Everyone and their mother is making weatherproof jerseys nowadays. It really wasn't that long ago that rain resistance was an unheard-of quantity for a jersey. In 2015 you're spoilt for choice, provided that you've got some money to spend, that is. Castelli started the ball rolling, well, it was more of a marketing juggernaut, with their wildly successful Gabba, and over the last few years it's been joined by offerings from Cafe du Cycliste, Giordana, Gore, Craft, Vermarc, Sportful and now British brand Stolen Goat with the Orkaan Race Tech jersey. And this one's a cracker.
It's hard to write a review like this without using the Gabba as a reference point, so let's do that. I'm of the opinion that the Gabba's water-resistance has sometimes been overstated. This type of jersey is absolutely not a replacement for a "proper waterproof" if you're riding at a steady pace in heavy rain. But where the Gabba really excels is the aerodynamics - it was designed for Garmin-Cervélo racers, after all. Racers' overriding priority is to go fast. If they can keep fairly dry as well it's a bonus, but the reason why they moved from lightweight waterproof jackets to this sort of top isn't because it kept them drier.
Designed with a fairly uncompromising eye on aerodynamics, the Orkaan Race Tech jersey is about the most skin-tight jersey I've tested since the Aero Race. The sizing guide on Stolen Goat's website is accurate, provided you want to cheat the wind, and there's a decent range of sizes for chests between 34in and 47in. It's not really a jersey that you'd wear down the pub after that damp 10 mile TT, but you might have figured that out already.
I'm relatively tall and skinny and the medium was a close but comfortable fit, without any loose fabric at all. (Mat in the pictures is a similar height and weight to me.) The sleeves are fashionably long, down to the crook of the elbow, and have raw-cut seamless ends like those that we liked so much in their summer jerseys. The torso is longer at the back as you'd expect, and at the front it rises slightly to the bottom of the zip.
Stolen Goat are keeping quiet about exactly what fabric is used in the Orkaan jersey, but it's pretty impressive stuff. Stretchy enough to allow for the skin-tight fit, yet still offering better protection from the rain than most of the other similar water-resistant fabrics I've tried. In my tests, I found it lets in less water than the Gabba, Castelli Nanoflex and Giordana G-Shield fabrics. Like those competitors, the seams are the area most susceptible to moisture ingress, and a little bit of water does get in here, but it's really not much.
One Saturday I waited until the forecast rain arrived - a strange inversion of the norm - before heading out for a relatively quick two hour blast wearing this jersey over a base layer. The rain was my constant companion and the main roads of my route made for no shortage of road spray too. On returning home, my torso was basically still dry. A careful inspection of the base layer showed some moisture around the shoulders where the seams of the jersey sit, and a little behind the zip, but that's about it.
Stolen Goat use the same fabric in their matching skull-cap, and head honcho Tim has made a video showing how the fabric copes with water. It's pretty impressive. I tried the same thing to check that they hadn't cheated with Neverwet spray and got the same results - you can pool water on the fabric for quite a while and it just runs off leaving the surface dry. Interestingly, if you wear it under a relatively powerful shower, the water gets through almost instantly; the extra pressure is enough to overcome the hydrophobic surface. I'd assume, therefore, that under a monsoon-style downpour you'd see the same thing. Happily, unless you live a lot closer to the equator than I do, rain generally doesn't approach the pressure of a power shower.
A close inspection of the fabric shows it's really quite different stuff to the Gore Windstopper X-Lite Plus used in the Gabba. For one thing it's fleecy on the inside, unlike a Gabba, so it feels significantly nicer against the skin if you're riding without a base layer. If you're riding in persistent enough rain to overcome the Gabba's defences, I find it can be a bit clammy (at least without a good base layer), unlike this jersey.
This fabric is really stretchy, around twice as stretchy as Gore Windstopper X-Lite Plus. It's also much more breathable. It's not a total wind-blocker but the protection is nevertheless pretty good, surprisingly so given how breathable it is. Stolen Goat reckon that you can use this between 5 and 18 degrees, which is probably about right (provided that you've got appropriate base layers and arm warmers for the colder end of that range). We've not had 18 degrees during the test period, but it's seen plenty of use for high-intensity riding like chaingangs when the temperature is down in single figures. If you're more of a potterer, it's probably not the jersey for you, and in any case you'll want more layers to stay warm.
The standard three rear pockets are made from the clever reflective material used on the Climb and Conquer jacket, meaning that night-time visibility to cars is excellent, at least from the rear. Styling is simple but nicely executed - a pair of red stripes front and rear adding some contrast. There's a version with green stripes available too. Branding is kept to a minimum, with just a small logo on the right hand pocket.
Standards of construction are good - there's a mixture of flatlock and regular seams which are mostly tidy, although I had to trim a few loose threads. There's no silicone gripper strip around the waist, but it fits so snugly that this isn't really needed. The zip is a good quality YKK cam-lock one, although without the windflap which helps keep out drafts and drips on a Gabba. The Gabba's excellent stashable bum flap is another detail I missed, not least as racers don't generally use mudguards.
As I mentioned at the top, weatherproof jerseys are still fairly expensive, typically £100-£150 for a short-sleeve. The Orkaan is towards the lower end of this price range, which is good news as I think it's one of the best performance options available.
Out-Gabbas the Castelli Gabba: more aero, more comfortable and more water-resistant—really impressive
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Make and model: stolen goat Orkaan Race Tech Weatherproof SS Jersey
Size tested: 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?
Revolution is a word that is somewhat overused. But in terms of high tech cycling garments – this aero short sleeve, water repellent, wind proof, reflective, breathable jersey is a genuine candidate.
The stolen goat Orkaan Race Tech ss cycling jersey is the solution for... weather! You want to ride or race quickly, efficiently, comfortably... with style – what you don't want is to worry about the rain, wind or overheating.
Designed for temperatures ranging between 5-18 degrees the jersey is constructed from a water repellent fabric that is also wind proof. A soft, thermal, brushed lining keeps you warm but the breathable nature of the fabric means you don't overheat. This is a genuine 3 season jersey, in the UK I may even wear mine in the summer on some days!
The rear pockets feature the Pixel 100 reflective fabric for extra visibility and safety even in low light conditions. The arms have a modern raw cut, aero finish. The fabric is supportive to optimise your performance further.
Despite being stretchier than most competitors, the Orkaan somehow manages to keep you drier; deeply impressive. The fit is a racer's dream - it's designed for going fast.
No issues during testing, and Stolen Goat say that the water-resistance comes from fibres woven into the fabric rather than a DWR treatment applied later, so it shouldn't wear off.
Priced lower than most competitors (with Vermarc being the only exception I could find) yet out-performs the market-leader.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Aero fit, cosy brushed inner, and seriously impressive water-resistance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.