Wax cotton jacket for everyday cycling?

On my daily commute I’m a firm believer in dressing like a normal human. I used to believe that my motivation for doing this had a political root; that if somehow everyone who cycled to work wore normal gear then it would send a subtle message to non cyclists – that you don’t have to dress up to get into everyday riding, thus removing a barrier to getting involved.

This may be true but I’ve figured lately that my real motives are somewhat more selfish, lazy and vain. My commute is two parts bike and one part train ride and to be honest I just don’t want to look a dick on the train.

Don’t get me wrong, cycling gear has its place. If I’m out for a long ride with my bikey friends I’ll wear cycling stuff, for reasons of practicality and the powerful human need to assimilate. It takes a strong character to stand out from the crowd and I’m sorry, I’m not that guy.

I’m also lazy. I tried wearing cycling gear for the commute and changing at the end but I just could not be bothered with the hassle. Wearing normal clothes and riding slow means I can just turn up at Manchester Velodrome, my current place of toil, hang up the bike and get on with the thorny business of promoting cycling.

Which brings me to jackets. It’s been raining a lot lately in these parts and keeping dry and looking normal has risen to the top of the simmering stew of my obsessions.

I’ve long hankered for a wax jacket that looks good and does the job on the bike. I’ve ogled the Swvre wax jacket but it’s price is prohibitive for a poor church mouse like me. So I found a Superdry Transcontinent jacket that fit the bill. It’s waxed cotton and linen mix, short in the body, long in the arm, unlined and rather stylish.

First ride in the deluge showed that it was pretty water resistant but highly breathable – much more breathable than any membrane type fabric. It let in some water on the arms though – I think that the wax coating applied in the factory was cosmetic only – the fabric wetting out too easily.

However a good spray with Grangers Wax Spray and it beads like a mallard’s back. I can’t wait to get caught in a proper monsoon situation to see if my extra waxing has done the trick.

Has anyone else out there had success with wax jackets for normal, everyday, slow bicycle movement style riding? I’d love to hear from you.

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Budget bicycling: Aldi ultra light cycling jacket review

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Aldi's Ultra Light jacket (teak coffee table for scale)
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The jacket dans le stuff-sac (tin of soup, also for scale)

Discount supermarket Aldi has for a few years been selling a range of no nonsense highly useful cycling gear and this year is no exception. Hitting the stores at the beginning of may was a great range of gear at real rockbottom prices. Like a decent track pump for 4.99GBP, a multifunction cycle computer for the same price and, the item that found its way into my shopping basket, an excellent hi viz ultra light jacket for a paltry 9.99.

The jacket is gossamer thin windproof, water resistant and breatheable, rendered in hi viz yellow with reflective logos, weighs virtually nothing (3 ounces) and packs down into its own integral stuff sack which is smaller than a can of soup.

The fit of the jacket is slim to prevent flapping and just the right length to avoid bunching up at the front. The ultralight fabric is excellent for keeping wind and showers at bay but thin enough to keep you cool, even on mild but rainy days. In short a better bet than a thicker, heavier full waterproof, which always tend to give you that boil in the bag feeling after a few miles.

The high viz colour, while never winning you any fashion points, does a great job of getting you noticed, especially in poor visibility conditions and the tiny pack size means there’s no reason not to leave it in your commuting bag permanently, always on hand for a chilly evening ride or a freak downpour.

However the best part of all is the price. At a lowly 10 quid, you could buy one for the whole family for the same price as its established rival, the Montane ultra light jacket at around 40 pounds. Of course the montane is better, but four times better? Of course if you’re hell bent on getting rid of your disposable income you could go for Rapha’s Stowaway jacket for £160…

As regular readers will know, I’m not one for cycling specific stuff generally but a featherweight wind/water resisting layer that doesn’t boil you on hot wet days and doesn’t break the bank is well worth bending the rules for.