Primal's Onyx jacket is a lightweight, packable 'race cape' that's okay for short, sharp showers but lacking breathability if you need to wear it for any length of time. It has very little to differentiate itself from many other options available.
Primal has been making cycling apparel and activewear since 2011, and has a good range of road and mountain bike kit, many with a modern and refreshing 'out there' aesthetic.
The Onyx doesn't stray far from the standard 'race-cape' format. Primal describes the material used as 'Toray' but the label tells me it's 100% polyester with a PU (polyurethane) coating, the standard for jackets at this level.
The fabric is textured, which helps it move more freely over sweaty skin, but before I go into its performance, let's take a look at some of the design details:
Firstly the cut, which is actually quite racy, suited me well. There was minimal wind-flap, and the elasticated collar, cuffs and waist kept everything in place at speed. However, I could have done with 3-4cm extra length in the sleeves to access the handy thumb-loops.
The zip is a full-length, fine tooth affair from YKK. The metal tab on the zip itself is a little on the small side and slippy in the wet – I think a material or rubber tab would have been nice.
Under the armpits there's a fine, breathable mesh, and around the neck the same material makes it comfortable when zipped up completely.
Out back is a vertical zipped entry point for access to your jersey pockets, with enough room to afford a good dig around for that last gel.
On the bike, the Onyx packed down easily into the narrowest of pockets in my aero racing kit and left room to spare in my more commuter-friendly jerseys. At 109g for a size medium it's easy to ignore, and on par with many of its competitors for weight.
So what's it like when the heavens open? Well, it's waterproof, both ways.
Yes, the Onyx will keep the rain off your shoulders, but after 20-30 minutes of effort you'll start creating your own micro-climate. After 50-60 minutes you'll be about as wet as you would be without it on.
For an emergency layer in the event of a shower there are cheaper choices, such as Altura's Microlite Showerproof at £39.99. The heavier (180g) but more breathable dhb Classic Rain Shell comes in at £60, but even at another £18 the Endura FS260-Pro Adrenaline Race Cape would be my choice.
As a quick emergency layer you can tuck away in a pocket and pull on in a downpour the Onyx is an reasonable choice, but if you need to wear it for any length of time then its lack of breathability will have much the same effect as the shower you've avoided.
Lightweight and packable with a slightly racy fit, but breathability is poor
road.cc test report
Make and model: Primal Onyx Mens Clear Rain Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket 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?
Primal's Onyx jacket is a lightweight, packable 'race cape' with very little to differentiate itself from other options available.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
The Onyx is made from polyester with a polyurethane coating provides a pretty impenetrable layer for moisture, both outside in and inside out. The zipped rear-entry is a nice detail that's not always found on race capes.
Very well made, with well-stitched seams, and I didn't have any concerns about it failing.
The Onyx is pretty unremarkable, If you have worn a jacket like this before you can expect much of the same.
The fabric itself has a good resistance to it, I never felt that I might rip through it. Seams are strong and well stitched so I don't expect it to come apart any time soon.
The poly-mix material is waterproof. Seams, zippers and closures are tight but not impregnable, though moisture build-up internally will probably negate any sense of seepage in all but the most torrid of conditions.
The Onyx leaves a lot to be desired on breathability, especially compared with modern, all-weather jersey options now available.
The racy fit was perfect for me in the body, but I could have used an extra 3-4cm in the arms to use the thumb-loops.
Sizing seems pretty much on point for weekend warriors. Those still carrying a little extra winter packaging may wish to size up.
At 109g for a medium, the Onyx is on par with others in this category.
The Onyx is preferable to an icy spring downpour, but the lack of breathability severely limits it for anything else.
At an RRP of £60 the Onyx is on par with its competitors.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The Onyx is machine washable on a warm wash.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
When it comes to race capes there's a complex calculation to be made involving rainfall, sweat and time, and I haven't found it in the Onyx.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The cut was a little more trim than some, which resulted in less flapping around in the wind.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
I found the zip pulls particularly difficult to use, especially with wet hands.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? No
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
There's very little to write home about here. The Onyx keeps rain out, but if you need to wear it for any length of time the lack of breathability negates the weather protection.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road (Canyon Ultiamte CF SLX), Cyclocross (Kinesis CX Race) My best bike is: Road
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking