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Category Archives: Cycling Jackets

Cycling Jackets for use in spring, fall and winter bike rides, as well as rain and snow jackets

Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Rain Jacket For Cyclists

I can’t say I enjoy cycling in the rain, but I seem to do it a lot anyway—a good ride in the rain beats a day in the office anytime. In the past ten years I’ve probably purchased a dozen rain jackets for cycling, but most of them fell short of my expectations. A few years ago I read one blogger who said that if you ride in the rain very often you will end up with a Showers Pass jacket, but you will probably waste a lot of money on inferior jackets before you do. Last year I bought a Showers Pass Touring Jacket and liked it so well that I later bought a Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Jacket as well.

Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Rain Jacket For Cyclists

Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Rain Jacket

When it comes breathability in a rain jacket I don’t think you could find anything better than a Showers Pass jacket. On a breathability scale of one to ten, where a one is a plastic trash bag, I’d give a Showers Pass jacket a ten and most Goretex jackets an eight. The breathability of this jacket comes not only from the eVent three-layer fabric, but also from the numerous venting options built into the jacket. This jacket has fully taped seams, 11-inch pit zips under both arms, large gusseted cuffs, and a very large back vent for flow-thru ventilation. There are elastic cinch-cords on both the collar and the hem—you can open them for added ventilation or close them the keep the heat in. The back of the jacket is extra long to keep your backside dry in pouring rain (and it works well).

The front of the Showers Pass Elite 2.0 jacket seals up with a water-resistant full length two-way zipper. There is also a roomy chest pocket (a Napoleon pocket) with an audio port that allows you to keep your iPhone or other audio device dry in the pocket and run a headphone cord up to your ear. The collar on this jacket is made of soft Micro-fleece and is very comfortable. Around the neck is a series of Velcro attachment points so you can attach a rain hood (sold separately). For your safety there is a substantial amount of 3M Scotchlite reflective taping on arms and back (the best I’ve seen on any jacket), and light loop in the middle of the back so you can attach a small LED flasher (I wish all cycling jackets had light loops).

When I reviewed the Showers Pass Touring Jacket I questioned the sanity of anyone who would buy a black cycling jacket. However, as you can see in the photo above, I ended up buying the Elite 2.0 in black, so let me explain why. First, I would never ride on the road in a black jacket, even with the 3M Scotchlite reflective taping. I did not buy this jacket for road cycling—I bought it mainly to use as a shell for winter cycling. On snow-covered off-road trails a black jacket is fine—black fabric has a tendency to attract heat better than other colors and it also contrasts well against the white snow. In addition, when I ride on muddy off-road trails in the rain the black jacket cleans up better (i.e., after clean-up you can’t see the dirt you missed as easily as you can on brighter jackets). I’ve used this jacket as a shell for winter cycling over an Under Armour compression shirt and a fleece jacket and this kept me warm down to about 10 degrees (Fahrenheit).

The only thing I don’t like about this jacket is the slanted zipper on the back storage pocket. The pocket itself is waterproof and very roomy, but I just don’t like the slanted zipper! To be fair, Showers Pass is not the only company to offer rain jackets with a slanted zipper, but I have trouble opening these pockets while riding and I hate to stop when it is raining.

The Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Rain Jacket retails for $240 and if you ride in the rain very much it is worth every penny. This men’s jacket is available in four colors (Black, Chili Pepper Red, Electric Blue, and Goldenrod) and comes in five sizes (S thru XXL). The women’s jacket is only available in three colors (Chili Pepper Red, Crystal Blue, and Goldenrod) and comes in six sizes (Extra-Small thru XXL). I found this jacket to be a little larger than advertised. For the Weight Weenies among us, the large jacket weighs about 13.5 ounces.

