If the sizing's right for you this might, despite a few niggles, be a useful, smart commuting jacket

Nice jacket, this. I'm just not sure it's a great cycling jacket. Everything positive I want to say about it I have to qualify with a niggle.

Anyway. Let's start with the good bits. It's a smart bit of kit, and definitely doesn't appear too technical. It wouldn't look out of place in casual - nay, social - situations. You won't be ostracised by non-bikers if you turn up to the pub in one. The 'wool' is a smart, soft, textured herringbone-pattern that gives a nod to more gentlemanly outdoor wear - and the elbow patches are a nice touch. I must, however, put the 'wool' in inverted commas because, erm, it's not wool. According to the label, it's polyester. A bit of a problem for trading standards there...

But back to the nice stuff: it does look good, and the polyester is definitely aquaphobic. Water sits on the surface, beads and rolls off. I wore the jacket through some good old showers when commuting and it never leaked once. They were showers, mind, and Surface don't claim the jacket's waterproof, but it will get you through less extreme weather. Taped seams and a storm flap over the zip will keep you protected, though

It's not a light jacket, and not particularly breathable, but it's good and warm. Layered over cycling or work clothes this has seen me through our mild winter in comfort. Except, unfortunately, it leaves the lower back and the wrists exposed. The cut just didn't seem right to me. Problem one: the fabric doesn't stretch. Problem two: the shoulders are very narrow. I usually take an 'S' in cycling clothes, but the supplied 'M' (which, to be fair, was the right one for me according to the online size chart) was too narrow for my shoulders. And because there was no stretch, when I bent to hold the handlebars the tight upper back pulled the jacket up. The scooped back isn't that low, and the drawcord adjusting the waist was no help. The sleeves, too, seemed very, very tightly cut. So much so, the rather voluminous lining is prone to carrying through with your arm and poking out of the cuff. Consequently, it was difficult to wear any bulky clothes underneath and, again, the tightness and lack of stretch left my wrists exposed when leaning over on the bike. (Incidentally, Surface's other jackets are better fitted.)

It goes without saying that the cut of a jacket will work for some and not for others. I checked customer reviews at some of the online shops, and the majority tipped towards my opinion. A few people found the jacket great, but most found it weirdly proportioned. And someone pointed out something I didn't spot - the Napoleon pocket doesn't have the advertised i-Port (Presumably, this would let you run headphone cables inside the jacket. If it existed.) Perplexing that there can be so many good points to the jacket, but also gripes to balance them out.


Overall, I'd say go and try this jacket. If it fits, it'll be a smart, durable commuting companion; I wish I could be more enthusiastic, but for a number of reasons I can't.

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Surface Hydrophobic Wool Jacket

Size tested: Brown - M

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?

Surface's site says: "Not only the the most stylish waterproof jacket you'll ever find for your bike, the Aquaphobic also gives you taped seams, a wicking lining, storm flap, elbow patches and secure chest pockets with i-Port."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Again, from the site: "Slim-fit breathable, Water-proof aquaphobic fabric Taped seams Sweat wicking lining Elbow patchs Zipped pockets Full zip body with storm-flap Internal draft excluder cuffs Casual riding tailoring Adjustable draw cord waist Secure chest pocket with i-Port."

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Just didn't cover the bits it needed to on the bike, fine off it though.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Too tight in the wrong places meant it didn't work on the bike.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The material, the look.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The fit... and the misleading manufacturer's description is a bit sloppy.

Did you enjoy using the product? Hmmm.

Would you consider buying the product? Not after trying it out.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd recommend they try it on if they liked the look of it.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 1.78m  Weight: 65kg

I usually ride: Cinelli Strato road or fixed commuter hack.  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,



Giant Rob [59 posts] 7 years ago

This jacket looks good! Not sure if I will cycle with it on but I will go out to the pub in it.

BigDummy [314 posts] 7 years ago

I've worn the previous version for a year or so, and I share the difficulties that the reviewer identifies:

- not wool;
- no "i-port" (not that I care)
- ridiculously tight sleeves.

The other slight point is durablity. Mine has quite serious bobbling of the fabric under the arms and across the sides of the jacket caused (I assume) by friction between the sleeves and body as my arms swing when walking. It's not a major thing, and it doesn't seem to affect performance, but it does mean that an initially smart garment started looking a little dog-eared quite quickly.

Pity, as it could be really, really good.

step-hent [726 posts] 7 years ago

Was hoping this would be really good - it looks great! Shame the performance doesn't live up to the looks though. Oh well.

deadcreative [10 posts] 7 years ago

I've had this jacket for a year now and I love it. It looks great and performs well.

The sizing is weird, for sure. In theory I'm a medium but I experienced the same problems as the reviewer - it was just too small. Going up a size solved those problems, providing longer sleeves that can accommodate a thin jumper if needed and sufficient room across the shoulders and length in the back.

Its very windproof and its kept me dry on the commute whatever conditions I've cycled in. Its warm too, without being too warm. Worn over a base layer (and sometimes a jersey), it sees me through everything down to zero or so. I regularly wear it off bike too and get plenty of compliments. Its the perfect commuter jacket.

I haven't experienced the bobbling that BigDummy mentioned - I'm grateful for that. My jacket still looks like new after a year of use. The lack of an i-port doesn't bother me but it is a bit daft of surface to promise a feature that isn't there.

I'd recommend this jacket wholeheartedly. If it fits.

James Warrener [1086 posts] 7 years ago

It looks very similar to this one http://road.cc/content/review/17147-dhb-southsea-jacket reviewed on the site a while back and snaffled by me for £30 off Wiggle.