The Solo RT jacket is versatile, offering a relaxed fit, some pleasing features, and an appearance as suited to the pub as the chain gang.
The fit was good, the medium size offering a relaxed fit, but without excess material. The long-suffering other half declared my appearance ‘respectable’, for once not appearing to have been stuffed into clothes too small.
There is a good length in the body of the jacket with the back long enough to bend over the bars and chomp on some tough winter miles. A soft elasticated hem held it in place and matching cuffs kept the draught out; the latter effectively sealing the hands from the wind when worn with gloves equipped with similarly deep cuffs. I’d describe my build as average for a cyclist, and found it to be a comfortable jacket.
The collar is high, but proved a little large in diameter for my neck, and allowed a draught to penetrate the jacket from the small gap. The Solo Merino collar was therefore put to good use, filling the space between jacket and neck with, as teh name suggests, soft merino wool. The length of the collar is great, and it means that you can easily cover tips of ears, concertina it under your chin as a neck ruff, or use it as a hat if you require.
In cold weather, the Solo RT Jacket is great as part of a layered outfit: the usual base, jersey and jacket combination proved more than equal to the challenge of the penetrating damp and cold of the last month. It is an outer garment, however, that requires some additional layering. Some of our acquaintance are warm enough to wear only with a base layer: a bonus in winter, perhaps, but limiting in spring and autumn. In this regard, the Solo RT is more versatile: a piece for winter when worn with a jersey and base layer, and perhaps also for spring and autumn with the jersey discarded and worn only with a base. We’ll find out in the coming months.
In wet conditions, the chest and shoulders of the Solo RT jacket proved an adequate barrier to rain. The cuffs and hem proved less effective, however, and became a little sponge-like in heavy rain. This is a jacket most at home in cold and windy weather, fending off blasts of road spray or mist as opposed to torrential rain. In fairness to Solo, they make no great claims for waterproofing, with the exception of the secure rear pocket (more of which later) and this jacket does exactly what it sets out to achieve – keeping you warm and dry in cold weather when the road is damp. The windproof front panel means that on cold mornings you do notice that whilst your chest is warm your sides are initially cool until you reach operating temperature.
Pockets were handy, and easy to access on the move. The zippered pocket held an iPhone easily and securely. Its waterproofing provided an effective barrier from the rain but caused some condensation build up.
The secret side pocket, a neat and integrated design feature, we found well-placed for a credit card or keys.
The reflective strips on the front of the arms were an elegant way of indicating turns to oncoming traffic. They were very clear and bright, and emphasised not only the arm stuck out for signaling, but also the arm holding the handlebar, which took on the appearance of a vertical bar.
A final word on the aesthetics. The aforementioned use of reflective material makes it suitable for commuting, while its ‘stealth’ appearance places it at home on the chain gang. That said, it doesn’t scream ‘racing cyclist’ and as such won’t leave you feeling self-conscious on the post-ride pub stop.