The Bike List

Sugoi RSE NeoShell Waterproof Jacket £249

Tested by Matt Swaine, tester for The Bike List

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Polartec's NeoShell material. I've used it on a range of jackets walking in the Alps, skiing in the Italian Dolomites, hiking in Australia and wandering around the UK. I needed no convincing that this was going to deliver both in terms of its waterproof rating and breathability. I'd happily chose this material in place of GoreTex, or indeed any other waterproof technical material, for any of the outdoor jackets I use, and I was interested to see how it would perform on the bike.

But with one of the best British summers I can remember in a long time, I struggled at first to find an opportunity to put it through its paces. There were a few wet trips back from the office and it was good to watch the rain drops beading on the jacket's surface as I navigated my way through the city traffic, but weekend rides seemed characterised by relentless sun. Just my luck!

My first opportunity was a ride along the River Wye in late August. As I followed the meandering banks, crossing from Wales into England and back again, the heavens suddenly opened and a chill descended. I pulled the Sugoi on, zipped it high around the neck and made my way into the oncoming squall.

This jacket comes with a particularly snug racing fit, Velcro at the wrists and a slightly offset zip that is fairly easy to adjust if you need a little extra venting while you ride. Fleece at the neck means its especially comfortable when zipped high, while there's a baffle behind the zip and fully taped seams to make sure the rain stays out. And I couldn't fault the performance. The material is superbly waterproof and exceptionally breathable, so when I finally jumped off the bike 80km later, I was impressively dry with relatively little condensation or sweat inside the jacket.

But while the material was superb, I had a few issues with the jacket itself. Most noticeable was the fact that it kept riding up my waist as I rode, meaning I had to keep pulling the back down to make sure it was covering my lower back. Perhaps a size larger would have solved that and given me a little more room around the shoulders (where it seemed to be pulling) but I didn't want to sacrifice the racing fit. There are adjusters at the waist that allowed me to tighten the jacket and reduce the amount it rode up, and while this has improved this aspect on subsequent rides, it still hasn't eliminated the problem.

And, in addition, I would like a little more give at the wrists, which would allow for a more venting here when I got especially hot. My usual biking jacket has a hint of elastication in the lower arms that makes it easy to roll sleeves up and let heat escape. When you're riding on routes that throw a lot of different weather at you, this kind of flexibility can be quite invaluable.

With a price tag of £249, this is a jacket aimed at top end racing and not dawdling weekend riders and it's got plenty to recommend it if you fall in to, or aspire to this category of rider. There's a small chest pocket that comes with the ubiquitous internal iPod hole to thread your earphones through, almost essential if you want to catch the shipping forecast on an early morning training ride. And at the back, you'll find two pockets that are easy to unzip and access as you ride, but a little harder to re-zip when you've located your energy gels.

And as the weather gets colder, less predictable and the days shorter, there are also reflective elements to catch car headlights and improve your visibility on the road. It's also a rather flattering jacket that fits nicely, delivers a good aerodynamic outline and looks rather chic.

Buy from  www.wiggle.co.uk

At a glance

Verdict Superb material that delivers excellent waterproofness and top-end breathability. Make sure you try this before you buy because getting a good fit is vital.
Value
Performance

Sugoi says:

Rob Gill, SUGOI Senior Technical Designer says: "Together with Polartec, we aimed to design the world's most breathable, waterproof cycling jacket - geared specifically towards elite level riders. The Neoshell fabric in our new RSE jacket makes a tangible & noticeable difference in your overall comfort. I have logged about 1000 kilometres in the jacket this winter, in some of the wettest weather imaginable, and it well exceeded my performance expectations."

Dry Inside and out - Join the revolution with the ultimate jacket for wet weather road riding.

  • Polartec® Neoshell® main body construction with fully taped seams keeps you dry when riding in heavy rain
  • Offset front zipper for improved fit and comfort at the neck opening
  • Rear zippered hand pockets to stow ride essentials
  • Sizes: S,M,L;
  • Colours: black