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If you're riding in street clothes and want something cut for cycling that will blend in off the bike, the BTwin Men's City Cycling Rain Jacket is worth a look, though weatherproofing and breathability are middling. It's fine for shorter distance commuting/utility riding, walking the dog and the like, but not a patch on some popular models such as Altura's Classic Nevis.
The cut is good for cycling and suitably relaxed for general outdoor activities, with a sensibly proportioned drop-tail that protects the lower back and buttocks from spray and the front short enough not to catch on the saddle.
Medium is my default and ours fitted me perfectly, with plenty of room around the shoulders and well proportioned elsewhere. Layering is possible, but think dress shirt and thin jumpers.
Though looser than sportier models, on a couple of occasions where I've worn it atop training kit and let rip along blustery backroads, it hasn't billowed like a builders' tarp or hampered a tour-typical 85-90rpm cadence.
The jacket is primarily polyester with a polyurethane exterior coating and taped seams. Decathlon cites waterproofing as 2,000mm, which sounds relatively low, coming from designs boasting 10,000 apiece for waterproofing and breathability. Think moderate, rather than heavy rain; Decathlon says 'average downpour', or 60 litres per square metre for two hours.
Breathability sounds more impressive: the hydrophilic coating has an RET (resistance to evaporative heat transfer) rating of 12, which means you should remain temperate during moderate efforts. Long, zippered pit vents also promise to scoop more air inside.
In the real world, waterproofing is good rather than great, but fine for five-mile loops in showery to moderate rain. The cuffs are snug enough to prevent rain being funnelled inside, while still allowing a good seal with gloves.
A sensibly proportioned tail offers decent protection to the lower back, and nothing has crept in around the neck or zippers either.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how dry I remained during a torrential downpour, though after 30 minutes I was conscious of dampness creeping inside.
With the mercury hovering between 10 and 14°C, the jacket has done a decent job of regulating temperature when riding at 12-14mph and for round trips of five miles or so. Ramping it up to 17mph induced some clamminess, amplified by a rucksack; arguably, this pace isn't what the jacket's intended for, but I'm someone who likes to commute at a smart canter, especially on the return leg. I became decidedly warm at similar paces without a bag when temperatures climbed to 16°C, palpably so compared with jackets boasting 10,000 for breathability.
On the flip-side, the fabric retains some welcome heat during bracing autumn commutes, and with the air temperature around 8°C, I've felt relatively dry at a steady 14mph.
Bold retro-reflective strips run along the arms and across the rear at the bottom, designed so they won't be obscured by rucksacks and similar rider-mounted luggage.
There's also a flap that opens out at the top of the zip, revealing another reflective panel. It's held open by one magnet and did tend to release and fold back, especially in blustery conditions. Having a magnet top and bottom would help.
Decathlon reckons these offer 360-degree visibility at 50 metres, when graced by vehicle headlights. Their positioning is certainly well thought through, and friends in cars reckoned they could spot me from around 30m in the open, more like 25m in town, but still good given the competing distractions.
Hoods stir mixed emotions in me – they can be friend or foe. Personally, I'm drawn to the removable type; the BTwin's is fixed but cut so it will fit beneath or over a helmet, and features a drawcord for a tailored fit.
Tethered tight and worn beneath a lid, it didn't hinder over-the-shoulder checks or scanning left to right at junctions and roundabouts. I was also relieved to discover it didn't impair hearing in these contexts, and it's handy off the bike, too.
The two deep hip pockets will swallow wallets, smartphones and other valuables, while proving a natural parking spot for hands when mooching around.
They offer decent support to contents while riding – enough that my big bunch of keys wasn't catching my knee with every pedal stroke.
The dark navy will do an excellent job of hiding patina, and any mucky spatter is easily removed using a damp sponge. Otherwise, you can bung it in the machine – just don't exceed 30 degrees, and swerve the fabric softener and tumble dryer. It's a good idea to hang it up, too, so it can breathe a little, especially if you've been out in the rain.
The two-year warranty inspires confidence and I've caught ours on dangling branches, brickwork and other rough surfaces without any visible impact.
Although £65 isn't at the top end of the market, there are cheaper competitors vying for your hard-earned, some with a better technical spec too.
At £59.99, Madison's Protec Men's 2 Layer Waterproof Jacket has a relaxed cut, is available in a choice of three colours and boasts waterproofing and breathability figures of 5,000 apiece.
Altura's Classic Nevis Men's Jacket has three pockets, waterproof and breathability ratings of 10,000, is available in either bright yellow or red, and is £59.99.
This jacket has some nice touches and does what it's designed to. However, if you can forgo a hood, there are better choices if you like to ride faster and/or longer.
