By Colin Dennis
Sizes: XS S M L XL
Size tested: M
If über-cool actor, Steve McQueen were alive and cycling today, I reckon he’d be wearing a 'Bullitt-proof' Solo RT Winter Jacket while taking the Laurels at a Le Mans TT race. (Younger readers may need to Google ‘Bullitt’)
The Solo RT Winter Jacket simply oozes retro style. From the off-set zipper and high collar, to its wide reflective piping across the chest and arms, this training jacket sets a new bench-mark in stylish and functional cycling apparel.
It’s not a case of form over function at all here. The Retro Tech Winter Jacket is as good as it looks, and if I sound bias, I don’t care! You feel you can take on the very worst winter conditions wrapped up in this jacket, and over the last few weeks we’ve had high winds, torrential rain, and now sleet and ice on our local rides.
The medium size test jacket is plenty long enough for my 180cm (5’ 11”) slim-Jim frame and there’s enough length to the arms to cover my winter gloves without the sleeves retreating up my arms. You’ll understand what I mean if your forever pulling on the cuffs of your jacket.
One word of advice though, it’s too easy to over dress when wearing the RT Winter Jacket on your first ride out. It works so well as a wind barrier you’ll only have your face going numb to realise how cold the temperature is. No need to layer up to the max, the waterproof panels to the front and arms of the jacket keep the elements out at the potential cost over you overheating slightly. And I mean this as a possitive thing. The effectiveness of the RT Winter Jacket is quite striking and as far as I'm concerened, fully justifies the price.
The off-centre zip of the RT Winter Jacket is great at keeping the weather out and the warmth in, but if you unzip the jacket too far should you need to vent off, I found it then flaps around a bit. It’s not a problem as such, it’s just there in your peripheral vision. Unzipping just a couple of inches was often more than enough to ventilate effectively.
Underneath, I found that a thin, long-sleeved Baselayer and a short sleeve jersey to be more than enough added protection, even when it’s howling out there. If you get too warm, you can take either of the two under layers off if needs be, but I don’t recon you’re going to get the RT Winter Jacket into you back pocket of a cycle jersey if you get too warm.
The RT Jacket simply feels good to wear. The cut of the material and its simplified, reto look and modern construction methods blend together to create quite a unique feel and look as far as winter cycling apparel and protection goes.
Carrying-wise, there’s three large-ish, standard pockets on the rear plus a waterproof rear fob pocket for cash and keys, while hidden neatly out of site on the torso of the jacket lies another small useful pocket; you have to look very close to even notice this unobtrusive pocket, such is the quality of the finish.
In summary: as with all Solo clothing, the devil’s in the detail. Unquestionably, Solo take great pride and care in their range of cycling apparel. The retro-look resonates with a wide range of riders looking to stand out from the massed ranks of everyman-Lycra. Thankfully you don’t need the steely-eyed looks of Steve McQueen to enjoy long-term warmth this winter – the Solo RT Winter Jacket alone is classy enough!