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I am looking for a cycling jacket for fall/spring. Depending on how well it works I may use it through (part of) winter as well.

I did a bit of shopping last night and purchased this MEC SuperMicroft Cycling Jacket.

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I brought the jacket home and began having second thoughts. I am thinking about returning it and continuing my search. Here are my requirements:

  • Cuts the wind
  • Will not become like sauna inside making me soaking wet
  • Has good road visibility
  • It doesn't have to be extremely waterproof but being able to fend of a light shower would be nice

My main concern with this jacket is the breathability. It has pretty big armpit zips. It is made out of "Super Microft™ microfibre polyester, which is soft and quiet like cotton but tightly woven and treated with durable water repellency (DWR) to shed water". It feels like the fabric will cut through the wind well but might leave me very wet inside. The jacket does not have any kind of back vent which may be problematic.

I am riding in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It has been pretty wet here lately. I haven't riddin in the rain too frequently but the roads are always wet (thank you fenders). The temperature I want to use this coat in would be about +7C to -2C and maybe colder if I can layer correctly.

Open questions:

  • What do you use when cycling in cool weather to keep the wind from chilling you and keeping the moisture away from your body?
  • Does anyone have any views on this jacket? Would your recommend something else?
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A lot depends on how aggressively you ride and how much of a sweater you are. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 28 '11 at 15:05
    
It's been about +2C to +4C during my morning commutes this week. Wind-stopping gloves, hooded sweatshirt (unzipped), and take the sweatshirt off halfway through to keep from overheating. Need thicker socks, though. Maybe something to cover my knees, too. Really depends on how hard you're working and how warm you tend to run. –  freiheit Oct 28 '11 at 17:54
    
What are you wearing underneath it? –  joelmdev Oct 29 '11 at 16:58
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6 Answers

I also live in Ottawa, and the last week I've been wearing this MEC Cycling Jersey, along with another regular jersey and a cotton white T undershirt underneath. This has been sufficiently warm for my 20 minute commute. My arms get a bit cold, because they only have 1 layer, so I think I may pick up some arm warmers if it gets too much cooler, but I don't think it's really necessary. Other than that I don't have too many problems keeping myself warm. I find that using lots of layers really helps to cut the wind, without compromising breath-ability. As far as other clothing goes I have the Roubaix Tights which are worth every penny. Have kept my legs toasty warm, while not making me sweaty, even in the cold (-1 degree C) we had this morning. Like the jacket that @geoffc mentioned, they have different material on the front and back. The front blocks out the wind, and the back lets your legs breath and lets some of the heat out. Only problem I have is keeping my hands warm.

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I had the MEC tights with Goretex fronts, and honestly never really liked them. Too cold on the back. Whereas the jacket was awesome! Rode in -35C (although with two shirts on underneath!) Used to piss my parents off a lot, seeing me wear that jacket in such cold weather. But it really worked! –  geoffc Oct 30 '11 at 18:18
    
@geoffc The tights I have aren't Gore-Tex in the front, so I think they are different from whatever ones you had. Although I've never had the inclination to bike in -35, they have been perfectly fine in 0 and less weather that I've been riding in lately. –  Kibbee Oct 30 '11 at 23:04
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I picked up the Derecho - the reflective material is awesome, but I ride hard/am a sweater cuz the inside is always wet (15 KM commute, round trip). Been working with the cuffs & vents to no end...

Haven't had horrible rain to see how it stands up but I have to pull the arms inside out to get it to dry in a reasonable amount of time. I've since picked up the DeFeet long sleeve as a base layer, and together things are better.

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I wear a Gore-Tex jacket (which I bought from MEC a decade ago, not cycling-specific). It has a zip and keeps my core dry and warm, e.g. for an hour of cycling in a few mm / hour. If it's very heavy rain, then I'll be soaked, but still warmish (it remains wind-proof).

A layer or two of cotton and/or poly and/or wool between my skin and the jacket.

