The Richa Spirit jacket and pants that debuted in our Armored Textile Buyer’s Guide (Rider September, 2011) are back for a closer evaluation. To recap the basics, Richa sews the Spirit clothing from abrasion-resistant Schoeller Dynatec fabric treated with its NanoSphere coating to combat dirt and stains.
Inside is Schoeller’s c_change membrane, which adapts to weather conditions by opening and closing small pores to release or retain body heat while remaining waterproof, as proven in our hose-down test. The coating not only sheds water like a duck, but kept the Hi-Viz Spirit jacket bright after 2,000 miles of freeway commuting, unusual for a color known as a dirt magnet. When it finally does get dirty, the Spirit is machine washable.
Slipping into the mesh-lined Spirits, you notice the Dynatec fabric’s inherent stiffness. Lighter material on the inside of the jacket arms and stretchy fabric at the waist and crotch of the pants allow plenty of flexibility, so the overall feeling is one of protection, not discomfort. The nicely padded collar secures with a clever magnetic catch, but isn’t adjustable to accommodate extra neckwear. The pants include removable suspenders, and also zip to the jacket at the back. The lower legs only zip open 11 inches, so they won’t go on over boots. My preference for commuting convenience is for longer openings that allow easy-on, easy-off. Nevertheless, once inside the Spirits you’re ready to ride and enjoy the solid feeling of the Richa garments. Quality of materials and construction are top-notch, with excellent sewing and attention to detail.
The protection package is also good. Except for the sewn-in foam hip pads, there is CE-approved armor throughout and the large, triple-layer back pad is not only stout but comfortable. Shoulder and elbow/forearm pads provide plenty of coverage, while the knee pads seem small but include side impact protection below the kneecap. All the storage—and there is plenty—is waterproof. Two map-swallowing pockets high on the chest are tricky to access when what you want is at the bottom of them, but twin cargo-style pockets riding above the hem are very convenient; all four seal with hook-and-loop flaps with rubber grab tabs. There are two more pockets inside the jacket and one on the tail; the pants have two deep slash pockets with weatherproof zippers.
A stylish, non-insulated liner sewn from soft polyester augments the jacket’s warmth, adds four more pockets to the system and makes an excellent lightweight wrap by itself. Though Richa touts the Spirit as a four-season setup, I found the jacket/liner combo is warm enough for temperatures only down to 45 degrees or so; lower than that and I needed another layer. A quilted, zip-in polyester liner gives the pants some extra warmth. With the liners out and the jacket completely sealed up (there are no vents except for loosening the cuffs or collar), the c_change technology kept me comfortable at 80 degrees, the highest temperature I could find for this test.
Richa makes the Spirits to fit nearly everyone (though sizes run small—a size large fit my 145-pound frame), with jackets from S-8XL and similar pants sizes in short, regular and long lengths. The jacket comes in the Hi-Vis yellow we tested, plus gray and black, the pants come only in black. Pricing is on the premium side—$699.99 for the jacket and $579.99 for the pants. Richa backs them with a two-year warranty.
For more information: Contact Vega Helmets, (425) 656-0683, www.vegahelmet.com.