Review: Hincapie George Signature jacket

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Having agonised over the difficulty of giving the totally impartial review, I find the more I think about things the only possibility is to emphasise the personal experience. So with this in mind here is my take on the Hincapie George Signature jacket.

As reminder, I’ve been on a quest for a jacket that fits tight, that does not balloon up when riding. After all, rain is not a freak event and putting a shell jacket on shouldn’t mean you look like the Michelin Man just because it’s wet outside or you’re descending a long mountain pass.

First, does the jacket pass the flapping test? I’d say partially, it is a tighter fit and the sleeves are small but still have room inside. You can see from the photo above that the sleeves taper and are larger around the biceps. That’s to be expected, a jacket has to fit many from climbers to sprinters to weekend warriors who work as lumberjacks during the week. I’ve tried the jacket at 100km/h – the things I did for research – and it did not flap loudly in the wind.

The price has to be mentioned early, it retails at US$299. That’s a lot for a rain jacket… but I found this was a lot more than a rain jacket.

Try before you buy and aim for a small size. I used an XS size and but it fitted well for two extra reasons. First it has a high collar. Look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not a turtle-neck but the collar was a good fit with a small fleece-like band and this stops wind getting inside when you’re going downhill at speed. It’s also good on a cold day at keeping your neck warm. Second the sleeve collars have some small elasticated cuffs which again keeps the wind out. A downside to this is that it makes removing the jacket whilst you’re riding a bit harder because the cuffs are not loose nor very elastic, you can’t just pull off the jacket in one go, it takes a moment longer.

But this isn’t a light jacket to take on and off on a showery day. Instead the Event fabric is a little thicker but above all a lot warmer. The thickness means the jacket can be rolled and stored in a jersey pocket… just. The warmth is the impressive bit, the fabric feels thin to touch but seems to have big insulating powers, it’s worth about 8° for me, for example I can dress for 18 °C (65°F) but put this on and if it’s 10 °C (50°F) I’m fine. Now you can get some very cheap rain jackets, the ones that are so unbreathable they are warm. They’re quite useful if you go up a col and want something warm on the way down, on the condition you remove them the moment you start pedalling again. This Hincapie jacket is a lot more expensive and you rightly expect more. I think you get a lot more, the fabric is breathable. I’ve tried climbing in this and if it gets hot, a lot of sweat manages to evaporate. Not all but you’re kept warm. Is this worth the price, well that’s dependent on your personal finances, no?

Taste varies but I like the look of this, the red looks good in real life and it’s stayed red too. I’ve used this a lot and washed it even more often. I wouldn’t wash a jacket after every ride but tried to put this one in a few more times and it seems fine. The material doesn’t really crease. In daily use the zip works fine and all the seams are taped. Upon arrival I checked every seam and stitch and it was flawless, it remains the case after many washes and being stuffed in a pocket.

There is a big zipped pocket at the rear. It is deep but I found access hard, the aperture isn’t that big so riding one handed whilst pulling something out isn’t the in-and-out quick move, I was adjusting my elbow to get my hand in, no big deal but a second or two longer. Talking of the back the skirting along the bottom of the jacket has a gripper and is elasticated at the rear and it helps hold it in place, so it does not ride up at the back.

Summary
From afar this might look like a normal jacket but it’s a lot more. Warm and dry, breathable and light, this jacket surprises because if it feels light in your hands and can fit in a pocket yet it is warm to wear. But you expect this for US$300, it makes a five dollar milkshake look cheap but it’s a substantial addition to your cycling wardrobe. If anything I wish this was much cheaper so more people could get their hands on gear like this.

As winter has crept up I’ve been able to ride some higher mountains and pedal in the clouds and this is the value of good clothing, it lets you ride when you might be tempted to stay indoors. Maybe my wardrobe is getting old, maybe the act of reviewing sent me outdoors when the weather was bad but this jacket let me ride comfortably in cold and damp conditions.

Good: the warmth, Event fabric is lightweight and breathable, the high collar works well.
Bad: the price at $300, the pocket is hard to access.

Review disclaimer: this jacket was sent free by the manufacturers for review. I have additional rain gear to review which will appear here in due course.

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{ 11 comments }

benDE December 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm

ok, moment of truth: George calls and wants his jacket back. It’s either 300 bucks or the jacket . . . .

Oliver December 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm

$300 for a rain jacket? Does it come with a hat with and a feather?
That kind of price is a non-starter for people who make average wages — am I the only one here?

This really reminds me that in the US at least cycling has become a sport for yuppies. To be sure, on the local ride in Burgundy showing up with a $300 jacket would be the equivalent of wearing a fur coat on a night out with the guys: a show of ostentation that would single you out immediately.

Rich December 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm

There was an omission on how it affects vertical compliance.

Travis December 3, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I would like to know the answer to benDEs question as well. What is the take, Inner Ring?

The Inner Ring December 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Good question. But the answer is as much about my finances as the use of the jacket… and what I could do with the money for alternatives. I’m surprised by the Event fabric and before the test would have said the price is too high. If I didn’t make it clear above, this is not a rain jacket, it is for other conditions and more versatile. It’s like a $5 shake in Pulp Fiction, you wonder at the price, try it and you understand more. Would you buy the shake again? That’s matter of taste and your budget? For now I’m away, if George calls… I’ll get back to him.

Felipe December 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Is it better then the Assos sJ.climaSchutz? $330 at Competitive Cyclist.
Moment of Truth II: Assuming you have the money, would you go Assos or Hincapie?

Darren December 3, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Thanks for not keeping us too long waiting for the review, after all the enlightened philosophizing on the ethics of reviews! I wonder how it compares to Castelli’s Radiation jacket! Personally, I decided to update my autumn/winter gear as my collection was getting a bit old and threadbare, with zippers getting stuck, fabrics soaking up the water, etc. Found a wonderful ‘friend’ in Mavic apparel; ‘perfect’ fit, bold colors to be seen by traffic in grey conditions, strong fabrics/construction, and all for good prices! I think it’s normal that if you have a positive ‘first time’ experience with a brand you’ll go back to them again! So, will you be buying more Hincapie? No need to answer! Tis a personal thing!

MT Dave December 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm

You are not alone Oliver. That’s three weeks of groceries for the family. One thing I decided long ago was the more money you put into cycling, the more you have to work, the less you get to ride. There is such a thing as good enough.

DaveM December 4, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I’m a cheapskate, and I also tend to be extremely cold when I ride in even moderate temperatures. So, for years I have just layered up or used cheap jackets and shivered while on, and after getting off, the bike. However, I got one of these jackets at a clearance sale this fall, and it has been the single best cycling clothing purchase I’ve ever made. I’m warm down to the upper 30s with only a baselayer on underneath (haven’t tried it in weather colder than that). Bottom line: I’m a believer. Even as a cheapskate, I recognize I should have spent $300 on this years ago.

parrigm December 5, 2011 at 8:07 pm

I have this jacket and have been using it the past two winters. It is worth the money!!! I have ridden with it into the low 30′s with a l/s jersey. It is warm and breathable.

The Inner Ring January 5, 2012 at 10:35 am

As a follow up, if George calls I’m out riding. The price remains a big deal but this is a very effective garment on cold and wet days, in fact often too warm but I’ve been out in conditions when I might have stayed at home.

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