River Road Taos Adventure Motorcycle Gear Test
Taos, a term that derives from Native American language meaning “place of the red willows,” has multiple uses. It’s a town in New Mexico named after Taos Pueblo, the Native American village that is credited with being the oldest continuously inhabited community in the U.S. How old? A millennium.
Taos is also a well-known 100-year old art colony in New Mexico, and a name for the dialect found in that region.
All these things have a connection, and River Road has added one more with its Taos line of apparel. But of course, the connection is just in the name.
The idea behind the River Road Taos line of Textile gear, which features a jacket and pant, is simple; it was designed to meet the needs of the dual-sport or adventure rider on a budget. Or better yet, the adventure motorcyclists who will only get away a few times a year.
The Taos jacket has the basics of dual-sport motorcycle apparel covered. It features a soft collar, three-quarter length, removable liner, enough pockets inside and out, a few adjustments for the arms and waist, and, of course, waterproofing. Like all River Roads products, the Taos jacket and pants are moderately styled and come in any color you want – as long as it’s black.
Like most budget conscience products, there are a few things weak or missing. The padding is in most of the places you would expect, but it’s thin. There is a padded back protector, and elbow and shoulder padding for the jacket. For the lower extremities, the Taos pant features knee pads, but it’s missing hip and tail bone protection. On the jacket, extra exterior pockets would have been welcomed.
I comfortably wore the Taos Jacket and pant combination on a two-day adventure ride in late spring while testing a 2013 Kawasaki KLR 650. I covered 120 miles the first day, which was about 8 hours on and off the bike before settling by the camp fire.
The weather was unseasonably warm, and exercising the KLR down fire roads and the occasional rock path pushed the body temperature high. The ventilation in the jacket is bare minimum, causing discomfort on tighter trails, and the pants have absolutely none. The logic here? It’s expensive to have both ventilation and maintain a waterproof garment. This is a cost- cutting measure passed on to the customer, and it’s fine as long as it’s not 90 degrees.
Even with the liners removed, the River Road Taos textile suit is ideal for spring and fall. I have not tested in winter as of this writing, but the full-sleeve jacket liner and pant liner are the standard quilted polyester, and I trust they will comply for early and late winter excursions. The liners do not add too much extra bulk and make the suit even more comfortable that it is without them.
The outer Nylon shell feels durable without being too stiff and breaks in quickly. I don’t have a lot of miles on the gear yet due to the stuffiness in hot temperatures, but I’m looking forward to the climate dropping a bit so I can wear it again for another weekend in the woods.
And as stated previously, the weekend warrior is a target customer for the Taos suit. There are more of us exploring the back roads in our neighboring states then globe trotters headed for the Road of Bones or a mountain pass in Chile.
And for most of these weekend warriors, one look at the price will override all the negatives of the Taos – the jacket runs around $180, and the pants $130.
For additional information, visit River Road.
Note: The jacket tested above was the version available in early 2013; River Road has redesigned the jacket, which appears the same except for the addition of two front chess pockets.