Recent attempts by various manufacturers of motorcycle apparel to build "systems" adaptable to a wide range of riding styles and conditions usually result in the Gore Tex and Cordura equivalent of a pocket multi-tool, i.e., better than nothing in a pinch but not much good for anything serious. I have worn, tested and reviewed my fair share of motorcycle apparel and heretofore, in my experience, this inverse relationship between versatility and performance has held almost universally true. Fortunately, the Acerbis Matrix Touring Jacket and Pant combo represents a leap forward in the versatility vs. performance conundrum. Aside from a few nits, this combo is pretty slick. It's the equivalent of a multi-tool suitable for performing open-heart surgery.According to Acerbis' advertising, the Matrix Touring Jacket + Matrix Air pant combo is the most advanced set of touring togs on the market. After testing the Matrix system, I'm willing to second that opinion. It's extremely well built, with beefy armor (in the jacket anyway), fits well, is comfortable, abounds in useful features, and is absolutely the most versatile combo I know of. Although not quite as well suited for winter motorcycle travel in the Arctic as the Alpinstars Recon Jacket + Jet Road pant combo that we reviewed back in January, the Matrix setup is close, and it is much better suited for a wide range of conditions. This jacket would be equally at home lane splitting up the 405 in LA as it would dual sporting in cold, rainy British Columbia. Of course, since we have to get all of our priorities lined up, it is stylish to the max, so you won't be embarrassed at Starbucks.
The Matrix jacket is constructed of Cordura 500D fabric, with a nylon liner and mesh drains at the bottom. There are two removable liners. The moisture barrier liner is an Everdry waterproof/breathable membrane that zips out. The insulating liner also zips out and is built with an aluminum-backed fabric that is warmer than a bear hug from a menopausal aunt.The jacket is double-stitched everywhere that matters and all zippers and fasteners are beefy, work well with gloves and function smoothly (an that's a good thing, since there are a zillion zippers on this suit). The CE certified armor found in the shoulders, elbows and back of the jacket is removable. There are adjustable front and rear openings for internal ventilation, a waterproof inside pocket, and four outside pockets with rainproof flaps. The sleeves are precurved with zipper, Velcro and snap adjustments to the cuffs and a web system to adjust sleeve volume. Torso fit is adjustable via a Velcro waist belt. The front flap of the jacket closes with a zipper, buttons and a Velcro strip and is about as wind tight as they come. The Matrix is very light and moves well with the rider's torso.
The Matrix is truly an all-season touring jacket. It may be worn in the winter, with the inner membrane and liner making it extremely warm and water resistant as breathable jackets come (I've said it before and it bears mentioning again, there is no such thing as a completely waterproof and breathable jacket). In climates like Idaho's, where cold-but-dry conditions are common much of the year, the Matrix could be worn with only the insulating liner for comfort, with almost no extra weight or bulk. In the summer, with the liners removed, the Matrix outer shell makes a dynamite lightweight jacket, which is nearly as comfortable as my Joe Rocket Phoenix in hot weather duty.
The Matrix Air pant is similarly constructed with Cordura 500D fabric, a non-removable Everdry breathable membrane and a conventional removable insulating liner.
Page 2Without the liner, the pant is comfortable during warmer temperatures in spite of their black color. CE removable armor is found in the knees and there is some additional rear padding for comfort. There are two upper pockets and two lower side pockets with secure closures and ample volume. Waist adjustment is performed by a belt, with what appears to be a Delrin or nylon buckle. The lower legs have rear zippers covered by a reflective flap for donning the pants over boots and have an internal vent for the best volume adjustment. Fit is good, with pre-curved knees, ample length and ample volume for each size range.
Nits - just a few. Color selection in the Matrix Jacket is limited to two colors: Black and Sandstone/Black. I chose the latter because I suspected that it would enhance the versatility of the jacket for warm weather riding and I strongly suspect that I was right. The pants are only available in black, which isn't that uncommon. However, they are a little light in the armor department. They are also made of the slipperiest Cordura fabric on the planet, which you will want to take into account when demonstrating rolling stoppies for your touring buds. The Velcro on the jacket front flap is so stiff that it makes getting the snap fasteners lined up and buttoned down more problematic than it ought to be. The Acerbis logos found throughout these garments are cool, cool, cool, and the jacket hangs well from the torso. The only fly in the ointment is the back panel of the jacket, which is emblazoned with an oddly cheesy diamond design that mucks up the visual flow so badly that I'm already thinking of ways to cover it up.I like the Matrix jacket/pant combo a lot and plan to keep it. Quality, versatility, comfort and great technology, what's not to like? I have used the Matrix extensively for the past four months in a variety of on and off-road environments and it has rapidly become my favorite suit for sport touring and off road riding. I have developed great deal of confidence in the Matrix system. I have so much confidence in fact, that I recently used the Matrix for a solo 370-mile off-road ride in extreme conditions, ranging from desert heat to rain to 6" of snow and a blizzard over mountain passes. The Matrix system proved itself to be bulletproof and I wouldn't even consider wearing anything else. This is one item of apparel that simply will not let you down in any conditions that I can imagine -and I have a broad imagination-.
The Acerbis Matrix Jacket and Matrix Air Pant are available in the USA exclusively from Those of you out there who race or participate in track days, will most likely be equipped with a one-piece leather suit and will thus be painfully aware of the difficulty in pulling a properly fitted set of leathers over a sweaty tee-shirt and cycling shorts. Many racers wear a slippery layer of lycra/spandex next to their skin just to lower the risk of having an overzealous pit crewmember separate their shoulder during the leather donning process. The problem with most lycra/spandex blends is that they don't breathe particularly well when worn under leathers, so a lot of moisture is trapped between them and your skin. Not only is this uncomfortable, but things can get pretty rank in a hurry. Clearly, this is a situation which has been waiting for a technical innovation. An answer is Under Armour.
UNDER ARMOUR manufacturers an entire line of performance undergarments for sport. If you are into sport, UNDER ARMOUR has something to increase comfort in whatever your milieu. I recently purchased a Turfgear long sleeve Turf Shirt and heatgear leggings and I am very happy with both items. The heatgear leggings have a moisture transport system that is amazingly effective at wicking moisture away from the skin, when worn under a set of touring pants. This is a very useful thing, since most touring pants are a bit clammy for summer use. TheTurfgear long sleeve Turf Shirt has the same moisture transport system and is comfort incarnate, when worn under leathers in the summertime. Until someone invents an air conditioner for motorcycle jackets these garments are probably going to be the best alternative.
UNDER ARMOUR garments are designed to fit like a second skin. Looking at them on the rack in a store, you'd swear that you've wandered into the kids section, because they look tiny. They stretch to fit very comfortably however, and the length of both the sleeves and the legs was more than adequate for my 36" inseam and 35" sleeve.
I'd even recommend UNDER ARMOUR for casual riding, because the garments are quite comfortable and breathe very well under a motorcycle jacket. The entire range of UNDER ARMOUR garments is available directly through the http://www.underarmour.com/ website, or more immediately through most sporting good stores across the USA. Pricing is extremely reasonable for most items of interest to motorcyclists and I highly recommend that you check them out.