Bontrager's Sport Commuter Rainshell jacket cuts a dash whether in the saddle, on tour or just meandering round town thanks to its tasteful blue/grey livery and tailored fit. Pockets are limited to hip and poacher types complete with LED tab but adequate for parking hands and stashing spare batteries, lights, keys and generic nick nacks. The close cut flatters both cycling and civvie wardrobes handsomely but remember when riding to drop the front and pit zips or you'll feel like a steamed pudding after 20 minutes enthusiastic effort.
"Constructed from waterproof, breathable fabric" says the Bontrager website which is another way of telling you it's 100% polyester. The outer shell coupled with fleece collar keeps rain, sleet and snow from finding their way inside, while the internal string vest section and pit zips provide an easy escape route for perspiration. Detailing is what we've come to expect from Bontrager. Subtle Scotchlite piping and logos bring the jacket alive when lit by car headlamps and street lighting while the LED tab shunned by so many competitors is very welcome in suburban and semi rural stretches.
The medium test jacket fitted my contours surprisingly well (depending on manufacturer I'm more often a large), but hunching over the bars for longer than an hour or so saw the tail gather uncomfortably-especially with winter layering.
Minor niggles aside; the jacket is very easy to live with on an everyday basis, striking a reasonable balance between water-repellance and breathability. Common to other polyester-based jackets, the fabric takes a little time catching up when you've been hustling along for a few miles at 20-odd-mph. On the other hand, this increased warmth has been welcomed with the damp mornings and evening chill of autumn. Sharp showers haven't revealed any obvious weakness and it's line dry in 20 minutes straight from the machine wash. Similarly household detergents won't hurt so long as you avoid fabric softeners, and using dedicated wash-in proofings periodically will help it to keep on keeping the rain out.
Good jacket for everyday riding, although moisture management could be improved
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Make and model: Bontrager Sport Commuter Rainshell Jacket
Size tested: Blue - 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?
"Find shelter from the storm with Bontrager's Commuting Stormshell. Constructed from waterproof/breathable fabric, the Commuting Stormshell is packed with a number of smart technical details, including pit-zips for ventilation, adjustable wrist closures, two hand warmer pockets, 360 degree reflectivity, and a rear light mounting tab. All details to help make your rainy day commute as comfortable and convenient as possible". Broadly agree, although there's some compromise when it comes to ventilation/moisture management. Oh, and I'd have to point out that this is the blurb for the 2012 version which has changed its name to the Commuter Stormshell and a few more things besides - we'll be testing the latest version soon.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Waterproof/breathable polyester fabric, pit zips, adjustable wrist closures, hip/poacher pockets, LED tab, Scotchlite detailing.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Sport Commuter Rainshell is a very sharp looking jacket for general riding and commuting in particular
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Cut, styling and easy care fabric
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, although moisture management could be improved.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes but I would encourage them to try for size before purchasing
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)