In the world of premium protective gear, it’s easy to look toward Italy and brands like Dainese and Alpinestars. With a rich racing pedigree and a large presence in the States, the two have stamped out an exclusive corner of the market when it comes to ultimate protection on two wheels.
However, to discount Japan and brands like RS Taichi would be a big mistake. The brand has secured an exclusive distribution deal with Dallas retailer Moto Liberty, and have signed former AMA Superbike champ Josh Hayes, and re-signed none other than 1993 MotoGP (then 500cc) World Champion Kevin Schwantz to wear its leathers.
For less-worthy moto-journos, like yours truly, Taichi sent its flagship leather sport jacket, the RSJ825 GMX-Motion jacket, for a thorough evaluation. In short, I’m impressed. Here’s why:
The leather construction looks and feels top-notch. The sturdy metal zippers open and close smoothly, without any snags, and are easy to manipulate even with gloved hands. The full-length “windstopper” inner liner is soft to the touch and fits the contours of the jacket perfectly. With one exception (which I’ll get to later), nothing about this jacket hints at being cheap. And at $569.95, you’d expect as much.
As for protection, the elbows and shoulders get removable and adjustable CE certified hard armor, while the back utilizes soft armor, also CE certified. It should be noted that the back pad can be removed and replaced with other CE certified hard armor (sold separately). T-Air plastic caps rest on the shoulders and serve two purposes. In normal riding, they provide ventilation, while in a crash they promote sliding rather than grabbing. Other jackets and full leathers without these plastic or metal caps have a greater chance at catching on the pavement and possibly promoting a tumble instead of a slide.
Other finer details include: accordion paneling on the shoulder and elbows, an aerodynamic speed hump on the back, moisture-wicking mesh lining, waist adjustment straps and a full-circumference waist zipper to connect the jacket to Taichi pants. An internal pocket complements the two external pockets, and all three are large enough to fit small items like keys, wallets or phones.
With the jacket on, the impression of quality continues. Being a sport jacket, the fit is on the tighter side. This was especially true when I received the jacket, but after a few miles it broke in nicely. The pre-curved sleeves and close-fitting chest section feels just right in the riding position, and the adjustable waist straps help the GMX fit a wide variety of body types. Movement isn’t restricted thanks to the accordion panels.
With the liner removed I could feel a decent amount of airflow in the arms. Airflow to the chest and shoulders (from the T-Air caps), however, was negligible. The liner works as advertised and blocks air from reaching your skin, but don’t count on it to provide any warmth. Despite the tight fit, there’s still some room to wear a few light layers underneath, making the GMX a good candidate for three-season riding. On the flip side, the GMX ain’t keeping you cool in a Phoenix summer… but then again, nothing else will either.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the GMX-Motion jacket. My only gripe comes from the three small buttons used to secure each sleeve of the liner to the jacket. They are slightly difficult to get a firm grip of, and my first attempt to unfasten one of the buttons by flicking my thumb underneath the snap resulted in me completely tearing the stitching from the liner, rendering the button useless. Take your time with the buttons and there shouldn’t be any issue.
RS Taichi isn’t new to the apparel game, and its years of experience shows with the GMX-Motion jacket. I wouldn’t hesitate to line it up against the best Italy has to offer. And for the sport rider who’s unsure whether they want to commit to full leathers, pairing the GMX-Motion with its matching pants would be a sensible choice whether you’re going to the track or ripping the canyons on the weekends.
Available in black, black/red, white/red, and black/white (seen here), sizing spans the European range of 46-58, the latter equating roughly to XXL in U.S. sizing. Visit the RS Taichi website to learn more.