- by John Hawkins
- Published: 25 August 2014
The cycling kit that I’ve been enjoying most this winter have both come from Ground Effect. One of these is the Flash Gordon rain shell which has been a welcome addition to my arsenal of cycle wear. It has seen plenty of use in wet, cold and windy conditions, sometimes it was so dreadful that it would normally have seen me retreating to the garage and indoor trainer.
Flash Gordon features Ground Effect’s 2.5 layer Hydrofoil fabric treated with a water repellent finish. It’s light enough to be breathable, yet windproof. Yes, you do still get warm on the climbs but it’s not unbearable and the temptation to whip it off halfway up the first short climb (like my old rain shell) is gone.
In common with most rain shells, it needs to be said the Flash Gordon won’t keep you completely dry, nor is it intended to do so. With cycling rain shells you either get damp from the rain, or you get damp from your exertions. The goal of a good rain shell is to stop you from getting soaked, and to keep you comfortable.
This job it does very well. The principal benefit of the “breathable” material is to wick perspiration away to the outside to help keep heat buildup under control, while keeping the chill of contact with near-freezing rain off you, and stopping the wind from cutting through to your skin and causing hypothermia as your speed picks up down the descent following the top of the climb.
While I am usually a little damp from perspiration when arriving at my destination, I am far from completely saturated as I would have been if riding in my dry weather gear, or my other rain shell. Most importantly, I remain comfortable; like baby bear’s porridge I am not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
Add a pair of GE’s Helter Skelter rain pants ($149) and there is litle to fear from wet conditions except smelly shoes.
Besides keeping the rain out, the windproof attributes of the Flash Gordon have kept me at ease during howling windy and cold mountain bike rides, such as the return journey back down the Blue Mountains’ Oaks Trail in June, and a few weeks ago during the early July high winds cold snap, out on Ku Ring Gai National Park’s Long Trail.
Nice touches include the fleece collar, which does an excellent job of keeping the wind out and preventing the freezing trickle of rain from sliding down the back of your neck. Reflective striping and Ground Effect logo on the rear provide excellent visibility at night. Elasticated thumb loops stop the sleeves from riding up and exposing your arms. The long “Whale Tail” at the rear keeps my lower back and the bottom of my jersey out of the elements, despite being weighed down with wallet, phone, and tool-plus-tube pouch in waterpoof bags.
On warmer days the modular design allows you to quickly strip off the yoke and sleeves if desired and stow them in the zipped back pocket out of the way, so you can still keep the rain and wind chill off your core and stay warm on the descents. Should you need to remove it entirely, Flash Gordon rolls up into a small bundle that easily fits inside a jersey pocket. It is one very versatile piece of cycling attire.
The “Bowling Green” colour new for this season stands out nicely without being fluoro.
I would have preferred the zip flap to be covering the front on the outside instead of the inside, but I didn’t notice any chill coming through it, nor any water marks on my jersey, so it seems the current flap position is good enough.
The thing I like most about the Flash Gordon rain shell is it enables me to comfortably comply with Rule 9 of The Rules. I can keep riding in “bad weather”. My non-cycling neighbours, who think I’m crazy, have to endure having other passengers sneezing and coughing over them in fogged-up public transport, or getting caught up in the usual wet weather peak hour traffic snarls. They don’t know what they’re missing.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.” — Billy Connolly
Removable yoke and sleeves – a gillet and full rain shell for the price of one.
An external flap over (rather than under) the front zip would be an improvement, but the Flash Gordon didn’t seem to suffer for lack of it.
The Flash Gordon Rain Shell is made in New Zealand by Ground Effect, comes in four colours and retails for $219, check out the Flash Gordon Rain Shell.