Gear

Bontrager Starvos S1 Softshell Convertible jacket

This cold-weather piece will be a staple in our winter riding wardrobe.

Price

$180

Brand

Bontrager


Bontrager says this jacket is made for those days when the weather is indecisive, but I would amend that: This jacket is for cold days when the weather is indecisive. Even if you zip off the sleeves, this jacket is super-warm — too warm for rides that will start cold (say, in the mid-to high-30s) and warm up (into the high 40s or 50s). It’s for days that will start cold and only get slightly less cold.

The Profila softshell fabric is semi-fitted, which means you can still layer underneath it but it won’t feel like a parachute wrapped around you. It’s definitely a comfortable and warm piece, one that I can see riding throughout the winter. But as the mercury started to rise and I started to sweat, I definitely started to feel a bit swampy despite Bontrager’s breathability claims. I won’t knock it too much because I’ve never really ridden winter clothing that’s truly breathable. With that much material between your skin and the outside world, that sweat’s going to get trapped somewhere.

Bontrager claims this jacket is also waterproof, which I wasn’t able to test in real riding conditions in drought-stricken Colorado. My guess, though, is that it’s only waterproof to a point. The softshell material appears to be waterproof, but the underarm material is a softer synthetic that likely isn’t waterproof. Expect to stay mostly dry, unless you’re riding in a deluge.

This is likely a piece you’re going to wear throughout your ride — it’s too big to stuff into a jersey pocket — so it’s nice to see three back pockets for stowing ride food and your phone.

The only major complaint I had came when I tried to zip off the sleeves. Each sleeve actually has two zippers you need to pull to remove the sleeve, and I wasn’t able to reach the zipper pull in the back of the sleeve while riding. It was actually kind of tough to do it when I was stopped, too, which means the easiest route for removing the sleeves involves stopping, removing the jacket, zipping off the sleeves, then putting the jacket back on. It’s not ideal, and I’m not sure why Bontrager felt two zippers here would be any better than just one.

Aside from that, this is an excellent cold-weather jacket. I can see this becoming a staple of my winter fat-biking wardrobe and cold early-morning commutes to work this off-season.