It’s not mine. Ok? It belongs to my wife. I bought it for her for Christmas just after she’d decided she’d had enough of being a cycling widow and wanted to give it a go herself. And in the wardrobe it’s sat ever since because I really didn’t want her to have to start off in the weather we’ve had, that’s the kind of thing that puts you off cycling before you start. But it’s nicer now and much drier, so she’s been able to get to grips with drop handlebars and, for her, a rather bewildering 22 gears. She’s only really ridden a mountain bike before so there’s a lot of stuff to get used to. In terms of bikes, I managed to pick up a Vitus Zenium L from Chain Reaction Cycles for a frankly amazing £629. Alu frame, carbon fork, Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels and full Shimano 105 22 speed. It’s a remarkable bike for the price. So expect a review of that soon.
When you’re paying your own money for kit and just starting off you want quality. If cycling turns out to not be your thing then you’re not too out of pocket. If it does turn out to be what you want to do then it’s best not to be stuck with crappy kit that you paid peanuts for. So when I was deciding what kit I thought would work well for her I didn’t look beyond dhb at Wiggle. I’d already bought a load of the Aeron winter range and knew just how good dhb kit had become. I wanted to get her something that would be comfortable to wear but, given her comments about my black kit, something that was colourful and had a bit of style about it. I’m pleased to report that, on Christmas morning, she was very pleased with my choices even if she still thinks that bibshorts have too much of the Freddie Mercury about them.
I bought her a few dhb items to be getting on with and I’ll get her review up of the others in due course. But we’ll start with this winter softshell jacket. It lists at £65 which I think is a pretty good price for a softshell jacket of this type. But I managed to pick it up for around £39 in the period leading up to Christmas, which makes it something of a bargain.
The predominant material that makes up this softshell is dhb’s own brand wind stopper material called windslam. It’s essentially a mix of polyester and elastane (spandex to you and I). It’s pretty stretchy so, assuming you’ve got the right size, there should be no issues in getting a nice close fit. The windslam material has featured on some of dhb’s highly rated jerseys and jackets over the last few seasons and, a year or so back, I bought the dhb windslam blade jersey/jacket. I was pretty impressed with it as I recall. It was able to get down to some pretty low temperatures, didn’t overheat me in the milder ones and the fit was excellent.
Because windslam is a wind stopper type membrane it provides a great deal of protection from the wind but also has the benefit of offering some degree of rain repellency. It won’t work like a full on rain jacket. But should you be caught in a light shower or general dampness it will just shrug that off. There’s no mention of water repellent treatment but a quick go under the tap was enough to demonstrate that water will run off nicely. It’s no substitute to a rain jacket or something like the Parentini Mossa in the worst conditions, but it’s fine most of the time. Above all it’s warm and toasty.
The inner is, as suggested by the name of the jacket, lined with a fleecy roubaix fabric. Whilst the overall construction is perhaps a little lighter than something like the dhb Aeron soft-shell this is still very much a jacket. It should be more than good enough for spring riding and fast paced club rides on a Sunday morning in winter. Again, a lot depends on what kind of base layer you add underneath. With something sufficiently insulating this should be good down to some pretty low temperatures.
It’s a pretty standard set up overall, with a good quality zip and an elasticated waist band with internal grippers. My wife reports to me, and she can start writing these reviews herself in due course, that it’s extremely comfortable and sits where it should. The zip works well. She did report that she found the high neck and the lack of a zip garage slightly uncomfortable at first but she soon got used to it. That’s probably more a consequence of being a beginner rider leaning forward rather than any innate design flaw. She said that the sensation went away after a few minutes.
Round the back we have two main pockets, as is generally the case with winter jackets, with the addition of a zipped vertical valuables pocket. The left hand rear pocket (right as you look at it) is lined with a plastic coating. That means that there’s some protection for any valuables in your zipped pocket from the moisture that the jacket will transport away from your back. You can see the addition of some reflectives at the rear as well. The rear of the jacket isn’t windslam, instead it’s a roubaix lined fabric. The contrast in colours is very much personal choice, I like it, she likes it, and it’s a pretty good bet for getting you seen.
She’s not done many miles in it yet. But she was very positive about the feel of the jacket overall. She reported that she came home warm and that the jacket had proved very comfotable indeed. Given my experience of dhb I wasn’t really surprised. I’d have been surprised if she’d said anything else. My observations in relation to quality and construction lead me to believe that it’s the same as other jackets in the dhb range. It looks like it will last and provide many years of service.
The great thing about dhb at the moment is that their technology and build is available over a number of different ranges so you can choose a style which fits you best. So if you don’t like the bigger shapes of the above design you can opt for dots of the Blok micro. Or, if you want something more race orientated you can look to the Aeron Softshell range which I’ve commended so highly elsewhere on the site. It’s great to see dhb having a female specific garment (a few accessories excepted) mirroring each of the men’s product ranges. They don’t even really shout about it instead just get on with doing something that every manufacturer should be doing. My wife is going to need quite a few more garments going forward and it’s good to have a brand on which you can depend.