Polaris RBS Jacket   £34.99

9/10

Excellent jacket for commuting and gloomy winter training rides - windproof, breathable, light to wear, compact to carry - and at a fair price too

Weight 193g   Contact  www.polaris-apparel.co.uk

by David Else   November 12, 2011  

Polaris RBS jacket

Polaris started life as a small outfit making mountain bike clothing about two decades ago, and since then has also branched into other cycling worlds, with the RBS range of clothing aimed at the road and commuter markets. The range includes this RBS Jacket. And a very nice piece of kit it is too.

First up, let's start with the colour. Because that's the thing you notice first. In fact, it's impossible to ignore. This jacket is bright day-glo yellow, with some even brighter day-glo orange bits, and some large silver reflective panels just for good measure. That's what the RBS stands for: Really Bright Stuff.

OK, you may look like a motorway traffic cone, but you are clearly visible, and that has to be a good thing - especially as we reach the season of gloomy weather, combined with the ever-increasing reports of cyclists being hit by dozy drivers. (Yes, I know, we shouldn't have to wear bright colours to avoid being crushed under cars. The responsibility should be on motorists to stay alert. But we also have to face the reality that life ain't like that, and take some steps to keep ourselves safe - that's my opinion anyway.)

Thought for the Day over.

Moving on from the colour, what are the other key features of the RBS jacket? It's billed as windproof, and does that job well. I've worn it on a few early-morning rides, when it's been chilly enough for gloves and oversocks, but this jacket has kept me at just the right temperature, combined with a base layer, summer racing jersey and arm warmers underneath. There's no venting at all, but it doesn't seem to need it. If you get too hot on a steep little climb for example, it's easy enough to undo the zip for a few minutes.

So this jacket is windproof, but it's not waterproof. However, it's not supposed to be, and that's its beauty. The lack of waterproofing makes this jacket very breathable, meaning you can wear it for several hours without sweat building up inside. Having said that, it will keep a few spots of rain off, and it'll definitely protect you from spray when you're out riding with mates and the bike in front hasn't got mudguards.

And that brings us to the next advantage. Because this jacket doesn't attempt to be waterproof, it's physically very light to wear. Apart from a bit of flapping round the shoulders on descents, I didn't know I was wearing it (the cars behind did though). When we get to mid-winter and the weather gets colder, I'll be wearing another jersey underneath, and then it'll be nicely close-fitting all over.

It's also compact to carry, so when the sun comes out and you can roll it up and stuff it in your back pocket very easily.

Other features are kept to an absolute minimum. There's a small pocket on the back, simple elasticated cuffs and a straightforward zip. No poppers or Velcro adjusters - but you just don't need them.

If I had one niggle, it's the baffle strip behind the zip. Yes, it helps improve the wind-proofing, but I found it got stuck in the zip a few times, especially if you're adjusting it on the move - such as zipping it back up after that steep little climb.

But, overall, I really like this jacket and will be using it a lot for early-morning rides this winter. The recommended retail price is a penny under £38, but you can get it for less at your local bike shop, and some of the on-line stores have the usual big discounts.

Verdict

Excellent jacket for commuting and gloomy winter training rides - windproof, breathable, light to wear, compact to carry - and at a fair price too.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Polaris RBS Jacket

Size tested: Fluo Yellow/Orange - 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?

The Polaris website says this jacket is aimed at road and urban riders, and lists the jackets features as follows:

'A fluorescent and reflective windproof jacket - great for commuting. Designed to be visible during daylight and night-time hours. Made from a breathable Micro-polyester which packs up small. Tailored with a slightly longer back. Full length front zip. Elasticated waist and cuffs. Rear zip storage pocket.'

And we can't argue with any of that.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Construction seems very good. Apart from some loose threads at the base of the zip which might snag, all the stitching was good and neat.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

For me, this jacket's performance is perfect. It's the ideal outer layer for early-morning winter road cycling. Visible, breathable, packable. The same attributes make it ideal for commuting too.

Yes, if there's a thunderstorm you'll either need something fully waterproof, but it'll be bulkier and less breathable. Or something in between fully breathable and fully waterproof. As ever, for road cycling it's a question of balance, and a lot depends on your own priorities.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

As mentioned, construction seems good. But at the end of this day, this garment is made from thin polyester fabric so won't last for ever. But treat it with care, rinse it out regularly (to get rid of microscopic salt crystals from your sweat, which can damage the fibres) and it'll do you for a couple of winters or more.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10

This jacket is light to wear, and light to carry. Even if you didn't wear it to go out, it wuld be a great thing to have in your back pocket in case the weather turns nasty or a puncture means you're still out on the road later than expected.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10

Comfort is very good. I like outer clothing to be close-fitting, and this jacket fits that bill. It flapped a bit on descents, but it wasn't a big issue. Our test item is size Medium, but I don't think I could squeeze into a Small. When we get to mid-winter and the weather gets colder, I'll be wearing another jersey underneath anyway, and then it'll be nicely close-fitting all over.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

There are cheaper options out there, but this is a very fair price.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Excellent. Windproof, breathable, visible. light to wear.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

As above: windproof, breathable, visible. Plus light to wear and compact to carry - and at a fair price too.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing!

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm  Weight: 11 stone / 70kg

I usually ride: an old Marin Alp   My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,

 

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I don't get the anti-high-viz thing at all. All those road-grey and black tops from the likes of Rapha and co are plain daft. I was given a Torm top for Christmas last year - wanted the red one but got the A27-coloured one (albeit with a little Raphaesque white band around the upper arm). I feel terribly insecure whenever I wear it on a dull day because I know it's the same colour as a dull day, which makes me invisible on my Ti coloured bike and black shorts & shoes. So I might actually get one of these and cheerfully live with the dreadful fashion faux pas.