 

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Bonfire Radiant Ski And Snowboard Jacket For Winter Cycling

If you ride your bike in the winter and depend on cycling clothing manufacturers to make all of your cold weather gear then you either live in the deep south or you are going to freeze to death. Clothing that was designed for winter cycling in Europe won’t even come close to meeting the needs of winter cyclists in the Upper Midwest of the United States. One of the best pieces of winter gear I purchased last year was the Bonfire Radiant Ski And Snowboard Jacket.

Bonfire Radiant Ski And Snowboard Jacket for winter biking

Bonfire Radiant Ski And Snowboard Jacket

As the name implies, the Bonfire Radiant Jacket is designed for skiers and snowboarders. However, when the temperature drops below zero (Fahrenheit) this jacket will keep cyclists warm even on rides that last all day (or night) long. In fact, this jacket has several great features that most cyclists would love to see on our regular cold-weather cycling clothing. First, this highly breathable jacket is made with waterproof fabric. In case you don’t already know, waterproof fabric doesn’t mean anything if the seams are not sealed—and the seams on this jacket are totally sealed and waterproof. The jacket’s brushed tricot lining means it is very warm, but if you start to overheat you can open the full-length pit zips to let some of the heat out.

The Bonfire Radiant Jacket also has a great powder skirt to keep the snow that is thrown off your tires from getting under the jacket itself. The powder skirt has a small ID holder that is large enough to hold your driver’s license or a few business cards. There are a total of three large zippered pockets in this jacket—two on the side and one on the chest (a goggle pocket). The chest pocket also has a small opening in it so you can run a cord from an iPhone or other electronic device in pocket to your earphones. Other features include a detachable hood, key holder, and a 2-way center front zipper.

Since this jacket was designed for snowboarders it is a several inches longer than a normal cycling jacket—this is actually a good thing since it covers the groin area fairly well (guys, if I have to explain the importance of this to you then you have never been out for a long ride when the temperature was in negative numbers).

I wear the Bonfire Radiant Jacket on rides when the temperature is below zero. With just an Under Armor compression shirt and a thin fleece sweater this jacket keeps me warm and happy for the entire ride. With a thicker fleece liner this jacket should be good down to at least -20 (Fahrenheit).

The Bonfire Radiant Ski And Snowboard Jacket is available in three sizes (M, L, XL) and retails for $200, but both Amazon.com and evo.com have it available for $140. However, I am fortunate enough to live near a Salomon Acr’teryx Outlet Store and was able to pick up it up for only $119. All things considered, this is the best buy on a winter cycling jacket you are likely to ever find. All Bonfire jackets come with a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects (keep your receipt).

 

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Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Jacket For Winter Cycling

If you are looking for a softshell cycling jacket for winter rides you really need to check out the Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Jacket. This jacket is warm, windproof, waterproof and the most comfortable cycling jacket I own.

Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Jacket for winter cycling and biking

Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Jacket

The Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Jacket is incredibly soft inside—it has a brushed thermal fleece fabric that does a great job of keeping you warm and transferring moisture to the outside. The jacket zips on the front and has a full-length internal draft flap and zipper garage. The sleeves are contoured for a great fit and extra long (something I like in winter jackets) and there is ample reflective material on all sides of the jacket to increase visibility at night.

The Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Jacket only has two pockets. On the chest there is a pocket that will easily hold an iPhone, and it even has a small opening so you can run a pair of headphones through it. On the lower back  is one large zippered pocket, and inside of it there are three smaller pockets. These small inside pockets are a bit difficult to get into as you are riding, but I like them anyway. However, I have found that moisture from perspiration tends to build up inside of both pockets. These zippered pockets have very nice pull-tabs for easy opening even if you have a pair of gloves on. The body of this jacket is made of 100% polyester, and the panels are 95% polyester and 5% elastane.

How does this jacket compare other cycling jackets? While I love the wind-stopping power of my Gore Bike Wear Phantom Bike Jacket, I think Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Jacket is at least as good in that department, plus this Pearl Izumi jacket is warmer and more comfortable. However, I like the rear pockets on the Gore jacket better (plus it has detachable sleeves). On the other hand, the Pearl Izumi jacket is the warmest cycling jacket I own.

