Chrome's Storm Cobra 3.0 jacket is smart, modern and a very effective way to keep wintry, wet weather at bay while on your ride. It's loaded with pockets and more than breathable enough for urban duties. However, all those talents do come at a price – literally.
When it comes to Chrome clothing, I'm always reminded of an old Eddie Izzard routine talking about the circle of 'coolness'. As you progress round the circle you go from looking ridiculous, to quite cool, to really cool, to incredibly cool. But if you go round too far, you immediately drop back to the start and look like a berk.
Chrome kit is a bit like that. It's easy to imagine a moody, wafer-thin pansexual model, surrounded by a suitably oppressive city skyline, looking pretty funky wearing it in the pages of a glossy magazine. For a chunky middle-aged fella in Croydon, it's a little harder to pull off.
That said, in the style stakes the Storm Cobra 3.0 is actually one of Chrome's best efforts. It feels great to wear – not overly heavy, but the three-layer construction is far more substantial than a plastic rain coat – and while the cut isn't form-fitting, it's certainly smart. Even the elasticated and poppered cuffs look classy and, to my mind, they're much easier to live with than Velcro efforts that just cause all the excess material to bunch up.
In fact, in terms of practicality there's plenty to like. First of all, there are loads of pockets: two massive lower front pockets, two zipped hip pockets, one zipped chest pocket and another truly humungous zipped rear pocket.
There's also a sneaky bit of subtle reflectivity across the back and on the Chrome emblem on the sleeve.
Although it looks and feels nothing like a plastic mac, it is still impressively waterproof. I've used the Cobra 3.0 on some pretty manky days and the rain has done no more than bead on the outside. The capacious hood will happily accept a helmeted head and those poppered cuffs kept my lower arms perfectly protected.
On the bike, the Storm Cobra didn't inhibit or hamper any part of the ride; arm length is good, as is length at the tail for keeping your seat dry. As I mentioned, this is quite a substantial garment – it isn't the kind of coat you can pack in your bag and whip out when necessary – but luckily for something you might be wearing all day, breathability is impressive and I didn't suffer any significant moisture build up. I suspect you will if you go really hard, but typical urban riding performance is very good.
Helping regulate temperature somewhat are the huge, zipped armpit vents and the dual-action main front zip, which you can unzip from the bottom to turn the Cobra 3.0 into a cape-like creation. Personally, I'm not sure I'd use this feature and my one criticism of the whole garment is that the main front zip is tricky to use. That's partly down to its substantial waterproofing, but also the dual action. If Chrome is interested in some constructive criticism, I'd suggest fitting a simple basic zip that's easier to do up.
Other than that, though, there's very little to complain about, and a lot to like.
Actually, there might be one other thing to complain about – the price. At £180 this is far from cheap. I tested the Pearl Izumi Rove Barrier jacket not so long ago and at £129.99, it's almost as smart as the Chrome Storm Cobra but a little lighter. It doesn't offer quite so much load carrying potential or waterproofing, though. Another more svelte option would the Howies Herald, which is a really fantastic waterproof jacket at £139, but again doesn't quite offer all the same practicalities as the Cobra.
Chrome itself also has no end of alternatives, such as the Kojak Convertible at an eye-watering £220 or the less impressive Storm Signal at £140, but I'd say the Storm Cobra is the best Chrome jacket I've tested yet.
In fact, in my opinion, in the Storm Cobra 3.0, Chrome has hit the bullseye when it comes to the brand's aim of producing stylish, contemporary urban cycle wear that fulfils all the practical functions daily riders require. It's comfy on the bike, durable, weather resistant and looks really rather smart. If you're happy to splash that cash, I don't think you'll feel let down.
Classy urban cycling coat that can carry loads and will protect you from the worst of the weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chrome Storm Cobra 3.0
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the jacket 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?
This is a winter weather urban cycling jacket, aimed at the discerning commuter. Chrome says: "We have evolved our Chrome Storm Cobra 2.0 to the next level. Still a three-layer fabric that's waterproof and breathable, we designed it with innovative zippered underarm vents and extra reflective details. We've kept everything you loved about the Cobra 2.0 to create the next step in the ultimate urban riding shell, the Storm Cobra 3.0."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Zippered underarm vents
Three-panel helmet compatible hood
Zippered front and rear cargo pockets
Three-layer breathable, fully taped waterproof poly
Waterproof rating: 10k mm / 5k mvp
Chrome kit tends to be really well made and this is no exception. The sewing around the cuffs is a testament to the attention to detail. The one downside is the front zip – it's top quality and waterproof, but it's a pig to engage properly at first, though lots of use makes it easier.
Excellent wet weather performance and very respectable breathability.
Very hardwearing three-layer material and well-taped seams.
Really good – I've used it in some pretty poor conditions and it's not missed a beat.
I suspect it might get a tad clammy if you were to go hard in warm weather, but for UK winters and urban rides, it's very good.
Great – arm length and tail length just perfect for in the saddle.
I probably tested a size too big in retrospect, but it didn't swamp me. Even with lots of room, it feels great to wear.
It's a fairly bulky bit of kit for a cycling jacket – but in its defence it also has a feeling of solid construction.
There's not much in the way of added comforts like fleece-lined collars but the basic cut, fit and performance of the jacket feels great.
At £180 this is far from cheap. I tested the Pearl Izumi Rove Barrier jacket not so long ago and at £129.99, it's almost as smart as the Chrome Storm Cobra but a little lighter. It doesn't offer quite so much load carrying potential or waterproofing, though. Another lighter option would be the Howies Herald, which is a really fantastic waterproof jacket at £139, but again doesn't quite offer all the same practicalities as the Cobra.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash cold, hang to dry.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really excellent jacket for urban duties, with enough performance to keep you pedalling happily, and enough practicalities – such as a vast array of storage – for even the most demanding rider.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The marriage of style and performance is very pleasing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
That main zip – it has really annoyed me at times, although it's gradually wearing in with use.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Price and annoying zip notwithstanding, this is a fab riding coat that will do all you ask of it. I'm a big fan and I personally think it's not far off deserving 9/10.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure