Poor weather is one of a motorcyclist’s worst enemies. Many of us simply shut down and retreat to our cages when the rain and snow start to fall, but others continue to ride on. The key is having the right type of riding apparel to minimize the effects and maximize comfort and safety. We spent fall and early winter logging soggy miles in a set of waterproof touring gear from Richa. This Belgian gear manufacturer is imported stateside by Vega Helmet.
Richa Spirit Jacket
This gear is designed for crap weather. Period. The Spirit jacket is windproof and waterproof. There are no vents. Richa uses “c_change” technology in order to compensate for a lack of airflow. Hypothetically it acts like a pinecone, with small pores opening as temperatures climb, letting out heat and moisture, and contracting as it cools, keeping in body heat. It’s a climate-sensitive membrane that is heat-welded to the Dynatec exterior fabric throughout the entire jacket and pant. The jacket is more comfortable than I expected in mild-to-warm temps, considering, but c_change is no replacement for nice, wide vents with waterproof zippers – call me old-fashioned. I also tried it for some light dual sporting and the extra exertion of riding off-road quickly overheats the rider. The c_change seems most effective on both jacket and pant when the additional liners are not installed.
The Richa Spirit jacket has plenty of storage for touring needs and it’s great in cold, wet weather.
A lack of vents adds to the waterproofing, which is excellent, but I’d take the chance on some minor wet spots. At minimum, a large exhaust vent on the back would be a welcome compromise. Richa describes this jacket as a “4-season riding piece,” but I will not wear it in warmer months, and that makes the $700 pricetag questionable for me. For someone living where it rains all the time, it’ll be awesome.
The jacket is available in fluorescent, black or gray. Reflex reflective patches on the arms and back increase visibility, which Richa claims to be up to 300 yards. There are four pockets on the front, each with a storm flap, Velcro closure and a snap. The lower pair are very large and easily hold bulkier items like a camera, stocking hat, etc. It also has a large pocket on the rear and an interior pocket for stashing valuables. CE-approved protection is located in the elbows, shoulders and back. Tailoring the fit is possible with dual cinch straps on the waist as well as the upper arms and forearms. I did notice that the neck opening is fairly large, which allows air to get down the neck. However, it’s padded for comfort and has a nice magnetic closure tab.
With the Spirit Softshell Jacket underneath, the combination kept me warm in temperatures that dipped into the 20s. I really appreciated that the softshell is easily removable and designed to be worn on its own as a casual jacket, which I regularly do. Extra-cold wind makes it easy to feel out any leaky spots, and the Spirit doesn’t have any. It does pass a little bit through the inside of the arm, which is constructed of a different material than the majority of the jacket body.
Top: The Spirit pants are tapered and must be worn inside the riding boots. Above: A long tail section on the jacket and suspender system on the pants make sure water and wind don’t slip inside.
Like the jacket, the Spirit pants are constructed of Nanosphere-treated Dynatec fabric which does a great job of deflecting water and staying clean – mud wipes right off. A polyester mesh lining makes them comfortable to slip into and a removable quilted liner snugs things up and protects against the cold. The pants are very secure against the elements. CE-approved knee armor cuts the wind while providing crash protection. It also comes with hip pads. All of the armor is well-placed when in the riding position.
The Spirit has two front pockets and a Velcro cinch belt. I found the waist sizing to be accurate. These slender pants are fairly tight-fitting and not designed to be worn over jeans. Tapered legs mean they are best worn inside of boots. I would prefer if they were larger at the bottom to allow boots underneath. These are excellent pants in hard rain, but having the cuffs tucked inside allows water to run directly into the boot which defeats the purpose.
My favorite feature is the removable suspenders. The elastic straps are unnoticeable while riding and keep the pants up high. The suspenders attach at the rear via a zipper, which can also be used to attach directly to the Spirit jacket if preferred. At $580 these are another pricy piece of gear. I was happy to find that the c_change technology is a better application on the pant, where a lack of vents is less of an issue.
There is a two-year manufacturer’s warranty on components and workmanship. This also includes the waterproofing – a nice feature. I never washed the jacket, (thanks to the incredibly clean Nanosphere treatment) which can often have adverse effects on water resistance if not done correctly. Richa Spirit gear is not for the faint of heart. It’s heavy-duty wear designed for crappy riding conditions and is best suited to colder regions. It’s also very expensive, but when riding in freezing rain, money seems like the least of your worries. It’s money well spent when you’re snug and happy. But cold and miserable, you’ll be kicking yourself for not buying the right stuff. This is a worthy option, especially if you already have a set of summer gear.