Cycling jackets - for adaptable protection against wind and rain
Cycling jackets are an essential part of cycling these days and provide a high degree of comfort on long trips and in everyday life. Mountain bike, road bike, trekking bike...whatever your bike there's a fabric to suit your needs. There are jackets to protect you against the wind, jackets to protect you against the rain and jackets to keep you warm. There are even jackets that do all three. But what sets cycling jackets apart from conventional rain, wind and thermal jackets? The main difference is the fit which is adapted to the riding position. Another crucial factor, especially for competition and training, is the weight of the jacket.
A secure and comfortable fit on the bike
Thanks to their cycling-specific designs, cycling jackets provide optimal comfort and weather protection in a sitting position on the bike. Specifically, this means that they come with an extended back and long sleeves and usually a non-slip, or at least elastic, hem. This means that your kidneys and arms remain covered and protected from the elements.
Cycling jackets come in special versions for men and women.
The difference is in the fit, which is tailored specifically to the female/male form. Manufacturers like Maloja, Scott and Endura also take gender into consideration when it comes to designs and colors.
The right cycling gear for all weather conditions
Depending on the weather conditions, cyclists can choose between wind and rain jackets, with or without thermal insulation and hard or soft shell. A lightweight cycling jacket with windproof features is of great benefit on drafty routes. These come in ultra-light versions which can be compressed and packed in the jersey pocket or in comfortable softshell designs with integrated Windstopper membrane and thermal insulation in some models. In the case of softshell jackets, when on longer tours you should travel with panniers or a backpack to store the jacket when not in use. The advantage of a soft shell jacket is its breathability, which ensures a balanced climate is maintained within the jacket, even on arduous ascents. Some softshell jackets, like those by Löffler are also available in practical zip-off versions: Zips allow you to remove the sleeves and convert the long-sleeve jacket into a cycling vest.
When there is the possibility of rain, go for a hardshell jacket. Waterproof cycling clothes keeps you nice and dry, but even the most minimalist designs are bulkier and heavier than ultralight windbreakers. They are also not as breathable as windproof softshell jackets. However, their big advantage is that they offer two functions in one: Thanks to an integrated membrane, hardshell jackets are also windproof!
What to look out for when buying a cycling jacket...
In order to get the most out of your cycling jacket you should consider exactly what you need before buying. Do you prefer taking a relaxed ride on your trekking bike or are you an ambitious road racer? Do you ride in cold, wet conditions or is the odd gust of wind the most extreme weather you experience when riding? Race-oriented road cyclists and mountain bikers will benefit from light weight, minimal drag and windproof features and should go for aerodynamic, ultra-lightweight windbreakers or softshell jackets. Enduro mountain bikers, on the other hand, require robust protection against rain, wind and mud and are better served with a comfortable, insulating softshell or hardshell jacket. For trekking and everyday cyclists it is not only about functionality, but also comfort and thermal insulation in some cases. A good fit should not be underestimated. The last thing you want is sleeves that are too short or a back which doesn't keep you covered when leant forward on the bike. X-Bionic, Mavic and Pearl Izumi offer free-moving, individually-designed cycling gear, which doesn't take the fun out of cycling.