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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
Howies' Drizzler Active Blazer is a stylish cycling jacket that offers more practicality than you might expect, and at a very reasonable price. Waterproofing and reflectivity are nonexistent, though, so it's one for smart folk on dry days only.
Want to look civilian-smart but need to ride a bike? Despite commuter clothing manufacturers' claims, most kit that's been designed with cycling in mind tends to stand out from the norm. But with the Drizzler Blazer, Howies might have just cracked it with a jacket that looks semi-smart off the bike, but works surprisingly well on it.
With a full retail price of £69, it's hard not to be impressed by the build quality. A lot of smart commuting kit tends to carry a premium, but despite its relatively humble price, the Drizzler is really well put together.
Howies says it's made from 'clever Japanese fabric' (in reality, 85% recycled polyester, 15% Spandex), which actually feels like thick Lycra. It's a little bit disconcerting to handle a suit-style jacket made of Lycra-style material – it feels more like a woman's tailored suit than a man's – but seams are beautifully made and there's even a split tail flap, like a proper, smart jacket. Very simply, three buttons do up the front.
For a lightweight garment, there's a surprising number of pockets, although I'd suggest not all of them are useful all the time. For example, the three front pockets are all open, so are of limited practical use on the bike. Two internal buttoned pockets with mesh lining are better…
…but it's the two almost hidden inside zipped pockets that are safest for valuables.
In many respects, rather than compare it to other cycling kit, it's a little more like something from an outdoor brand such as Rohan.
Because of the fabric's stretch, fit both on and off the bike is very good. In the saddle, the sleeves are long enough to not ride up. Meanwhile, the rear flaps sit nicely over your bottom. It does cling to the body a bit, but that's fine because it moves with you as you manhandle the bike. One downside, though, is that it easily becomes a little crumpled-looking in places.
With so much to recommend it off the bike, I was concerned the Drizzler might be a question of style over substance. However, it proves to be surprisingly windproof. Although the Drizzler is not insulated in any way, these windproofing qualities are effective enough to keep the chill away and the up-turnable collar and buttoned strap closure help to provide unexpectedly complete protection. I've been using it in early winter with nothing more than a long sleeve underlayer and a non-cycling T-shirt.
It's not perfect, though. Because the sleeves are like normal, non-cycling sleeves, there's no elasticated cuff to stop the breeze getting to your wrists. And there's a distinct dearth of reflective elements – none at all, not even under the pop-up collar.
That name Drizzler is a bit of a misnomer, too. In wet and wintry conditions it's nowhere near as suitable as a dedicated all-weather jacket – it's definitely not rain resistant and, while it does dry quickly, whatever you're wearing underneath will also get soggy and probably stay that way.
For dry spring, summer and autumn days, it's not a bad final layer at all, though. Breathability is decent too, with no significant build-up of moisture in my experience. However, I should qualify that by saying I have been testing it while using the excellent Cycology 8 Days baselayer and the weather was cool.
Cycling-friendly suit jackets and blazers aren't exactly ten a penny, but there are some other classy commuting options around. Perhaps the garment I've tested that is most similar to the Drizzler is the Samvaer Overshirt, but that's not quite as smart and, at £195, a whole lot dearer. In comparison, the Drizzler looks a steal.
I do have one nagging question about the Drizzler, though: who would wear it? Obviously, if Alan Partridge ever got done for DUI, then this would be his kind of cycling garb (albeit with an embroidered chest pocket badge). For the saddle-born flash Harry about town, it'll also be an obvious fave. But if you wear a suit all day at work, you'd still be way more comfortable changing into something fresh after the commute in. That said, I really do like it and applaud Howies for making the Drizzler, especially at such a modest price.
If you're not sure you want or need a cycling-friendly blazer, then you probably don't. But if something about the Drizzler entices you, then Howies has made a fine product that really does combine off-bike style with on-bike performance.
Stylish and quite practical jacket for surprisingly effective three-season use
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Howies Drizzler Active Blazer
Size tested: XL
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?
The Drizzler is a smart suit/blazer-style jacket designed with cyclists in mind.
Howies says: "Classic men's blazer with a twist. The Drizzler jacket is a smart active blazer designed for city wear. Made from a lightweight fabric with plenty of stretch. This revolutionary material is also quick-drying and windproof and is made using 85% recycled polyester and 15% Spandex. The Drizzler is your perfect commuter jacket, easily shifting from the bike seat to the office chair. Features bound internal seams for a tailored finish."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
* Fast drying
* PET/PFC free
* Classic button front
* Pop up collar
* Two hand pockets
* Chest pocket
* Two internal mesh pockets with button closure
* Neatly bound seams inside.
* 85% Recycled Polyester mesh bond / 15% Spandex.
* Made in China.
Really well made. Seams are all good with no loose threads. Nothing to complain about.
Very good for dry days and surprisingly effective at keeping out the wind. No waterproofing, though, so you'll get soggy when it rains.
Despite its very lightweight build, it seems pretty robust in use.
Howies doesn't suggest it's waterproof. And it's not.
Quite impressive – that lack of waterproofing means breathability is good.
Nice length in the arms and back, even when on the bike.
I'm very happy with sizing – exactly as Howies would lead you to believe.
Because the material is stretchy, comfort is good.
I think £69 for a cycling-friendly suit-style jacket is very good value. In fact, it's better value than many non-cycling-friendly suit-style jackets. The garment I've tested that is most similar to the Drizzler is the Samvaer Overshirt, but that's not quite as smart and, at £195, a whole lot dearer. In comparison, the Drizzler looks a steal.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash at 30 and drip dry. All good, but be aware that it will get a bit crumpled and you can't iron it.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Aside from its lack of waterproofing, in the saddle it performed like a far more typical windproof cycling jacket than I expected.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
I think the pop-up collar and neck closure makes it far more effective at lower temperatures than I imagined.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Its lack of any subtle reflective details. Also the lack of waterproofing and propensity for crumpling is a bit of a pain.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If you're looking for a smart suit-style jacket to wear on the bike, this is a good choice. Yes, the lack of waterproofing is a shame for all-year use, but its performance against the other elements is far better than you might expect.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure