Saturday, 22 June 2013

Never buy the first revision of anything

This was my Dad's advice. "Pay as much as you can afford, never buy the first revision of everything; let other people find the bugs".

I should have listened when I bought a rain jacket for riding the bike. After the bike itself its the most expensive bike kit I've bought at £195.

I have been holding off writing this. It makes me sound "all the gear and no idea".

Now, normally, I'm Man At Aldi. I've a couple of soft shells, cost £14 and £19 each. The shorts, shoes and jerseys aren't bad. The shoes last 2 years at least of every day commuting, the shorts and jersey have reflective stickers that barely survive two washes, but you get what you pay for and for the price they're brilliant.

It's not BAD per se. It's just got some great innovations that unfortunately don't quite work. 

Let's start off positively, it's a tidy jacket, good fit, good cut for on and off the bike. Almost stylish for me. Nice detailing of magnetic closures over the zips. The pockets don't appear to get wet. The zip doesn't appear to leak. I've tried the keys on the karabina in the right forearm pocket; good idea but it's fiddly to do one handed and just feels a bit odds having your keys banging about on your forearm. 

Nice detailing, if a bit overcomplicated. Love the green
It's got great detailing. I love the green but it's not brought out on the outside, only the lining. Two reflective flashes on the shoulder are subtle.  The elasticated waist is over complicated but effective.

It's marketed a Rain Jacket. Made of a treated cotton called Epic Cotton, it's breathable. That bit works. However it's not water resistant enough, especially on the forearms (at the vanguard of getting wet) even after 'reactivating' it in the washing machine. My commute is 40 minutes. If it's raining, I might get 10 minutes of dry arms out of it. Maybe I should have tried Goretex instead. Maybe this is as good as it gets. But it's not Good Enough

After not many washes the colour is bleeding from the wrists. It's not massively important but it's a £195 jacket, I expect more.. 

The sleeve. Note colour bleeding
The reflective tab on the back, apparently for holding a rear light, tore. It's never been used for holding a light, I caught it with my thumb whilst riding. Now it looks tatty. People keep noticing it. "Did you know your reflective tab is broken?".  I'm going to have to cut it off. I can't imagine it lasts very long with an LED on it. If it goes when you're riding, you've lost your rear light. A more secure cotton loop would have been better, with a reflective strip sewn to it?

Tatty reflective light holder (unused) and magnet, showing colour bleed
So, why did I catch the light with my thumb? One of the main reasons I got this jacket is that it has a bright red lowerable storm flap for days when I'm riding a bike without mudguards and it starts to rain. It's secured with a magnet. The problem is, as with a lot of features on this jacket, great idea, poor execution. The magnets just are not strong enough. I've added a pair of rare earth magnets but they stick more to themselves than to the original magnets. I don't want to glue the rare earth magnets on as I don't know if it will damage the jacket AND THE JACKET COST £195. IT SHOULD JUST WORK. I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BODGE IT. On the bike it falls on its own. It falls when the jacket is fastened, especially when sitting and as a style point, and I'm no fashionista, but it stops being a smart jacket and becomes a bike jacket.. That wasn't the brief.
Rain flap with additional rare earth magnets and original flap magnet

Under basic initial testing these problems should have been spotted, reported and fixed. Every time I wear the jacket my Dad's advice rings hollow in my ears. 

8/10 for innovation
5/10 for implementation
4/10 for value.