The British brand's tongue-in-cheek attempt to sex up its latest winter garment by naming it after the infamous erotic novels is unnecessary: the Lusso 50 Shades stands up on its own thanks to some good fabric choices, a stylish look and a well judged fit.
Lusso is clearly aiming to spank its competitors with the 50 Shades jacket, and it certainly has the look and the performance to put it in a dominant position…
It is in reality more of a thermal jersey than a jacket. It's not water- or wind-resistant but instead it's lightweight and close fitting enough to be worn under a hardshell in winter and works equally well as an outer layer over a baselayer for shoulder-season riding.
Designed and manufactured in Manchester, the Lusso 50 Shades is a limited-edition garment (Lusso says it's only making 50 in this colour and style) made from thermal Italian fabrics.
While the outside of the body section has that smart grey-flannel look, it has a darker fleecy inside that traps the heat nicely.
The sleeves and three rear pockets have a smooth outer surface and a thinner fleecy, brick-patterned fleece lining – you can make this out on the photo below.
Lusso has created some distinctive features in its garments lately, such as the reflective strips with tiny perforations that are also present here. Some may doubt the wisdom of making road cycling clothing in grey, but at least there are plenty of reflectives front, rear and on both sleeves that will help with low-light visibility.
Lusso has also done an excellent job with the fit. The sleeves are long and fitted with substantial cuffs and stay in place while on the drops; the collar is high, stretchy and snug. Overall fit is fairly skinny – I would say the 50 Shades is made for just a baselayer underneath rather than an additional jersey. Lusso says it has an 'anatomical' fit but it's not cut like some Assos garments that only feel right in the bike position: rather, it uses a more traditional pattern with set-in sleeves.
The pockets are at the right height – nice and high and well supported with no risk of sag – and are deep enough that you don't need to worry about a mini pump jumping out.
A wide gripper band with silicone pips to keep it in place works well at the bottom of the Lusso, stopping it from either sagging or riding up.
The only criticism I have of the construction – in fact the only criticism of the jacket full stop – relates to the zip flap, which is intended to sit flat behind the zip and keep out draughts. It won't sit flat unless you very carefully poke and tuck it there while you're doing up the zip. If you haven't got it sitting flat it can make the zip garage at the top look untidy, since it's joined to that.
Just a little tweak in the design would sort that out. Assos, for example, puts its jacket zip flaps on the left (non-puller) side rather than the right so that you're tensioning it with your left hand as you pull up the zip with your right, and that seems to work well.
Since it's not windproof or water resistant and doesn't have any kind of membrane or DWR, the Lusso 50 Shades is very breathable and can be worn as soon as the leaves begin to turn. From then on it's good down to about 5°C and after that has to be worn under a shell layer. As it's close fitting and non-bulky it works really well as one layer in a system – either as the outer with just a baselayer underneath or under the shell – and is very comfortable whichever role it's playing.
It dries quickly too, and although when under a shell I found it got slightly sweaty under the rear pockets because of the double layer, it doesn't hold onto moisture.
I'd suggest it's fairer to compare the Lusso 50 Shades to competitors' thermal jerseys rather than jackets. As such, it undercuts the Sportful BodyFit Pro (£90) and the dhb Equinox at £75. The Giant Illume goes for slightly less than the Lusso at £64.99.
Overall, I really like the style of the Lusso as well as its performance and would say that, all things considered, it's a very good buy.
A spankingly good performer, as the saucy name suggests; this is a stylish, comfortable and versatile three-season garment
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lusso 50 Shades Thermal 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?
Lusso doesn't specify who the 50 Shades Thermal Jacket is aimed at, but I would call it more of a thermal jersey than a jacket since it's lightweight, stretchy and close fitting with room for just a baselayer underneath. There are also no weatherproofing features – something you might expect in a jacket based on what competitor brands offer.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Exclusive only 50 Garments made in Colour and Style
Thermal Italian Fabric with Brushed Lining
Full Front Zip for Easy Access
High Neck, Zip Guard
3 rear Pockets, One Zipped for Essentials
Reflective Elements at the Rear and Pockets
Lusso 45mm Carbon Hem Gripper
Designed and Manufactured in Manchester
Very nicely made – in Manchester.
Great as a lightweight thermal jacket or long-sleeved jersey for spring or autumn, trapping in the heat nicely.
Early days, but the good quality fabrics in this jacket along with the strong construction are looking good for a few seasons' use.
Very breathable – but this was never in doubt since it's not windproof or waterproof.
Lusso has done an excellent job with the fit but it's fairly skinny with room for just a baselayer underneath rather than an additional jersey.
The size medium was perfect for me (185cm, 68kg).
This would be very light for a true jacket, but it's more thermal jersey.
Very comfortable indeed – I really liked the soft, fleece-backed fabrics and the close fit.
This is a fair price for a good-looking, nicely performing garment that's made in the UK.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
With no DWR to worry about it can be chucked in the wash with everything else. Lusso says machine or handwash at 30° and I suspect this is more to stop the reflective logos from peeling (they haven't so far).
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I've worn this jacket both on its own and under a windproof/waterproof shell on chillier rides and it has performed excellently. It's not quite warm enough on its own when the temperature goes much below 5°C but supplies great insulation under a windproof shell.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
It's got a lot of style with the grey-flannels body and black sleeves, fits well, pockets are at the right height and of the right depth and it's great for 'shoulder season' riding with just a baselayer underneath or with a shell over the top when it gets a bit colder.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The only think I didn't like was the design of the zip flap, which doesn't seem to know which way to lie when you're zipping the jacket up and needs manually holding down flat.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
With its light weight, close fit and lack of weatherproofing features, the Lusso ought to be compared to long-sleeved thermal jerseys rather than jackets. As such, it undercuts the Sportful BodyFit Pro (£90) and the dhb Equinox (£75); the Giant Illume goes for slightly less than the Lusso at £64.99.
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 overall score
I really liked the stylish and distinctive look of the Lusso 50 Shades. It's more of a thermal jersey than jacket, despite Lusso billing it as such, and the low price is more in line with competitor thermal jerseys too. Its light weight and low bulk mean it can be used under a windproof or waterproof shell as well as on its own over a baselayer. It's a smart, versatile garment at a competitive price and made in Britain too.
About the tester
I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic
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: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, school run on a tandem
Simon finished his Masters in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.
As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.
He and his seven-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).