After some unseasonably sunny weather with a couple inches of rain in just a few hours the other afternoon, we were reminded where I live (Pacific Northwest) that it is, in fact, winter. The nasty is arrived and we’re only left to bid it hello. Riding year round in the Puget Sound region means you ride in the rain or you don’t ride at all.
While it takes a bit of adjustment, even annually there is a degree of acceptance of sog that one must come to terms with riding here in the winter time, not to mention the dark. It is not necessarily a reasonable expectation that you can stay dry for the entirety of your ride, though recent advances in apparel technology have dramatically changed how tolerable we must be of the nasty.
If there is a game changer in the, uh, game, it’s Polartec, whose textile tech is impressive and responsible for keeping so many of us cool in the heat, warm in the cold and dry in the wet. Specialized has applied that Polartec tech to its newest lines resulting in garments that stand up against sog and keep performance and fit front of mind.
The Specialized Race-Series Rain Jacket and its trail equivalent, the Trail-Series Rain Jacket, offer serious coverage in the slop with either an eye towards aggressive fit for performance or a more casual, durable trail based jacket. Both come with the Polartec Neoshell which has pivoted the industry’s obsession with waterproof to a focus on balancing that with breathability because as any cyclist who rides in the rain will tell you, if your rain layers don’t breathe, you’ll be just as soaked from the inside.
The key to the Neoshell has nothing to do with Keanu Reeves’ “The Matrix” character and everything to do with pores, and sub-micron membranes, naturally. The folks at Polartec say that “by engineering optimal pore size and placement, NeoShell releases heat and perspiration without high pressure build up. Continuous air exchange enhances natural thermoregulation, while still providing the needed protection from all outside elements.”
Benjamin Gerding, Apparel Lab Developer for Specialized, explains the symbiotic relationship between the Polartec textiles, and an on-bike design. “Every fabric weight and material was chosen to pair together as individuals and as an entire layering system to extend the use for each piece, and be able to take the rider to even the most harsh environments, all with Polartec fabrics,” he said. “We define road riding as a more performance oriented mindset when it comes to fit and articulation in our pieces. Road is more close to body fit, and more aggressive in the pattern articulation to accommodate a more road-bike-rider mindset.”
I can attest that the Race-Series Rain Jacket beads beautifully and stands up assertively to two hours rides of steady rain and wind. The jacket, paired with the Prime-Series Waterproof Gloves makes miserable weather riding much more comfortable. The glove’s Polartec Neoshell® upper combined with a waterproof internal sleeve keeps your hands bone dry.
Hello Nasty, indeed.
$350 (jacket), $60 (gloves); specialized.com