Date reviewed: October 2023 | Tested by: Ben Cordy | Price: £229.99 & £169.99 | www.spadaclothing.com
In an age that favours vintage and retro styling the Spada Ascent V3 on review here is a beautiful piece of design at a very reasonable price. The suit almost perfectly matches my 2016 Honda CB500X (in Matt Fresco Brown) and I’ve spent the last few months looking uncharacteristically well-paired to my bike. The Ascent has experienced a range of conditions from the unexpected warmth of autumn 2023 to snow, torrential rain and seemingly endless storms in winter. The Ascent has truly been tested to its limits.
The materials used across the Ascent V3 suit are brilliant. The main outer layers of both the jacket and trousers are made from a thick canvas-style material backed by mesh inner liners. With its classic style the black and tan canvas oozes rugged vibes, feeling every bit as tough and durable as you might hope. The seams feel well finished and strong and there’s a confidence-inspiring weight that strikes a fine balance of strength and comfort. The use of softer materials in places such as the collar and cuffs ensure a premium feel while adding to the comfort and practicality. While lots of attention has been given to the look, accents are used sparingly with the tan contrast used to give heaps of character and emphasise the Spada branding without turning the rider into a moving billboard. I can’t help wondering if someone at Spada has a Honda CB500X in the same colour as mine, or maybe a Moto Guzzi V85TT in Atacama Brown, as the colours are such a close match for the Ascent V3.
The durable canvas on the outer has put up with lots of rough riding, mixed weather and some light off-road adventures.
Each time it’s been easy to wipe it down afterwards and it has coped admirably with being dumped on the garage floor or the roadside while running repairs are completed or snacks devoured.
The material has developed a certain patina with light fading on the black and tan sections thanks to heavy sun bleaching and lots of use in the rain. Some might not like this, but I think the finish suits the slightly rustic vibe of the jacket and trousers.
I’m a big fan of the accordion stretch sections in both the jacket and trousers, which fit beautifully with the overall design while adding to comfort and flexibility.
For the most part the jacket fits me well and is cut to a boxy shape in line with the general aesthetics. For me, this makes for a comfortable jacket with just enough room while not being overly baggy.
I was especially pleased to find the arm length to be just right for me, having had issues with other brands having poorly placed elbow armour and flappy wrist cuffs.
The shoulders also take a more boxy shape without being overly bulky or cumbersome, which is helped by the type of armour used in the suit.
I would have liked to cinch the waist in a little more, but that’s personal preference.
Sizing of the trousers proved a little more of a struggle for me. Going by Spada’s size guide I ought to take a 30in waist and a short leg. Unfortunately this size proved very short and once seated on the bike most of my ankle was exposed.
Spada’s customer services team were brilliant and I was able to swap to the regular length, which were much better, however I still found the waist on both to be generous.
Even pulling the waist adjustment in as far as possible still leaves them a little looser than I’d like and with a little more gathered material than is ideal.
Both pairs I tried on seemed to have unusually long crotches. This was no problem off the bike, but I found myself having to hike the trousers up each time I got on the bike so I could sit comfortably on the saddle and reach the floor without feeling tension across the legs. I’ve not experienced this issue before with riding trousers, but occasionally find it when wearing casual trousers over armoured leggings.
Bike gear is usually cut to factor this in more than Spada seems to have done with the Ascent V3. It could be an issue that’s peculiar to me and the bike I ride, so I’d recommend trying them on before you buy, ideally sitting on your bike as a quick trial.
Both jacket and trousers are certified to AA level within the EN17092 CE standard, which is good to see at this price. All seams appear well finished and strong.
Both jacket and trousers are supplied with CE Level 2 limb armour, which is located at shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. The knee and elbow protectors are the larger Type B shape and the protectors are well positioned at every location.
The armour is made from a dense foam and while this initially appears bulky it’s proven to be very comfortable, flexing well even in colder conditions and not proving too clammy in warmer conditions. The only exception to the comfort is the hip armour - although not uncomfortable, this is more noticeable than I’d like.
It’s also great that a CE Level 2 back protector comes as standard. Like the rest of the armour it’s a dense foam that, although bulky, is perfectly comfortable in use. It is also a slightly larger panel than my usual go-to D3O protectors and it can only be a good thing to provide as much coverage as possible.
All motorcycle clothing sold in the UK and Europe is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This is a good thing for riders as it can help them choose kit that has provable levels of safety because, to meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. To fully understand the labels found in all bike kit, click here.
The Ascent V3’s practicality is exemplified in an abundant supply of pockets.
