When it comes to a list of requirements for a cycling soft shell jacket among the two highest most riders will want is that it is windproof and waterproof. Get cold or wet on a ride and the comforts of a quick return to home soon overturn any ideas about getting the miles in. Fortunately, Knox knows a thing or two about keeping riders warm and dry as it has been looking after those needs for motorcyclists for years and cyclists can now benefit from those years of experience too with the Knox Wind Buddy soft shell jacket.
Knox’s Wind Buddy jacket has been designed primarily as a mid-layer for motorcyclists, and while I’ve been using it for that, it can be used as a soft shell for cycling too. Okay, the cut is not cycling specific, but given that it is designed for motorcyclists it is still very cyclist friendly fit wise. A longer back would be nice, but is not essential, and anyway there’s a drawcord around the bottom that snugs the jacket down to stop drafts and prevent it from riding up when you’re stretched out along the bike. The further good news is that the sleeves are long enough to not leave your wrists exposed when you’re reaching down for the bottom of the drops. Also at the end of the sleeves there’s a small elasticated cuff that stops drafts blowing up your arm.
Once again the lack of cycling specific design can be seen in the lack of pockets on the back of the Wind Buddy; then again it is certainly not a deal breaker for me. The two pockets on the front of the jacket are zippered and so they don’t gap open and get in the way, and the fleece lining in them is nice when you stop mid chilly ride and you want to keep your hands warm while your riding buddy fixes a puncture.
There is also what is described by Knox as ‘soft air flow’ fleece on the inside of the Wind Buddy, which makes up one of the three layers used in the jacket. The other two layers are a hydrophilic membrane and a windproof, water repellent and breathable outer. Now while I’m naturally sceptical about such claims I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this jacket doing just what it says on the tin. Well the wind proof bit any way; I’ve not been out in wet enough weather to really test how water repellent it is.
I can, however, report that it is breathable. I got sweaty but I didn’t get the boil in the bag feeling you get with non-breathable kit, so I’ll take that as meaning it’s breathable.
I know I’ve already talked about the cut not being cycling specific, but if choose the size carefully then it’s possible to get a snug fitting jacket, which works well on a bicycle. It also has cycle friendly features like the Reflectra printed branding on the back. What looks like a dark logo in daylight, reflects car headlights very effectively after dark.
For me the Wind Buddy jacket is really useful bit of kit, not only can I use it as a soft shell for cycling, but I can wear it with my motorcycle leathers – making them useable not just in the summer but early spring and late autumn too – as well as using it off the bike as a casual jacket. Now a jacket that can be used in so many different ways seems very reasonable to me for the £74.99 asking price.