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The Lusso Aqua Extreme Repel Jacket is made in the UK, and it's very hard to fault. This is a very, very good option for riding fast in miserable weather. It's not for full-on downpours or if you're just pootling along – for which you'd want a breathable hard shell – but if you are putting out the watts in sporadic, maybe occasionally heavy, showers, it's hard to go past this local offering.
Made from waterproof, windproof yet breathable Windtex Storm Shield fabric, with a 10,000mm hydrostatic head and breathability of 10,000ml of moisture per square metre per day, it's good technically. Not as breathable as some fabrics, but certainly equal to most at the price – you can pay over twice as much for a jacket with similar-spec fabric.
The seams aren't sealed – a common practice for winter jackets designed for working hard in intermittent or light rain. Castelli set this trend running with the Gabba and it's showing no sign of slowing. Put simply, if you are going hard, you're sweating – so a bit more moisture seeping through a seam is probably going to go unnoticed.
Lusso has lined the Windtex with a Roubaix fleece finish to provide insulation, so it's comfortable against the skin if you eschew a baselayer, though the seams aren't flatlocked.
Fit-wise it's a snug garment. I wore a medium, which was a race fit on my 6ft, 75kg frame. With my stupid-long arms I could have possibly gone to a large, but as-is the medium's sleeves were long enough in the cuff under longish gloves not to leave my wrists gasping.
The rear is generously low, as is the front, helping to keep spray at bay and water out of the front of your bibs to a degree. The hem is a single run of laser-cut reflective grip-strip that stayed put and kept the wind out. The zip is backed with a flap and ends in a garage at the high collar, which is cut like Goldilock's porridge – just right.
Ideally, a jacket designed for winter riding should stand out through rain, mist or low sun, and here the Aqua Extreme Repel Jacket shines. The borderline-thermonuclear orange cuts through the spectrum like a knife – in low light it almost seems like it's glowing, and riding mates commented favourably. In the dark there's reflective fabric around the hem, under the pockets, either side of the rear orange panel, and on a strip down the centre pocket, so you're well catered for.
The pockets could be a tad deeper – my go-to Birzman Apogee minipump's handle protruded a fair bit. That said, nothing ever slipped or felt crammed in – even a full hardshell jacket rolled tight. There's the obligatory iPhone-5-sized zipped valuables pocket on the right side, but it's not lined, so make sure you use a case for electronics. Lusso hasn't thought to put drain holes in the pockets, either – but maybe the non-torrential use-case makes this a moot point.
Back in Feb 2016 Andy gave the 'non-Extreme' version of the Aqua four stars, saying 'It competes well with the Castelli Gabba 2 for around 35 quid less'. The only differences I can detect for the extra tenner RRP over the 2016 lower-spec version are more reflectivity and a change of colour – perhaps that's what makes it 'Extreme'.
Of course, all the tech and features don't amount to a hill of beans if they don't work as a system on the road. Fortunately for the Buy-British inclement-weather cyclist, once again Lusso has hit it out of the park. Out in temperatures of 3-5°C, in high winds and light or occasionally heavy rain, the Aqua Extreme Repel Jacket did the job, keeping me warm and focused on the task in hand of going fast. The slim fit and fabric meant nary a ripple or flap, even in effective windspeeds approaching 60mph.
With a simple long-sleeve merino baselayer underneath, my arms and hands were comfortable – a borderline-miracle given my appalling circulation. During persistent sessions approaching 90% of maximum heart rate I could feel clamminess retained in the merino baselayer set in when stopped for more than a minute or so, but this dissipated quickly once on the move again.
As above, if you want something that will keep you warm when damp and still, this isn't the solution for you – but neither are any of the logical competitors. The high collar and low tail blocked draughts, while the overall cut and fit made for comfortable movement about the bike, without any nagging need to readjust hems or sleeves once back in position.
As a road.cc reviewer I get to try a lot of kit over a year, not all of which I'd choose to hang on to – but maybe Lusso won't notice if I tuck this one away somewhere...
Warm, comfortable, racy, practical and good looking for sensible money – another home run for Lusso
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lusso Aqua Extreme Repel Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket 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 for people who want to fast in inclement conditions. And by golly it delivers.
Windtex Storm Shield Fabric which is a thermal, windproof, water repellent and waterproof.
Designed with 4-way stretch that fits and adapts perfectly to the body.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Breathability: >10,000gr/m2 x 24hr
Water Column: 10,000mm guaranteed
* Full Front Zip
* Storm Flap
* Long Tail
* 4 Rear Pockets (1 Zipped)
* High Neck and Storm Flap
* Fabric is Windproof and Waterproof
* 360 Reflective Hem Gripper
* Made in Manchester, UK.
For an extra 100 quid you might shave off 40g. Maybe.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed up very well, although a fabric like this will always show permanent stains from encountering grease-based cack.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The overall system.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Hard to call it a 'dislike' because it's my own genetic makeup, but the sleeves could be a smidge longer.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Excellent performance all-round, the only niggles for me being the sleeve length and pocket depth.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.