denier and 1680 denier “Ballistic” nylon. That’s fairly heavy stuff – other comparable jackets use 500 to 1,000 denier.
The jacket includes many nice features. Many motorcycling jackets have shallow pockets, for some reason. While I’m not a fan of keeping a ton of gear in my pockets when I’m riding (not a good idea to have a hard or sharp object in your pocket if you do fall), it’s nice to have a deep pocket or two that will hold my sunglass case, earplugs or maybe a snack.
This is especially important if you don’t have any on-bike storage, like my Triumph Thunderbird Sport. I love the bike, but there is literally zero space for even a granola bar!
Tourmaster claims that the GX jacket has “5-Step sealed seams and polyurethane-backed nylon materials” to provide water resistance. I don’t think they make any claim that the jacket is waterproof, but it will probably keep you dry in anything other than a downpour. I don’t care for “waterproof” jackets anyway; “waterproof” usually equates to “sweatbox”, no matter what the claims are for “breathability” of the fabric. Since most riding is done in the dry, and much of it is done in the summer, you’re probably much better off with a jacket that allows some air through to get real breathability.
The GX jacket has two deep slit pockets (white arrows, photo above) and a “hidden” wallet pocket in the seam of the left breast flap. The jacket also includes two zippered air vents on the upper chest area, and one each on the front of the sleeves (yellow arrows, photo above).
While I didn’t get a chance to really test the GX’s warm-weather comfort, I’ll note that I haven’t found the zippered type of air vents to work all that well, as there usually isn’t much to hold the vent open far enough to let the air through. So we’ll have to wait for warmer weather (soon, I hope!) to check out the GX jacket’s venting and air flow.
Let’s see – there are so many features on the GX jacket, I hope I didn’t miss any: The collar is lined with some soft, felt-like material to help keep your neck comfortable; the jacket has Velcro closures on the neck and at the bottom of the zipper near the waist to help keep the jacket closed and the arms have Velcro closures that allow you to snug up the circumference of the material on the arms to keep them from flapping in the wind.Another neat feature is that all of the zippers are quality YKK brand, and they all have large rubberized zipper pulls, which makes it easy to grab the zipper while protecting your bike’s paint from scratches. Last, but not least, the jacket has two flexible waist sections that help make it fit more comfortably and expand when you’ve eaten too much pasta. There are also two adjustable waist flaps that allow you to adjust the fit of the jacket along the bottom. Whew!
Note that the jacket also has a full-width zippered opening across the back; actually, it’s controlled by two zippers, but the vents open pretty much across the whole back of the jacket. The zippers are protected from rain by the full-width flap (yellow arrow, photo left).
Another neat feature is the full-width lower pocket in the back of the jacket. It’s accessible from either side by the zippered closure (white arrow, photo left). The zippers open to about 6″ wide, and the pocket inside is about 10″ in height and about 17″ across, so you can keep something fairly substantial in there.
Again, I caution against storing anything hard in your pockets. Think about how much damage a cell phone, for example, could do to your ribs or kidneys if you were slammed down on your back! But you can easily store the GX jacket’s quilted liner in the back pocket, or maybe an extra pair of gloves, a fleece vest or rain cover.
The GX jacket also has a nice, long tail that covers your lower back. There’s a short (8″) length of zipper (#8 YKK zipper) inside the lower part of the jacket that allows you to attach the jacket to the GX pants. This will help keep the jacket from riding up on your back in case of a slide.
The jacket has a light mesh nylon/polyester liner which should keep the nylon outer shell away from your skin and shouldn’t inhibit any air that does get through the vents from flowing around and out the back. It’s a very light mesh with many “holes”, so it should provide good airflow.
The GX comes with a quilted liner that I currently have inserted in the jacket. The liner easily zips in or out and it has arm cuffs that snap into the jacket’s arms to keep it in place. The liner uses 150 gram 3M Thinsulate™ in the body and 100 gram 3M Thinsulate™ in the sleeves. I’ve been out in temperatures in the lower 40’s (F) with only the GX outfit and the Biker’s Comfort in Action thermal/windproof underwear on (see the wBW Review of the Biker’s Comfort in Action underwear) and believe it or not, I was fine.
I wouldn’t say I was toasty warm, but I was surprised at how well the products worked together with so little bulk. The only nod to traditional winter clothing was the GX’s liner, and it worked fine. By the way, the jacket’s sleeves have an external zipper backed by a flap that open up about 4″ high from the cuff to allow ease of entry and exit.
The GX jacket (and pants) use medium-weight soft armor; Tourmaster claims that the armor is triple-density. The jacket has pre-curved armor in the elbows, forearm, shoulders and the back. There are several decorative areas of padding along the top of the chest and the lower back (the silver patches in both photos above). There is a difference between various types of armor (e.g., CE-approved, hard armor, triple-density, etc.), but I haven’t personally tested each type. Sorry folks, but we’re not about to crash test armor, but let’s face it – any armor is probably better than no armor.
And the armor in the GX is comfortable and doesn’t get in the way when you’re in a riding position. That’s more important than you may think; if a jacket isn’t worn because it’s uncomfortable, a rider may go without the protection that the jacket provides. That goes for helmets, gloves, boots and any other type of protective gear also.
