The Sugoi RSE Bib Shorts feature a super chamois but are let down by rough stitching and slightly loose – on me anyway – straps.
A good pair of bib shorts should mould to the body and then be forgotten, quietly providing comfort and style. The RSE bibs fit very nicely and feature a brilliant chamois for long rides, but a poor finish to the stitching at the hem of each leg resulted in two exceedingly annoying rough spots. When something niggles at you, with four hours for you to think about it, it can drive you nuts.
When putting the bibs on for the first time, I had high hopes for the RSE. The fit in the legs is very good indeed. The diameter of each leg is just tight enough to provide a close fit without digging into the skin... I was pleasantly surprised to find that the minimal grippers combine with the fit of the hem to do a very good job at keeping the material in place. The material of the legs is heavily perforated to aid cooling but the fabric remained soft against my skin.
A minor niggle that I found when still standing in the RSE bibs was the lack of tension in the straps. Usually, if the straps are too tight when you're standing up, they'll be perfect when you're on the bike. My fears were confirmed with the material around the hips feeling loose, which led to bunching. Someone with a longer torso than myself (it's not me in the photos) would have no issue here – and you could always cut an inch out of each strap.
Out on the bike, the feature that stood out was the Formula FXE chamois. Sugoi claims that it is the "pinnacle [of] riding performance for big miles, high intensities and riders who simply demand the best". The moulded centre channel takes away pressure very well and the "triple density foam pad" gives ample support for the sit bones.
My big issue with the RSE bibs came when I started getting slight irritation on the inside of my thigh at the hem of the shorts. When I got home, I found that the stitching had been finished here in a small lump. The raised section of stitching looked insignificant, but it was just enough that, when it moved while pedalling, it scraped away my skin. Over the course of a two-hour ride this got quite annoying, especially when you had nothing else to think about.
Overall, the Sugoi RSEs are a good pair of bib shorts that, with a few small tweaks, could be exceptional. However, at this price they're up against a vast amount of competition. For slightly less, Endura offers a choice of chamois widths, Rapha has its excellent Core range and Castelli makes the Inferno bibs. If one expensive pair of bibs is your target, your money may well be better invested elsewhere.
Very good pad, but poor finish lets them down – at this price they need a little refinement
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sugoi RSE Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Sugoi calls these "Our elite level race bib short". That suggests these bibs are aimed at the more experienced cyclist looking for a top quality pair of bib shorts. At £119.99, you'd certainly expect the best. However, the Sugoi's feel good rather than great. The pad is the best bit – its quality is excellent. The fact is that, at this price, Rapha comes into play – the quality of its Core bibs outweighs these easily. That's not to say the Sugois are bad, but I was a little annoyed by certain features.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Sugoi website:
FORMULA FXE CHAMOIS
The Formula FXE Chamois offers pinnacle riding performance for big miles, high intensities and riders who simply demand the best.
Innovative 3D molded Cradle reduces pressure and numbness.
Microban anti-microbial surface layer.
Molded center channel for pressure relief.
Triple density foam pad construction.
Poron foam layer under sit bones for increased vibration dampening.
Four-way stretch fabrics move with the body to reduce chafing.
Rounded edge reduces chamois bulk at the edge and provides a more comfortable performance fit.
Die cut holes in foam provide improved breathability.
SUGOI's performance stretch fabrics are at the core of our DNA. With a range of textures and compression capabilities, we have been the preferred solution since we created our first bike short in 1987.
The shorts are let down by unsupportive straps and irritation caused by rough stitching at the hem.
The chamois is superb – well shaped with excellent density. I found it beautifully comfortable on a long seven-hour ride in 32°C heat in the Ardeche.
The relatively thick material on the legs and backside looks to have held shape well with no scuff marks, and I've subjected these to a few cyclo-cross training sessions where I do a lot of hopping on and off. That abuse isn't common on the average road ride.
The leg length is spot on, as is the diameter around the leg. The straps could do with being a little tighter, though, because when you're in a riding position they were slightly loose.
My medium was just as expected. A longer torso than mine is needed to make the straps supportive. That, or a pair of scissors and a needle.
At only 170g, the RSE certainly score well on weight, beating competition from the likes of Castelli.
The irritation on the inside of my leg was small but so very annoying. It spoils an otherwise good pair of shorts.
Against rivals from Castelli and Rapha, the RSEs don't do too well. There's nothing about these shorts that makes them stand out against the rest.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I subjected them to an accidental tumble-dry, but happily nothing untoward resulted...
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The bunching of material was a small drawback. They were great for hot weather and the pad is comfy for seven-hour days. Shame about the stitching on the hem.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The chamois was perfect for long days in high heat.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The irritation from the stitching drove me insane on long rides.
Did you enjoy using the product? On the whole, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No. The money is just too close to better rivals.
Use this box to explain your score
They're okay shorts, but don't beat their competition in any particular area, and lose out on the finishing quality.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rose Xeon RS My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.