The jacket has two large waist pockets with foldover storm flaps secured by strong Velcro. I’d have liked a popper or two as well, but the Velcro has held up well to lots of abuse.
Behind these pockets are shallow handwarmer pockets, which I appreciated when going for an off-bike wander in the autumn chill.
Above these are two large ‘Napoleon’ pockets secured with both a poppered storm flap and strong, weather-sealed YKK zips.
The addition of chunky zip pullers makes accessing them a breeze even when wearing gloves.
While all of these pockets are outside the waterproof liner they have proven notably more water-resistant than the rest of the outer layer. I wouldn’t say they are entirely waterproof, but they’re good enough that I wasn’t concerned about their contents when caught in a rain shower.
Inside the jacket a phone pocket is tucked to one side of the central opening. This is a good size and just manages to house my somewhat gargantuan Google Pixel phone.
There’s also a large map-style pocket in the mesh liner of the outer jacket along with two more in the thermal liner, one to each side of the torso. It’s a shame there’s not a pocket in the removable waterproof liner as removing the thermal liner takes away any pockets that are protected by this waterproof layer.
The trousers have two pockets, one at each hip. These use the same weather-sealed YKK zips as the jacket and although the openings are quite narrow they are deceptively deep, happily swallowing my phone.
I found these a little less effective at staying dry than the jacket pockets, though I think that’s likely to be due to their position on the body rather than anything materially different.
The quality of the poppers, zips and finishing touches is generally good, however I noticed loose threads appearing around where the Velcro was attached to the jacket pockets, something mirrored on the Velcro used for central jacket opening. In both cases the Velcro panels themselves remain firmly attached and have in no way loosened during many miles of unforgiving use.
The central storm flap seals with one long strip of Velcro, assisted by more at the collar. In both cases they’ve had a lot of abuse over the past few months yet still work well with no signs of fluffing or weakening of the hold. Beneath this is another good-quality large YKK zip, which is easy to operate even when gloved.
The jacket liners are both zipped in. The thermal liner zips to the waterproof drop liner, which then zips to the other jacket just inside the central opening.
The waterproof liner also has a central zipped flap, which bridges the outer jacket’s storm flap and completes the seal from the elements.
At the cuffs the liners secure into the jacket with poppered straps connecting to loops in the waterproof liner and outer jacket respectively.
These did not survive for long. By my second ride in the suit the liner had torn the tabs from the outer material on one leg and one arm. A further attachment loop tore away on the thermal liner within a couple of weeks. Even with all liners in, the jacket wasn’t overly snug on me and I didn’t apply any unnecessary force so I was surprised to see this happen. It’s not happened on other products I’ve worn.
The trousers also use Velcro for the fly, bolstered by a popper and a hook/clasp at the belt line. Both have proven strong and I like the addition of a second fake popper on the outside to complete the look.
As with the jacket, liners are zipped into place at the waist with a poppered loop to hold the end of the legs in place. One failed early on, as also happened on the jacket, which is a shame.
Both the jacket and trousers benefit from adjustment in key areas. The sleeves have traditional Velcro adjusters on the cuffs with mesh-backed zip openings to widen the sleeve ends for fitting gloves or for a breezier fit.
There’s a popper with two positions on the upper wrist and an adjustable strap on the underside of the bicep. The collar is also adjustable via Velcro, however there’s not a great range of adjustment. It’s nice, however, to have a hook to hold the collar open for summer riding.
Waist adjustment is taken care of by a buckle strap to either side, although the range of these is so small they are of little benefit. Zipped expansion segments on the lower hem add a little additional width, although I’d have preferred a mechanism to cinch this hem in rather than widen it.
Velcro straps on each hip, backed by a nice stretchy waistband, allow further adjustment. In my case I have pulled both in as far as they go and this leaves a little gathering of the non-stretchy portion of the waistband.
Adjustment would be improved by a different design at the lower hem and a little more length on the jacket’s waist straps.
That being said, the jacket’s boxy shape suits the retro design and while it could definitely have a closer fit I am perfectly comfortable with the adjustment as it is.
The fact the Ascent V3’s waterproof liner can be removed combines with effective venting to make a suit that is well suited to hot summer rides.
The jacket is especially good at maintaining airflow, helped by a large vent across the upper shoulder blades. I’ve not previously worn a jacket with a vent positioned like this, but it seems to work well.
The weight of the jacket seems to hold the vent open once unzipped and the weather-sealed YKK zip holds it firmly shut when desired.
