I’ve been reviewing gear for motorcycle magazines since 1999 and have been lucky enough to have given away more jackets and pants than most riders will own in their lifetime. I’ve only had regrets about one such jacket, however.
About six years ago, in a flurry to clear space for incoming test gear, I gave my Olympia Motosports Airglide II jacket to a friend who didn’t have any good motorcycle gear. Even though she still wears it and is eternally grateful, I can’t tell you how many times I wished I had it back. The protection and comfort on hot, cool, wet, and perfect riding days was unmatched by any other jacket that I've tested. Until now. I had the pleasure of wearing the Olympia Motosports Expedition jacket and pants all last season.
Olympia Motosports’ women’s Expedition jacket and pants have transcended my expectations of what all great street riding gear should be. Besides being designed for women, good-looking, and extremely comfortable, the four-season textile suit is loaded with features and smart details that all kinds of riders will appreciate. I tested it while riding many different styles of motorcycles, including this BMW F 800 R which is just like the one WRN editor Genevieve and I rode in Italy.
Olympia Motosports, an American company, was co-founded in 2002 by motorcycle enthusiasts, Kevin and Karilea Rhea, who saw the need for affordable top-quality motorcycle jackets and pants with real-world features. The textile garment line remains popular because of the company's consistent commitment to its mission of using high quality materials to provide good-looking, affordable technical gear. Click photos to view larger in a slideshow.
This picture, taken in 2009, shows me wearing my beloved Airglide II jacket and pants. The Airglide
series is still available and is now in its 5th version (4th for the pant).
The Expedition's outer shell is constructed from 500 and 2000 denier Cordura textile. The jacket comes in fatigue gray/black, neon yellow/black, and the ivory/black I chose. Sizes run from S to 3XL. The Expedition pants and are available in black or the ivory/black combo shown here. Sizes run from 4 to 18.
Olympia calls the Expedition jacket and pant “transition” gear because it’s a one-stop-shop kind of outfit. The built-in features allow it to morph from a non-vented to a fully-vented suit. This means you don’t need to change into another outfit when the temperature dips or heats up. An included rain liner also allows you to stay dry during wet weather rides.
The Expedition jacket has six panels that unzip and get tucked away to create a fully-vented jacket. The are two on the chest, two in the back, and one on each arm. The pants have two very large panels in the front. Here, all the vented mesh is exposed and the textile flaps are tucked into the suit.
This picture shows the front left chest with the panels closed.
For some air on the fly, you can open this vent without even pulling over.
To open the panel, unzip both sides and pull the top flap up to separate the horizontal strip of Velcro.
Behind the Cordura flap, a soft mesh material allows air to flow in.
Fold the flap inward and tuck it away between the shell and mesh materials.
How "cool" is this system? It's ingenious and also really works when you're hot!
The back of the jacket has two vent panels that work the same way.
You need to take off the jacket or have a friend help you unzip the back vent panels, whereas you can adjust the front panels yourself with the jacket on.
The arms have large vent panels too—on the underarm area. It’s amazing how just opening these vents cools you off!
It becomes bulky once you tuck in the flap, but the Velcro adjustment strap helps keep everything where it should be so you can maintain a good fit.
The Expedition jacket has multiple levels of adjustability in order to get a great fit—a big reason why I love it so much. There are hip zippers with gussets on the sides, Velcro-fastened waist belts, and even extra snap adjusters if you need a little more room in the rear.
The Expedition’s arms are very roomy, but the material tapers toward the cuff, which has a Velcro tab closure. You can fit gloves with larger gussets over the cuff or wear shorter gloves likes these Hot Leathers gloves
under the cuff.
The zippers and pulls are all designed well so that using them with gloves on is effortless. The subtle red piping is all 3M reflective material. The jacket also has reflective areas on the shoulders and back.
The soft neoprene collar feels very comfortable against my skin. And there’s plenty of Velcro to adjust the neck tab. There’s nothing worse than getting smacked repeatedly by a flap that won’t stay put—not an issue with the Expedition.
The Expedition jacket comes with a full-sleeved quilted liner that zips into the shell. It has its own cell phone pocket, which is good because it covers up the shell’s interior cell phone pocket when zipped in. It's warm enough until the temperature drops below 50 degrees, which is about when I substitute it for a heated liner.
The shell has a large interior pocket that’s perfect for carrying cash, a wallet, registration papers, and more. It's accessible with or without the liner zipped in.
