For the snappily-named Men's Performance Bike Stretch Jacket, Craft have used their experience in material design to create a laminated fabric that provides windproofing, waterproofing and thermal insulation. The inside has sections of fleece lining, with stretch material between to allow for a close cut fit.
On the whole it fits well, but has a tendency to ride up the back. There is an elastic cuff at the rear, to seal in your body heat and help keep you warm, but as a result it tends to ride up your back even though it has a silicone gripper. Talking of cuffs, there is a nice turtle neck type feature at the wrists too, to complete that insulating layer.
On the outside the material remains soft but is dense, acting as a windbreak. It has a water repellant coating, which will cause water to bead up and drip off in a light shower but does become saturated in heavier spells. Thanks to the layering, the wet doesn't penetrate immediately but I'd still want a shell in heavy rain.
The Stretch Jacket is a good combination of jacket and jersey; it's unusually soft for a garment that provides the level of outer protection that it does. When I first picked it up, I expected it to be more of a lightweight shell but it has a sturdier feel than that thanks to the layers of different materials. I found I could combine it solely with a base layer, even on colder rides because of this.
Multiple layers and sealed exits might make you think this is going to become a sweat box, but I had no such issue. We had the fluorescent yellow on test so I used it out on an evening run and did not overheat or leave the inside dripping in sweat. This is probably thanks to the soft shell outer material allowing moisture to escape.
If heat does become an issue, a full length rear pocket is mesh lined to the inside, so doubles as a vent. There are a couple of pouches here to stow items and stop them rolling around.
The jacket has an SRP of £110, up there with the likes of Castelli and Sportful jackets. I do think a similar level of design and engineering has gone into the design of this jacket but the fit and finishing isn't quite there to command this price. A quick look and it's not hard to find this jacket on sale well below £100, at which it would be a solid buy.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Mens Performance Bike Stretch Jacket
Size tested: Medium, fluorescent green
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?
'A laminated windproof cycling jacket with stretch Vent X Air panelling for weather-proof protection with a close, free moving fit. Essential comfort for those cold, windswept road rides on your off-season training plan.'
A true synopsis really, it's a close fit but not race tight and the jacket does a great job at stopping the wind.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Soft, laminated, wind and waterproof fabric
Body-comfort system with different fabrics in different body zones
Ergonomic construction for a perfect riding-position fit
Fleece inside collar for warmth and comfort
One zippered back pocket
360 degrees reflective print for visibility
Surprisingly warm wind protection while allowing the wearer to breathe.
It's a close cut but not race fit. Some may like this as it is more forgiving.
Pricey at £110 but is generally sold well below this.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a wind proof riding jacket it was excellent.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Turtle neck style wrist cuffs.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Rear section riding up the back at times.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A good jacket; it didn't blow me away but did stop me being blown through!
About the tester
Age: 25 Height: 184cm Weight: 68kg
I usually ride: Giant TCR Advanced 1 My best bike is: Giant TCR Advanced 1
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,