Why a windshell?
Mountainbiking is an activity where you are charging hard and generating a great deal of heat for a good proportion of your ride. Trail centre climbs, technical terrain and exposed hilltops often lead to tricky decisions in how to layer up and deal with the heat and moisture we are creating. Sweat dampened clothing and a cool wind is not a comfortable mix.
Breathability is the key here and while most riders will grab a full waterproof hardshell to fend off the wind chill these are often bulky jackets, overkill for most situations and resticting mobility.
A quality windshell is the ideal choice at least for spring through to late autumn.
What are the benefits then?
Breathability: Wind resistant fabrics are a tightly woven microfibre usually with a rip-stop ‘grid’ to increase durability and often with some stretch. They are treated to an external water resistant DWR (durable water resistant) coating to shed light rain. The breathability exceeds that of most waterproof shells, increasing comfort levels.
Lightweight: Most windshells are designed to be lighter, simpler jackets with a trim fit. Weights can be between 100-150g, often lighter. A waterproof hardshell can be four times this weight, or more.
Packable: Many lightweight jackets come with a pack pocket or carry bag. They pack down to the size of an apple… carry one with you, there’s no excuse. Chuck it on for that post-ride coffee or pub stop…
Quick drying: These treated polyester fabrics are tough yet dry in a flash. They will shrug a shower off yet dry in minutes. A heavy waterproof can drag you down when sodden.
Minimalist design: A bike specific shell will have no more features than needed although there is choice.Some models will have side venting zips yet few will add more than one pocket. Keep it simple.
Here (in our video) we look at two premium wind resistant jackets where design detail, fit and cut are not compromised.
SWEET PROTECTION AIR JACKET:
A full zip lightweight windshell from Norway. Designed specifically for off road use; with a high-mountain pedigree.
Micro ripstop Polyamide fabric with one-way stretch; full zip.
Dropped tail, stretch cuff panels, high collar.A great fit…
Double drawcord hem adjusters.
Zipped rear pocket; jacket can stow away into this.
GIRO NEW WIND JACKET 3-1
Taken deliberately from Giro’s forward thing ‘New Road’ range of kit this shell benefits from a sleek fit and side venting zips.
Ripstop Nylon fabric; full zip.
Side zips allowing venting and access to two side pockets.
Stretch detail on cuffs and hem keep jacket fuss free and bulk low.
Integrated pack pocket to roll jacket into.
Tail cut shorter for added versatility off the bike but still protecting you from spray.