Here in Minneapolis, MN, the 4th largest cycling city in the US, we ride year round. Rain, snow, sleet, wind, hail, January, we ride. When I got the opportunity to review the Sugoi Versa bike jacket ($125) I had to move blazing fast. September was upon me, one of two months where chilly mornings require a jacket but the mild and moderate afternoons require just a vest or a set of arm sleeves.
How did the Sugoi Versa hold up to the harsh conditions of September’s morning commutes at 50-55 degrees and wind raging from the northwest, and evening commutes in the high 60’s to mid-70’s?
Function: The Sugoi Versa delivers on the three key pieces of outerwear that every cyclist need: a jacket, a vest, a shrug/arm sleeves. To make the switch from jacket to vest to shrug is beyond simple.
What as I demonstrate!
While wearing the vest, put on the shrug and hunch your shoulders and stretch your arms until you hear all magnets “snap!” together. Lining up the magnets is critical and takes some practice. If you don’t get them in a perfect line, the jacket peels open and catches the wind.
Fit: I wear a size small and the size small Sugoi Versa has just the right amount of room to accommodate shirt weights that range from the standard thin cycling jersey to a thicker, low-gauge merino wool long sleeved shirts. The arms are long enough to fully cover my wrists while stretched over the bars, and are still roomy enough to fit over a long-sleeved shirt without constriction. Did I mention the sleek silhouette? It has a sleek silhouette.
Quality/comfort: It’s comfortable. The fabric is a wind-resistant, non-stretch shell. A soft fleece lines the collar to both wick moisture on high exertion days and adds warmth to the neck on cooler, low-exertion days. There is also a mesh panel on the back that provides good ventilation. How does its ventilation compare with every other cycling jacket out there that toots its own horn as being “highly breathable”? It’s comparable. No better, no worse.
Durability: Another bike commuter at my office sneered at the Sugoi Versa and said “Nice, but those magnets will lose magnetism over time and it’s not like you can take it to a seamstress or tailor to have new ones installed, unlike zippers.” So I Googled it. He’s sort of right. Magnets can lose their magnetism. But only when smashed with a sledge hammer, exposed to a demagnetizing magnetic field of opposite polarity or heated above a point known as the Curie temperature (1,060 degrees Fahrenheit).
Note: Only a complete moron would throw himself/herself into these scenarios.
The boo/hiss: It is neither water-proof nor water-resistant. So, you’ll just have to check the weather each morning, yah?
Final conclusion: It has all the features I like in a jacket (good fit, decent ventilation, convertible, zippered chest pocket with cord port for my iPod.) What sets it apart from so many others I’ve tried over the years is the unique design with the magnets. This sucker is EASY to convert from jacket to vest and vest back to jacket and doesn’t require you to dick around with lining up zippers.
If I may be so bold, I would totally buy this for myself if Sugoi hadn’t provided me a sample for this review. In fact, I bought one for my husband for his birthday.