Since I have several lighter cycling jackets I don’t wear this jacket until the temperature drops down to about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature I wear an Under Armour compression shirt and a Performance Polar Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey under my jacket. When the temperature is in the low 20’s I switch from the Performance Polar jersey to a thin thermafleece layer.

The Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Jacket has a “semi-form fit” which means it will fit most cyclists, except for those who carry a large spare tire around the waist. This jacket is available is five sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL) and appears to be true to size. You can buy this jacket in five different color combinations. The photo above is of a Black/Black jacket (even though it has a bit of red trim). The other color combinations are: Green Flash/Black, True Red/Black, White/Black, and True Blue/White. The list price for this jacket is $150.

 

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Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket

If someone told me that I had to choose one brand of cycling clothing to wear for the rest of my life I would not hesitate for a moment to select Pearl Izumi. While no company can make perfect products every time (except Apple), Pearl Izumi comes very close. However, I don’t believe the Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket lives up to their usual high standards.

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket

The Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket has many great features, including a fabric that offers decent wind protection and water resistance. The convertible part of this jacket is the sleeves—they are held in place by two zippers and several pieces of Velcro. There is a great vent panel on the back of this jacket that provides excellent ventilation. The two zippered hand pockets and one Napoleon (chest) pocket are well-made and roomy. I was also happy with the amount of reflective piping found on this jacket. Both the shell and lining of this jacket are made of 100 percent polyester. Finally, there is an elastic draw cord around waist that can be adjusted with just one hand as you ride (to increase or decrease air movement inside the jacket). This jacket is designed early fall or late spring riding (temps in the upper 40’s or above).

This jacket is available is sizes Small through XX-Large and several colors, including Screaming Yellow, White, Black, True Blue, True Red, Black Plaid and Coffee. The Screaming Yellow jacket is a Hi-Viz Yellow and if you buy this jacket I would recommend this color. Unless you are trying to get hit by a car I would avoid the Black jacket at all costs. I found the jacket to be true to size.

Inferior Zippers On The Pocket

Inferior Zippers On The Pocket

My only problem with this jacket are the zippers. The main zipper on the front of the jacket is fine, but the zippers on the pockets and sleeves are horrible. It took me over five minutes to get the sleeves back on because the zipper just didn’t want to close. I found the zippers on the pockets to be very difficult to use while riding. The zippers are so tight I had to stop my bike and hold the fabric around the pocket just to close it. The inferior zippers make this jacket something I could not recommend.

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket retails for around $100. I bought mine from Amazon.com for $70, then immediately took advantage of their return policy by sending this jacket back for a full refund. It’s really too bad, the jacket has so many great qualities—but that doesn’t mean much if the zippers don’t work!

 

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Showers Pass Touring Jacket

The Showers Pass Touring Jacket is one of the most versatile pieces of cycling clothing I own. Not only is it one of the best rain jackets you can buy, but it also doubles as a shell for winter biking as well. This jacket has many great features, but I will only be able to cover a few of them here.

Showers Pass Tour Jacket

Showers Pass Tour Jacket

The first thing you will notice about this jacket is that it has a roomy cut that allows you to layer your clothing (especially helpful in the winter). The ventilation options on this jacket are incredible. It has two 12-inch two-way pit zips, a full-length back vent for flow thru ventilation, cinch-cords at the hems and highly adjustable cuffs. The 3M reflective taping on the arms and back is superb. This jacket also has a drop-down tail for when the rain just won’t stop and a light loop on the rear vent so you can attach a flasher. The zippered chest pocket has an audio port so you can keep you iPhone dry on the worst of days, yet still listen to your tunes. All of the exposed zippers are waterproof and I’ve never had them fail. The rear pocket is large enough to carry just about anything you need.

