If you commute regularly by bike, you soon realise it's better for your health if you help drivers spot you quickly.
That means bright lights and either a dodgy-looking hi-vis jacket or an even dorkier reflective sash. Until now, that is, because Gore Bike Wear's Cosmo jacket brings some much-needed style to the world of two-wheeled commuter clobber.
The jacket is the result of collaboration between Gore Bike Wear and Evans Cycles (which has the exclusive on it), and you can tell a decent bit of thought has gone into its development.
It's made from fully seam-sealed Gore-Tex Performance Shell material for maximum waterproofing, and it's a two-way design: hi-vis commuting mode or turn it inside out for a stealthy, silver-grey casual mode.
In bike mode, there are ultra-bright yellow panels on the shoulders, arms waist and tail – the areas most visible in a riding position – and these are made from proper hi-vis material like the stuff worn by motorway workmen.
That should mean there's less chance of the brightness fading with repeated washing, which can be a problem with cheaper kit. There's also reflective piping on the arms and tail, but other than that the jacket is black and it looks good – for a safety-orientated top, at least.
Reversed, in casual mode, the Cosmo becomes a minimalist waterproof jacket. To our eyes it looks pretty stylish, but the silvery-grey is a bit sci-fi and won't appeal to all. There are reflective printed chevrons on the tail and a Gore logo on the chest, suggesting night-time use, but it's far less visible than in bike mode.
Review continues after the break...
Pocket-wise, it's the same inside or out: one phone/wallet-sized, Napoleon-style chest pocket, and one much larger pocket in the tail, giving four in total. Large zip-pulls all round aid access while wearing gloves, but normal side pockets would have been a welcome addition, especially for off the bike. There's also a snug-fitting hood hidden in the collar for times when it really lashes down and this can be worn under a helmet.
Road warrior or wimp?
The cut is fairly fitted and the material slightly stiffer than often found on cycling jackets, but there are stretchy panels on the shoulders and arms and it feels comfy and aerodynamic. The sleeves are a good length for a stretched-out riding position, and the drop tail will help stop you getting a dirty backside if you don't have a mudguard.
In our tests – a five-miles-each-way commute – even driving wind and rain failed to penetrate the Gore-Tex shell, and at normal, cruisy commuting speeds the breathability worked well. Once we got out of the saddle and started mashing the pedals the jacket struggled to regulate the temperature so well, but that’s a problem with all waterproofs, not just the Cosmo.
For obvious reasons, the safety aspect is harder to quantify, but we reckon the Cosmo strikes a great balance between visibility on the road and not looking like a div. The stealth mode also proved useful when nipping down to the shops or to the pub after work. Overall, although £250 is a lot for a cycling jacket, if you use it as it was intended, it's worth it for the smart looks and two-way flexibility.
Available from Evans Cycles