dhb's range seems to have grown to cover virtually every single type of condition possible, but just in case there is a gap it's apparel like this Aeron Hybrid Softshell that takes out the weather-related guesswork.
- Pros: Windproof, water-resistant, breathable, well cut...
- Cons: Not fully waterproof
It fits and feels like a winter jersey as the fabric is soft and it's not overly heavy. It's the type of top you'd chuck on over whichever baselayer you think would suit the conditions and it'll keep you toasty warm without having to overplan your layering.
It covers quite a large temperature range, as I found out when racing at the Red Bull TimeLaps. I wasn't actually supposed to be riding but after unfortunately losing one of the team to a crash I had to step in.
I was planning on riding home from the event on the Sunday, so the dhb and a short-sleeved baselayer were the only kit I had for my upper body.
Racing through the Saturday night, with various stints every two or so hours from 7pm through to 6am, the temperature varied from about 12°C to 5°C and this combo worked perfectly, even into the biting northerly wind that started to rear its head as darkness fell.
The front panels and those running the length of the arms are windproof, you see, and they are water resistant too. You could certainly feel them working blocking that chilly breeze compared with other parts of my body not benefiting from the same kind of treatment.
The entire inside of the softshell is fleece lined, which is intended to trap body heat for warmth, although the rear and side panels are a much thinner fabric to allow some breathability and it works pretty well.
As daylight rose at Red Bull and the temperature crept up a little towards the mid-teens, I did kept a little damp inside the dhb, but this isn't the top I'd be choosing for those kind of conditions.
When rain does fall it'll start to bead on those water resistant panels for a time until the fabric is overwhelmed, which obviously depends on how heavy the shower is. In a light shower or drizzle you'd be looking at about an hour before you start to get wet, although once the rain stops the softshell dries quickly.
The cut is form fitting so one more for the rider who likes to go fast and hard on those winter training runs or when you're out with the chaingang. It's not tight though, so you don't need to be a racing whippet to get away with wearing it.
You get a dropped tail for good coverage when you're stooped over in the drops, and the sleeve length is great for a stretched-out position. The forearms tend to taper in before the cuff to give a very close fit, and with those cuffs being quite thin they easily fit inside your gloves to stop any annoying draughts.
The neck offers a similar setup, with a tall, close-fitting cut and a soft fleece liner for ultimate comfort. The full zip comes to a stop in a well-padded garage so there's no throat irritation either.
The bottom front of the softshell is cut higher in the middle to avoid bunching around the midriff when you are on the bike, and the hem is kept in place with a mixture of elastic and silicone grippers.
Three pockets run from side to side along the back, the two side ones dropping slightly at the opening for easier access when in the saddle. They are deep enough for even the largest of phones and taut enough too to avoid any bounce.
The right hand pocket has a zipped compartment/fourth pocket for valuables with a waterproof membrane separating the two, handy to stop sweat from getting through to any electrical devices you may be carrying.
With an RRP of £80 the dhb certainly looks good value for money when you consider the performance, and when you take into account the tidy finish and great all-round quality it looks an absolute steal (even more so at its current price of £65).
It's a very similar piece of clothing to the Sportful Fiandre Light Wind jacket with its ability to shrug off the wind and light rain, plus they are similar weights. But the Sportful costs nearly double at £150. The dhb even undercuts the Altura Podium Elite Thermo Shield jacket; okay not a softshell, but it does have a lot of the same qualities.
On the whole the dhb Aeron Hybrid Softshell is a great piece of kit that is perfect for the changeable conditions you'll find in the UK's off-season, and with decent baselayer choice it'll span autumn through winter and back to spring again.
The perfect top for those days when you don't know if you need a jersey or jacket – the dhb serves as both
road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Aeron Hybrid Softshell
Size tested: Medium
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?
dhb says, "The new dhb Aeron Hybrid Softshell Jacket is designed for high tempo cycling in cold conditions. Building on the success of the Aeron Full Protection Softshell, the Hybrid combines the nimble feeling of a jersey with weatherproof protection of a jacket.
Built for versatility
Taking design notes from the deep winter-ready Aeron Full Protection Softshell, dhb has created a hybrid jacket that blends protection with warmth and breathability. Paired with the right base layer, this hybrid softshell is ideal for use on high tempo rides, from when the cool temperatures start to bite right through to the depths of winter. With exceptional performance in a variety conditions, this is likely to become the jacket you reach for the most this winter.
Weatherproof & Breathable
By using windproof and water-resistant panels across the front down the length of the arms, you remain protected in the most exposed areas from wind and showers. The soft and breathable Roubaix fabric used on the back allows any build-up of heat and moisture to escape whilst keeping you insulated from the cold.
Fully fleece-lined, this jacket works to trap hot air and create a micro-climate around your torso, whilst letting moisture and excess heat escape. The aim is to keep you out on the road, enjoying the ride for longer.
Cut to sit like a jersey with a performance fit, the Hybrid Softshell aims to give you that agile jersey feeling even whilst riding through harsh weather. Constructed with performance stretch fabrics, dhb has ensured this jacket sits close to the body without any excess material and flapping in the wind to slow you down.
Like all dhb Aeron garments, the details are what bring this Jacket together. The dropped rear tail provides protection again road spray, and has been finished with a wide silicone gripper designed to widen the area of pressure for comfortable and secure fit. Ergonomic cuffs to further seal out the elements. A full length YKK zip provides an extra way of venting during the hardest efforts. Subtle reflective detailing completes this."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Windproof and water resistant front and arm panels
Warm and breathable Roubaix fabric back panel
Full length, lock down YKK zip with chin guard
Ergonomic shaped cuffs
The sizing is perfect.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I couldn't actually find any washing instructions on the Aeron so I just washed it on a 30 degree spin cycle like most kit and it was fine.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Fends off the wind and keeps the rain at bay, as long as it isn't heavy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The close cut.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
For the money I don't really think you could ask for more.
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
There is nothing groundbreaking about the dhb Aeron Hybrid Softshell, but what you do have here is a brilliantly comfortable jacket with a great cut and impressive performance, all at a very competitive price.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.