if i were the cycling expert i'd like you to think i am, you'd figure i'd have picked up on this jacket's versatile nature from even a cursory glance at the specialized website. but, if you promise not to tell anyone, i didn't. in fact, even when releasing it from its packaging, the deflect jacket failed to reveal its cleverly versatile nature and that's in spite of the nomenclature describing it as a hybrid. a hybrid of what, is the question i should have been asking myself, but until donning the garment for its first real outdoor adventure, i remained as naive as when i was born.
reflective cycling jackets are nothing new, but i think i could count on the fingers of one track mitt, those that are all-over reflective; sleeves, collar, back and front. that, however, is not the deflect jacket's claim to fame or, as the marketing department might categorise it, a unique selling point. though a particularly well-made item of cycling apparel, hidden in the seams where the sleeves join the torso, are a couple of zips, allowing both to be removed should the weather become less inclement and perhaps a tad milder.
for reasons which escape me and have done so throughout the extent of my cycling career, when my core temperature is on the rise, it manifests itself through the arms first. though my anatomical understanding is limited to life classes at art college, the human arm seems devoid of much in the way of heat generating tissue. but no matter the item of clothing in which i am clad, when it starts to get warm, the sleeves of my baselayer or jersey are the first to feel the perspiration. thus, the option to remove the sleeves when the opportunity arises strikes me as a neat bit of lateral thinking.
as mentioned in relation to the jacket's reflectivity, this is not a brand new idea; it has been done several times before, but it is not a commonality that populates the cycling milieu and thus worthy of remark.
setting the sleeves free from imprisoning shoulders is not, as you may have gathered, something done on the fly. i have no doubt there are well-balanced cyclists who could actually perform this task in an altogether ostentatious manner, but i cannot count myself amongst their number. the zip does not fulfil a full 360 degree sweep; there's a small tab on the shoulder of each that velcros onto a small patch under the collar, a neat touch that retains the jacket's sartorial completeness.
i cannot deny that the curse of the waterproof review made itself known across the review period. though i have spent several hours in the rain, none of it was the sort that caused noah to build the ark. much of it comprised what is locally referred to as mizzle, sort of a cross between heavy mist and drizzle. in mitigation, the latter is often more iniquitous than it sounds and there's no doubt that the deflect jacket achieved a decent soaking.
taking account of the legality of descriptive terms, the deflect could reasonably be noted as water-resistant. none of the seams are taped and the removability of both sleeves hardly advertises itself as able and willing to repel inclement elements. additionally. there are a few laser cut holes to aid ventilation, coupled with two mesh-backed front zipped vents, but in point of fact, while scuttering about hither and thither in the rain, i didn't actually get wet. at least not on the inside. however, though the specialized website states that "This fabric is extremely lightweight and breathable, so you won't ever experience that rainforest feeling in high humidity conditions.", they might be guilty of a slight untruth.
in what persists in being an october devoid of the cold we have ususally come to expect, figuring out what might constitute appropriate apparel for a weekend ride has become almost an art in itself. thus the unfortunate deflect jacket offered a tad more cosiness than was truly necessary. and guess what? the sleeves of my merino baselayer were close to saturation when stopping at debbie's for saturday lunch, and i guarantee it wasn't rain induced. i cannot devolve all blame to the jacket; as you may recall, i pointed out that both sleeves are removable, the option of which i really ought to have taken advantage of before things got to this stage. but with the front zipped vents open, the rest of me was adequately comfortable rather than a sweltering mess.
i should point out at this juncture that i am still firmly of the opinion that the waterproof jacket that breathes at the same rate as the average cyclist has yet to be invented. one or two have come close, but with such a wide variation in any individual's propensity to perspire, this is a holy grail yet to be realised.
this aside, however, the two most obvious downsides to the reflect deflect jacket concern the sleeves and the single rear zipped pocket. though the fixing and unfixing of the sleeves is very cleverly thought out and implemented, there is perhaps a degree more flappage than one would like, though i'm willing to admit that i do have a pair of spindly arms that don't necessarily fill out the way arnold schwarzenneger probably would. as regards the pocket, i'd really rather any jacket adhered to the tried and tested three pocket arrangement. in my opinion, it balances the load better. however, my gripe with this example relates to the size.
a washingmachinepost bike ride is rarely that simple; there is usually one aspect that involves reviewing of one kind or another, at the very least dictating the need to carry a compact digital camera. then there's a spare pair of gloves if it's raining, coffee money and last but not least, a bicycle pump (to say nothing about both sleeves if i opted to wear it as a gilet). i managed the spare gloves, the camera and the coffee money but there was no way that the pocket real estate was going to swallow an admittedly slightly larger than usual mini-pump. and even assuming it had done so, i would be once again moaning about all this being crammed into one central pocket.
considering this is, in effect, a winter jacket, there's every likelihood that there will be a jersey worn beneath, capable of carrying a pump (which is precisely the solution i employed.) though it's eminently possible that this jacket could be folded and squeezed into a jersey pocket, it's something i've not yet tried. it is commendably light weight and allows internal room to manoeuvre that comfortably straddles the line between race-fit and relaxed-fit. though the price does give momentary cause for watery eyes, considering it's really more than just a single garment, it could reasonably be expected to lower the pressure on your wardrobe.
the reflectivity adds a third string to its bow.
the specialized deflect reflect hybrid jacket is available in sizes from small to xxl at a retail price of £300.
monday 31 october 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................