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Which Cycling Jacket

Unless you are lucky enough to live in an area with year-round sunshine, you are going to need clothes to keep you warm and dry when riding your bike. Clothing is of course not just about keeping warm - if you are actually going somewhere on your bike, you will want to wear something that you aren't embarrassed about wearing once you get to your destination.

In terms of clothing to wear when biking, your jacket is one of the most important items. It serves to keep you warm and dry, and may also include reflective markings, which are an important safety measure as they make you more easily visible, especially in bad weather conditions or at night, to other road users.

On the whole, if you can, it's best to get a jacket that is specifically designed to biking - you won't regret it. If you choose a jacket that has been specifically designed for biking, you will notice some unusual things about it as compared to "normal" jackets.

One of the main features of biking jackets is they're broadly longer at the back so that they cover your kidneys from the wind, and your bottom from road spray - the latter being something that you will sure appreciate if you ride a road bike without mudguards. You will also notice that biking jackets are broadly shorter at the front (to facilitate movement of your legs), but have long sleeves (so that your wrists are covered when reaching forward to the handlebars). Cycle jackets are broadly designed to be draught-proof, and most feature toggles so that you can adjust the balance between ventilation and warmth depending on the weather and your personal preferences. Of course, draught-proofing is very important, as whenever you cycle you are moving through air, and so can get cold very quickly.

Another thing to think about is the features of the jacket and how they marry into your convenience. For instance, it's great to have pockets, but pockets at the front weigh you down, and can even create a big draught inside your jacket when cycling - for this reason pockets at the back may be preferable. Likewise little extras like additional zips and optional hoods may seem like a good idea, but they also made your jacket a good deal more bulky and more cumbersome to cope with on those days when you are not too sure what the weather will be like.

Fabric should also play a part in your choice of jacket. Ideally you want something breathable so that you never get too warm and sweaty. In addition, you'll need to decide between a waterproofed fabric (such as Gore-Tex which can keep you dry for a full day) or water-repellent (which will keep you dry for about 20 minutes in heavy rain or 40 minutes in a shower). If all other things are equal between two jackets, you'd probably choose waterproofed, but given that they're not, and that a water-repellent jacket may be more inexpensive, less bulky, better styled, etc., the choice is more taxing. One thing to consider is that most commutes are 20 minutes or less, so water-resistant may as a matter of fact be perfectly passable.

The final (but by no means least important) matter to consider is safety. As already mentioned, anything that makes you more seeable to other road users, especially car drivers, is a big advantage - particularly if biking on dark days or after sundown. In addition, it's better not to get a jacket with a hood, but wear a biking helmet instead - a helmet will protect your head, and also not restrict your vision in the way that hoods can.