The jacket comes with CE-certified flexible armor in the shoulders, elbows, and the back. Most companies make you pay extra for the back protector, or simply don't have the option, so having a back protector is a fantastic feature!
All the armor can be removed from their pockets in the shell’s mesh lining.
The jacket and pants come with an 8-inch connection zipper and belt loops. I quickly became accustomed to using the zipper, because the jacket’s back is on the short side for me. Using the zipper makes me feel secure knowing my lower back is covered.
The Expedition pants can be slipped over jeans (or worn alone) and have a full-length zipper that allows you to get them on and off easily. A large Velcro section at the bottom secures the fit over boots.
The pants feature four pockets—two in front and two on the back.
No chance the waist will accidentally pop open as they close with a zipper and a double snap.
Thoughtful features include the flexible ribbed section of material above the knees that stretches when you're in a bent riding position. This makes the pants very comfortable instead of pulling on your knees. The leather panels on the inside protect your leg from hot bike parts.
The vent panels are very large, spanning from the waist to the knee.
The material gets tucked away inside, in front of the knee armor.
The Expedition pants come with CE-certified flexible knee armor and EVA compression foam hip pads.
The knee armor pockets are adjustable, so you can get them in the perfect place for your body.
The Expedition jacket and pants are not waterproof, but each piece comes with a rain “liner” that can be worn over the shell, or under the shell as a barrier between the garment and your clothes. It's a bit misleading to call them liners though, because both pieces can also be worn without the shell, like when you reach your destination and want to walk around town with a light windbreaker on instead of your bulky motorcycle gear
The liners, like the other pieces, have really smart details that prove Olympia’s designers understand what riders need and want.
I prefer to wear the rain liner on the outside so the Cordura shell doesn’t get wet. Here I'm wearing it over the Expedition jacket and pants.
The hi-viz yellow accents make you more noticeable on the road—especially helpful on dark rainy days.
The rain liner jacket has an interior pocket and two exterior handwarmer pockets. Olympia's designers thought of everything!
Just like the outer shell, the rain liner has lots of adjustability to ensure a great fit including Velcro arm and sleeve adjusters.
The jacket also has adjustable snaps at the hips and elastic straps at the waist.
The rain pants have the same type of elastic waist adjuster. I love how there is no extra waistband flap when you tighten it!
The leg area is nice and wide, so it’s easy to get the liner pants on over the suit and boots. Strips of Velcro that are generously long tighten the pant legs to secure the extra material.
The rain jacket has a hood that is thin enough to be worn inside a helmet when it’s raining, and this extra-large soft flap covers the front of your neck and face. This prevents water from creeping in and running down your front or back—a terrible feeling when you’re riding in rain.
The hood is made from a stretchy soft material.
When the hood is rolled up it snaps inside the collar so you never know it was there.
I received the Expedition suit just in time to wear it at BMW's women’s adventure riding foundations course on a 95-degree day. I was happy to have all the venting this suit provides. As you can imagine, the ivory-colored suit got dirty quickly from all the gravel and dust.
Instantly becoming my riding apparel of choice, I continued to wear the gear for almost a year before deciding it was too dirty to wear. I love the color I chose, but boy it gets dirty!
Tossing this gear in the washing machine is not an option in order to maintain the integrity of its 3M Scotchlite reflective piping.
First, I removed all the armor and treated the heavily soiled areas with Shout. I used the rough surface of a sponge with warm water to remove the really bad stains.
Then I soaked the gear in a mild solution of Woolite and warm water. After rinsing, I let it all air dry flat. It took a couple days to dry completely.
Now that my Expedition gear is as white as the melting snow again, I am ready to go another four seasons in my all-time favorite riding suit!
The Expedition jacket and pants have become my gear of choice due to its versatility, safety features, comfort, and good looks. I won't be giving this outfit away.
The jacket costs $429.99 and the pants are $349.99. At $780 total, the jacket and pants may not be in everyone's budget, but when you consider that you get a complete rain suit and all the armor, this is a bargain price for what I consider to be the best riding gear for spring, summer, fall, and winter I've tested to date.
Comparably, it's one of the more inexpensive all-season technical riding suits on the market as well. The Dainese Gore-Tex jacket and pants Women Riders Now (WRN) editor Genevieve Schmitt reviewed runs $950. And WRN contributor Liz Jansen reviewed a similar all-season riding suit from BMW that runs $1,100. So, the Olympia is indeed a bargain.
Visit OlympiaMotosports.com for more information.
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