The weather is getting colder and wetter, but the trails keep calling. And with a few adjustments to your gear, you can keep roughing it out through wet and cold weather. (With respect for the trails of course). Maybe pop some wet weather tires under your bike, and certainly chose your kit to matches the circumstances.
In the coming weeks, we will look at several fall/winter products from Gore Bike Wear. This brand is closely related to Gore-Tex of course, and also uses this “guaranteed to keep you dry” technology as well as the newer Gore-Tex Infinium that mainly delivers windproof and highly breathable materials.
The first product we are reviewing is the Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Viz Insulated Jacket. The Shakedry technology that Gore-Tex introduced a few years ago is the pinnacle of water repellency. What is special about these products is that they have the Gore-Tex membrane as an outer layer, where normally the membrane is a middle layer with a strong water-repellent fabric as an outer shell layer. The advantage of the membrane as an outer layer is that it can never get soaked and rainwater actually always rolls off the material without the use of a DWR (durable water repellent) coating.
By omitting the outer layer, the product is even more breathable and the products are often a lot lighter. In this jacket, Gore Bike Wear has combined the Shakedry with an inner lining of Polartec Alpha, and it is clearly meant for really colder weather. I have used the jacket in both dry and very wet weather. Temperatures between 5 and 12 degrees.
First of all, the jacket wears and feels super comfortable. The sleeves are nice and long so that you can pull the cuffs over the cuffs of your glove (better water resistance), the inner lining feels soft and the jacket is, despite the lining, surprisingly light.
Yes, in extremis. I did several rides in the rain, once an hour of incessant pouring rain and the fabric of the jacket is really completely waterproof. From cuff to collar you are well protected. It is nice to see how the water does not get a grip on the fabric at all. The jacket, therefore, remains light. And as the name suggests, if you take the jacket off and give it a shake, the outer layer is dry again.
What I did miss was a hood, because when it really rains, water can trickle in through your head and neck and get underneath your clothing. I always refer to a hood as the “lock on the door” of water tightness and that is what this jacket misses.
The fact that you have a lining, in this case from Polartec Alpha, also influences the breathability. Although the lining material is also breathable, you do notice that the jacket is really very warm at those relatively higher temperatures. At five degrees I only wore the jacket and a Gore Trail jersey of 85% polyester, and at the end of the 1.5-hour ride, my jersey was soaking with sweat. Nevertheless, I did not feel that I was too hot. Breathability doesn’t mean that you do not sweat at all, but that heat and moist air is wicked away from your body more easily. And it did do that. But I do think that this jacket really performs at its best at temperatures between 0 and 5 degrees.
I shiver to think about how rain with those temperatures would feel on a ride. Then your hands, feet, and legs would provide additional challenges. We also have Gore products that help you with that in the review; so stay tuned.
The “Viz” in the name of the jacket we think, refers to visibility. You are indeed quite visible with neon yellow forearms. Perhaps more a feature that would be interesting for road cyclists, visibility in the forest is not that important, and if you don’t want a yellow there is also a version of the jacket (unlined) with red forearms. The back of the jacket runs lower than the front, which you could say, is standard practice with bike clothing and also works great here. There is also a small zip pocket at the bottom of the back above a neon yellow panel that also helps visibility from behind. Other than that, there are no pockets in the jacket.
Gore-Tex is the market leader in the production of waterproof material for outdoor and action sports, but not always the leader when it comes to the use of sustainable materials. They still use fluor-based DWR coatings for many products, although they have also said they are striving to reduce the use of and replace these coatings in the future. This jacket has no DWR coating, so we can skip that issue, but the use of fluorocarbons also applies to the membrane. The Gore-Tex membrane uses PTFE, which is a PFC of environmental concern. No mention is made of the use of sustainable materials in the Gore Bike Wear info, so I do expect that the product is not made from sustainably sourced of recyclable materials, which is a pity.
In terms of durability, I can imagine that the use of the membrane as an outer layer results in a jacket that is a bit more vulnerable. Usually, a membrane is a middle layer, and it is protected by an outer layer that can be very strong. The membrane is more delicate than an outer shell, so I think you should really be wary of damaging the outer material. A scratch or tear will immediately result in a leak in your jacket.
It’s really a cold weather jacket. And because of it’s yellow arms and large Gore-Tex brand print it is a jacket I would wear only on my bike. In terms of versatility you can consider buying the unlined version, the Gore Bike Wear Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Viz Jacket, then you can adjust your middle layer to the weather and you can also enjoy the waterproofness of the jacket at higher temperatures.