For years the cycling commuter was an outcast. Not taken seriously by Lycra-clad velophiles and honked at by envious, mainly stationary, motorists. But recently commuters have enjoyed a new lease of life, enjoying a style all of their own.
The leading brands have started to realise that some cycle wear requires a life beyond the bike path, and, with Levi’s even revamping the legendary Trucker jacket for the ride to work crowd, it seems the crossover from the street to the saddle is blossoming.
Jackets now range from all-out street style to hi-vis survival gear and where you place your needs along that spectrum will depend on your ride requirements and your fashion priorities. Whatever your needs, here are some key things to consider the next time you treat yourself…
Taping is used to seal the seams in a waterproof jacket on the inside. It does add bulk, though, and reduces breathability – so some of the jackets here trade a bit of seam-leaking for a better overall performance.
It’s no good keeping rain out if you become soaked by sweat from within. Different fabrics have different water vapour transfer rates but cut, lining and vents all make a significant difference to how dry you stay.
The worst enemy of your wet weather gear is your washing machine. Detergents strip off waterproof coatings and conditioners will clog the pores and fibres that help fabric wick and breathe. Always read washing instructions.
To be officially waterproof a garment has to withstand the pressure of 1,000mm of water without leaking. This test concentrates on jackets that keep rain at bay, so you stay warm however foul the forecast.
Pockets, hoods and zipped vents might seem a good idea on a hanger, but not if they make a jacket too bulky to shove in your back pocket when you’re not wearing it. Extra features will all add to the cost too.
Insider Info: Keep your jacket waterproof for longer
Cycling can be a dirty business, with oil, sweat and grime all being part and parcel of the cyclist’s life. This means that your jacket will at some point need washing – and washing will diminish a jacket’s waterproofing qualities.
To help maintain waterproofing and breathability always follow washing instructions – on the label or the manufacturer’s website. Gore-Tex, for example, warns against using conditioner. There are products from Nikwax and Granger’s that are designed to protect the DWR (durable water repellent) coating for materials like Gore-Tex and eVent, with some clothing labels directly recommending certain washing and reproofing agents. But take care and always follow the instructions.
Click here to see a range of great commuting jackets.
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