Still November, still National Cycling Jacket Month here at GearGals! Next up for scrutiny is the Louis Garneau Spire ($179).
This one is a highly visible and wind-proof soft-shell cycling jacket with sleeves that zip off to short-sleeved jacket. That’s “jacket” not a “vest” so this one has a different twist.
What I like:
- Sleeves zip off to wear as short-sleeved jacket
- Slim aero-dynamic fit
- Rear stash pockets
- Excellent visibility if you get the yellow
- Glove-friendly zippers
What I don’t like:
- Snug through the arms and shoulders
- No zippered pockets at all
- Short in front
Weather protection: It is not water-proof against a soaking rain or solid downpour but the Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric protects the cyclist in heavy wind and drizzle. For the record, I did get caught in a couple heavy drizzles during the testing period and remain pneumonia-free.
Breathability: It has waffle-weave vent panels run down the front, back and arms of the jacket to create a series of air-gaps that promote ventilation. These waffle-weave panels are then connected by stretchy panels on the outside and light fleece on the inside. The idea is that this collection of panels transfers moisture from the body’s core.
It does and it doesn’t. I tested this jacket in October and October hadn’t been all that cold in Minneapolis so that could be why I didn’t find it the most comfortable in terms of breathability. It may have just been too warm. I’ll bust it out in December to see it feels any different.
Fit: Sizing is accurate. I wear a small and the sample I tested was a small. Be forewarned that it does have a very tailored fit so wearing a heavier jersery, or a long-sleeve Merino wool top, made this jacket feel like a straightjacket in my shoulders and upper arms. Standard-weight cycling jerseys or thin Merino wool tops work best.
I think the front of the jacket is too short. The back is fine but the front is too short. For my tastes, at least. The arms are long enough to fully cover my wrists while stretched over the handlebars so that’s good.
A word about the silicone gripper at the hem. It secures the jacket to form-fitting cycling shorts and leggings but tugs on baggier mountain bike shorts or cycling skirts. But, this looks and feels more like a road cyclist jacket. So maybe I’m just being biased because I’m a mountain biker?
Functionality: The sleeves can be easily removed while wearing the jacket because the zipper pulls are nice and big. To reattach, you will need to remove jacket, line up the zippers and then feed the short jacket sleeve through the detached sleeves. You can stash the detached sleeves in the big stretch envelop pocket on the back. You can even pack the entire jacket into the rear pocket.
As a matter of fact, yes, I was just about to demonstrate!
Final Thoughtability: $179 is a sizeable chunk of cheddar cheese to pay for a cycling jacket. The higher the price tag, the pickier and snottier I get. There is no question that the Spire is a quality jacket. It offers the cyclist a lot of protection and versatility for that $179 price tag. But it has some quirks, which I mentioned. So let me say this. If you are…
- Predominantly a roadie – This is the right jacket for you and you won’t be dissappointed.
- Predominately a mountain biker and/or bike commuter and/or casual urban cyclist who wants a warm and high-quality jacket – It could be the right jacket for you. But check out the Gore Element for comparison because they have similar pricepoints.