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Shimano's Evolve Wind Jacket provides a cosy yet breathable layer with a relaxed fit that opens it up to more casual commuting as well as general road riding. The styling is very nice, but the notable feature is the Wind Shield, which looks odd but works well. It's a great jacket, but rather pricey.
Shimano's Evolve line sits between the race-focused S-Phyre range and the casual Explorer collection. Compared with the S-Phyre kit, the Evolve range is a little roomier, made for a slightly more upright position and, in the case of this Wind Jacket, also suitable for combining with jeans for the ride to work or cafe.
Before I noticed anything to do with fit, though, my eyes were drawn to the big silver bib that comes with the jacket: the Wind Shield. It resembles a baby's bib and clips via magnetic tabs to the inside of the jacket.
It's thin and very light, with the same kind of feel to it as a down jacket. The back is silver and designed to reflect your body heat back at your chest and core, which is key in helping to keep your extremities warm.
The rest of the jacket is made from a very light and thin fabric with a brushed inner. It has a good bit of stretch in it but I was rarely testing that thanks to the more relaxed cut. The outside of the jacket is windproof and water resistant. The windproofing is very good, doing most of the work to keep me warm. The water resistance, though, is only really good enough for wheel spray or a quick shower. Anything persistent will seep through.
Install the Wind Shield and the jacket still feels very comfortable to wear and there are no issues with the chest feeling tight. I used it on a chilly 5°C day and even in these conditions, if you hit the pedals hard, you can feel the Shield reflecting the heat back at your chest. It's easy to remove – for a climb, say – and then pop back on for the descent.
The jacket also has ventilation holes laser-cut into the upper back, and there are zippered ventilation ports down the sides under the arms. These seem to work well as I was never left feeling too sweaty in weather approaching 10°C. You'd be forgiven for missing the side ports as the zipper is really small and hidden very neatly, although despite that, they are easy to open if you do get too hot on a climb or the race to the cafe.
I found the jacket perfect for my short ride to the office. It doesn't look too much like a 'normal' cycling jacket and the relaxed fit was very welcome when wearing over a T-shirt.
Sizing is, as mentioned, a little bigger than the S-Phyre range. If you're looking for something that'll be more aero you'll need to size down or go for the S-Phyre. There is good space in the chest and shoulders but the waist still fits snugly. The hem doesn't get any grippers, but this doesn't result in the jacket swinging around.
At the back, you have three large pockets with a heat-reflective lining on the inside of the jacket.
There is also a mobile phone pouch in the middle pocket. My iPhone 6s with a case just fits in there, but it's hard to get at when wearing the jacket, especially with gloves on. If you're expecting a temperature drop, say on a night ride, the Wind Shield will roll up and fit easily in one of the pockets.
The neck area features a very soft fabric that has stayed that way after multiple washes. It extends up to my chin when riding, shutting out all the cold air. The cut is again relaxed, giving good space for a snood underneath.
The £179.99 price tag puts this in direct competition with Castelli's Perfetto (£180) and a bit higher than Gore's C5 Windstopper (£159.99). Either of these options would make a great purchase, and both the Gore and Castelli give a closer fit for fast riding. I really like the relaxed fit on the Evolve jacket, so if you're mixing riding with short/casual commuting, then I'd recommend it over the other two.
In summary, this is a relaxed jacket that is comfortable to wear, with some clever features. You're just paying top prices for it in a very crowded market.
Comfortable, relaxed fit with minimal styling, but the price might put you off
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano Evolve Wind 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?
"HIGHLY ADAPTABLE AND FUNCTIONAL COLD CONDITIONS JACKET WITH PACKABLE THERMAL + WIND SHIELD FOR CHEST AND CORE PROTECTION"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Main body: 84% Polyester, 16% Elastane (Polyurethane breathable windproofing & Water repellency)
Part: 100% Polyamide
Back: 100% Polyester
Mesh part: 100% Polyester
Padding: 100% Polyester
The little details like the taped inside of the zip show that this was made very well.
I think this is really good on and off the bike. It blocks the wind and breathes well, with a comfortable fit and styling that suits normal clothes too.
I've been using this with a rucksack and it's been washed quite a bit. It's still got its shape and the windproofing is still good.
It'll fend off a shower or wheel spray but heavier rain gets through.
Really quite good as long as you're in the correct conditions. Anything above 10°C gets a bit sweaty.
Fit is slightly looser than the Castelli Perfetto, which makes this better for more casual commuting.
It's roomy around the chest, shoulders and arms, but it's not too big. Size down if you want a closer fit.
It's a thermal jacket. About right at 412g.
Very soft material and a great fit make this superbly comfortable
If you bought this, you'd be happy with what you get, but it's no bargain at rrp.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I just chucked it in the wash with normal clothes. You'll want to avoid the tumble dryer to preserve that water resistance.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It is warm and breathes well. It's also very comfortable to wear, especially if you're putting a few layers underneath.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The fit is really comfortable. You can wear it as a normal jacket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The price is the only thing that would put me off this jacket.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's the same price as the excellent Castelli Perfetto 3, and there are are also some very good options at a lower price.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Loved every second. It's genuinely a pleasure to wear.
Would you consider buying the jacket? I would pay the RRP.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I really like the relaxed fit on this jacket and it wins points for being a great commuter crossover jacket. The issue is that it's competing on price with some seriously good alternatives.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.