Howies makes some really nice cycle clothing, and the new Llaeth LS Cycle Jersey is another excellent example, an ideal top for the time of year, perfect as a mid-layer when it's cold or a top layer when it's warm enough.
I'm still regularly using the Cadence jersey I reviewed from Howies back in 2014, so I was particularly looking forward to testing this latest long sleeve top. It's constructed using the circular knitted process it has been employing for several years with a few strategically placed panels to aid breathability.
It's all wrapped up with a very close-fitting race fit, and the stretchiness of the fabric ensures it conforms very well to your body. That stretch factor prevents it from feeling restrictive despite the close fit, and the reduced seams thanks to the circular knit construction makes for a very comfortable top. (It's only available in two sizes, S/M and L/XL, so that stretchiness is pretty important.)
It's a lightweight jersey and pairs well with a short sleeve baselayer – I found there wasn't enough space under the arms to wear a long-sleeve base – and on warmer days it provides reasonably good insulation. On chillier or breezy days it pays to add an additional layer; a windproof gilet works well, or if it's really cold a winter jacket for a good three-layer setup.
The rear pocket design is a bit different to the usual three pocket layout. There are two main pockets, which are very generous in capacity, and a third zipped pocket sits above and behind the two cargo pockets to provide all the load space you need. I had to rethink my pocket loading strategy a bit, being so used to three pockets, but it works well.
Other details include a main zipper flanked by reflective material that really helps you stand out against oncoming traffic. There are more reflective details around the back, on the shoulders, neck and waistband. The cuffs are ribbed and sit flat and comfortably against the wrists.
Like my previous experience with Howies' cycling jerseys, this is a very comfortable and well-thought-out design. I really like the fabric and its construction, soft and stretchy and really well fitted. It's not as warm as more heavily insulated tops and doesn't deal with windy weather like those with windproof front panels, but for many situations it's just right.
You can pay a lot of money for cycling jerseys, but at £69 I think Howies is hitting a sweet spot that ensures it compares well to the many other long-sleeve jerseys on the market.
Lightweight, comfortable and versatile with a great fit
road.cc test report
Make and model: Howies Men's Llaeth LS Cycle Jersey
Size tested: Small/Medium
Tell us what the product 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?
Circular knitted long sleeved cycle jersey with coloured hoops around the chest and biceps.
Race cut; designed to fit tight, with no flapping or excess fabric. Circular knitted with integrated breathable panels to minimise seams and help avoid chaffing.
Features rear cargo pockets, large enough for a small lightweight jacket or a snack and an inner tube. Rear reflective zip pocket for securely carrying keys, cake money or a phone.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Race cut
* Reduced seams circular knit design
* Integrated breathable panels
* Fast wicking
* Two rear cargo pockets
* Rear reflective zip storage pocket
* Full length reflective front zip
* Reflective tabs on shoulders, rear of neck & rear hem
* Ribbed cuffs and hem
* Flatlocked stitching
* Reflective neck tab
* 96% Polyamide / 4% Elastane
* Made in Portugal
The circular knit construction and minimal seams make it very comfortable against the skin.
It's definitely a racy fit.
Fitted me well, though it is only available in two sizes – S/M and L/XL.
Very comfortable against the skin and lots of stretch in the fabric provides no resistance.
Offers good performance and features for the money, and looks great too.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No bother at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works well as a top layer in warmer temperatures or ideal as a mid-layer in colder climes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Really comfortable and good fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pocket layout is a little unusual.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
There's a huge amount of choice if you want a long-sleeve cycling jersey, but this Howies number offers good performance for a decent price, plus it looks great, is designed in the UK and made in Europe, if such things matter to you.
About the tester
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.