Is Rukka’s motorcycle clothing worth the extra cost?
Rukka has a reputation for excellent quality, but the heady pricing can be too much for many people. Is the extra cost worth it and, if it is, why?
There is no doubt, Swedish brand Rukka is pricey for textiles and leather suits, but is it worth the big bucks? After one ‘soggy crotch’ too many in cheaper – albeit pretty decent – gear I took a deep breath and decided to take the Rukka plunge.
Initially, I bought the cheapest entry, which is the Flexius jacket. I say cheap yet it still cost around £600 at the time (you can get it for around £450 currently). I also purchased the Flexius trousers for around £300 which brought the total cost to the best part of a grand, a proper spanking for the credit card. The jacket you see in the pics is actually the Editor’s five-year-old Rukka Pablo mid-range jacket, used for illustration purposes only – illustrating how well this gear lasts.
The Flexius has a Gore-Tex inner membrane plus the hard-wearing Cordura outer. I would have loved to step up to the suits with Pro Shell technology (the Gore-Tex is bonded on to the Cordura outer) but the price just felt too much at the time given the entry model was already twice the price of my previous gear.
After nearly four years in Rukka gear now, I can tell you the money was well spent. Despite being caught in numerous storms on my various adventures I have remained completely dry throughout. Windchill was significantly reduced compared to other clothing I’ve had and the comfort levels are extraordinary.
But I’ve found that what really sets Rukka gear apart is the quality and thoughtfulness of the design – positioning of pockets, collar height, sleeve cuff design, fastening systems and so on. There are no little creeps of wind under trouser cuffs, no opportunities for run-off from your helmet to sneak down your neck. It’s even easy to undo just one button to get at your wallet during a fuel stop. It’s this, plus the quality feel of all of the materials and components like zips and poppers, that makes the clothing worth the money because you benefit on every ride, not just when it rains.
I used the suit for around three years before an accident took its toll. The trousers weren’t affected (in fact I still use them) but the jacket did its job with the D30 armour performing very well and all of my skin intact. It was only the Welsh emergency services having to cut away various parts of the jacket that meant it had to be binned…
Even though the jacket had been completely waterproof, warm, resilient and brilliantly designed, a replacement was still a large purchase and I spent a number of weeks placing stuff into online baskets, only to baulk at the total outlay, seeing as I was saving for a house.
With a trip down to the Jurassic coast during a typically English March fast approaching, I decided ‘fuck it, just get one ordered’. The question was, do I try the more costly Pro Shell range this time with the bonded Gore-Tex outers, compared to the membrane I had previously had in the cheaper of the range?
It had been some time since I had used the suit in truly bad weather but a particular trip to Spain a couple of years before stuck out in my mind. Reaching the top of a mountain pass, having ridden for over an hour in heavy rain, my group stopped at a taverna and shod our kit by the fire to dry out whilst we had a well-deserved lunch. It was my jacket creating a rather large pool of water while hanging on the back of a chair, compared to the others in the group with the Pro jackets where the water had simply run off, that stuck in my memory (mine was dry inside but sodden and far heavier for it too).
With this image sticking with me some years later, I decided an upgrade had to be worth it, no matter the cost. Still smarting at the full retail price I spent some time sourcing a deal online for a Pro jacket, eventually finding a Rukka Armaxion for ‘just’ £499 at Helmet City, a saving of £400 on the full retail list price. The jacket model was a few years old, but I’m not buying it to look good (although I have to say I do, according to the missus).
The more you pay, the better the little details too. My new jacket has improved sleeves for instance, with an internal sleeve that your gloves cover, then the outer sleeve that zips over the top creating an airtight seal. It also has fully waterproof outer pockets, unlike my previous non-Rukka jacket which nearly always got the contents wet, invariably with my wallet and phone inside…
So, sure enough, come the trip in March it rained, and the jacket did an excellent job, not only of keeping me dry but also not soaking up the water so it remained relatively lightweight. The trousers are still 100% waterproof all these years later but do retain the water, especially on the lower legs where the spray from the wheels hits and they were pretty sodden when we got to our hotel.
Another angle to consider is the gear’s longevity. I know of people still wearing the same Rukka jacket after ten years. It could be a false economy to go for cheaper kit that only lasts a few years.
Essentially, the kit from Rukka is excellent and I feel worth the price tag, although do look for a deal on the Pro stuff – if you get the latest and greatest you will be in for almost two thousand pounds for the current top of the range suit.
When my current trousers have had enough I’ll replace them for a pair of Pro trousers, as the beauty of the Rukka kit is that it all zips together, no matter which product in the range you choose. Bearing in mind the standard Rukka warranty is five years and others are still happy with their Rukka gear after a decade has gone by, I could be waiting some time.