On the front there are four vents - two horizontal openings just above the chest pockets and two vertical ones to the ribs. These four do their job well although small weather flaps on the chest vents limit the amount of airflow.
Behind the zips all vents have a mesh material that protects the layers below from unwanted flying critters etc.
The trousers are much simpler, with a single vent on each thigh. These are slightly larger than those found on some textile trousers and are very effective in the upright riding position of my CB500X.
When I ride in the standing position they do their job well, resting slightly ajar under the natural tension of the trousers. With the liners removed and vents open they are a great pairing for warmer days.
Overall the Ascent V3 performs well in warmer riding. I suspected the heavier canvas-style material would make for a clammy suit but I am very impressed and would have no concerns heading out for long summer rides.
All in all I’ve been impressed with the warmth of the Ascent V3. It does a good job of not being overly warm on mild days while proving warm enough in temperatures around between five and 10 degrees.
In temperatures below this it was still reasonably warm when worn with modest additional layers, such as a fleece.
The warmth provided by such a thin thermal liner is impressive and I particularly appreciate smaller touches like the elasticated cuffs on the waterproof drop liner. These prevent unwanted draughts and allow the thermal liner to retain more warmth.
All of this is relevant in dry weather, however the Spada Ascent V3’s heat retention is let down considerably by poor waterproofing performance, which is outlined in the section below.
The canvas outer material also holds a lot of moisture so once wet it acts like a cooling blanket, especially when riding at higher speed.
Between the outer canvas shell and the two removable layers there is a very thin mesh liner. It’s attached well to the outer and isn’t overly baggy or voluminous. The attachment points for the thermal and drop liners, however, seem to be sewn to this liner and several of these have torn. I was worried the liner itself was prone to tearing, but the liner appears to have remained intact.
Far and away my biggest disappointment with the Ascent V3 is the waterproof performance. The outer material of the jacket and trousers is not waterproof. Instead there’s a removable waterproof liner, which should keep you dry.
This layering approach has huge benefits in warmer weather as the waterproof liner can be removed to keep you cooler. Inevitably, though, this means the outer layers will get wet even when the liner keeps you dry on the inside.
My first ride in the suit was a 30-minute city commute in rain that was persistent but not especially heavy. I was surprised to find water soaked through to my inner clothes long before I arrived at my office.
This experience was repeated on many occasions, mainly when riding in persistent rain.
On other occasions I’ve spent whole days in and out of rain showers and found only limited rain getting through to my lower layers, if any got through at all.
This left me struggling to trust the suit in less than perfect conditions, and I would certainly avoid wearing it if I expected consistent rain.
On the occasions where it’s leaked I’ve found the arms, crotch and lower torso to be particular problem areas. This leakage, combined with colder conditions, made for some quite uncomfortable rides.
The Ascent also takes a considerable time to dry after a wet ride. Most textile suits I’ve tried, including others with removable waterproof layers, will dry out considerably in the course of my working day.
This was not the case with the Ascent. After one especially soggy ride the suit remained damp even after a weekend spent resting next to radiators and drying racks at home.
Should you wish to put this to use on a daily commute or a multi-day tour you, like me, might not have time to wait for it to dry and could be left putting damp, cold kit back on the following day.
I’m no stranger to the inevitable compromises of suits with removable liners, but the Ascent V3 seemed particularly ineffective at keeping me dry and so I resorted to treating it as a dry-weather suit if at all possible.
When it comes to textile jackets and trousers the options are seemingly endless. Bennetts feature in-depth reviews of many and here are three worthy rivals for the Spada Ascent V3…
The Spada Ascent V3 is one of the best-looking adventure suits I’ve seen in recent years. The choice of tough canvas material clad in a classic tan and black with bold branding and chunky details means that every time I put this on I feel like the Dakar awaits.
Thankfully it’s not just a looker. The Ascent has great pockets, effective ventilation and a fair amount of adjustment. I like its general comfort and despite some hard and heavy use it’s looking great, albeit with a certain patina from everyday use. It’s a very nice suit at a good price.
But… it certainly isn’t perfect. I can’t help feeling very disappointed by the wet weather performance. While this won’t be a deal breaker for some, for me it throws a bit of shade on an otherwise brilliant set-up.
If you have the luxury of riding only in the dry, or can even have alternative kit to wear in the wet, then this is a beautiful bit of kit. I for one will still be reaching for the Ascent as much as possible, embracing my inner Dakar legend and cruising the dales of Yorkshire. But I’ll be dodging the rain clouds as much as I can.