Save for cycling shorts with purpose-designed pads, I re-use much of my lightweight backpacking clothing for cycling.
My Icebreaker merino base layers become decent cycle jerseys, while various gilets and lightweight waterproofs serve double roles admirably.
In winter weather, though (and we’ve had plenty of that lately) I’ve found my trusted layering system is too bulky for cycling in comfort. Consequently, I though it time I invested in a dedicated winter jacket and opted for the Gore Bike Wear Contest II Windstopper.
The Contest retails for around £100 and, as the full name suggests, is constructed using a Windstopper membrane. The outer is a stretch shell fabric that is soft to the touch. The jacket is very much road-orientated, with a slim fit and minimalist features including a small chest pocket and one large rear pocket, which is ideally placed for access on the bike.
In common with Gore shorts and knicks, the Contest in XL is glove-like in fit. The arms are long enough when stretched out on the bike and rear body length is damn near perfect. I guess it could be a bit more snug, although the fit does offer the flexibility of adding another base layer underneath if required.
The collar is fantastic, close fitting without being restrictive, with no rub from the zip, which locks flat and doesn’t rattle – nice attention to detail.
It may seem a little inconsequential, but the colour is excellent, too. The blue is bright making you very noticeable to motorists without being too garish and there is well-placed reflective trim on the rear. (Gore’s blue also matches the colour of my Thorn Audax perfectly!).
Last, but by no means least, this jacket is warm. I’ve worn it down to 0 deg C so far with bib tights and a thin merino base later and was comfortable. Anything above 5 deg C and I found I needed to regulate my temperature by adjusting the zip, but I tend to ride ‘warm’.
Although not waterproof, the jacket has shrugged off showers well.
In summary, this is a well-designed jacket representing reasonable value for money. In common with other Gore products I own, I expect it to wear well.