Bontrager's Commuting Jacket raises the bar for three seasons street inspired performance clothing impressing in the saddle while cutting a dash around town. It does a great job whether lining up at the traffic light grand prix in Lycra, dropping by at the accountant or simply calling at a friend's for Sunday lunch. Style and practicality come close to top marks thanks to colour choice, discrete, yet plentiful pockets and razor sharp detailing. However, as might be expected there's some trade off between climate control and weather protection but it dries pretty fast following sharp showers while embedded charcoal neutralises nasty niffs between machine washes.
Nylon/polyester/elastane mixes won't set pulses racing but the fabric here strikes a very workable compromise between performance and durability while keeping the ticket price sensible. Thoughtfully Bontrager have introduced a charcoal layer to keep things fragrant between washes-perfect for those warmer spring rides and/or a spot of fair weather touring. Pockets (two breast, one large poacher and two internal cubby types) are better organised and more practical than most for stashing all manner of stuff while the zippered hip pockets provide somewhere for the hands when mooching around town.
Elsewhere the subtle dashes of Scotchlite don't feel like they've been lifted from existing garments and shows genuine thought to the design brief while a precisely tailored cut still entertained a base layer and race jersey beneath. Climate control is pretty good, with the mercury nudging the mid twenties I've bowled along at a steady 20mph with only the faintest hint of dampness around the pits and collar. Lowering the full-length zipper is easily managed on the fly and provides some additional cooling. To my surprise and Bontrager's credit, looser elastic in the cuffs and tail hasn't any negative implications in blustery headwinds, remaining gently, yet firmly in place, keeping rain and coastal chill from blowing inside. Odour control isn't quite on par with the likes of merino wool and Gore Tex but nonetheless keeps things very civilised, inspiring confidence whatever the occasion.
Extremely stylish and practical fair-weather jacket for commuting and everyday riding
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Make and model: Bontrager Commuting Jacket
Size tested: Medium Brown
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Bontrager's Commuting Jacket is a high-performance top that offers premier comfort and function in a stylish, modern look. Made from stretch-woven nylon for long-wear durability, the Commuting Jacket's semi-fitted design contours to the body for non-restrictive, non-bulky comfort. Perfect for cool spring mornings and evenings, this lightweight, wind-cutting jacket features subtle reflective highlights for on-bike visibility while remaining fashionable in any environment".
Does exactly what is says on the tin with great style
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Stretch-woven fabric moves with you, cuts the wind and is extremely breathable
Super-tough nylon for long-wearing durability
Fabric fibers contain a bamboo charcoal finish for natural odor management
Discrete reflectivity helps keep you seen on-bike yet is subtle enough for off-bike fashion
Semi-fitted design is shaped to the form of the body. If you prefer a slightly roomier fit or are in-between sizes, consider ordering one size up
Fabrics seem hardy and it machine washes beautifully at 30 degrees.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Bontrager have hit all the right notes, producing a three seasons' jacket suitably tailored to perform well on the bike while cutting a dash in all but the most conservative of settings. Ideally it would be water repellent and the wicking prowess that bit more efficient but this hasn't proved problematic when worn with a decent base layer.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Pretty much everything.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, given the design brief.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 37 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)