The last remaining Holy Grail?
The cycling industry has solved many problems that were once perceived as impossible. For example, we now have full suspension mountain bikes that don’t bob, night riding lights that are also light in weight, and even trails that walkers aren’t allowed on! But, in my opinion, there is still one remaining Holy Grail that no-one has yet been able to find. A waterproof coat that is both breathable and properly durable.
Sure, all the clothing manufacturers have us believe that they’ve come up with the most waterproof yet amazingly breathable fabric. And, I’m the first to admit that they’re a darned sight more breathable than they used to be:
My first foray into waterproof cycling clothing was in the late 1980s when I invested in what can only be described as a fisherman style bright yellow waterproof trousers and jacket combo – They were all the rage amongst cyclists back then. But, I would have looked more in place wearing them with a Guernsey sweater, a matching yellow hat, wellies and a pipe, whilst singing sea shanties and talking to a parrot! Fishing is a good analogy, as it happens, as I felt like a boil in the bag fish when wearing them to cycle in!
Leap forward to 2008, and I have a Goretex paclite and a Gore Windstopper softshell in my wet weather arsenal. They’re a darn sight more breathable, and ergonomic, than my old fisherman’s togs, but I still feel like I’m being slightly boiled when I exert myself on the bike. And, I have enough fat lad excuses not to exert myself, without worrying about overheating as another reason not to exert myself!
There are other fabrics out there which have even more extravagant claims of breathability – Event, Gore XCR and the like. I’m willing to fall under the marketing hype and try them to see if they’re as good as they claim, save for one other factor that I look for in a cycling coat – Is it properly durable?
Why is proper durability so important to me in a breathable cycling coat? Because I can’t afford to replace a ‘breathable’ coat that costs upwards of £100, and could even set me back over £200 (my wife could keep herself in shoes for a couple of months at that price!).
Without getting all Geography teacher on you, is it too much to ask to have reinforced elbows on ‘breathable’ cycling coats and softshells? When I take a tumble, I generally land on an elbow to the same ratio that buttered toast lands face down on the floor i.e. always. On a couple of occasions this has resulted in a rip in the expensive fabric. But, maybe I’m just a fat, unfit and unskillful lad. Maybe skinny, fit people, who are skillful enough not to fall off, don’t have this problem.
I know the secret of capitalism, and I am their absolute target market – if I fall off and the coat rips, I will have to buy a new one, thus generating more money for the industry. But, I wonder if I can convince the industry to think about capitalism in a different way. If a company came up with a breathable, waterproof and also highly durable cycling coat, that was even suitable for the more rotund cyclist, wouldn’t every cyclist on the planet want one? Wouldn’t this generate megabucks for the company that came up with the best coat? How hard can it be to reinforce the key impact zones of a ‘breathable’ waterproof cycling coat? Even better, how about making the coat affordable, too?
So, here is the challenge. I’m throwing down the gauntlet to the industry to come up with this last remaining Holy Grail. And, if you want me to product test it, I’ll be more than happy to do so.