Waterproof, windproof, breathable, but equipped with short sleeves — that’s the unexpected design proposition of a new jacket from Gore Bike Wear. The brand’s Xenon jacket is meant for days when you know it might get wet “but the temperatures don’t quite warrant a full-coverage rain shell.”
That quote is how Gore explains the jacket’s strange design, which incorporates the company’s waterproof GORE-TEX Active Shell fabric but manipulates the sleeves to be chopped off at the elbows.
There is no hood, either, creating a jacket design that strives to keep your core dry but leaves your head and arms exposed to the elements.
I tested the jacket — full name: XENON GT AS Jacket Short — over a month this spring in rain and wind. It fits close and weighs almost nothing. You can fold it up and stow the shell in a pocket.
Raindrops bounce off the face fabric or bead up and blow away as you ride. Because of the short sleeves, air flows easily through the shell and breathability is among the best of any rain jacket I’ve tried.
Fit is made for bikers only, including an exaggerated tail, elastic gripper material on the hem, and cuts that acquiesce with a rider crouched and gripping handlebars or brakes.
At $299, the Xenon is a high-end and exclusive item made for a niche crowd. Most of the time, rainy summer rides are served fine with a regular rain jacket. But the thin fabric of the Xenon and its short sleeves make it wearable on days when you might otherwise clam up.
For bike racers looking to climb high passes, descend in rain and wind, and never blink about their outerwear choice, the Xenon has a place. Everyone else, it’s safe to say, can just keep their sleeves on.