Sugoi RS and RSE Jersey and Bib Short Pro Review – by Steve Cooper
As a cyclist, married to a cyclist, we have dinner conversations that can baffle our non-riding friends. Discussion about cleat and pedal choices, upgraded groups, different gearing, hill repeat schedules and endurance distance route planning for example… The honey-do list includes stuff like adjusting the seat further back on this bike, rewrapping that set of bars, fitting bigger panniers on the commuter. Yeah, it’s kinda dreamy, but not always; it can be expensive. If she gets new shoes, I want new shoes too. If I update to new brifters, she wonders why she’s left out. And then there’s the bike clothing. I have a lot of choices collected over decades. On the other hand, she’s been on the bike for under ten years, so her closet isn’t as stuffed as mine, but what she does have is a nicer. Do I sound jealous? I am.
So when Sugoi pitched the idea for an RBR Men’s and Women’s RSE kit review, I was happy that we were at the top of list. As writers of said review, I must say, we were ready to step up to the challenge. What cyclist wouldn’t relish the idea of trying out stylish new tech cycling wear? Plus, Sugoi has a great reputation for their clothing design, so getting to test the RSE line of bib shorts and jerseys would be a treat. The unpredictable benefit for both RBR and Sugoi of having a husband/wife review team is that far more time than is reasonable gets spent talking about not just the technical aspects, but the intrinsic qualities such as figure slimming and girly bit accents. So let’s share the synopses of our Sugoi RSE ride conversations.
Sugoi (awesome! In Japanese) is a young company, founded in Vancouver BC in the late 80’s for the sole purpose of developing technical cycling clothing for endurance riders. Sugoi’s RSE (Race Series Elite) line is truly the high art of cycling wear.
Both the Women’s and Men’s RSE bib shorts are constructed using ten contoured panels of sheer, perspiration wicking, Ultra-Profi fabric with sturdy yet soft to the skin flat locked seams. The top of the Men’s shorts hits comfortably, midway between the navel and crotch, so it doesn’t restrictively girdle one’s torso. The top of the Women’s shorts rests just above the navel, which has its pluses, as we mention later. Fabric in the rear of the shorts transitions into the suspender mesh just below the small of the back, providing great ventilation. To keep the legs of the shorts from riding up, Sugoi uses a wide, textured fabric leg grip that doesn’t need uncomfortable blobs of sticky silicon to keep it in place. The leg grips on my XL shorts fit my 24” quads perfectly, but the S shorts felt a tad tight to Karen around her 17” thighs. Karen’s advice here? Girls, be sure to fit these shorts carefully, their sizing runs very slim. My observation echoes hers, these are great shorts for lean bodies, but don’t try and undersize.
The sculpting and design on the FSE V-contour chamois is brilliant. Three different densities of foam are layered to three varied heights based on the contact points. The thickest and most dense foam is carefully positioned to cushion the sit bones, and mates perfectly to tight racing saddles. The foam is laminated under antimicrobial Meryl Skinlife fabric. 4 way side panels and a rear V-notch help the chamois contour your crotch. Bottom-line (pun intended), the chamois never felt thick or stiff, nor would you describe it as too soft or plush. There was zero puckering or creasing at the center of the crotch, another selling point for both Karen and I. Mesh ports help ventilate cool air at both the front and back of the chamois. Our observations were paralleled; these were without question, among the most comfortable chamois that either of us had ridden. It felt cool and dry, and never bunched or shifted.
For the bib portion of the shorts, the RSE design shines brightly and takes a slightly different direction for the Men’s and Women’s design.
The Men’s RSE bib uses a traditional straight suspender approach in the front. Lightweight mesh provides plenty of ventilation, and there’s plenty of stretch to lower to the front of the shorts for a nature break. The rear uses a mesh Y panel for breathability, and splits at the shoulder blades. There’s a clever side pocket in the back as well.
Smartly, the Women’s RSE bib design meets a different set of design criteria. The front suspenders are positioned widely with a cross back design to increase the angle up front to the outside of the torso. This set-up provides plenty of room for a sports bra and can even accommodate fuller cup sizes. The front suspenders are very open and wide to the outside of the cups, and the cross back keeps them from shifting forward. Dropping the bibs will require slipping them fully down, there were no snaps to release the suspenders. The Women’s RSE bibs are also constructed of mesh up top for ventilation and have a cool little pocket in the back.
