A fabulous design, the Gore Bike Wear Oxygen SO is among the best jackets of this type that I’ve ever ridden in.
The Oxygen is made from Gore’s own Windstopper soft-shell fabric, which blocks out cold air superbly and, with a fleecy inner face, adds a decent amount of warmth. Unlike some similar jackets, it has Windstopper rear panels rather than a more breathable Roubaix fabric back there, so it works well in cold and windy weather when you want all-round protection from the chills.
A flap behind the front zip stops the breeze getting through while the cuffs and hem are elasticated so you get good sealing there too. The high collar comes with a comfortable inner facing and it houses an integrated scarf – a bit like a little Buff hidden away inside. I thought this was a gimmicky feature until the wind got up on one icy cold ride. I gave it a go and… success. It’s a handy extra for plugging any little gaps around the neck and you hardly know it’s there once you’ve tucked it away again.
The Oxygen is highly water resistant too. Heavy rain will seep through the seams in time so you’ll want a waterproof shell in a downpour, but it has kept out mizzle, drizzle, showers and spray without any bother during my test rides.
The cut is fitted – Gore call it ‘tight’ – and I had no irritating flapping when the zip was done up to the top. Even if you’re a few pounds over your fighting weight, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with the fit because the fabric is pretty stretchy in all directions, giving you a bit of leeway. That meant I was able to put an extra layer or two on underneath when the weather turned really wintry without it feeling at all tight or uncomfortable. The arms are long enough to keep your wrists protected from the cold and the dropped tail comes with a silicone gripper that stops it riding up as you move, so it’s all good in terms of coverage.
As well as three standard pockets in the lower back, you get two extra mesh ones on the sides so there’s enough space for your pump, spare tube, multi-tool and so on, plus a little extra besides. I’ve yet to fill them completely. There’s a useful amount of reflective piping too, along with a couple of reflective logos that sit towards the left of the jacket – not an ideal position for UK road riding.
I’ve been using the Oxygen on top of a base layer and mid-layer for training rides in some stupidly cold temperatures lately – as low as -4°C – and it has kept me feeling warm enough. It’s the wind blocking that makes the real difference. Keep the cold air out and the warm air in and you’re onto a winner. You can wear it comfortably in much warmer weather too, depending on the clobber you wear underneath.
My only real criticism is the lack of ventilation: you have the front zip but that’s all. Windstopper fabric is reasonably breathable but even in the sub-zero temperatures of some of our test rides I was sweating on the big climbs. Pit zips would have helped keep the atmosphere less humid in there. There’s a lot to be said for the clutter-free approach too though, and it ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preference.
Finally, the price: £140 for a Windstopper soft shell isn’t the bargain of the century but it’s not mega-expensive either. I reckon this is fair enough.
The Oxygen is available in black, white and orange as well as the red shown.
Wind blocking soft shell in a sporty cut to keep you warm on the coldest winter training rides
road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Bike Wear Oxygen SO Jacket
Size tested: Large, medium
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?
Gore Bike Wear say, "Function on the move: this WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell jacket does not ride up and sits perfectly thanks to its special cut for stretched cycling positions.
Integrated scarf in collar made of Thermo-Stetch functional fabric
Zip-port on collar
Wear-resistant elastic binding on sleeve-hem and on hem of jersey
2 side mesh pockets
3-compartment patch pockets on back
Reflective piping on front and back
Reflective logos on front and back"
There's nothing to argue with there.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.