Three of the best: Bike jackets
With a quality bike jacket, there's no excuse for not riding in all but the most extreme weather this winter. Nik Cook picks his top three
Endura’s Convert costs (just) less than a hundred quid and could genuinely see use in all four seasons. It’s a sensible mid-weight softshell but very versatile due to its removable sleeves. In the cold, with a base layer and winter jersey underneath and the sleeves on, it keeps the wind out well and provides some insulation and protection against showers. Overall fit is good, the front zip is baffled and the collar seals well, but the cuffs could be a bit snugger.
If you start to heat up, you can increase ventilation by partially unzipping the arms, or whip them off completely to give you an excellent softshell gilet. With three stretchy rear pockets there’s plenty of room to stow the arms, and you’ve also got zipped rear and chest pockets. On warmer days you could start off in the gilet because it just about rolls down small enough to fit in a standard jersey’s rear pocket.
BBB Control Shield
With large hi-vis panels, this jacket will get you seen in the gloom of winter but it’ll also keep you warm. It’s super-soft and fleecy on the inside, delivering a high level of insulation, and the exterior windproofing is also excellent. If the temperature rises you pay a little for this warmth with a lower level of breathability than some other jackets but, below 5°C, it’s perfect. For a softshell, protection against showers is really good and, even in a fairly prolonged downpour, you can see the water beading off.
Fit is good on the bike with long arms, tight cuffs, a high collar and a silicone strip on the hem. The zip baffle also seems to have additional weatherproofing. There’s no skimping on storage, with two easy-to-access open pockets for bars and gels flanking a large, central, zipped pocket. Not enough? Well, you’ve got another two zipped pockets that sit conveniently on your hips.
The yellow hi-vis is a departure from Rapha’s über-cool colour palate but this jacket is billed as a winter workhorse and that’s exactly what it is. The specially designed laminate makes it very soft for a hardshell – there’s no ‘plastic-bag’ feel or crinkliness to it. Fit is perfect with a drawstring hem, soft-sealing cuffs and a snug, plush collar. It’s not a hardshell to have stowed in case of rain – you’d wear it from start to end of a ride – but it doesn’t feel like a traditional hardshell and breathes brilliantly.
The three large pockets, plus two additional zipped ones, take care of storage with room to spare and when the rain falls, you can see it beading and rolling off. Taped seams and a baffled, offset main zip ensure no sogginess seeps through. Along with the colour, it’s also got reflective logos, so you’ll be seen.It’s the perfect British winter jacket – but it’d need to be for the hefty price tag.