The rain is a constant irritant to most cyclists but there are many jackets and coats around to help keep you as dry as possible. However they are not without their flaws. Breathable rain jackets are not truly waterproof and on the other side of the coin fully waterproof jackets aren’t breathable and carry the risk of making you just as wet but disgustingly from yourself instead of a downpour.
So one alternative, not just in a functional sense but also in a stylishly different venture is the Cleverhood Electric Houndstooth Rain Cape available from Saddle & Spoke. A totally waterproof number that has a real turn of the 19th century feel vintage too it. A pair of high socks over tweed slacks and you’d feel right as if you’re riding back to a simple cycling time. That’s not to say this is just for the vintage market and as portrayed on Saddle & Spoke this cape inspires a really fresh urban vibe that’s more than right at home next to more common rain protective wear practices.
The Electric Houndstooth Rain Cape is strongly and finely made to a very high standard. Edges and seams are all neatly finished and the cape falls in such a way that it always covers you and never turns up. Two arm slits at the front feature magnetically closing flaps that create a secure closure when the need arises for your arms to retreat inside the cape. This is perfect for when you’re off the bike as well as you can just hide inside as you stroll along whilst everyone else is running and ducking for cover from the continued water droplet barrage from above.
Okay so here’s the science. The clever trick, the grid pattern on the cape is made from reflective thread so you will instantly stand out in the dark from motorists headlights! Snazzy with a capital SNAZ. The design of the cape is quite minimal, so as well as acting as an important safety function, the thread doubles up as a rather understated pattern that gives the cape a little more stylish substance than it would all one colour and really gives the cape it’s own unique look against other capes out there.
All seams are sealed to prevent any unwanted leaks with the cape material being made from waterproof polyester which is very good at it’s job indeed, getting past the fact that it’s not breathable by it’s loose fit meaning air can still circulate. It does create a very small greenhouse effect when you get going but nothing too serious.
There are finger loops towards the lower part of the cape’s interior so when the rain starts you can stop pull your arms in, put the loop around your finger and carry on your way, the cape then drapes over the handlebars and you pedal along without a care.
The hood is fitted and when it’s up, it stays there but still moves with your head well so doesn’t create the feeling of being in a small cave oblivious to the outside world, the large brim also means you don’t suffer too much loss of peripheral vision and it even fits under a helmet, which is a very nice touch. The peak at the top of the hood really does ensure you stay as dry as possible with the cape on.
There’s a zip going down along the left breast of the cape and I’m really taken with it. It’s just the right height and angle to unzip with ease and stick your hand in and retrieve or deposit your contents of choice. Enough room lies within for mobile, wallet and even maybe a milky-way (the double bar even). The zipper is waterproof too so you know everything in there is staying nice and dry.
It’s not without it’s faults though as I do feel on a windy day the Electric Houndstooth Rain Cape would turn into the Electric Houndstooth Rain Sail. I tested it on a very still day and when I got going on the bike it did cause a bit of drag and I’d put the Velcro straps to the maximum setting to reduce the size. I wouldn’t like to be riding along the Wirral (a very windy place) and get caught with a cross wind.
The cape is one size fits all and as I’ve just mentioned Velcro straps are added to help fit the cape to your body but in truth the cape is massive and the straps are not enough to reduce it enough for my liking. I think maybe a few size choices would be a good option down the line.
With that in mind though there is still a market for something different from a jacket and the Electric Houndstooth Rain Cape certainly offers a great level of protection against the rain. You’d be able to dress pretty much how you wanted underneath safe in the knowledge the majority of you would come out dry when you reach your destination. I say majority because the cape can’t protect from splashes from underneath the bike and also it doesn’t cover all of your legs but a pair of rain overshoes and waterproof trousers, much like the offerings from Vulpine or Velovixen, would solve your problem there and you would need them no matter what the top half choice of cycling clothing you decide on to keep the rain off.
These admittedly aren’t for everyone. A jacket offers sleekness and performance on the ride but for commuters and tourers the Cleverhood Electric Houndstooth Rain Cape offers a wonderfully unique and vintage feel that will appeal to many a cyclist old and young. This tempered with it’s modern construction and nod to current fashion trends means you get a piece of clothing well equipped to the demands of an everyday cyclist make it a fabulously well considered and stylish piece of discerning cycling gear.
Value for Money: 6/10