Casually styled, with nice features, but waterproofing and breathability merit improvement
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BTwin Men's City Cycling Rain 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?
Decathlon says: "Do you regularly cycle in the city? Then you need the 500 cycling jacket to protect you from the wind and rain while keeping you visible at night.
Stay dry or look stylish? There's no need to choose between them. This waterproof, windproof jacket combines ventilation with visibility and elegance. PPE-certified nighttime visibility."
It's a versatile jacket for short-haul commuting and general outdoor use, but waterproofing and breathability don't match that of similarly priced competition.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Decathlon lists this technical information:
This cycling PPE jacket, which is certified for nighttime visibility, comes with reflective strips and a magnetic flap on the front for riding at night.
The reflective parts have been positioned based on the constraints of cycling (leaning forwards, wearing a backpack, signalling with your arm, etc.) to guarantee 360° visibility at night from up to 50 m away when picked up by car headlights.
What makes a garment waterproof is the coating of its fabric and its waterproof taping. The resistance of a fabric to water pressure is expressed in mm of a water jet (test based on standard ISO 811). Our material is resistant to the pressure from 2,000 mm of water. The finished product is approved in a shower test in the lab, where we recreate the conditions of an average downpour: 60 L water per square metre per hour for 2 hours.
SHAPE DESIGNED FOR CYCLISTS
The 500 jacket is designed to protect urban cyclists in rainy weather. Its cycling-specific cut provides good freedom of movement and covers the lower back, arms, neck and wrists when in riding position to guarantee great protection from the cold and wind.
Zipped vents under the arms to let air circulate freely.
You can wear your helmet over or under the hood.
Hydrophilic coating (RET = 12): helps the garment to wick perspiration away. To see whether a fabric is breathable, we test its evaporative resistance or RET (based on the ISO 11092 standard). The lower its resistance, the more the fabric lets water vapour produced by the body escape, and the more breathable it is.
Dyeing in the mass is used to dye the fibres during the production of the fabric to reduce the environmental impact of the dyeing. It also reduces water consumption and pollution.
A product's environmental impact is calculated for its entire life cycle using various indicators.
An overall rating (ABCDE) is given, allowing you to easily identify products with the best environmental performance by comparing similar products to each other (T-shirts, trousers, backpacks etc.).
Decathlon openly displays the environmental ratings of its products.
To find out more: http://sustainability.decathlon.com/
Warranty 2 years
Feels well made throughout, including the zippers. A two-year warranty adds confidence.
Decent cut, styling, and practical for short-haul commuting, utility riding, and generic outdoor use, but waterproofing and breathability are not on a par with other commuting jackets, even at this end of the market.
Seems rugged and has stood up to the usual everyday carelessness. A two-year warranty adds peace of mind.
Accurate in light to showery rain, and in shorter distances in heavier rain, but not on a par with some sportier commuter models around this price.
Breathability is reasonable given the intended use, and riding at a moderate pace. However, at a smarter tempo the limitations become more palpable.
Very good, given the design brief.
Very accurate, and fitted me really well.
On paper, 503g is relatively heavy compared with some. However, this wasn't overly apparent on shorter journeys.
Comfortable on and off the bike. More spirited efforts reveal the fabric's limitations on breathability, but on the flip-side the shell-type fabric does a decent job of retaining some welcome heat during bracing autumn outings.
It's well made and has some nice detailing, but there are cheaper competitors vying for your hard-earned, some with better technical spec.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to live with: hanging it out carefully, sticking to 30-degree cycles, and swerving the drier. The navy blue also hides everyday grime very effectively.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, it's well-equipped for shorter-haul riding and general outdoor use. Though I would prefer better waterproofing and breathability, it's up to the job. The cut works well, offering good coverage in street clothing and means it doesn't look overly "technical" off the bike. I'm not overly fond of hoods, but this one is well-executed and offers good protection without impairing vision; the pockets are well-cut, too, offering convenient parking spaces for hands, keys and other essentials. I would have liked a breast pocket for valuables, but that's a personal preference rather than a criticism.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Good reflective detailing, decent cut on and off the bike, good fit and accurate sizing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Waterproofing and breathability are less impressive than some others marketed at commuters.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £59.99, Madison's Protec Men's 2 Layer Waterproof Jacket is a relaxed cut, available in a choice of two colours and boasts waterproofing and breathability figures of 5,000 apiece. The Altura Classic Nevis Men's Jacket has three pockets, waterproof and breathability ratings of 10,000, is available in either bright yellow or red, and £59.99.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? On balance, no.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Worth a look for short-haul commuting and utility riding in street clothing/general outdoor use.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Nicely designed, but waterproofing and breathability limit its appeal.
About the tester
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)