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Sunday, 6 November 2011

Customer review: Bontrager RL Windproof Softshell Jacket

I would love as many 'reader reviews' as possible. These are not meant to be fawning reviews, but rather 'real world' reports. If an item is great, please say (and why). If it sucks, please say and we will no longer stock it! Either way these reviews are meant to aide your fellow riders.

This is from Tony H. It is his first review, I have told him given how much kit he has bought he has alot of reviews to do !

I love the occasional chats I have with drivers in London - but "I didn't see you" still has a lot to do before it becomes the start of a great friendship. so "Being Seen" is probably just worth accepting as part of the tapestry of urban riding. Having said this I struggle with getting into Health & Safety jackets that are more suited as mainsails for a round the world yacht race and get instantly clammy when wet. So I was pleased to see the new Bontrager orange softshell jackets hanging up at Barry's new shop - and I thought I'd give one a go.

First impressions - the sizing seems to come up a little small, and it's an Assos style fit that leaves no flapping fabric - (in fact if you enjoy your mince pies zipping up could be an issue, so try before you buy). Arm length was excellent, not leaving them short like a lot of commercial jackets, and as I found out on the bike later, the zips were very smooth and easy to operate - so no need to bite the jacket whilst performing a mid-ride zip up.

The features on the jacket are well thought out, and very bike specific - this isn't a running cross-over jacket. Just a single chest pocket on the front, ideal for a phone (left hand side, so more friendly for us righties) whilst there is a left rear access to a cycling jersey inside, and a right rear internal net pocket. The main central rear pocket is a bit skinny, but I'd guess you'd be wearing a standard jersey underneath in any case - so stuff you need in a hurry, like your pound coins for the Box Hill cafe. I haven't tested the jacket in heavy rain, it worked well in light drizzle, but I would guess this jacket would struggle in a continued downpour like most other jackets.

And then there's the colour - glowing Christmas tangerine that will play havoc with perfectly co-ordinated Assos or Rapha wardrobes, but here's my point. At dawn or dusk in the city, when we do a lot of our cycling in Autumn or Spring, it needs to stand out. IMHO reflective strips just don't work like they do in the country, and black, grey and blue just disappear into the background. You've got to back it up with lights, but this just improves your chances of snapping that dozing driver back into reality before they end up decorating their bonnet with you.

The other nice thing is that it's "only £90 (or £89.99 to be exact), so you can save your posh Assos for the next sunny club run, which I'd guess would be about next April....

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