Pearl Izumi's Rove Barrier jacket may well be the ultimate commuting jacket. It's comfortable, ultra-water resistant, lightweight, stretchy and looks fantastic. The fact that it even undercuts a lot of its main rivals in price is simply a bonus.
The Rove Barrier might be 88% recycled polyester, but it is far from rubbish. In fact, as an all-round, general use cycling jacket for a broad range of conditions, it's probably the best garment I've ever tested.
In fact, I like it so much, I'm going to start with its only minor negative just so my enthusiasm doesn't get the better of me. That recycled polyester fabric is classed as "water shedding", which means it works very well with water beading on the surface up to heavy rain. But in a direct torrent, dampness can soak in.
So it's not a waterproof of the old-school variety, with an impermeable plastic outer; it's more like Chrome's Kojak Convertible or Storm Signal jackets I tested earlier this year, which are effectively ultra-water resistant.
Actually, I'd say it performs significantly better than the Storm Signal. While on the bike, the Rove Barrier has coped perfectly with anything that nature has thrown. It's only if you were to use it for washing the car with 'helpful' younger family members, or for hauling in the nets on a North Sea trawler that it might get a bit sodden.
The benefits of that fabric are significant though. First of all, it means the Rove Barrier can actually look like something you're wearing out of choice, not forced into it by circumstances. It's a very smart jacket.
The second major perk is that as well as visual aesthetics, touch and feel is far better than you'd ever expect from a waterproof. To all intents and purposes, the outer feels like a softshell and because of that comfort, no liner is required, meaning it's lightweight too.
The third big plus is its woven construction, which means air flow and heat regulation is controlled quite naturally. It's not a hugely insulating jacket – you'll need some layers underneath it in winter – but you're definitely not going to boil in the bag in spring, summer or autumn. There's also a two-way zip underneath the poppered front closure to help things further.
Finally, the fabric is stretchy, meaning it's fantastically comfortable to wear.
Add in Pearl Izumi's typically superb build quality, excellent on-bike cut with perfect length in arms and back, a sensible range of two zipped hip pockets, one poppered chest pocket and two open internal pockets, and a removable drawstring hood, and you've got almost every corner covered.
But what about that stumbling block for so many other fashion-friendly outers: visibility? Well, this light grey is a bit more visible at night than modish all black (a dark – but not too dark – olive version is available, too), and Pearl Izumi does include a couple of high-vis ends to the hood's drawstring. But the pièce de resistance is a drop-down high-vis and reflective rear flap that can be hidden away when not needed, held in place by a set of slimline magnets – ingenious.
As I mentioned earlier, the Rove Barrier is probably most similar to the Chrome Storm Signal, which costs £140. However, the Pearl Izumi is just a far better option all round. Even the fab Howies Herald at £139 can't quite match it in all departments. In fact, I'd even choose it ahead of the Chrome Kojak Convertible, too, which I thought was excellent but costs a whopping £220. So in value alone, never mind performance, the Rove Barrier is ahead of the game.
Commuting and leisure cyclists have never been better catered for when it comes to technically focused outer wear. But the Pearl Izumi Rove Barrier is the best I've tested. It looks fantastic, it feels great to wear, and it gives you enough protection from the elements without risking uncomfortable heat build-up. Factor in the quality, design, value and even some eco credentials with that recycled polyester fabric, and you've got perhaps the ultimate commuting jacket.
One of the best commuting and urban jackets, offering exceptional comfort, performance and value – it's even eco, too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Men's Rove Barrier Jacket
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?
This is a general use urban cycling and commuting jacket. Pearl Izumi says: "This casual jacket includes all the technology you've come to expect from us, plus some special details to improve your ride. Our fabric, made with recycled polyester, features water-shedding PI Dry® treatment and has enough stretch for street clothes on the bike - practical in use, sporty in look. A two-way zipper allows for easy ventilation and the hood can be snapped off for a streamlined look. A highly visible drop tail helps to get noticed by drivers on the road, but it can be tucked in place once the bike is put away." I'd agree with all of that.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Pearl Izumi lists:
Stretch woven fabric for added mobility, made from recycled polyester
Stretch shoulder design for comfort in the riding position
PI Dry® permanent water-shedding technology
Easy-to-conceal magnetic BioViz® droptail for daytime and low-light visibility
Main Body: 88% recycled polyester, 12% elastane Pocket: 100% polyester
Back Panel: 100% polyester
Faultless build quality. Lightweight but reliable.
Truly awesome performance. Only a lack of total waterproofing in direct, sustained water stops it getting top marks.
Pearl Izumi kit's lightweight nature often belies its durability – if this is anything like other PI kit, it will last well.
To be fair to Pearly Izumi, it only says the fabric is "water shedding", which it certainly is.
Really fantastic. I've used this on some very warm days in late summer and it performed admirably. I didn't even need to use the two-way zip for extra heat regulation.
Excellent. Perfect length in the arms, body and back for cycling while still retaining some off-bike style.
I'm normally an XL and this XL fitted me as well as I could possibly hope.
Less than 500g for a weather-resistant casual jacket is impressive. The similar Howies Herald weighs more than 600g.
Really excellent. The stretch material – particularly in the shoulders – makes movement on the bike feel entirely unhindered.
With the Chrome Storm Signal and the fab Howies Herald costing £140 and £139 respectively, the Rove Barrier's £129.99 RRP makes it almost unbeatable.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Wash at 30 in the machine and you can even tumble dry on low heat. I've washed it, but chickened out from tumbling it.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This is a truly fantastic jacket that offers all the performance you could want on a bike, with all the luxuries, comfort and build quality of a really top-quality brand. The fact that it's superb value is just the cherry on top.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Style, performance, comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The similar Chrome Storm Signal costs £140 and the fab Howies Herald is £139, while the longer form Chrome Kojak Convertible is £220.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Definitely
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Definitely
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is simply the best commuter cycling jacket I've yet tested. It excels in almost every field and while it doesn't provide absolute waterproofing, it is water resistant enough to copy with the kind of conditions you'll encounter on the ride home. It's exceptional – near-perfect and highly recommended.
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, mtb, Leisure