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So it's a little cold here sometimes (Portland, OR). Not super cold, just enough to make me want to wear a jacket for the first part of my rides. But 10-15 minutes into the ride, I usually get to warm to want to wear it. So my question is, in general, are these "bike specific" jackets made to be warm but breathable enough that I wouldn't have to take them off during my ride?? And do you guys have any recommendations for a decent one? I'm looking for one that looks fairly "normal" so I can wear it as a regular jacket when I'm not on my bike... eh?
 

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Forgo the jacket and get arm warmers and a cycling vest. I ride just north of you and except for really nasty days, never ride with a jacket. I start almost every early morning ride with the arm warmers and vest and shed them (both easily fit in your jersey pockets) as I warm up.
 

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a clear rain jacket could do. Most are around $25, they can be folded and stuffed in a jersey pocket or quickly stuffed under the jersey on your back, could function as a windbreaker.
 

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In Portland-like conditions, I use a light microfiber shell (I have two, about $19 each from Marshall's or Ross, one of those discount places) over fleece of appropriate thickness for the weather. The shells are thin, almost like a silk shirt, but pretty windproof, moderately water resistant, breathe well and fold up to about the size of a paperback book. Gortex works better in real rain, but it's heavier and bulkier.
i really don't like clear (or any other color) plastic, or coated nylon, either. Maybe I sweat more than some people, but after a few minutes I'm as wet inside those things as if i were riding in the rain.
FWIW, I'm not a fan of bike-specific clothing, except for shorts and shoes. It tends to be way overpriced and single-purpose, and doesn't work any better on the bike than general-purpose outdoor/exercise gear.
 

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Something more breathable than the plastic would be nice. they're stifling when the sun's out, but if it's just to warm up initially I think it would serve you well. That and you can fold it up and get rid of it. I have one that's vented and has velcro closure so getting some air in is as simple as ripping it open a bit and pulling up the sleeves.
 

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I usually start out a little underdressed since I know I'll warm up in 10 or 15 minutes. I usually carry a bit of extra clothing in case the weather turns.

I prefer light bike specific clothes that I can take off and put in a jersey pocket... vests and arm warmers are good for that. If it's cold I'll have layers- base layer (or two if it's real cold), regular jersey, long sleeve jersey, vest, etc. It's easier to deal with a number of light layers than to have just a jersey and a jacket- if it's heavy enough to keep you warm when it's real cold out its too heavy for more moderate temps.

It's also useful to be able to unzip or push sleeves up or down while riding. If you can adjust, you can keep from overheating on a climb and soaking your clothes with sweat so you freeze on the descent.
 
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