Gore Bike Wear Xenon Race jacket £179.99
Take a large helping of the Paclite material used in the previously tested Oxygen, add a dash of Comfort Mapping and a spot of stretch inserts and you’ve got the brand new Xenon Race jacket.
Gore Bike Wear is clearly enjoying developing its Xenon range, as it continues to expand it every year – the design, styling, materials and fit proving popular with riders. When the range launched in 2005, there were just two items to choose from, but as we enter 2008 there’s over a dozen.
The Xenon Race is the latest, and perhaps most interesting. As with all Xenon items the jacket is designed to be close fitting and lightweight for sportier riders. It also boasts Comfort Mapping, which has been introduced over the past couple of years. Comfort Mapping tailors the fit and comfort of its clothing more closely to the demands of the cyclist. With the Race, we find Stretch Paclite is employed, placed along the rear of the arms and down the sides of the jacket. This, combined with the closer fit, gives a greater deal of flexibility when riding than other Gore jackets.
The use of Comfort Mapping, combined with the Ergonomic 3D cut, provides a jacket that fits just right, and is definitely on the tight side. It’s ideally suited to more aggressive riding, and particularly when on the drops, as the hugely dropped rear tail and higher front means there’s loads of coverage when crouched over the bike. In normal sit-up-and-beg positions the high front can lead to the midlayer becoming exposed. The waist is elasticated, as are the cuffs, but here the addition of Velcro snugs the arms up nicely. The inside of the arms is coated with a material that is more comfortable next to the skin.
Paclite is a remarkably lightweight material, and so can be used as a backup, stowed in a rear pocket and only brought into play to avoid a soaking. But it can be used on longer rides as your main jacket of choice, though some may find Paclite a little lacking in breathability. Gore claim Paclite is ‘Guaranteed To Keep You Dry,’ and this certainly can’t be faulted.
Features are on the light side, but this fits with the jacket’s race intentions – if you want a more feature laden jacket there are better options in the Gore range. Here, there is one zipped rear pocket and, improving comfort, fleece lining on the collar. The zip puller has a little ‘pocket’ to nestle beneath when in its uppermost position, and to aid in unzipping the jacket when on the bike there’s small piece of folded over ‘leatherette’ material on the collar, allowing you to bite the collar while with a free hand undoing the zip.
The low weight and impressive waterproofing performance make this a must have for wet riding. At the time of writing this review, the rain has been fairly consistent, and the Race has been pulled into use on more than a few occasions. Each time the wearer has arrived home or at the RCUK office completely dry. And that can’t be a bad thing.
There’s more than a nod towards road safety, with loads of reflective material dotted over the front and rear of the jacket in a particularly stylish manner. The arms too are decorated with the same approach. Five colours are available, and sizes from S to XXL.