French wheel, and these days clothing, manufacturer Mavic offers an almost bewildering choice of jackets. I reckon the Mavic Echappée jacket is the pick of the bunch for most British winter weather riding though, with an insulating softshell construction that works right down to zero degrees.
It's made from Mavic's own Warm Shell Race and brushed Gore WIndstopper fabrics. The company says this jacket works within a temperature range of 0°to 12°C. With a few recent exceptions, that's a window of temperature that is broad enough to cover the whole of the winter. And the Echappée deals with this range of temperature extremely well, making it the perfect jacket to keep you going right through the winter. If you need to go colder, another layer under or over the top gives you a couple more degrees of range. If you're regularly dipping into minus figures, you might want to look at their Propane jacket, that's designed down to -8°.
For jackets that are going to get a lot of wear through the winter, it's vital they're well designed. The Echappée is a very good example of a jacket that is carefully and thoughtfully designed. The fit is perfect, if a little on the slim side. They offer six sizes so getting one to fit shouldn't be a problem. The medium I tested was spot on. There's enough room underneath for two long sleeve layers on really cold days, and the elasticated waist keeps the jacket in situ nicely.
The arms are well shaped, pre-articulated at the elbow, and the torso is shaped with separate side panels and a longer dropper tail. The collar and cuffs are both extended further than normal jackets so you can seal yourself in against the cold and rain. The cuffs are one of the nicest details of the jacket. Their angled design ensures a good length and overlap with gloves, and avoids any bunching that can sometimes occur with certain jacket/glove combinations.
Mavic have given the Echappée a curved off-centre main zip. They say it's 'Ergonomically positioned to limit irritation and pressure points in sensitive areas' but I didn't find it any more or less comfortable than a regular centrally aligned zip. While I can understand their reasoning, I'm not a fan and I'd rather have a regular zip, they're just easier to get on with.
An interesting detail that I was initially very sceptical of, but soon came to be a fan when I realised how effective they were, was the two zipped ventilation ports on the forearms. It seems an odd place to put vents, but again it shows Mavic's attention to detail and knowledge of cyclists' needs. Often, particularly when you've misjudged the temperature and perhaps have overly insulated, you can experience very warm arms. In this situation the two zipped ports allow a decent airflow inside the sleeves that provides enough cooling action to keep you comfortable. I found myself using them a lot on my training rides.
The Echappée gives you five pockets. Two are zipped, one of the a vertical pocket on the chest and another around the back on top of three regular open pockets. The chest pocket is a good place to keep your mobile phone or house keys. Peculiarly, I found the three regular pockets undersized in comparison to other jackets recently tested (Sportful, Castelli, Assos, Rapha). I found getting my usual supplies for a training ride (pump, tube, multi tool, food, windshell jacket, ipod) into them a tight fit. Bigger pockets please Mavic.
I've been getting a lot of miles in recently with this jacket, and it's impressed me every time. It provides a good level of insulation. On warmer days a long sleeve baselayer is enough, colder days an extra long sleeve layer sandwiched between the two is just the ticket. The jacket is windproof, and will cope okay with a some rain, but it's not a rain jacket by any stretch of the imagination.
A hard-working winter jacket that copes well with a typical range of temperature, is a great fit and finished with some nice details. The price is at the steep end but it's comparable to similar offerings. Only the slightly undersized pockets let down what might be a top scoring product.
Hard-working winter jacket that fits well and is carefully thought-out.
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Make and model: Mavic Echappée jacket
Size tested: 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?
Fast winter riding jacket. Close fitting, elastic soft shell construction offers a balance between warmth, protection and breathability.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Warm Shell Race, Windstopper and Ride Wick Warm fabrics
Windproof and Insulating
1 zip chest pocket, 3 back pockets and 1 zipped key pocket
Construction is of the highest order
Sterling performance in a wide range of winter conditions, and well designed forearm ventilation lets you dump heat when you get too warm. The fit is excellent too.
Winter is hard on clothing and the Mavic has stood up to the abuse just fine.
The great fit of the jacket makes if very comfortable. It feels great on fast training rides, but is also good on the commute too.
It's at the upper end of the price spectrum but is on a par with the likes of similarly priced offers from Castelli, Assos and Rapha.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Impressive performance, a protective and insulating fabric, great set of features and a really nice fit and shape.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit and style.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The three rear pockets are a bit on the small side.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A very good winter jacket.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: 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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.