Archive for September, 2011

Swrve Milwaukee Softshell Jacket Review*

So I picked this up over a year ago, and it’s time to see how well it’s fared, now that I’ve taken it out today after the summer in storage to deal with some truly shitty weather.

The swrve milwaukee jacket comes in a whole bunch of different colors, and the real kicker (in a good way) is that they offer it cut in a variety of fabrics, so you could theoretically have a different one of these suckers for all weather conditions, except for brutally hot and humid. I picked up a midweight, size large gray one for about 100USD.

The stitching here is pretty bomb-proof as far as ease of tearing goes, but none are taped, so you won’t be able to use it as a drysuit in the pool. If you stand in hard rain for more than 5 minutes, it will soak through on your shoulders. In non-biblical rain, the jacket will bead water, especially on the sleeves for a good 15 minutes before it starts soaking through the fabric. That being said, it dries in reasonable time. Little grommetted holes under the arms, and the fabric in general, give it pretty good marks for breathability–it will take a bit of effort to work up a sweat under this thing. Nevertheless, the midweight jacket is pretty warm–I’m comfortable cycling in it with only a t-shirt underneath down to 50 degree F weather. I’ve worn it in near gale-force wind and while it did billow ridiculously, it put forth an admirable effort against what I must say was some real badass wind. Like, you can lean like 30 degrees into the wind without falling over badass.

As a cycling jacket, it’s cut long enough in the back to cover your plumber’s crack (I’ve actually sat on it on the saddle, so it may be a bit too long). The shoulders are wide enough for me, so they should be wide enough for just about anyone, and the extra-length sleeves have longer tops to cover your hands while you’re riding. I’m about 165 and 5’10”, and a large fits be well enough to fit a down vest under it pretty comfortably. The whole thing just fits best when you’re riding on the hoods or in the drops.

The only real misstep in deign is the hood .The hood is substantial and will cover your head and makes a little visor over your face, but it also covers too much of the sides of your face, which it has to be said limits your peripheral vision significantly, so I don’t use it unless it’s really cold/rainy or I’m not to worried about being bum rushed by a bus, which is to say, I use it rarely. It also isn’t cut at chin level, but instead quite a bit lower, which leads to it annoyingly rubbing on your adam’s apple, and you can’t turtle up in it and cover your chin. So if you’re really bent over your bars, you might be getting some wind going down your shirt like a teenage boy’s down his girlfriend’s blouse.

Zippered back pockets that reach all the way down the butt-flap hold a surprising amount of stuff, so you may not need a saddlebag on your next ride. The front pockets are average, no-zipper front pockets, except there’s a little stash pocket (everything has a stash pocket these days) on the inside of the coat, although it opens from the top and has no velcro or anything to keep it shut, so I’d think twice before putting keys or drug money there, or in the front pockets.

Like just about everything cycling-related today, it comes in a bevy of colors, which is cool and all, and I figured gray would go well with most stuff I wear and it does. The Milwaukee jacket looks good enough to use as a normal jacket, and while the lack of reflective stripes is a downer for night-cyclists, at least you won’t light up list a construction worker when you enter a strobe-ridden club. It washes easily and has no logos or anything on the outside, which is kind of refreshing given the ubiquity of North Face fleeces and their logo adorning like everyone’s left breast.

Pros:

Butt flap covers your crack and has good pockets with zippers

Simple, clean style.

relatively warm and water and wind-proof

Price isn’t too bad compared to similar offerings from chrome and its ilk.

Available in a variety of colors and fabrics

Cons:

Hood design leaves a bit to be desired

No zippers on the front pockets.

Stash pocket is of limited use and will be easy to detect if you get patted down by even the laziest cop, you druggie.

 

*Note: I bought this in 2010, but now they only offer the $50 more expensive ES (for extra-special) hoodie, and it looks better in just about every way possible, especially the hood and collar design.

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2011 Hangzhou Alleycat

Check it out, cats and kittens! The Hangzhou alleycat race will be on October 15, 2011. We’re cooperating with a bunch of awesome companies and it’s going to be good fun. To wit:

  • that’s Zhejiang magazine
  • Vineyard cafe
  • Rodafixa/Flwrider
  • Speaker Chicken
  • People’s Bike
  • Specialized Bikes
  • WHM bikes

More sponsors are coming on board every day. There will be cheap drinks at Vineyard, our start/finish/afterparty location. Prizes may or may not be awesome, but the glory will be. Check out hangzhoualleycat.com for more information as the date approacheth!

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