Let’s see – there are so many features on the GX jacket, I hope I didn’t miss any: The collar is lined with some soft, felt-like material to help keep your neck comfortable; the jacket has Velcro closures on the neck and at the bottom of the zipper near the waist to help keep the jacket closed and the arms have Velcro closures that allow you to snug up the circumference of the material on the arms to keep them from flapping in the wind.
Another neat feature is that all of the zippers are quality YKK brand, and they all have large rubberized zipper pulls, which makes it easy to grab the zipper while protecting your bike’s paint from scratches. Last, but not least, the jacket has two flexible waist sections that help make it fit more comfortably and expand when you’ve eaten too much pasta. There are also two adjustable waist flaps that allow you to adjust the fit of the jacket along the bottom. Whew!
Tourmaster Cortech GX Pants
The matching GX pants are probably the most comfortable motorcycle pants I’ve ever worn. I think this is due to the almost full-width elastic top (between the yellow arrows, photo left). This allows the pants to fit snugly at the waist, but they expand as you breathe, move and ride. The pants are meant to be worn alone, not as overpants.
The elastic is also a full 3″ wide, which helps make the pants feel so comfortable. I noticed the comfort as soon as I put them on for the first time. Other motorcycle pants that I own or have tried have non-flexible waists.
They either fit or they don’t, and I run into a problem when the pants won’t fit my, uh, ever expanding waistline, yet the legs and the length are correct. I have a pair of leather pants I have to really squeeze in to, and they don’t move with me when I ride, and that can be uncomfortable.
The GX pants are manufactured from abrasion-resistant 800-900 denier nylon, and have 1680 denier ” Ballistic” nylon panels in the wear areas. They also have triple-density knee and shin armor that covers an area of about 13″ from the knee down. The hip area also carries some dual-density soft armor. All of the armor is removable via Velcro closures.
There are Keprotec® stretch panels all over the place: in the calf area; in the area near the intersection of the knee and the thigh; in the front and in back of each knee; in the crotch; and under the elastic in the rear (between the white arrows) which also adds some comfort.
The pants have two zippered pockets, one on each side. The zippers have the same rubberized pulls as the GX jacket to help prevent scratches. The pockets are nice and deep, with a 5″ opening and going about 10″ deep.
The fly has a protective flap in front and back of the zipper; there’s also a Velcro closure and two snap buttons at the top to hold everything closed. Finally, the GX pants have a 13″ zippered opening at the bottom of the leg to make it easier to get the pants on or off over boots.
By the way, the GX jacket and pants are also available in the “GX Air” style. The “Air” material is a full mesh fabric that would probably be good if you live in the Southern U.S.A. or other climate where most of your riding is done in very warm weather. The liner is optional with the Air version of the GX jacket.
The Tourmaster GX jacket and pants make a great, fairly inexpensive, almost year-round riding outfit. They provide decent protection, very nice styling and good comfort. We’ll do a follow-up when the weather gets warmer, but in the meantime, I can see this outfit will get a lot of use!
UPDATE: After wearing the GX combo through some cold winter months and now into the spring, I’ve realized that the GX outfit has become one of my favorite sets of riding apparel. Granted, the pants offer fairly minimal protection because of the relatively thin fabric and padding. But that’s offset by the comfort of this outfit (especially the pants), and the very wide range of temperatures through which you can wear it and still feel comfortable.
With something like the Biker’s Comfort windproof underwear underneath, I’ve been comfortable down to the high 40’s (F). It’s now spring, and with the jacket’s liner removed, I’m still comfortable up to the mid 70’s. The two chest vents and arm vents really do seem to work well; even in the mid 70’s, I wear a cotton turtleneck underneath and I’m still a bit cool. We’ll see how high the temperature can go while still feeling comfortable in the jacket.
The pants can make you feel a bit sticky once the temperatures start to climb. This is more of a matter of the cut of the pants (they’re cut a bit like a pair of jeans) and the nylon liner, which lays close to my skin and ends up sticking to it as you perspire.
These would be a good set of pants to try with some type of summer under-leather underwear pants that are designed to absorb moisture. Note also that I don’t think you could wear the GX pants as overpants — they’re cut a bit too tight for that. The ankles are also designed to fit inside riding boots, not over them.
A couple more things to note: both the jacket and the pants fit rather snugly, so my guess is that if you’re at the large end of a size range, you may have a bit of trouble finding a comfortable fit. The jacket is snug, especially with the liner, so if you normally take, for example, a size large, but you have a larger stomach, chest or arms, you may find the size large jacket will be a snug fit. Just something to keep in mind when shopping..
Suggested Retail Price: Jacket $299.99; Pants $219.99. Also available as the GX Air Jacket $179.99; GX Air Pants $169.99
Colors: Red/Black, Yellow/Black, Blue/Black, Grey/Black, Black/Black; all with accents shown.
Product Comments: Very comfortable, especially the pants; lots of nice features on jacket and pants; jacket/pants combination work nicely together as a suit; deep pockets; nice styling. Pants probably don’t offer the same protection as thicker Cordura or leather, but they are comfortable, especially in the waist. Soft armor only.