The Bike List

Gore Bike Wear Phantom Jacket £120

Tested by Jonathan Manning, tester for the bike list

Any North-South divide should have no place in bike gear, but there's no doubt that the further north (and west) you ride, the more impressive the Phantom becomes.

It's a spectacularly good-looking jacket in fox-hunter red, cut in a slim fit with fine attention to styling details. The shape of the black back panel, for example, creates a flattering silhouette, and the striped sleeves with their reflective bands prove it's possible to face up to the elements and look good at the same time.

Gore Phantom ArmA similar close focus on the technical details has paid dividends too, including neat front and sleeve zips, three usable rear pockets, and especially the ingenious zip-off sleeves.  Detachable sleeves are hardly new, but on the Phantom a stretchy inner sleeve tucks into the more robust outer. The result is a lighter, cooler sleeve in zip-off mode, that covers the shoulder and top of the bicep, and still has a reflective stripe. It also means that in long-sleeve mode the zips have no contact with skin, improving comfort (the actual zip-off separation is at shoulder level). And if you want to convert mid-ride the detachable elements fold neatly into the rear pockets.

But the real success of this jacket lies in its smart application of different fabrics. The Windstopper outer shell does what it says on the tin, and as well as blocking the breeze it repels rain extremely well - it took a very heavy downpour before the precipitation stopped beading on the fabric and finally began to saturate. The back of the jacket is made from a lighter, stretchier fabric that runs down the spine, offering better breathability, especially if you're not wearing a hydration bladder. The result is a jacket that fends off the wind and Gore Phantom Sidebeats drizzle with far more comfort than any boil-in-the-bag waterproof shell. It is not, however, completely breathable, hence the first line comments about a North-South divide. If you're a road cyclist in the South Downs or East Anglia, the Phantom is likely to prove too warm and insufficiently breathable from late spring through to late autumn. If you're a mountain bike rider spending weekends in the dense, damp woods of Dalby Forest or Grizedale, though, the Phantom's weather protection means it could well be the only jacket you need all year round unless you would still go cycling through biblical downpours, the zip-off sleeves creating a perfect jacket for cooler summer days.

This is, of course, an arbitrary distinction - if you like cycling warm, then the Phantom is a superb 12-month jacket wherever you are. If you prefer to pedal cool, it's easy to overheat in the Phantom in spring, summer and autumn, such is the shelter offered by the Windstopper fabric. Personally, I have rapidly overheated in the Phantom on my 14-mile commute to work, burdened by a rucksack full of the day's clothes and business, yet on early morning weekend blasts throughout the spring I've turned to it in short-sleeve mode on countless occasions.

However you ride, though, it's a jacket whose styling, details and use of techincal fabrics are to be admired.

Buy men's from or women's from

Gore says:

Proven Windproof Soft Shell jacket for all ambitious cyclists. Versatile - jacket, functional jersey and vest in one piece. The comfort of a soft mid-layer and the water resistance of a shell combined with total windproofness and maximum breathability. WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shells keep you comfortable with the freedom of movement you need for enhanced performance in a wide range of activities and weather conditions.

Technical specification

  • WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell
  • Stretch inserts for optimum freedom of movement
  • Zip-underflap and zip-port
  • Detachable raglan sleeves
  • Additional short sleeves
  • Reflective logo
  • Reflective print on sleeves
  • Reflective print on back
  • 3-compartment patch pockets on back
  • Slightly slanted back pocket at side for better access
  • Wear-resistant elastic binding on sleeve-hem and on hem of jersey

Find out more

At a glance

Verdict A stylish windproof soft-shell jacket with zip-off sleeves, ideal for cooler, damp weather