Riding year-round in the northwest requires gear capable of handing a variety of conditions. Sometimes it’s wet, sometimes it’s cold, and often it’s a bit of both. And that is just at the start of the ride. It’s easy enough to stack on layers; the biggest challenge is managing moisture once we’re moving, a task the IXS Sinister 3.5 BC Jacket manages well.
The Sinister falls somewhere in between a hard shell and a soft shell. Not quite as warm as a softshell, or weather resistant as a hardshell, it lives somewhere in the middle. Intended as an all-around multi-sport capable jacket, the Sinister manages to be breathable while still keeping rain at bay.
The outer material is a polyester lycra blend, paired with mesh on the interior. The technical fabrics work in conjunction with the fit, which is relaxed enough to work with layers. To aid in managing temperature, the Sinister also includes pit zips.
IXS calls it a sporty crossover; we find this an apt description, though it’s clearly designed to function riding bikes. Though the tail drops slightly, its not as dramatic as a typical cycling commuter jacket, while the front is long enough for coverage without excessive bunching in a forward riding position. The arms are more than long enough for coverage on the bike.
The Sinister BC jacket is listed as having a water-repellant rating of 10,000 WP, and an MVP rating of 8,000. What is WP and MVP? Those numbers mean the fabric will take 10,000 meters of water pressure over a 24 hour period before water starts to leak through, and 8,000 grams of moisture vapor to disperse through about one square meter of fabric away from the body. (that said this does not take into account seams in the fabric)
It’s also resistant to wind, and the hood is removable if desired. It’s labeled 3.5 as part of the name, presumably in regards to the number of pockets, but we found all four pockets were useful. Product callouts from IXS include:
- Sporty crossover jacket
- Humidity transporting
- Breathable (MP: 8’000)
- Water-repellant (WP: 10’000)
- Underarm zip vents
- Removable hood
- 3 pockets
- 1 waterproof MP3 pocket
Sizing / Fit
My test sample is a size medium and it fits me well. At 5’10”, 164lbs and a 38″ chest, I’m generally a small or medium, but it varies by the brand and cut. I find the length spot-on with the medium; sizing down to a small would probably make it a bit short in the torso, and make it harder to layer.
The Sinister BC jacket is listed in the MTB Gravity section of the IXS site. It doesn’t feel or look excessively baggy in the torso, and the sleeves are sized in a way that would allow the use of elbow pads, which makes sense given its intended for gravity applications. I don’t really wear elbow pads, so it;s a bit more room than I need or prefer, but it’s not a deal breaker.
The hood on the Sinister is sized to fit under a helmet. We know a lot of riders that prefer them sized to go over. On cold days though, running the hood underneath my helmet went a long ways towards retaining heat while warming up. The material is thin enough that it fit comfortably, and I was able to turn my head in both directions easily. It also works great off the bike, and you can fine tune the fit via drawstrings on the back of the head and on the sides. On cool, windy days, I often would take advantage of these features.
The collar features a zipper garage at the neck keeps it from being abrasive, and also helps with retaining heat on those cold mornings.
On the Trail
The first thing you’ll notice about the IXS Sinister 3.5 BC Jacket we’ve been wearing is how much the red pops in photos. Perfect for livening up any Instagram feed, it’s also available in black for those adverse to primary colors.
How’s it perform? It’s been a great addition to my cycling wardrobe. I often find myself overheating in other jackets, but managed to stay comfortable in a wide range of conditions. The material features quite a bit of stretch, and the wide range of mobility put my hardshell jackets to shame. Though I prefer internal pockets, the chest and shoulder pocket were very usable, and kept items dry.
My initial beef with the jacket ironically came the first day I wore it, as I pushed the limits of the water-repellant jacket far beyond capacity. Though it does well in a brief rain shower, it lacks taped seams, which soaked through after two hours walking around in the rain. (my head was dry though) For days with serious precipitation, I’d go with a wet weather specific hardshell, but since I generally don’t head out to ride in a downpour, its been fine the majority of my rides.
Water doesn’t bead up on the fabric, as it often does on fabrics with DWR coatings. It does sucessfully keep water out though. I even did a test in the sink, using running water while holding tissue inside. When water did eventually make its way through, it was via the seams and zipper.
The IXS Sinister 3.5 BC Jacket is comfortable and it’s casual looks are suitable for wearing out and about whether you’re on the trail or in town. As most of my jackets are black, the red is a welcome injection of camera friendly color, and performs as promised. At $200, it’s not inexpensive, but inline with similar offerings.
Thanks to Vic at the Gravity Cartel for supplying our sample, and check out the rest of the IXS line at the website. Though they’re fairly new in the US, they make a lot of great gear and you’ll be seeing a lot more of it soon.