The cycle jacket is probably the most technical piece of clothing in most brand ranges. Style, fit, cost and purpose are all considered by the manufactures and the choice is vast. So how to you choose?
Purpose and fit should be the main factors in your choice. Why spend your money on something that won't do the job properly?
So, in what weathers will you be riding in? Does your jacket need to be waterproof or just windproof? This choice alone can make a big difference in cost. A windproof jacket can start from as little as £20 for a reasonable quality piece. As the price rises you may see extras on your jacket with pockets, breathability, 3M reflective strips Alturas Night Vision range is covered in 3M scotchlite a glow like a beacon in traffic) and a more tailored fit so it doesn't flap in the wind. Breathability, although it can't be seen can be found on the tag of the garment. This technical feature describes how the garment deals with your body heat and moisture. Try some on, make sure the cuffs don't ride up your arms in your riding position. Once you are comfortable style, colour and price can be looked at a bit closer. They do last well so it might be worth spending that bit extra to get the best garment you can.
A waterproof jacket is similar in many ways however things like zips need more attention as they leak. A storm flap is used on many garments; this is a double fold of material that channels rain down the jacket away from the zipper. Laser stitching is also used instead of threaded stitching as tiny holes are made by the needle and thread. Endura were one of the first brands to use this technology and their waterproof Stealth jacket is still one of the best known models on the market. As with breathability, waterproofing is measured in the same way but coming into the fabrics rather than out. A breathable and waterproof garment deals with moisture and air flowing both inwards and outwards.
Most cycle jackets are cut with a longer back to keep the rider's behind drier, and many jackets or capes are close fitting so as not to flap in the wind. Other features include draw cord necks so that air doesn't go down your front and some jackets come with reflective strips on the back for added road safety. Many waterproof jackets have zipped pockets to keep phones, wallets, energy bars dry.