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Verdict: 
The perfect jacket for changeable autumn and winter weather
Weight: 
441g
Sportful Fiandre NoRain Cycling Jacket
9 10

Who'd ever have thought the Italians would have created a jacket that is so perfectly suited to the tricky demands of British autumn and winter seasons? But they have, and the Fiandre NoRain Jacket from Sportful is a splendid top for this time of year, combining as it does adequate insulation with decent rain protection.

I've tested a few items from the Fiandre range over the years, and always found them uncannily spot on for the constantly and rapidly changing conditions that can make dressing for a bike ride at this time of year very tricky. I've been known to spend a good hour over breakfast debating what outfit to wear. The beauty of this NoRain Jacket is that it almost complete removes all the indecision, and it tackles most extremes of weather really well.

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Sportful has used a combination of Gore Windstopper 4 Way Mid and Warm fabrics. The Mid has a brushed inner face so it's soft next to the skin, and helps move moisture away to the exterior. It's also, according to Sportful, 25% lighter than the Warm, which uses a 300g fleece-backed four-way stretch fabric that is totally windproof and provides good rain resistance.

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - inside.jpg

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - inside.jpg

Those two fabrics are combined with the company's own No-Rain Thermal inserts to provide increased breathability. Testing breathability is a tricky one as it can depend on several factors, but with a short-sleeve baselayer underneath and riding at a brisk pace in temperatures up to about 12 degrees, it copes really well. It's rated by Sportful down to zero and up to 15, so plenty of scope really.

> Read our buyer's guide to baselayers

I went out for a ride the other day, one of those occasions when you're constantly checking the weather forecast in the days leading up to it and the Met Office clearly can't quite decide what it's going to do. You look up at the sky and the colour of the clouds suggest rain is coming your way, but you don't really want to plump for a hardshell rain jacket. This is where the Fiandre NoRain Jacket really comes into its own. It has the comfort of a jersey and the protection of a jacket.

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - riding.jpg

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - riding.jpg

There's a limit to how long it will keep you dry in persistent heavy rain, but mostly it simply copes with whatever the weather decides to do. It's ideal for intermittment rain conditions. On this ride, it was dry for the first hour, but a cold wind was blowing. The jacket provided decent insulation and prevented overheating on the first couple of leg-burning climbs. When the rain arrived, the jacket repelled it, the rain visibly beading off the surface. Even for a long stint in the wet, the jacket provided all the protection I needed without me having to pull on a dedicated rain jacket over the top. And when it is raining, you can extend the rear bum flap for extra protection.

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - back.jpg

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - back.jpg

All of which means you can wear it all the time, regardless of the weather, but safe in the knowledge that if it does rain you'll be well protected. It's not a fully waterproof jacket as there are no taped seams, but the fabric does a really good job of shielding you from the rain, much more than a regular long sleeve jersey or jacket, and for all but the heaviest and most prolonged downpours, it's all you really need.

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - collar.jpg

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - collar.jpg

The performance of the jacket impresses, and so do the fit and features. It's a really nice shape, fitted for quite a slim body but with a bit of stretch in the fabric, which helps articulation around the arms when manoeuvring the bike around the road and bends.

> Check out our guide to the best waterproof cycling jackets

There's a tall collar you can hunker down into on a cold morning, comfortably shaped sleeves and cuffs that extend right up to your hands, no cold wrists, and three rear pockets for stuffing with malt loaf and jelly babies. The full-length YKK Vislon zipper is waterproof and I like all the reflective stripes around the cuffs and waistband. You also have the choice of three colours – this dashing yellow over black, or red and black options.

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - cuff.jpg

Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket - cuff.jpg

As for value, although £175 is a lot of money to spend on a jacket, the fact that its excellent performance means it's probably the only one you need to keep you riding through autumn, winter and well into spring goes a long way to justifying it.

Verdict

The perfect jacket for changeable autumn and winter weather

road.cc test report

Make and model: Sportful Fiandre NoRain Jacket

Size tested: Small

Tell us what the jacket is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Sportful says: An update on one of our most popular winter jackets. Proven in harsh and changing winter conditions with cold, wet and wind.

Concept:

An all-conditions warm winter jacket that combines great thermal protection with wind and water resistance. Windstopper® 4 Way Mid & Warm for maximum warmth and extra weather protection where it's most needed. Brushed NoRain Thermal inserts for durable water repellency and exceptional breathability.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

Gore® Windstopper® 4 Way Mid & Warm for warmth and protection

NoRain Thermal inserts for breathability

YKK® Vislon® waterproof zipper

Drop-down tail for spray protection that can be folded up

Lie-flat elastic on front hem

3 rear pockets

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the jacket for performance:
 
9/10

It's all the jacket you'll really need this winter. And autumn. And spring.

Rate the jacket for durability:
 
8/10

Durability has proved excellent so far. It washes out well but I did snag it on a close call with brambles the other day, so don't ride too close to hedgerows.

Rate the jacket for waterproofing, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
8/10

It's impressively water resistant – not waterproof, but deals with most showers well.

Rate the jacket for breathability, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
8/10

Very good breathability; you can ride at a brisk tempo and in the right temperature range you won't overheat.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
8/10

Can't fault it.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
8/10

Again, like the fit, it's perfect.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
8/10

The inside of the jacket is soft next to the skin and it's a comfortable and well-shaped fit.

Rate the jacket for value:
 
7/10

It's not cheap, but this is probably all the jacket you need to ride through autumn, winter and well into spring.

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

No problems going through the washing machine with other regular clothes.

Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Lives up to the expectations set for it by Sportful.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

Keeps you warm and dry and deals with unexpected rain, but also works in the dry.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

Nothing really to dislike.

Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes

Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes

Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

Yes it's quite expensive, but it's excellent, and probably the only jacket you need to get you right through the winter, with good insulation, breathability and rain resistance.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

14 comments

Avatar
Jack Osbourne snr [680 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Isn't it just a long sleeve Gabba with some fleecy bits inside?

I seem to remember hearing that Castelli & Sportful were the same company. Is the tie up solely commercial or are the design teams linked?

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [213 posts] 11 months ago
2 likes

Is Sportful supplying you with these products?
In my opinion, these reviews are not reliable. Instead I would like to see shoot-out style reviews where comparable products are pitted against each other, similar to what outdoorgearlab.com does. I think most of the road.cc reviews are just fluff pieces.

Avatar
rjfrussell [393 posts] 11 months ago
4 likes

I agree with the idea of a group test.

 

But, I think more fundamentally, there is a big problem with reviews of waterproof kit in general, which is that the review necessarily comes in after a relatively (or very) small number of rides.

 

Most waterproof jackets are fine on the first few rides.  It is after they have been put through the wash a few times that problems start.  

 

It would be useful to develop a protocol for tests, eg, ride straight out of the box.  Wash twice, ride again.  Wash 10 times, ride again.  And combine that with a group test analysis.

Avatar
sethpistol [89 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Shootouts are fine - but how do you determine which products to test? Whenever you see those kind of tests the comments are littered with 'what about this company?' 

Having seen Dave's tests over the years I'd trust his judgement, but ultimately all these things are subjective, what he likes might not be what another guy likes.

Testing protocols are good generally, until you get to the German magazine level - where they aim heat sensitive cameras and rate the jacket that way (completely ignoring extremely important things like breathability since it's harder to test)

Avatar
matt record ace [2 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

after reading about the NoRain jacket and some research, I got a similar item from a new British company called D2D, (dawn till dusk) ran by cyclists and based on the edge of the peak.
I'll let you know how I got on

Avatar
nadsta [181 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

This is a perfectly reasonable review. But an 'objective' review would need to include a season's worth of  washes and multiple testers who run 'hot' and 'cold' to assess the breathability.  I know folks who can chaingang in a hard shell and merino base layer whilst I'm overheating in a s/s jersey. 

Avatar
nortonpdj [185 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
Jack Osbourne snr wrote:

Isn't it just a long sleeve Gabba with some fleecy bits inside?

I seem to remember hearing that Castelli & Sportful were the same company. Is the tie up solely commercial or are the design teams linked?

 

Yes,  Sportful and Castelli are the same company. "Just" a long sleeved Gabba with fleecy bits inside sounds like a compliment to me! I have the Fiandre jacket and bib tights and find both are excellent.

Avatar
Angry Egg [32 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

Sportful owns Castelli when Giordano Cremonese (Owner of Sportful) brought the Castelli brand in 2003 and turned it around.

Avatar
gunswick [105 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

It would have been useful to compare it directly to the LS gabba. I have the gabba and when it needs replaced it would be good to have a view of which is better or how they are different (warmth, breathibility, cut/fit, weight, price, colours, availability, temp range etc)

The answer may be: both are great you can't go wrong, which is fine, just say that....

Otherwise good review

Avatar
sethpistol [89 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
gunswick wrote:

It would have been useful to compare it directly to the LS gabba. I have the gabba and when it needs replaced it would be good to have a view of which is better or how they are different (warmth, breathibility, cut/fit, weight, price, colours, availability, temp range etc) The answer may be: both are great you can't go wrong, which is fine, just say that.... Otherwise good review

The Fiandre is warmer, breathability is similar, cut isn't quite as tight/race as the Gabba, it's heavier, there are 3 colours available and it's good from minus numbers up to about 12°C - most of that you can see if you look at it on Wiggle or other online retailers.

I'd race in a Gabba if the weather was foul, I don't think I'd race in this jacket - it's too warm - but it's brilliant for really cold/wet training rides.

Avatar
Luv2ride [87 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Reduced to 87 quid at Wiggle at the moment.  I have the original version which has been great, so at this price the new one (as reviewed above) must be something of a bargain.

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sammutd88 [48 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

No zipped pocket is a killer for me. 

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Boombang [40 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Bought one short time before christmas and it's just about the best bit of clothing I own.

I run hot normally and found the breathability / warmth is a good compromise up to 10-12 degrees. All I have done is swap base layer to attempt to best suit weather.

A under armour hooded base layer did me down to about -5, was a little chilly until got going but once up to speed very comfy.

One time around 0 I wore a thick merino and neck buff and got a bit warm, there was quick a bit of condensation inside the top when took off but the merino kept skin comfy.

This weekend will be a tough one, have got so used to throwing on the jacket without thought of weather but is looking up to 14 degrees and not sure if will be too warm.

Guessing very soon it'll go away until autumn, unless riding through night or you get very cold it would be too much for next few months.

Avatar
kevvjj [247 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
rjfrussell wrote:

I agree with the idea of a group test.

But, I think more fundamentally, there is a big problem with reviews of waterproof kit in general, which is that the review necessarily comes in after a relatively (or very) small number of rides.

Most waterproof jackets are fine on the first few rides.  It is after they have been put through the wash a few times that problems start.  

It would be useful to develop a protocol for tests, eg, ride straight out of the box.  Wash twice, ride again.  Wash 10 times, ride again.  And combine that with a group test analysis.

This!

Of course the water beads off a brand new jacket! Wash it a couple of times and then see what happens. No matter what products/methods I use I cannot get water to bead off any of my GoreTex clothing after a couple of washes - they simply 'wet out' after a few minutes of drizzle, meaning breathability almost totally disappears.

It really would be good to see long term testing of these really expensive garments.