It’s often said that the best kit you own is the stuff you don’t notice. The kit that does exactly what it says on the tin. I’d started to take this Nike jacket for granted until it saved me from a soaking last night riding home from the club 10. It does what it says on the tin, and it’s become an indispensable bit of my cycling kit. Which is odd, because I hadn’t expected to like it at all.
My first impressions of the jacket weren’t good. It’s made of Pertex. Yuck. Let me explain. Pertex is meant to be a light, breathable, windproof and showerproof fabric. Sounds great. But in reality, every Pertex jacket I have ever used has reduced itself to a cold, clinging, soggy mess at the first sign of drizzle. I guess it’s also no coincidence that Pertex is used to make windsocks and parachutes, because that’s what Pertex jackets usually become in a breeze, or, for that matter, on a bike ride. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like riding with a flappy, noisy parachute strapped to my back. Windproof is good; windsock is not.
So, no, I have not been a fan of Pertex over the years. I expected that I’d just do a couple of rides in this jacket to confirm its flappy sogginess. But a few months later I realised that I wouldn’t be without it. Why this change of heart?
Suits you sir
It’s the cut and the cloth that makes great clothing. Apparently some Texan cyclist called Armstrong has been working with Nike, and he’s really sorted the out the cut and cloth of their cycling kit. Take it from me, that boy will go far. You read it here first. The jacket is cleverly cut. The arms are long and skinny, it’s short at the front, long at the back, and has plenty of room across the shoulders. It’s a proper cycling jacket, not a runner’s jacket with a cycling label on. It fits nice and snug, and doesn’t flap around. OK, if I’m really critical I’ll confess it flaps a bit in a gale, but this is no windsock.
I’ve also been surprised by the water resistance of the fabric. You have to be realistic, if it’s hosing down you’re going to get wet. But in spring showers or drizzle, you’ll be warm and dry in this. Best of all, it’s compact and windproof. Great if you’re travelling light. The attention to detail is also impressive. Zip it up and you’ll notice the nice snug microfibre fleece collar. On a cold winter ride that warm collar makes a hell of a difference. Another nice touch is the fold over top of the zip, which means that it doesn’t dig into your throat. There’s plenty of reflective strips, and at the back there’s zipped access to your jersey pockets and also a zipped mesh pocket. Yup, someone who rides bikes has designed this.
The cut, cloth and quality alone are good enough to justify the price. But this jacket has another trick up its sleeve. Literally.
I must confess that it took me a while to spot that there are actually 3 zips on the front of the jacket. One up the front (obviously) and two ‘secret zips’ running from either side of the neck on a diagonal line under the arms. Once I’d noticed this, I was a bit puzzled and had to investigate.
I discovered that when you undo the two side zips, the arms come off the jacket, leaving you with a nice Pertex gilet. Brilliant. It’s a clever design that makes me chuckle every time I zip the sleeves on or off.
The gilet is perfect for riding to and from evening races, or to keep off the early morning chill on a long summer’s ride. It keeps you nice and warm, while the mesh back means you don’t get sweaty. The arm holes are properly finished with elastic cuffs, so you don’t turn into a windsock. Did I mention the fleece collar? Lovely. Stow the sleeves in the rear mesh pocket, and you’ll be ready for sudden rain showers. Or thunderstorms, like last night.
The best Pertex bike jacket I’ve ever used. Great cut, water resistant, compact, windproof, stylish, and converts to a gilet. Well made, brilliant design. Go buy one.
• Performance: 9/10
• Value: 9/10
• Available Color(s): New Slate, Chrome Yellow, Sport Red
• Available Size(s): Small, Medium, Large, X-Large and XX-Large
• Cost: £69.99