Designed to be a fully waterproof but stretchy and breathable alternative to traditional shell jackets, this Craft Ladies Performance Bike Stretch Jacket is made from a mid-weight pliable soft shell fabric and is intended to be more comfortable and less noisy to wear than its hard shell equivalents.
The first thing I noticed about this jacket was the fabric. Stretchy and soft to the touch, the soft shell this is made from is much more enticing to wear than traditional hard shell fabrics. Beyond that, the cut was clearly going to be a strong decision making factor for possible buyers. I'm normally a size medium in most bike jackets, but given the athletic cut of this jacket, I went for a size large for testing.
It's a good-looking jacket, with pleasantly sporty Euro-looks that aren't too masculine. Lines are kept clean, with a minimum of extraneous features, so you just get a central rear zipped pocket, rather than side pockets. The collar is lined with soft fleecy fabric, and the fabric itself is soft backed on the shoulder and central back area. The sleeves are articulated in shape, and have an integral jersey stretch cuff, meaning that wrists are always kept snug, and there's no need for Velcro. Reflective strips on the arms and tail pocket help visibility.
Cut long in the body and arms, and quite sleek, this jacket is shaped to suit athletically built women, and in particular will please taller ladies with a less curvy frame. Going up a size did the trick for me, but did mean the sleeves were really quite generous in length, although still not overlong.
The hem gripper at the rear of the tail section meant that the jacket didn't creep upwards when riding. The fabric was incredibly comfortable to wear, keeping me a really stable temperature no matter what sort of riding I was doing. Hills didn't result in overheating whilst descents didn't freeze me. This is a jacket best suited to cooler conditions though, and would almost certainly be overwarm in full summer, but for winter, spring and autumn it managed heat well. The soft shell breathability was a big part of that, as there was no problem with sweating, even without underarm zips. In wet weather, it certainly stood up to a lot of rain before becoming drenched.
The stretchy fit and super breathable soft shell fabric did make this a very comfortable (and quiet) jacket, that was well suited to all sorts of riding, from commuting to road to mountain biking. It even did the trick on a winter race skills session.
There is a men's version available.
Not cheap, but genuinely good value for money with excellent levels of ride comfort. Just check the fit for you.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Ladies Performance Bike Stretch Jacket
Size tested: Pruple Large
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 cyclist for cooler weather and inclement conditions riding.
A jacket really well suited to less than perfect weather, especially the classic damp cold of a British winter and early Spring.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Stretch laminated wind and waterproof fabric
Fleece lined collar
Full length front zip
Rear hem gripper
Rear zipped pocket
Integral wrist gaiters
Washable at 40
Very well made from excellent fabrics.
Superb comfort and excellent temperature management.
A tough jacket that's not going anywhere in a hurry.
You wouldn't pack this one "just in case" but it's designed to be worn all day, from the off, so it's just fine.
Superbly comfortable, both in terms of wear and also how it keeps the body temperature stable and spot on.
Not cheap, but given its quality and how wearable it is, very good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, fabric, comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fit/shape was not ideal for me, but going up a size meant it was fine.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, especially one with an athletic build.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Extremely comfortable and a pleasure to wear in all sorts of less than summery weather.
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.