Friday, November 12, 2010

product review: showers pass club pro jacket

alpenrose 10-3
Originally uploaded by periwinklekog

(Note: this is an unsolicited review.)

In short, the Showers Pass Club Pro jacket, a revision of the company's original Club jacket, is a good example of a company using feedback from users to improve a product.

I tested the Club jacket two years ago, and passed it around for a couple of my co-workers to try as well. Our conclusion was that the feel of the fabric and the very race-oriented fit would not serve our customers very well, and we opted not to carry the jacket in our product line that year. I shared our findings with the folks at Showers Pass, and they responded with a significantly improved version of the Club jacket, now called the Club Pro. Since I was due for a new rain jacket (my 15-year-old Burley having finally given up the ghost), I decided to buy one for myself and try it out. I have ridden about two hundred commuting miles in the jacket so far.

My only complaint is that the pit-zips were redesigned so that they run below the armpit and just behind the chest at an angle, rather than in line with the underarm seam the way most jackets have them positioned. I find this location for the zipper to be much harder to manage with one hand, and I either have to risk riding no-hands in traffic or pull over and stop to adjust my ventilation there. Since I'm not actually racing while wearing the jacket, it's a minor issue; but if I was in a situation where I needed to be able to work the zipper one-handed every time, I'd probably be bothered more by this change.

--Fabric has a better hand inside and out and appears to be more durable than that used for the old Club jacket; It is also surprisingly breathable considering the material used, yet repels water very well. All seams are sealed with what appears to be a durable tape.
--Zippers are all sealed and include pull-tabs with a tiny spot of rubber or silicon melted into the tab for extra grippiness -- ideal when trying to use the zipper while wearing gloves.
--Better color choices than the old Club (that neon orange HAD to go; and if you don't like the neon yellow now offered, the jacket also comes in a deep sea blue in mens' cut and a pastel blue in womens' cut).
--Good reflective striping and accents all around (however, the rear horizontal stripe tends to get lost when the rider is wearing a shoulder bag or backpack, so perhaps a little more reflectivity on neck and/or sleeve is in order).
--Best of all, the fit was changed to be a little boxier and roomier, allowing for more layering options in cold weather and also fitting wider-hipped bike commuters who aren't necessarily "athletes". At the time we ordered our jackets for stock we chose to carry only the mens' cut, and I was pleased to find that a mens' medium fits me without any trouble. The front side pockets are also a more commuter-oriented feature that I appreciate, yet they don't make the jacket appear especially bulky. (We have since added a small number of the womens' size to accommodate our more petite riders.)
--Overall this is a good-looking, bicycle-specific garment that could just as easily be worn around town as a windbreaker or rain shell.

The jacket retails for $100.00, which is now considered the more affordable end of the range for a bike-specific jacket. Based on all the features offered in this attractive package, I think it's a good buy for the money.

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