It’s not often I get compliments for a cycling jacket – but then the Cassandra coat is no ordinary cycling jacket.
Water Off a Duck’s Back was born out of owner Antonia Maybury’s frustration at the lack of stylish waterproof cycling gear. As she says, ‘I take care and pride in my appearance and I love cycling. It baffled me that there was nothing out there that looked stylish and was waterproof, breathable and made you visible after dark.’ And so she set about designing her own.
The Cassandra, like all the coats in the range, is designed to look like a normal coat. When I first put it on, I have to admit I was a little sceptical. How could something this stylish – and that looks nothing like a cycling jacket – possibly work well on a bike? As it turns out, it can.
Designed for cycling
A lot of effort has clearly gone into getting the design right for cycling. It’s quite loose fitting, with plenty of room through the back, shoulders and sleeves. It’s also lined throughout, so it didn’t feel clammy or stick to my skin as some cycling jackets can do. I also liked the double-breasted style of the coat; I tend to overheat quickly when I’m cycling, and having an open neck helped to keep me cool.
Despite my fears over the length – it’s somewhat longer than your average cycling jacket – it didn’t get caught in my bike at all, not even when I swung my leg over my saddle. Nor did it blow about too much in the wind.
While it’s impossible for me to really know how effective they actually were, the reflective strips on the belt, collar and cuffs helped me to feel more visible at night. I also liked how they were both practical and discreet.
The pockets could be better: only one of them is usable, as the stitching for one of the buttons goes through the right hand pocket.
Waterproof and hardwearing
One advantage of the recent wet weather is that it’s given me ample opportunity to find out just how waterproof and hardwearing the Cassandra really is.
After wearing it through an hour-long commute in the pouring rain, I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was still mostly dry underneath. With the top button done up, this kept the rain off my front, and the long sleeves offered extra protection for my wrists. Some water had trickled down the back of my neck, until I turned the collar up (which also showed off the reflective strip on the underside of the collar).
I also accidentally proved how tough the Cassandra is – by coming off my bike when I was wearing it. While I was left with a big dent in my elbow, the coat was completely unscathed.
The Cassandra is the kind of coat that calls for a certain style of dressing and cyclist. I felt a little over-dressed wearing it with my ugly old t-shirt and leggings – but for an evening out it was perfect. With the reversible reflective strips turned over, no one could have guessed I was wearing a cycling coat. It was great to be able to wear the same coat to go to a restaurant and then cycle home, knowing it would keep me dry and visible.
Don’t let the looks fool you – this is a practical and hardwearing coat designed by someone who clearly knows what you need in a coat, both on and off the bike.
• Stylish and practical
• Works just as well on the bike as off it
• Properly waterproof
• Pockets aren’t very usable
• Need to dress up to match the coat!
Review first published on London Cyclist