It’s that time of the year again when many of us are rummaging through the wardrobes trying to find our riding jackets after a few months of bike hibernation. If yours comes out looking a bit tired, this is the perfect time to invest in a new one as all the manufacturers are bringing out new and updated garments. With the amount of different jackets on offer there’s something to suit all styles, many of them featuring impressive safety and weather protection solutions.
Whether you use your bike for a 15-minute daily commute in the summer months or rack up the miles as an all-year tourer, there are some features that all jackets should have. Abrasion and impact protection, water and wind resistance as well as ventilation are common features of all good jackets. In addition you might want lots of pockets, a thermal lining and, of course, a style to suit you. Whatever your requirements, there are plenty of options out there
Ideally, the perfect jacket has all the protective elements and cool features that you want, and it looks great. Depending on the budget and the wish list this might not always happen, so the key is to pick and choose the most important features for your riding style.
Body armour is a key part of your riding equipment and many jackets come either with protectors already in place or ready for you to add them in the elbows, shoulders, back and sometimes chest. Levels of protection vary so be sure to check that you get what you want.
RIDE IN STYLE
Your jacket should fit snugly, but not restrict movement. Different cuts suit different riding styles: sports jackets are usually shorter and tighter than touring jackets, which tend to be looser fitting and offer greater weather protection. There are also retro-style wax jackets, hoodies, bomber jackets and various other styles to choose from.
It’s worth checking that your jacket has reflective elements (piping, logos or styled patches). Brightly coloured hi-vis gear is great for making you more visible in daylight, but after dark it doesn’t matter what colour your gear is — unless you have reflective gear, other road users will struggle to see you.
If you want to ride your bike all year round, a jacket with a thermal lining helps you keep warm on the cold days. If the liner is removable, even better! That means that you can remove it when the temperature rises, making the jacket suitable for both summer and winter use.
Light mesh jackets or ones with lots of vents are good for warm weather, but not the cold or wet. Many textiles come with a Gore-Tex (or similar) lining that’s designed to be waterproof but still breathable, keeping you dry without making you sweaty.
Some jackets feature zips at the hem so they can be connected to a matching pair of trousers to form a suit. This seals out the elements and helps the garments stay on and protect you in case of a crash.
PLAY IT COOL
The hot days of summer may still seem like a dream, but when the sun finally comes out in force it’s great to have a jacket with good ventilation to keep you cool. Many jackets feature zipped vents that you can open and close depending on the weather.
STUFF YOUR POCKETS
Some jackets have so many pockets that it could take you a good few minutes to find your keys. Others, especially the sporty ones, have only just enough room to carry your wallet, mobile and keys.