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Water off a Duck's Back Cycle Macintosh



A stylish raincoat with its own niche, but not quite as well suited to the bike as it could be

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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It's a pretty innovative idea, the Water off a Duck's Back Cycle Macintosh: a traditional style mac for wear on and off the bike. It won't feature on every woman's list of essential bike kit, but for those who like a more refined ride, take a stylish, unhurried approach, and above all want the ability to blend in when off the bike, it certainly has its niche.

This British-made coat is a standard macintosh length, coming to just below the knees. It wraps over at the front and does up with a tie-belt at the waist. There are two deep slanted side pockets and a stylishly high collar. The overall effect is one of a smart 1940s' style coat, which would complement a classic cruiser or sit-up-and-beg roadster. You'd look pretty strange riding a flat bar hybrid or road bike in this.

It's an attractive mac, and it does look classy enough to wear on or off the (right) bike, provided you're wearing the right clothes with it. The vivid purple lining is a nice touch, and the wrap over fit will accommodate extra layers if you need them for colder conditions.

The initially simple design hides some interesting features, such as broad reflective strips on the back of the belt, tucked under the cuffs, and at the collar (not visible with the hood up). It's easy to display these to boost nighttime visibility or conceal them to go incognito. The hood, which is detachable, would be more useful off the bike than on but might appeal to non-helmet wearers in a downpour. There's a clip-on tag at the hem to help prevent the coat from flapping. The coat is machine washable at 40 degrees.

On the bike, the mac does indeed avoid getting tangled in the wheels, as it claims to. The sleeve length is ideal for protecting hands and wrists from the rain and wind, whether the reflective cuffs are rolled down or not. It's comfortable to wear while cycling, but a few of the features don't quite live up to their promise. The clever little hide-away clip at the hem doesn't work too well at keeping the coat from flapping open at the front. While the mac doesn't blow completely open, the gap exposed could still let rain in. The wrap-over fastening also leaves the top of the coat prone to opening as you move about on the bike. A scarf would solve this, but as this could be a year round raincoat that wouldn't always be appropriate.

The fabric is pleasant to wear, with no stiffness and less rustle than standard waterproofs. It is surprisingly breathable and comfortable, especially at the more sedate speeds that would be most in keeping with its style. It is amply waterproof, and the protection of the PU coating would be easy to maintain with specialist wash-in care products. I missed a small zipped pocket somewhere for stowing keys.

Water Off a Duck's Back aim the coat at mums and dog walkers as well as cyclists, and on foot the design's small niggles become negligible. It's just not a perfect cycling coat.


A stylish raincoat with its own niche, but not quite as well suited to the bike as it could be test report

Make and model: Water off a Duck's Back Cycle Macintosh

Size tested: M, Khaki

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?

"Designed with cyclists in mind" to "let your cycle coat look as beautiful as the rest of your wardrobe"

Aimed at stylish women, looking for a non-technical looking way of staying dry on and off the bike.

Really only works with normal day clothing (rather than cycle specific kit) and with a bike of the right sort of style as well.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

PU coated for waterproofing

Machine washable at 40

Detachable hood

Broad reflective tape under collar, tucked into wrist cuffs and on back of belt- all can easily be made visible or not, depending on your preference.

2 slanted side pockets

Clip to help stop front of coat flapping.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Well made with all the signs of a designer garment.

Rate the product for performance:

Pleasant to ride in, and kept body a good temperature, but gaped at the front even with the clip done up and the wrap-around style meant the top started to gape as you ride as well.

Rate the product for durability:

Well made and the waterproofing would be easy to maintain.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

Weight not as much of an issue for what is essentially a fashion item.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Good fit and cut.

Rate the product for value:

For a well made designer garment, with good features this isn't bad value at all, especially if you'd wear it often off the bike.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

As a stylish versatile waterproof mac, this performed very well. As a cycling specific coat, not quite so well. A few problems with the design that could have been changed to make it a bit better.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Style, cut, reflectivity, washable at 40.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Gaping at front when riding.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, if I did the right kind of riding more often.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

A nicely thought through product to fill a unique niche, but a few small flaws prevent it from being quite spot-on.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 1.65m  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,

Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling. 

Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other. 

She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting. 

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manderleyfox | 10 years ago

 2 I'd advise against ordering from this 'business' too. I ordered a men’s Mac for £140, cancelled after waiting two months and now after three weeks there’s been no refund. I’m worried that I’m not going to see my money again. Having googled Water Off A Ducks Back for complaints I’ve seen more incidents like this too.

Garfield8 | 11 years ago

I just wanted to post to say I also had exactly the same experience as the poster above regarding refunds. I purchased two coats to get sizing and returned one in Jan. I spent much time on the phone and email to Antonia trying to get a refund. Finally I have received it, so recommend anyone who is in a similar situation to phone her back to pursue.

Not ideal and cannot guarantee that you will get your money back, but worth a try.

wittybike | 11 years ago

Utter crap, it fails at the thing it makes a song and dance about, it's NOT WATERPROOF.  14
I have emailed water off a duck's back twice now, politely asking what I should do? has anyone else had a problem? is it a faulty batch?etc. Leaving a month between emails, ample time to reply, I'v received no responce from the company at all.

£130 for a coat that is only showerproof (they make a point of saying the coats ARE waterproof not just shower proof)is a total waste of money, they only reason I bought it was due to the claim of 'waterproof' while being stylish. I can get a decent looking showerproof coat anywhere on the highstreet for half the price or less.

architect | 11 years ago

My girlfriend recently returned a jacket to Water off a Duck's Back as she wasn't happy with the fit. (I personally felt the fleece lining was poor quality and the jacket wasn't suited to bike riding) Despite an email acknowledging the return, five weeks later my girlfriend is still waiting for the money (£155) to be refunded. Repeated emails and phone calls to MD Antonia Maybury (posting above) have been ignored. Meanwhile my girlfriend is £155 poorer and still needs a cycling jacket! Searching online I found other people having the same experience with this company. It's a real shame, as it puts people off supporting independent businesses.  2

dave atkinson | 12 years ago

by her height and build I can see that she is not a 12/14 (medium) but actually a 10/12 dress size(small)

That pic at the top isn't of Leonie.

Antonia Maybury | 12 years ago

The issues that the tester found with the coat at the neck would have been resolved if she were wearing the correct size. Whilst she requested a medium by her height and build I can see that she is not a 12/14 (medium) but actually a 10/12 dress size(small). This will lead to a much better fitting coat, it would stop it gaping at the neck as they are designed to be closely fitting and would also stop any additional 'flapping' at the hem as there would not be excessive material. I can only apologise as I provided the coat to the tester (at their request for a medium). And while I am biased... it really doesn't look like a dressing gown!!

TRs Blurb n Blog | 12 years ago

isn't this more of a cycling dressing gown?

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