It matters how big/tight the jacket is: because of e.g. ventilation in the sleeves, and what else you're wearing.

I'd like to buy a new one, but I'd want to try it on first for size and feel and fit.

If it's raining really hard I might cycle more slowly (and so be making less body heat).


Cycling and above zero, you shouldn't get too cold IMO if you keep pumping. Two pairs of thin socks seem much warmer than one (I think that one is breathable and two make an insulating layer), and warm gloves: for example on a dry +4C night in Toronto last week I wore cotton shorts, one or two jerseys (a zip on the outer one), bare arms (short or rolled up sleeves) and legs, and wool gloves. I stayed off my maximum exertion, to reduce sweat: and I noticed that downhill runs are colder.

My non-cycling specific jacket lacks features you might find in a cycling-specific one:

  • "Pack light"
  • Vented
  • Visible (mine's black)
  • Long tail
  • Forwardable shoulders

When it goes below zero then you don't need to worry about rain anymore (even if snow accumulates on a jacket, it can brush off). I forget (I'll be reminded soon enough), but I think that winter riding is a matter of adjusting the venting in your dry clothes in order to stay dry and warm but not hot. I also use my Gore-Tex in the -3C to +3C range, because it's wind- and weather-proof, and vary the insulation inside depending on my exertion. For colder (i.e. sub-zero) I have a quilted jacket.

I own a down-filled winter coat too: but that's probably too warm for cycling at any speed except slowly; and I don't have ice tires.


Gore-Tex is, by the way, a thin membrane inside the jacket. So one Gore-Tex jacket will vary a lot from another (the Gore-Tex may be the same but the whole of the rest of the jackets different).

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I like that MEC jackets in general. But as you note, you will often get pretty sweaty with anything that does not vent hugely. Even in the most expensive GoreTex jacket you are still going to get sweaty. I am not convinced there is any actual great solution. There are just a series of lesser evils.

MEC used to have a jacket long discontinued, and I treasure my one remaining example, that was SuperMicroft on the front, over polar fleece, and similar put different outer feel polar fleece for the back half.

I rode in this as a winter coat for a decade. The idea is the front blocks the wind, the back vents the heat/sweat. In the winter, if I stopped at a light, my back would be steaming as the heat flows out.

This was the best bet, since literally half you upper body surface area is a vent.

Alas they (and Europe Bound) no longer sell them (at least last I looked, nor can I find them in the online catalog). I loved how in Toronto, every time MEC moved, Europe Bound opened a store across the street. That was pretty funny as a business plan! (Like when Starbucks opened in Toronto the joke was they mapped out all the Second Cup stores and opened as close as they could find a spot. No clue if really true, but sure looked that way!)

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It's really quite a personal decision, to be honest. What works for me may not work for you. I ride year round and on many rides, my friends look at me like I'm crazy for wearing so little. Yet, I am burning up in even that sometimes. The single best thing you can do for yourself is get clothing that is somewhat modular in nature. For instance, having a decent weight short sleeve jersey, a decent weight set of bibs, a cycling vest, and knee and arm warmers can suit you from a range of summer heat all the way to all but the coldest days (excluding of course precipitation, which is a whole other discussion). The great thing about that setup is unless you're otherwise burdened, there's zero reason you can't stuff a vest in one jersey pocket, and arm warmers and knee warmers in another, and still have one for your phone, keys, and wallet. I did a 100 mile trip last year that started off at 40 degrees F and ended at nearly 80. I got uncomfortably warm twice, and each time took off another piece, and wasn't encumbered the entire ride.

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I think precipitation is what the OP is asking about. –  ChrisW Oct 31 '11 at 14:13
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I have been using a MEC Tace running jacket in conjunction with a Sugoi Midzero Zip in Vancouver at temperatures down to about +3C without major issues. It does get a bit colder as you get closer to freezing though, so it may not completely fit your needs.

The thing I like about the Tace is that it's very lightweight and vents very well while being water resistant. I have the bright red one and find it quite visible.

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