RST Paragon Jacket Review
The first textile jacket I ever bought for a bike was a Lookwell Goldline back in 2000. It cost about £200, and stayed waterproof despite hundreds of thousands of miles of all-year-round use and even a few crashes.
It was only this year, 13 years later, that I decided to replace it because most of the waterproof membrane was literally dropping out of it!
And you can bet I would have bought another, if I could find one…
As I couldn’t, I started trawling the local bike stores for something of similar quality.
The first thing that shocked me was the lack of armour in modern jackets. The Lookwell has pretty sturdy armour, but I wouldn’t call it extreme. It’s probably on a par or a bit less than a decent set of leathers. None of the new jackets, from any make, could match it for thickness and feel, other than perhaps the one I chose. Back protection is virtually non-existent, shoulder armour thin, and elbow/forearm so flimsy you may as well wear a long-sleeved hoody.
This was testing jackets from Alpine Stars, Spidi and other top brands – and my budget was (to a point) unlimited.
RST’s top line Paragon jacket was the only one that came close to decent armour, with an excellent back protector built in.
It was that which sold it to me, combined with a material feel of the outer layers that felt like it might actually survive sliding down the road – almost all the others felt like you could tear them with your hands, if you tried hard enough!
The price was £180. So you’d expect the ‘waterproof’ claims to be justified, right?
A few days later, I tested it in a light shower of rain on a 30 minute journey. Water came straight through the arms and shoulders soaking my work shirt.
I emptied a few cans of waterproofing spray onto the jacket, and that seems to have sorted it out, but I still have no confidence and wear a storm jacket over the top for any rain…
And the pockets are made of that red nylon stuff that bike gear companies seem to love?! Looks cheap, acts cheap, and once it starts to de-thread, there’s no recovering it. You may have experienced it on rucksacks as the lining that falls apart within seconds.
I also had a couple of the rivet fasteners pop off, so maybe build quality isn’t quite what I thought… They’re not any parts which I use, and it hasn’t affected my use of the jacket in any way, so rather than taking the jacket back I’ve just kept it.
There are vents and zips and stuff all over the Paragon jacket, but again, it’s more show than go. In the Summer, it just about keeps temperatures bearable on and off the bike, but it doesn’t really direct the air to the bits where you need it. Expect sweaty underarms, and also on the tops of your shoulders. The good news about this is that it’s pretty warm in Winter – so much so that I don’t think I actually used the thermal lining during last Winter!
Other than that, in the year I’ve had the jacket, it has held up pretty well. Better than it was looking in the first six months – when all the above happened.
It would be hard to say that I wouldn’t buy one again, just because of the vastly superior armour over most other jackets – but in all honesty I would try extremely hard to find an alternative. The flaws just seem way too basic, and I think a company like RST should have the experience by now to be able to avoid them all.