The last couple of years have seen a real convergence between cycling jackets and cycling jerseys. Whereas you once might not have expected any rain or wind protection from a jersey, this is now an increasingly common option. Equally, while a jacket offered good protection against the elements, it would have done so without necessarily being as close-fitting, breathable and comfortable as a good jersey. Now sometimes it can be hard to tell whether something is strictly a jacket or a jersey and this likeable RS180 jacket from Sugoi is a case in point.
Sugoi have a pretty wide range of jackets, ranging from high-end waterproofs to more reasonably-priced numbers. This one sits somewhere in the middle. It's made entirely of Sugoi's Firewall 180, which is a reasonably lightweight '1.5 layer' fabric whose outer surface is a very fine polyurethane material and the inner is a nice soft polyester fleece. It's quiet and very comfortable, with a decent amount of stretch in the fabric, like a jersey. But unlike most jerseys, it also provides a good level of protection against wind and rain, like a jacket. Breathability is very good.
In use it feels quite similar to a Windstopper jersey, reminding me of the Windslam winter range from dhb (that is a compliment). The fabric is sufficiently comfortable and breathable that you can even wear it with nothing underneath should you so wish. I generally didn't, but it's great to have a weatherproof outer layer which you can wear with only short sleeves underneath without getting clammy arms. With most other jackets I've used for commuting, I've always needed a long-sleeve layer beneath, which you don't necessarily want if the temperature has gone up by ten degrees while you're at the office.
We tested the high viz fluorescent yellow colour, which is pretty bright, despite looking a bit faded in our photographs. It should help make sure other road users see you when used in daylight, and there are also some reflective details for better night-time visibility. The main zip at the front has a reflective strip along it, and there are also reflective stripes around the sides, under the armpits. These are sewn on, so no concerns about them peeling off, which is good. The ends of these stripes are visible from behind, but there's no further reflective aimed at the cars behind you. Of course, if you're riding in the dark you'd want a nice bright red light or two at the back, so focusing the reflective details on side visibility makes sense.
If you're not a fluoro sort of person, there are other colours available, including black and blue. I found that the yellow tended to attract dirt, and that cool washing wasn't enough to shift greasy marks. When I took a tumble on a filthy autumnal road, the fabric didn't tear where I hit the deck, unlike the bibtights I was wearing, but it was really difficult to get the grimy stain out of the material.
In terms of styling, I'd describe the RS180 as inoffensive but it's not really breaking any exciting new ground. Certainly if you're not a fan of Italian kit plastered with big logos then you will appreciate the reasonably discreet look here. The back is marginally lower than the front, and I found it stayed in place over jersey pockets when I was riding. It's not dropped as far as some jackets, though, so there's no means for keeping your bum dry if you're not running mudguards.
Of course, like the increasing numbers of water-resistant jerseys, a showery day is where this jacket really comes into its own. Steady light-to-medium rain doesn't get through for at least a couple of hours, and heavier showers are also kept at bay impressively well. It's not classified as waterproof as the seams aren't sealed, and water will eventually get through but I was pleasantly surprised by how long I stayed dry. If you've arrived at work, dry and perhaps a little smug, you'll want to hang it somewhere to dry out – otherwise you'll find that over the course of the day the water makes its way through to the inside, making for a damper and much less smug homeward ride. Yes, I speak from experience.
The RS180 is sized according to Sugoi's Pro Fit measurements, as opposed to the looser semi-fit and relaxed fit seen in other parts of their range. However, the medium fitted me easily and I could quite comfortably fit a couple of layers beneath it. So unlike when buying Italian cycling gear, I'd suggest that sizing up definitely isn't required here. If you wanted a close aero fit and didn't plan to wear that much underneath then you could even think about sizing down. I can't remember the last time I could have worn a small size. When going downhill I did sometimes notice a bit of flapping around the shoulders, something not surprising for a jacket, but which the best weather-proof jerseys don't tend to suffer from.
I had no issues with sleeve length on the medium despite being on the tall side. The cuffs are angled to extend further over the backs of the hands, and a reasonably slim fit, such that they stay in place when overlapping your gloves. They're not super-tight but I didn't have any complaints about drafty wrists. As the fabric is pretty stretchy, pulling the cuffs over even gloved hands isn't a problem. At the neck, the soft inner layer of the fabric makes for a comfortable experience, and it's cut to a medium size, neither very tight nor annoyingly loose. As you'd expect at this sort of price, there's a zip garage to prevent chafing on your neck, but curiously, the zip was about the only thing that I didn't get on with. It goes up dead centre, and somehow the combination of zip and surrounding material is stiff enough that I found it would poke me in the throat, quite uncomfortably. I must confess I'd always thought those off-centre zips were a solution to a problem that didn't really exist, but this proved me wrong.
At the rear there are the standard three pockets. These are a little smaller than on most jerseys, but can accommodate phone, spare tube, food and most things that you'd need on a normal ride. There isn't a waterproof zipped pocket as we're seeing on a lot of jackets and jerseys nowadays, but you can always use the pockets of a jersey underneath to keep things dry as needed. There are no internal pockets. The back is slightly lower than the front but definitely not enough to keep you bum dry; I'm well into mudguard season so this wasn't really an issue for me.
The standard of construction is good; it generally is with Sugoi kit. The stitching is neat and tidy, with normal seams used instead of flat-locking. As you wouldn't normally wear the jacket against the skin I had no problems with this. There's a silicone gripper strip at the bottom which does a decent job of keeping it from moving around, even when you've loaded up the pockets.
And that's your lot. If you want lots of clever hidden pockets and cooling vents in your jacket you'll need to look elsewhere, but for my money there's really a lot to like here. I've tested plenty of soft shells and this is among the most comfortable; it feels like a jersey. It's arguably got more in common with weatherproof jerseys like the iconic Castelli Gabba than it has with soft-shell jackets as they used to be. The Gabba is a much closer fit, mind – it was designed for racing, after all – but for day-to-day use the looser-fitting RS180 is a bit warmer and feels nicer against the skin. With space for a couple of layers underneath, you could use this on all but the very coldest days in winter, but it's just as good with a short-sleeved jersey underneath when the temperature is in the low teens.
At the time of writing, you can find the Sugoi RS180 reduced to under £70 online, at which price I'd say it's something of a bargain.
Excellent weather-resistant jacket for the cooler months; as comfy as a jersey but also keeps the elements at bay
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sugoi RS 180 Jacket
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?
Powerful windproof protection with high stretch thermal mobility for superior winter performance.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Firewall 180 is a lightweight thermal knit laminate that offers wind and rain protection
Semi-auto lock separating zip with reflective accents for low light visibility
Three rear pockets for storing ride essentials
1 inch gripper elastic at hem keeps the jacket securely in place when in the ride position
Well put together. Stitching not on a par with really high-end Italian gear but fine nevertheless. Firewall 180 material is tough yet comfortable, but can be hard to keep clean.
A really good combination of breathability and weather resistance. It's not aero like a Gabba though, so definitely better suited for non-racing use.
No issues during testing and no obvious weak-points.
Very comfortable indeed for a jacket. Almost like, say, a jersey.
A reasonable 3.5 stars for list price - currently available for quite a bit less.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well - I really liked the combination of jersey-comfort with jacket-protection.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Soft inner layer feels great against the skin, effective weather protection for most riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing major. I found the main zip could irritate my throat, and I'd probably add some more reflectives if I was designing it. I also found it hard to get stains out in the yellow that we tested.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.