This is not a lightweight jacket you can store in your back pocket for emergencies. If you wear this during the summer you better hope the rain doesn’t stop until you reach your destination (unless you have panniers to store the jacket in). If the sun comes out while you are wearing this jacket it is going to get very uncomfortable within just a few minutes.

My favorite use for this jacket is as a winter shell when the temperature drops below 35 degrees. Because of its generous cut you can layer your clothing and still have room to breathe. I start with a simple Under Armour compression shirt, then, as the temperature drops, add a lightweight fleece jacket. When the temps are in the single digits I wear an Under Armour compression shirt and a heavier fleece jacket (one made for snow skiers) and finally the Showers Pass Touring Jacket. Because of the large rear vent I’ve never had a problem with condensation with this jacket.

The Showers Pass Tour Jacket is available in three colors: Black, Electric Blue and Yelling Yellow. Why on earth anyone would wear a black rain jacket is beyond my ability to comprehend. I know the black jacket does a great job of hiding dirt, but it also makes you nearly invisible to traffic (even with the reflective strips). Riding in Ninja Mode might appeal to some, but I think it is stupid. Buy the Yelling Yellow jacket if you value your life.

The list price on this jacket is $150 and I think it is worth every cent. Unfortunately, the hood for this jacket is sold separately ($25 and it only comes in black). I don’t need the hood in the winter because I wear a balaclava under my helmet, but it is well-made and really comes in handy in the rain.

 

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Performance Clear Rain Jacket

The Performance Clear Rain Jacket is the cheapest rain jacket I own—it is also the jacket that has seen the most use. This jacket was never intended to be a high-end rain jacket for touring. It is designed for you to stuff in your back jersey pocket on cloudy days and pull out when the rain starts.

Performance Clear Rain Jacket

Performance Clear Rain Jacket

I have owned this jacket for four years and take it with me on 20 to 30 rides a year, and end up using it on about half of those rides. The jacket rolls up easily and I use a Livestrong armband to keep it wrapped up in my jersey pocket when I am not wearing it.

This jacket is made of vinyl and is both windproof and waterproof. Due to a full-length mesh strip that goes from the cuffs up to the armpit and back down to the waist, the jacket is fairly breathable. Instead of a zipper, this jacket closes with a strip of Velcro that makes it very easy to adjust. Unfortunately, the Velcro strip is not well attached to the jacket, so be careful when opening the jacket. If you spray a bit of Elmer’s Fast Tack Spray Adhesive on the back of the Velcro strip it should stay in place for a long time.

This jacket is available in both clear and yellow. The clear jacket allows people to see your jersey, but the yellow one makes a lot more sense for use on rainy days. Both jackets also have a reflective strip on the back for added visibility.

The Performance Clear Rain Jacket has a retail price of $20 and is available at Performance Bicycle stores and on their Website.

 

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Gore Bike Wear Phantom Bike Jacket

If I had to limit myself to only one cycling jacket it would have to be the Gore Bike Wear Phantom Bike Jacket! I live in the Chicago area and it’s not called the “Windy City” for nothing. The Gore Phantom Jacket is made with Gore’s famous WindStopper fabric and it really makes riding on windy days a lot easier.

Gore Bike Wear Phantom Bike Jacket

Gore Bike Wear Phantom Bike Jacket

This jacket not only stops the wind from penetrating the fabric, but since it is designed to be tight-fitting it reduces drag as well. While they do not claim the jacket is waterproof, I have found it to be highly water-resistant and very breathable. The sleeves easily zip off and leave you with a great vest with quarter-sleeves. It has reflective accents to make your presence known in low-light situations and has the best pockets of any of the jackets I own.

I rode with this jacket during the winter in temperatures down to around 25 degrees (I was also wearing a Performance Polar Jersey and an Under Armour Tactical Longsleeve Crew). I could have ridden with this jacket in colder weather, but I really didn’t want to ruin it with all the grit, grime and slush that splashes up on me in the winter months.

I purchased my jacket from REI for around $170, which is about the same price you’ll find on Amazon.com.

 

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