Fall and winter seem to always arrive regardless of how much time I spend praying they won't, and because I live in southwestern British Columbia, that means I spend a lot of time riding in chilly, damp conditions. In my neck of the woods, if you don't ride in the shit weather, you're probably not riding all that much. Bontrager's $174.99 USD Lithos Softshell jacket has been designed for exactly these sorts of days on the bike, but the Profila Softshell fabric is much more pliable than a full-on rain jacket that's intended for the wettest of the monsoon-level days. The Lithos Softshell is available in either black or blue, and sizes range from extra-small to double extra-large. www.bontrager.com
Lithos Softshell Details
• Profila Softshell fabric
• 5,000mm waterproof
• Semi-fitted cut
• Helmet compatible hood
• Two zippered hand pockets
• Single zippered chest pocket
• Sizes: XS - XXL
• Colours: black, blue
• MSRP: $174.99 USD
The Lithos' Profila Softshell fabric carries a 5,000mm waterproof, 5,000g/m²/24hr breathability rating, which means that it should withstand some pretty wet conditions before letting any moisture through, even if it's shy of the 10,000mm+ rating that's better suited to biblical rain (they also offer their Stormshell jacket that has a 10,000mm-30,000g/m2/24hr rating). It also doesn't have the taped seams of a heavier duty and less breathable rain jacket, but I'm a fan of staying inside on days when going for a ride presents a drowning danger. Its adjustable hood is large enough to go up and over your helmet, a handy trick if you end up having to stop mid-storm to fix your bike.
The inside surface of the Lithos is soft to the touch, and two hand pockets with mesh liners allow you to warm your paws up against your body while also acting as vents when you need to release some steam. The same can be said of the single zippered chest pocket on the rider's upper left side, a location where you'll also find a small internal port for you to run your headphones up the inside of the jacket. Might as well listen to some good tunes if you're going to be out in the bad weather. As with a lot of jackets, the tail is slightly longer to help keep the mud and spray from going up (or down) your backside, and you can adjust the fit around your waist via elastic pull-straps. The cuffs, however, are elastic and not adjustable. Performance
There are some jackets that have a cut that's so cycling-specific that it makes them near useless anytime you're off the bike, but the Lithos Softshell isn't one of them. The jacket's fit is slightly snug up under the arms and around the lats, but no so much so that it's restrictive during day to day use. There's certainly some extra material to be found elsewhere that gives it a bit more of a casual fit, especially in the sleeves (maybe it's my pipe-cleaner arms?), but that's also what makes the Lithos so comfortable. The pliable Profila Softshell fabric is also far less restricting than a heavy duty rain jacket, making it feel more like a normal jacket than some sort of thick plastic bag.
I did pull the hood up and over my helmet a few times when things got really nasty, but I don't think I'd actually ride my bike with it up and over my lid like that - it's more for food breaks and repair stops. That said, it'll stay up there when you're riding if you tug on the elastic pull-straps to snug it down.
Sleeve length felt good as well, but I'd prefer Velcro cuffs that would let me pull the sleeves down over my gloves and then snug them up. Without some Velcro, the elastic cuffs pull up slightly above shorter gloves despite there being plenty of sleeve length. This would expose a small strip of skin to the elements that could be a bit annoying if it was really cold out.
And as for warmth, I wore the Lithos Softshell on some below freezing rides with temps in the 25 - 30ºF range, with a long sleeve jersey underneath it, and didn't find that I was cold once I got into the ride. My hands and feet might have been iced up, but I was comfortable underneath the jacket. Breathability is a hard one for me to judge as I'm usually a heavy sweater, and it was no different when I was wearing the Lithos. I'd finish a long or hard ride and find that my jersey was just a touch damp under the jacket from sweating, but I can say the same thing about every single jacket that I've ever used. Most importantly, I was never cold, and no rain ever managed to soak through. Pinkbike’s Take:
|Providing that you aren't going for a pedal in a blizzard or a monsoon, the Lithos Softshell will keep you warm and dry during the kind of rides when a jacket makes sense. It's also able to pull double duty as a casual, everyday kind of jacket for when it's a bit nippy out. - Mike Levy|
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