Tour Master Cortech GX Jacket Review

Kevin Duke | November 16, 2004
The Cortech GX jacket has zippers over the bicep and chest areas that can be opened for ventilation in hot weather. Rubberized pull tabs are a nice touch.
The Cortech GX jacket has zippers over the bicep and chest areas that can be opened for ventilation in hot weather. Rubberized pull tabs are a nice touch.

Back when some of us began riding, our gear came from Levi’s and Wrangler, not Dainese or Alpinestars, and there’s still many today who start off that way. It wasn’t so much riding gear as gear you wore when you were riding. But then you get caught in a rainstorm or two, or on a frigid night. Or, worse, have an accident. And then you begin to realize that denim isn’t the ideal choice of riding gear.

So you begin your search, but aren’t quite ready to drop a grand on a set of Kushitanis or an Aerostich Roadcrafter. Something sporty but not geeky, something protective yet comfortable. And something of quality – without the high price.

The hammer hitting the nail on that head is Tour Master’s Cortech GX line. The GX jacket is made of abrasion-resistant 800-denier nylon, with likely impact areas shod with higher-strength 1680-denier ballistic nylon. It retails for a reasonable $224.99. The $219.99 GX pant contains the same stuff as the jacket, adding up to an all-purpose, neck-to-ankle outfit for less than 450 clams.

Slipping on the lightweight jacket, you can feel the triple-density, pre-curved padding on elbows and shoulders. There’s even a neck-to-tailbone strip of the padding located over the spine that, on the lower end, spans to the kidney area, tapering off to about 6 inches wide near the neck. The closed-cell foam padding might not offer the extended protection

Tour Master s Cortech GX jacket and pants are an affordable  good-looking way to add comfort and protection to your ride.
Tour Master’s Cortech GX jacket and pants are an affordable, good-looking way to add comfort and protection to your ride.

of hard plastic armor, but it is far more pliable and comfortable, hence, more likely to be worn. Velcro straps on the cuffs and forearms makes for a nicely snug fit so the pre-curved arms don’t flap in the wind, and the GX’s elasticized waist can be fine-tuned by two Velcro-adjustable belts

There are no less than 14 zippers in the GX jacket, but there’re just two pockets; eight zippers are to allow cooling air into the nylon/polyester mesh interior liner. Despite all those openings, the GX doesn’t flow abundant air and isn’t particularly suited for hot-weather duty; Cortech’s GX Air gear would be a much better choice in warm climates.

And the two side pockets the jacket has aren’t very well designed. Hand entry is made awkward by their high location and narrow opening, resulting in the zippers scraping against knuckles when going for your keys. Just two pockets are several too few, in our opinion, and we might’ve expected an interior breast pocket – even my Alpinestars race leathers have those.

If you ride in cold climates, you’ll want to invest in the optional jacket liner. Made of 150-gram Thinsulate in the body and 100-gram 3M stuff in the arms, the $50 option can be zipped out when it warms up. Snap-in cuffs ensure the liner stays where it’s supposed to. The jacket’s cold-weather performance is downgraded by the sporty-but-short collar that lets too much wind hit exposed skin, and by the thinner liner in the sleeves that allows wind to pass through the sleeves. Also, the collar is lacking a comfy neck liner, so delicate necks can chafe. Cold-weather riders might want to buy the jacket one size bigger to leave room for high-necked insulating undergarments.

Although the GX isn’t ideal when temperatures are at the extreme ends of their range, it has a trick up its sleeves when i

Some of the protective elements of the GX jacket can be seen in this shot. Four zippered areas on the back are only moderately effective at allowing cooling air to flow through the jacket.
Some of the protective elements of the GX jacket can be seen in this shot. Four zippered areas on the back are only moderately effective at allowing cooling air to flow through the jacket.

t comes to that other element that can make for uncomfortable rides: rain.

The jacket’s shell is backed with polyurethane nylon for resistance to water, and all its seams are sealed with a five-step process. YKK zippers for the hand pockets, chest vents and sleeve vents are waterproof, while the two zippers on the upper back have a protective rain flap. Rubberized zipper pull tabs give fingers a sure grip even when wet, and a reflective Scotchlite panel at the back of the neck provides conspicuity in low-lighting situations. Although rain is as rare in SoCal as natural hair color, we did get sprinkled on a couple of times, and the GX kept us dry.

A dry torso with wet legs wouldn’t do, so we also sampled the matching Cortech GX pants that can zip to the rear of the jacket for added security in a spill. A rubber liner runs the circumference of the inner waistband to help prevent the pants from moving under you, and the wide elastic waist acts like a baby kidney belt.

The pants don’t bunch up when in the riding position thanks to pre-curved knees. Stretch panels made of Keprotec are located in the waist, crotch, knees and calf areas for comfort and an adaptive fit that isn’t bulky. The removable foam padding in the pants is relatively sparse, protecting only the knees and hips, but they offer several magnitudes greater protection than a pair of jeans.

The liner is a smooth nylon rather than the slightly scratchy mesh liner in the jacket, which we appreciated. But only until it got hot, when a rider’s perspiration from bare legs will leave them sticky. I preferred to wear a thin pair of long underwear under the pants.

The Cortech GX pants  seen here with a Cortech Lite jacket  are quite versatile  keeping us dry even when dual-sporting through creeks.
The Cortech GX pants (seen here with a Cortech Lite jacket) are quite versatile, keeping us dry even when dual-sporting through creeks.

Like the jacket, the GX pants have waterproof pocket zippers, and like the jacket, the openings are a tad too small to get a hand comfortably inside without a zipper graze. Velcro-secured double flaps on the main zipper keeps water away from this sensitive area. The zippered cuff openings are nice and large, and we appreciated the tidy, snug fit around the calf area that tuck into boots without bulk. They are, however, too narrow to fit over a heavily armored road-race-style boot, if that’s the look you go for.

Overall, we’re fairly pleased with the Cortech GX line. While it’s not the most protective gear we’ve ever worn, it was never meant to be. Instead, it’s a logical step upward into an affordable suit of real motorcycle gear. It can make your time in the saddle more comfortable, make you look more professional and, most of all, provide some body protection when you really need it.

Highs & Lows
Highs
  • Reasonable prices
  • Good looks
  • Rain ready
Lows
  • Not so hot when cold
  • Not so cool when hot
  • Pocket deficiency

After all, riders never choose where or when they have an accident.

The Cortech GX apparel is available in men’s and women’s sizes. The GX jacket comes in five colors: blue, yellow, red, grey, black. The pants only come in the color shown in the evaluation.

Kevin Duke

Contributing Editor|Articles | Bashing
A legend in the motorcycle industry, Duke Danger is known for his wheelie riding antics, excellent writing skills, appetite for press intro dinners and a propensity to wake up late. Once a fearless member of the MotoUSA team, the Canadian kid is often missed but never forgotten.