RSD Zuma Jacket Review
It isn’t often that a brand can bridge the gap between heritage and timeless. Most of the time, apparel manufacturers can successfully appropriate classic or vintage design aesthetics, giving them a light refresh and passing them onto us.
That’s all well and good, and by my own admission, I own plenty of that vintage-inspired gear.
But Roland Sands Design – RSD – has always been able to do a bit more with that design choice; simply pumping out a retro look isn’t enough for the Southern California-based firm.
A jacket, for most people, is something that they’re going to sink a good chunk of change into and wear for the rest of their riding career. When you’re opening up your wallet, the motorcycle jacket has to be the right choice. And the RSD Zuma fits the bill for all forms of street riding.
Constructed out of 100-percent premium buffalo leather, in the thickness range of 1.0 to 1.2mm, the Zuma is making use of some fine materials. Binding it all together is some flawless stitching that RSD has, at least in this reviewer’s mind, allowed to be a prominent figure in the look – letting it add some serious panache to the whole package, especially the Timber (right) color choice.
So what separates the RSD Zuma from another retro-rehashing? That’s a pretty easy question to answer. Found on the Zuma are modern comfort additions like accordion paneling on the rear; pre-curved arms; bumper foam paneling on the shoulders; a sport hump; and stretch paneling on the interior of the arm. All of these exterior design elements, when applied to a vintage-minded piece of apparel, go over well. This is a functional jacket, meant to be ridden. Whether that be aggressive sport riding, café, commuting or touring, the RSD Zuma is the ultimate choice.
The Zuma has a fair bit of ventilation, lightly used on the front but prominently featured on the rear. Branding is tasteful but also functional. Across the lower chest is a sizeable RSD logo done in perforation. Some riders tend to gravitate towards brands that keep their logos a bit more discrete, and while the RSD branding is a decent size, it seems to blend in quite well. We’ve been having a serious heat-wave in Southern California, and having spent some time in the Zuma, I’ve been able to stay quite comfortable.
Another big step in the right direction is something that might be overlooked by most users. On the collar you’ll find a neoprene lining. When first wearing the Zuma, that’s something that I picked up on immediately; there is no chaffing to be had at the collar which many jackets and suits are guilty of doing, regardless of quality or brand. That neoprene collar extends to the rear, moving up just shy of the hairline and what that will do is match up with your helmet, giving you some extra protection from the elements. That is some attention to detail from RSD.
Mentioned earlier, the Zuma uses pre-curved arms with stretch paneling in the shoulder and elbow areas. That’s quite suggestive – this jacket is best matched with clip-ons suggestive. But it’s perfect whether you’re in an upright, sport, or cruiser riding position. The Zuma leather is malleable and works with the rider, not against him or her, and having worn it in all those settings, I’m willing to attest to its versatility.
In terms of adjustment, there is a bit of wiggle room. Large Velcro hip adjusters that can soak some room at the waist, wrist zippers that don’t bind with the liner, two pockets and a collar clasp round out the exterior.
And that is exactly why I’ve said that the RSD Zuma bridges the gap between heritage and timeless – because they’ve designed the jacket the right way, taking a few concepts of old and bringing them into modernity with taste and charm. Those design principles go outside points of reference and pop-culture; they’re entities unto themselves – unique to the end and authenticity isn’t often balked at, no matter the year.
That’s what can be found on the surface. In terms of protection, RSD has sprung for SAS-TEC CE certified Level 2 armor throughout the shoulder and elbows. This is a huge plus for the brand for a few reasons. First off, RSD typically doesn’t include armor in its jackets. While most jackets can accept them, that’s usually something that we consumers have to go-in for. A foam back protector is included in the Zuma and can accept, from what we can tell, a wide variety of back protectors.
On the interior the Zuma features one “napoleon pocket” along with a mesh liner in a stunning red. RSD have always been a brand that goes in for the bold, even when it’s for your eyes only, so to speak. And RSD have kept the interior fitment form fitting, meaning that there isn’t a lot of opportunity for the liner to bunch up.
Weight is another huge plus here. Despite the fact that you’re getting some serious protection and quality leather, the Zuma is incredibly light. That’s something that we often forget – when riding for long periods of time, fatigue can set in much faster if you’re being loaded down by cumbersome equipment and in this case, the Zuma was built for movement. In a related point, the Zuma is comfortable out of the box, meaning the break-in period is about as long as your first ride – whatever that might be.
The one flaw with the Zuma? It’s not an all-weather jacket. But I’m certainly nit-picking with that statement and quite honestly, it’s impossible to be all things to all people. For rainy and truly cold weather, a base layer would be required – then again, most jackets are in need of that. Just keep that in mind when you’re making your purchase because base layers affordable.
Leather is about the patina. It’s about taking something off the rack, shiny and new, making it your trusted confidant while out on the road. After some time, it will be able to help tell your story when getting hydrated at the gas station out in the canyons, or slung over the back of your favorite establishments chair, as the Zuma forms to you.
Many brands pre-wear a jacket for you, giving it that rugged, passed-down look and RSD knows that riding is about your experience, so they aren’t taking the easy way out and giving you something that is inauthentic. No, you’re going to have to tell your own tales with the Roland Sands Design Zuma, and the good news is, it’ll be along for the ride.
The RSD Zuma has an MSRP of $750. It’s available in Black or Timber and currently at all major motorcycle retailers. For additional information, visit RSD Zuma.
RSD Zuma Features:
- Genuine, top grain buffalo leather (1.0-1.2mm thickness)
- Aggressive riding fit with rotated, pre-curved sleeves, dropped back and relaxed collar opening
- Stretch nylon panel sleeve inserts
- Zip pockets and cuffs
- Side adjustable waist tabs
- RSD race hump
- SAS-TEC CE certified Level 2 shoulder and elbow armor included
- Foam back protector included