Richa-Spirit-C-Change-1Tested by: Keith Bell, 50
Been riding for over 30 years; Covers around 10,000 miles a year by bike; Rides a Honda Blackbird

As an Observer for the IAM I ride my bike throughout the year, in all weather conditions. As such it’s vital that the kit I wear not only protects me from the elements but is also comfortable to wear and will offer me maximumprotection if I do ever have a crash.

For many years I have been a loyal Rukka user so I was looking forward to seeing how this new top of the range Richa kit compared. I picked the jacket and trousers combo up inOctober and have since ridden approximately 1800 miles in them.

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I’ll start with the Spirit C-Change jacket. It’s available in three colours; the one I have is the black and florescent yellow option (no excuse for not being seen!). First impressions are favourable. The jacket appears well made and of good quality. It’s also stuffed full of fabric ‘nano’ technology, including the water and wind proof Schoeller CChange ‘bionic climate’ membrane. What this actually means is that the outer jacket material is fused with the C-Change technology, so that the jacket fabric can react to changing temperatures. For example, if it’s hot outside, the polymer structure of the C-Change membrane opens as your body’s moisture levels rise (sweat to you and me), and the excess heat can escape. In colderweather, themembrane structure condenses, in order to retain body heat and provide better insulation.

Schoeller claim that they were inspired by the plain old fir cone, as the C-Changemembrane mimics a fir cone opening and closing in response to different weather conditions.

Whatever the claim, so far this clever nano technology seems to work as it’s kept me warm in the recent cold temperatures. Although I havebeen out in the rain riding I have yet to be really soaked so can’t yet comment on how truly waterproof it will be, but so far I’ve stayed dry.

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But however good a jacket is at maintaining a pleasant body temperature, it’s no good if it doesn’t fit properly. I’mglad to say the Spirit jacket isanice, comfortable fit both on and off the bike – it’s not too bulky or heavy but feels “safe”. It also comes complete with an easily removable inner softshell jacket that canbeworn separately. CE protectors are well placed at the elbows, shoulders and back and are all easy to access if they need changing. The jacket has ample pockets with two inside ones – one designed to hold a mobile phone, the other, easier to access, pocket isby themain zip. There’s also four outer front pockets and one large pocket at the back of the jacket, which is the only outer pocketwithazip. Theother outer front pockets areeasy to open, having a popper and Velcro fastening.

Richa-Spirit-C-Change-Jacket-1Waist adjustment can be made by the Velcro integrated belt but this is all exposed, so you have to be careful what you lean against. The sleeves also have popper adjustment so that flapping is reduced.

Richa-Spirit-C-Change-Jacket-2My biggest bugbear with the Spirit jacket is the cuffs. They have a zip and Velcro fastening, but don’t open wide enough to get my Richa gloves inside without a lot of hassle and even then I can’t do the zips up. Fine in the dryer weather where gloves can be worn outside the jacket but not so good in the rain when water can run down the sleeves and inside the gloves.

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I also have the matching Sprit CChange trousers, which are made with the same Schoeller C-Change membrane. These can be joined onto the jacket using a rear zip. This zip is much smaller that the one on my outgoingRukka ensemble and I think it would have benefited frombeing longer than the seven inches allowed for a more secure feel and tomake it easier to join the two items together.


Richa-Spirit-C-Change-Pants-1Again, these trousers come with a removable lining, in this instance quilted. There is also a non-slip section on the bottomsection and this counters the normal curse of textile trousers slipping on the bike seat when accelerating or braking sharply.

Like the jacket, the trousers are suppliedwith CE protectors, theseones being at the knees plus padding at the hips. Another nice safety touch is the reflective markings on the outside of each leg. There are two decently sized pockets and these are sealed using waterproof zips.

Richa-Spirit-C-Change-Pants-2Unlike the cuffs on the jacket, the trouser leg bottoms open sufficiently wide enough to get my winter boots inside, using a zip and Velcro strip fastening.

Richa have again integrated a lot of Velcro into these trousers by means of a integrated belt plus braces, both consisting of lots of exposed Velcro. On the plus side, these do ensure lots of available adjustment.

Overall, I think Richahavedoneanice job with this all-weather riding gear. It isn’t the cheapest kit out there by any means but it certainly holds up verywell againstmymuch moreexpensiveRukka gear. Richa just need to sort out the narrow jacket cuff openings and refine their use of copious amounts of Velcro.

Pros: Quality kit with decent attention to detail. C-Change body temperature regulating tech seems to work.
Cons: Too much Velcro. Needs more adjustment of the jacket cuffs for gloves. Pricey, but you get what you pay for.

 

Tony Carter

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