The Countdown 2.0 AS ZO Lady jacket is a jacket designed for year round use, and with its 'comfort' fit it's aimed at all sorts of riders, not just the super sporty.
I like jacket/gilet combos. I think they are a useful thing to have in a climate that's erratic at best. For a mostly insubstantial weight outlay, you get a full sleeved jacket and a gilet in one, meaning you've effectively got twice the clothing options.
It's made from water repellant Windstopper fabric, with a mesh lining. There are two side zipped pockets that double as ventilation, a rear lumbar pocket with a zip and the jacket stuffs into this if desired, and can be worn as a bumbag/belt affair. The jacket is shaped for the bike, with a dropped tail and a streamlined shape that's flattering and sleek yet comfortable at the same time. The sleeves are articulated with plenty of length.
The sleeves zip off independently, and easily stow in the rear pocket (or anywhere else). It's also finished off with a generous smattering of reflective piping. The jacket comes in a wide variety of sizes and colour options. A men's version is available.
It's one of the heavier zip-off jackets I've tried, partly due to the mesh lining. However, as a result, it's pretty robust and there's no feeling of it being prone to damage. The fabric is pleasantly soft and comfortable next to the skin, and is sufficiently breathable that you're not too sweaty in it even when working hard.
It's surprisingly water repellent and sheds even heavy showers reliably, and would probably see you right in all but the mot persistent rain. The main front zip is easy and smooth to operate, although the final pull is a touch tricky one-handed, but not unusually so.
Sadly, the sleeves are far less easy to handle. With the jacket off it's a simple thing indeed to unzip them or zip them back on again, but whilst wearing it, taking the sleeves off is tricky, and putting them back on again all but impossible without a helpful friend. There's a single zip for each and it's hard to locate the ends, even when stationary. The discrete zip that means you can't feel that it's a zip-off sleeve jacket sadly also means it's harder to operate on the bike.
Considering the gilet in this range is £100 on its own, this does mark good value for money, given that you get a jacket and gilet together. If you're not fussed about stopping to sort your clothing out, then it's a genuinely good jacket made from high quality fabrics. But, if you're looking for something that can quickly be changed on the move, there's better elsewhere.
Excellent quality as long as you don't mind slightly fiddly sleeve operation.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Bike Wear Countdown 2.0 AS ZO Lady Jacket
Size tested: Pink EU40
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?
Aimed at all types of rider for year round use.
Ideal for all but the sportiest of riders wanting a quick change.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Two side zipped pockets
One rear zipped pocket that doubles as stuff sack/bumbag for jacket and also holds sleeves.
Available in sizes EU34-44/comfort fit (not narrow)
Really well made. Narrow zip at arms means it doesn't feel like you're wearing zipped sleeves.
Comfortable, breathable and tough fabric.
Performed well, but sleeves slightly tricky to remove/put on without taking off the jacket or getting assistance.
Highly durable fabric and components.
Not the lightest but not bad.
Very comfortable in fit, fabric and design.
Not cheap, but well made and effectively two robust garments for the price of one.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well as a jacket aimed at the everywoman cyclist rather than elite racers. Sleeves a touch too fiddly for fast riders.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Cut, fabric, style, number of colour options.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fiddly sleeves slightly frustrating.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, probably.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, probably.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A well made and comfortable jacket offering good comfort in both its guises. Some will get frustrated with the slightly tricky sleeve operation.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.