According to AnaNichoola, you can be safe, be seen, be dry, and not sacrifice style. For changeable city conditions, comfort on the bike, and looking appropriately smart on arrival, wave a greeting to the Hello Yello Commuter Jacket which is packed with thoughtful features.
The eponymous yellow is an usual and pleasant shade, far removed from the typical hi viz of commuter jackets, and is perfectly at home off the bike if you're willing to make a bit of a statement. I've had numerous compliments in the street wearing the jacket off the bike, and it manages to function as a non cycling fashion piece in its own right.
On the downside, the pale shade of yellow means shows up dirt spectacularly well, and I made the mistake of wearing it on a wet day without mudguards only once.
The softshell fabric is itself an unusual choice; a very thin dual layer material with a black inner, it's soft and comfortable to touch, and I've even worn it comfortably enough directly against bare skin on occasion.
AnaNichoola have managed to work in an incredible range of reflective elements, without sacrificing style or design. Without a bright light shining on the jacket, these safety features are almost imperceptible, but at night the jacket lights up from every angle: reflective piping runs around the entire bottom hem, and all down the front pocket seams. The shiny stuff is also worked into the design as tailored patches on the backs of the shoulders, and the AnaNichoola logo adds a flash of reflectivity on the back pocket.
Those pockets have been beautifully thought out. The two easy access pockets on the rear are reminiscent of a typical cycling jersey, but the pattern of the stitching means they're not immediately obvious and don't add bulk to the jacket itself. They are different widths which is ideal as they're not elasticated. Riding fast through potholed city roads, I've encountered no problems with items of any size being secure, and being able to reach in and grab my smartphone or a tissue on the move is a perfect transfer of the best from typical road riding to more everyday use.
If the rear pockets weren't enough, the Hello Yello gives you even more options. Arguably even better designed, the two ingenious front pockets are outwardly almost invisible, and add almost no bulk to the jacket. So why ingenious? Each pocket is about 13cm long, and the stitching continues for 4cm from the bottom of the pocket, where a small gap has been left before the stitching continues. This creates a very secure yet easily accessible pocket without the need for zips or other closure mechanisms, and it keeps out the rain too.
The pockets are 9cm deep toward the zip, which gives enough room to retrieve any valuables with a bit of finger wriggling, making them perfect for small items like coinage and keys, or rail tickets. Equally, I've found the slightly stretchy fabric to be surprisingly spacious when the need arises, having happily stowed an iPhone 5 in there in a few light rainshowers.
I'm not a sedate cyclist, even on city runs, and tend to get very warm in jackets. AnaNichoola have covered all the bases though, having thoughtfully put a couple of vented metalic cutouts, which look more like visual embelishments than functional features. However, they do go some way to helping to remove the excess heat, and their extreme low profile and integrated design means they both look good and add next to no bulk under the arms, unlike a zipped vent.
Heat management is also aided by the stylish but functional big collar, which can be zipped right up to neck level, or fasted to the side with a popper. The zip itself is excellent too - sturdy, secure and easy to grip. It's also water resistant.
With a small waist and curvy hips and bust, I struggle to find cycling gear that doesn't look boxy, but the Hello Yello's tailored panelling and dropped peplum hem makes for a very flattering cut. It's not too tight either, hugging in just the right placing, while allowing plenty of room for comfortable layering underneath.
The arms are roomy enough without being bulky too, and I'm particularly impressed by the long velcro adjustment strips on the cuffs. These actually allow a very large amount of adjustment without having the straps dangling off the ends if you want a tight closure or have small wrists, and they manage to seamlessly complement the design of the jacket, rather than looking like an afterthought.
I'm slightly long in the arm, and appreciated the jacket's generous cut, which allowed me to comfortably ride my road bike, even on the drops. The Hello Yello is available in XS to XL, I found the Medium to be an ample equivalent to a UK size 12.
Despite the deceptively style-orientated design and plethora of additional design features, the Hello Yello manages to be wonderfully lightweight and surprisingly low bulk; folding down nicely to the volume of a couple of water bottles. The solid construction and double stitched seams means the jacket can safely stand up to some abuse too, and will emerge relatively wrinkle free after being stuffed into a backpack.
All in all, it's been a reliable jacket for windy and wet city rides. As for waterproofing; it does let in water at the seams in continuous or heavy rain, but will do a more than adequate job as a city commute jacket in typical weather conditions throughout autumn and spring. The lack of insulation means its not an inherently warm jacket, but will layer well and block out the wind through winter too.
Low bulk, high performing stylish commute wear, perfect for city riding - a triumph of form and function.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Ana Nichoola Hello Yello Commuter Jacket
Size tested: Medium Yellow
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Part of AnaNichoola's Cafe range, it's aimed at the style conscious city commuter looking for a jacket with safety features and protection from the elements. It does all this and more.
Robust, strong stitching, secure fastenings, and a solid zip. All in all, high quality garment construction.
Kept off the wind and light to moderate rain. It won't keep water out in a constant downpour, but it's not really designed as such. Reflective elements are very good for night riding, and the colour is certainly eye catching.
Aside from getting dirty, the jacket seems like it will hold up well over time, having withstood all I could throw at it thus far.
Deceptively light weight.
Very comfortable riding at all speeds, both on upright and drop bars. Good temperature regulation, and ability to adjust cuffs.
There are fashion pieces that cost more, and there are technical jackets that cost more - this is a marriage of both, and making your money go further - it works on the bike and off. It's also a bit of a statement piece that may very well be worth a bit of extra money in the style stakes, if only because it works so well as a functional jacket.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed beautifully in numerous commuting situations in sun, rain, cold and wind.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The extremely flattering shape, and fantastic pocket design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Only one colour choice is a little disappointing, and taped seams would be a bonus.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sabbath September My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, audax