The Sugoi Carbon Long Sleeved Base Layer isn't particularly thick, but it's warmer than you'd expect, and it doesn't easily get smelly. Pity it's not more cycling-specific.
Sugoi calls the fabric used for this base layer FinoCarbon. It's brushed on the inside so it's soft against your skin; I'm wearing it right now and it's indeed very soft. There are carbon fibers in the weave which are claimed to deter bacterial growth and in turn stop it from getting smelly quickly.
I can't fault it for either of those claims. It's not quite thick enough that you'd call it 'snuggly', but it feels quite luxurious and it didn't pong after a long ride, the way synthetic base layers can.
The anti-pong qualities of traditional synthetic base layers deteriorate over time. That's because the fibres are coated with a smooth layer that stops bacteria sticking to the surface. But that coating wears off with time and laundry until the whiff seems to start before you even put it on.
This should be less of a problem with the Sugoi Carbon base layer as the anti-niff ingredient is baked right into the fabric.
The polyester fabric — poly(1,3-propylene terephthalate), chemistry fans — is naturally stretchy so there's no Lycra in the mix; it moves easily with your body.
The construction details add to the comfort. The seams are mostly flat for comfort under other layers and the round neck is fairly high, so it helps to keep out the chill, especially combined with a neckwarmer like a Buff.
To stop your wrists getting chilly there are thumb loops to keep the sleeves from sliding up; they also hold the sleeves in place as you pull a mid-layer over the top.
With most synthetic base layers, I tend to feel cold when I stop. They're fine when I'm working hard, but they stop shifting the moisture away when they're less of a thermal gradient between skin and outside world, and they feel clammy. The Sugoi Carbon base layer did this less than most thanks to the brushed surface against my skin, keeping the cafe stop comfortable too.
The sizing is distinctly North American. Our sample is a Medium, which is very flattering for me as I'm a Large or Extra-large in most cycling gear and an XXL in some Italian jerseys. Sugoi offers Small and XS, but if you're very skinny that might still be too big. As you can see, it's pretty loose on our whippet model.
This is intended as a multi-purpose base layer for running, cross-country skiing and the like, as well as cycling. That means it's not a cycling-specific cut. The back is slightly longer than the front, but not by much. I didn't notice this with thick bib tights on as my lower back was well covered by those and a jersey, but I did have to get enthusiastic about tucking in the front.
The asking price is a very reasonable 35 quid. That's a steal if you take part in sports other than cycling and can take advantage of its versatility, and it's pretty good for the quality and features regardless.
Warm, soft and comfy base layer that promises to stay niff-free for a long time, but we wish it were a more bike-specific shape.
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Make and model: Sugoi Carbon Long Sleeved Base Layer
Size tested: Medium, Concrete
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?
It's a bottom layer, intended to shift sweat away from your skin and help keep you warm in winter. Sugoi says: "Multi-purpose long sleeve tee is a comfortable, technical layer for year-round fitness."
That implies you could use it in warmer weather too, but with anything over the top of it, it'll be too warm for cycling.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Features, according to Sugoi:
Contoured sleeves with thumb holes
Flat seams for increased comfort
FinoCarbon fabric is a double jersey knit made with a PPT (1,3-propylene terephthalate) yarn which provides a 360 degree 'Lycra-free' stretch for complete freedom of movement.
Tidy, tight stitching; no loose threads.
Keeps you warmer, without being clammy when you stop. Doesn't get smelly. You can't ask of much more from a base layer.
Built-in antibacterial carbon fibres should mean it stays niff-free.
Soft and cosy against the skin.
Good value for a multi-activity base layer, but judged from a strict cycling perspective, not a bargain compared to similarly-priced light base layers that are shaped for riding.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very nicely indeed, except for being a bit long at the front.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Flattering sizing; lovely soft feel; effective wicking and non-clammy feel when stopped.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A more bike-specific shape would be nice.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, especially if I could convince myself that walking the dog made me a multi-activity sportsperson.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
This is a really lovely base layer, especially if you need a garment that can be used for several different activities. It loses points for not being cycling-specific and for a price that's good but not a bargain. Still a well-deserved eight out of ten though.
Age: 47 Height: 5ft 11in Weight: 85kg
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding,
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.