VISIBILITY: You have to be seen when riding on the road. Reflective style hits on pockets and piping on seams are almost omnipresent in road, recreational, and commuter cycling jackets these days. There are even materials now with reflective thread sewn in, and highly reflective colors are back in style.

WAISTBAND: Cycling jackets will always use some combination of elastic and cords to secure the waistband. Some jackets feature an extreme ergonomic cut that doesn’t require anything else mechanical to hold it to the body, but even the most streamlined jackets feature some elastic in the waist. Other looser fitting jackets will be endowed with a draw cord or an elastic drawcord, preferably with cord locks and one-hand operation.

SLEEVES: Convertible jackets seem to get more common and better designed every season. Many times you just need to keep your core warm so a jacket with zip-off sleeves makes great sense. Sleeve cuffs are almost exclusively elasticized to go on quickly over gloves and prevent wind from blowing up the sleeve.

HOOD: A hood can come in handy on epic all-day mountain bike rides across high mountain passes and long stretches of double track. They zip away nicely into the collar of your jacket or snap off and don’t add much weight. They will become a kite, however, on a downhill or even a flat stretch, and can be loud and blow wind down your back. For these reasons hoods are usually only found on mountain bike jackets and commuter jackets and are often stowable. It’s nice when they have a one-hand pull drawcord for when the wind and rain really pick up while riding.

ZIPPERS: The nicer and more waterproof the zipper, the more expensive the jacket. When purchasing an entry-level jacket, be aware that the zipper quality is one place where the manufacturer can realize cost savings. Higher-end jackets will have nice, lightweight zippers that are either waterproof or will feature an internal (or external) draft flap. Look for a jacket with a snag-resistant draft flap to keep out wind and rain.

REMEMBER: Manufacturers of cycling jackets are primarily concerned with keeping you dry and protected from wind, which can whip away your body heat too quickly and cause a chill on the chest and core. Warmth typically comes from your baselayers, jerseys and arm warmers.