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [567 posts]
13th November 2011 - 1:00

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Whereas to balance things up I wouldn't wear a high-viz yellow top ever. I pretty much always ride in black or dark colours with plenty of relfectives and with my lights on - in fact the most reflective bit of kit I've got is an entirely black Vaude rucksack that lights up like a Belisha Beacon when any light is cast on it. Most of the time these days I always ride with my back light on, but definitely on dull days.

I am the contrarian's contrarian though.

Maybe it sounds mad, but we did run a piece by an Aussie University that specialices in transport issues that found that high viz clothing made damn all difference as to weather drivers could see you or not - the sorts of things they do notice are things like pedal reflectors and lights or reflectives that move - especially up and down.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4134 posts]
13th November 2011 - 1:35

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I stopped wearing my dark green wicking t-shirt after a driver pulling out from a side turning and knocked me off on a country road. Didn't see me, he said, even though he would have been looking up the road I was travelling along. A colleague subsequently told me that I "merged into the hedge" all too easily when he was behind me. Black, brown, green and dark blue clothing would camouflage me all too well during my commute. I have concluded that orange, red, and yellow are the most visible colours in a range of conditions. Whether this applies in dense urban traffic I'm not so sure.

I have now fitted Shimano PD22 pedal reflectors to one side of my SPD pedals and will get some white reflective tape for the bike.

I suspect the presence of things like hi-viz and daytime running lights mean it is too easy for drivers to merely rely on these instead of actively looking for other road users. I'd use a coloured jersey/jacket than relying solely on a light on the handlebar or seat post; not only is the latter rather low down but it is much smaller object in a driver's field of view. When driving I'd much prefer to spot a cyclist when there are 3 or 4 cars between us than when the one immediately in front of me swerves around him/her and the flashing rear light becomes obvious.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1940 posts]
13th November 2011 - 11:26

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Orange is definitely the easiest colour to spot from a distance IMHO ... yellow is too light (but visible) ... red is too dark (but visible) ... whereas orange provides very strong contrast to most surroundings.

Nic

posted by nbrus [279 posts]
13th November 2011 - 12:39

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Far be it from me to argue with any Australian academics (or - even worse! - you Tony) but I just can't believe high-viz clothing doesn't make you safer. I'm sure things that move and flash and so on are more noticeable but still, you don't see many AA men wandering around in all-black ensembles do you? Given how dopey most motorists are, I'll take every advantage I can get.

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [567 posts]
14th November 2011 - 0:37

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Re-reading my comments above I can see that my transformation from lad to dad is now complete. I think I'll celebrate with a brand new pair of slippers.

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [567 posts]
14th November 2011 - 14:40

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I think day-time riding and night-time riding are quite different beasts when it comes to visibility.

At night you can wear black clothing (if you want) because your visibility is handled by your lights, reflective strips, garish backpacks, pedal reflectors and all the other paraphernalia.

In daylight, especially gloomy daylight, a lot of that stuff is less visible (particularly the items that rely on reflection from car light), so that’s when brighter clothing comes in more useful, IMHO.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree that black kit looks really smart. And I’m not saying the alternative has to be head-to-foot hi-viz day-glo. Personally, I tend to wear yellow or orange jerseys and tops, especially in winter. I may not be one of the cool kids, but if it reduces the chances - even slightly - of some pillock in a car pulling out in front of me, I’ll live with it.

David Else

posted by David Else [284 posts]
14th November 2011 - 16:23

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@Simon:

"the presence of things like hi-viz and daytime running lights mean it is too easy for drivers to merely rely on these instead of actively looking for other road users."

I understand your point but personally, I don't think I'm that much altruistic to risk my own life for the higher good of public safety. I'd rather see all cyclists wearing hi-viz clothing...

From my own experience, I do use a lot of reflectives - even those very-old-fashioned, spoke-mounted ones on my commuter. They do look silly these days on a modern bike but they are EXTREMELY eye-catching when it's dark, especially on intersections. Highly recommended for city rides.

When is comes to clothes, my bike jacket is Endura Venturi - it's black-and-grey but it's fine for evenings and mornings thanks to a lot of reflective strips. The problem is that it's not very visible during the day so I often pull on a v. breathable yellow jacket, which I have bought for about 10 quid, and wear it over the Endura. It's not water- or windproof whatsoever, so it gives me no protection from the elements, but the extra visibility it provides is precious to me (and the Endura is good enough to let me stay dry in bad weather). I think it's much better a choice than buying a separate hi-viz jacket.

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

mikroos's picture

posted by mikroos [181 posts]
15th November 2011 - 11:23

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Very interesting...for me I use those relective snap bands on my ankles and wrists. When I first got my road shoes I cut out a bit of refelctive tape (off a hi viz tabbard) and glued them to the heel of the shoes, because I thought they could be more visible. they are still intact(Then again I'm just cheap!)

Comrade's picture

posted by Comrade [140 posts]
15th November 2011 - 13:43

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regarding visibility of moving lights / reflectors, can I suggest you road.cc chaps review the cateye orbit spoke lights? I run a pair on my front wheel and they give a fantastic wheel-of-fire effect once you're up to speed and good noticeability from side and 3/4 angles

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [785 posts]
16th November 2011 - 16:42

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mikroos wrote:

...I often pull on a v. breathable yellow jacket, which I have bought for about 10 quid, and wear it over the Endura. It's not water- or windproof whatsoever, so it gives me no protection from the elements, but the extra visibility it provides is precious to me (and the Endura is good enough to let me stay dry in bad weather). I think it's much better a choice than buying a separate hi-viz jacket.

That's a bloody good idea. Thanks!

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [567 posts]
16th November 2011 - 18:15

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