Sugoi invested equally in engineering and materials for the RSE jerseys. There are slight differences between the Men’s and Women’s jersey design, with many commonalities. The bodies are completely constructed of a synthetic, wicking, ventilated mesh with flat locked seams. Both Men’s and Women’s variants use a different mesh in the front panels and shoulders to prevent them being see-through. The Women’s design uses over 20 individually contoured panels to sculpt a figure flattering jersey that accents curves in all the right places. The Men’s design has 22 panels that are fully contoured and look great. Both incorporate a full length zipper up front, with a traditional three back pocket design, and have a clever flap at the base of the zipper to keep it from rubbing. Karen suggested that a similar flap at the top of the zipper might be a nice touch.
The Men’s RSE jersey uses an arm grip similar to their shorts. The base of the jersey uses similar fabric but with a slightly looser cut, permitting the waist of the jersey to shift both up and down as the rider leans forward or sits back up. There’s a slight looseness above the back waist area that isn’t quite form fitting. They mate very well to the RSE shorts. There’s also a zipped pocket behind the traditional pockets.
The Women’s RSE jersey uses a seam welded arm grip and welded seams at the waist front and side panels. The rear of the jersey’s waist uses a silicon grip. The silicon grip keeps the back of the jersey from shifting, regardless of rider position.
We both found the Sugois’s RSE Bib Shorts to be very comfortable, very well designed and worthy of their premium price. I loved the chamois’ ability to wick moisture and feel dry. The form fitting design contoured perfectly and stretched without restriction. It was not overly bulky and looked great. Both Karen and I felt the FXE chamois is on par with the top of the line offerings from Specialized, however Karen gave a slight advantage to her uber-expensive Assos chamois.
The fit of the shorts was perfect for me. The XL sizing ran true to other shorts I own, but Sugoi’s unique leg grip was much better than the silicon beads in the shorts I typically sport. Karen felt the leg grip could use be a touch looser, and the S sizing felt a little closer to an XS.
Both of us really liked the bib design. I’m a bib shorts fan, but Karen is new to them. Is she a convert now? Yes. She loved the lack of, or need for, an elastic waist band. In her words: “no more muffin top, no rolling over the waist band; plus they add a sleek torso look”. I have to agree with her, and I’ll add she looks great in them. She also liked the cross back design which permitted her to wear a sports bra, heart rate strap, but never felt as though the front straps wanted to slide forward. The only downside she found was needing to take her top off if she wanted to drop the shorts for a restroom break. I found these bibs to be cooler than any others I ride with, due to the mesh in the upper sections. The stretch in the suspenders was exactly what I needed. We both really liked having the small ID pocket in the rear. And both us felt the shorts were very flattering and looked fantastic on.
Sugoi’s RSE Jerseys were perfect for long hot days and the climbs we typically get into. The full zip was easy to open on the climb and zip back up at the summit. The mesh was fantastic; it permitted full ventilation yet wicked sweat completely. It was almost like riding shirtless. As well, the jerseys look great on. They are trimly cut, incredibly sculpted and made us both feel like cycling models. It’s not quite clear to us why the bottom of the Men’s and Women’s jerseys use a different fabrication design, but we each were pleased with how they performed on the ride. I liked that my jersey didn’t feel stuck to my shorts, and Karen liked the amount of stretch at her the back. They were no restrictions of movement in any direction, which when combined with the really clean design lines, impressed us both.
Sugoi’s RSE line of bib shorts and jerseys performed extremely well for us, and was exceptionally designed and constructed. The RSE lines falls squarely in the premium price range, and is easily on par with other clothing in that price range, but in some ways is close to the most expensive technical cycling clothing lines. Not as expensive as the very top end offerings, we give Sugoi high marks for both functionality and value in the premium cycling clothing segment.
- Makes a fit rider look like a cycling model
- Excellent ventilation
- Sculpted multi panel designs with flat lock seams
- Cross back design for Women
- Nice details like back pockets, zipper flap and waist positions
- Transparent mesh for most of the jersey, with opaque panels in the front
- Ventilated FSE chamois was dry, firm and contoured well
- Bib sizing may run small for Women’s sizes
- Lack of a suspender release for Women’s bibs
- Men’s jersey waist grip was slightly loose
- Flap at the top of zipper would be a nice touch
4.5 out of 5
4.5 out of 5