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Santini's Beta Windstopper jacket is a great example of a high quality cool weather garment that can deal with a good range of British spring and autumnal weather conditions.
Santini says this jacket works best in the temperature range of 5-18 degrees; I'd go so far as to say it'll be just as useful in temperatures approaching the freezing mark too, so long as you're riding at a decent tempo.
Made of Gore Windstopper XFree 210 fabric, it's in the wind where I found this jacket really stood out. Gore creates arguably the industry standard in high-performance garment fabrics, from its full Gore-tex Pro to the Windstopper variant we see here, and it's been put to great use.
Used around the whole of the jacket, the membrane underneath allows for top-level insulation from the wind (despite a lack of fleece lining anywhere except under the arms and around the neckline), while keeping a great level of breathability. The zip is also of a decent quality – although it isn't 'sealed', underneath it is a fabric tab that acts as a thin layer between the zip itself and your jersey, and I couldn't feel any air getting in.
Additionally, you'll find tapered sleeves with double fabric layering, and an elasticated hem with stylish Santini branding around the waist. All this put together, I felt no draughty air sneaking up my arms or back, and in tandem with the slim cut it means the jacket is incredibly comfortable – almost like a second skin.
I say 'almost', because while the cut is slim, it's not racy in its profile. This means when you step off the bike to grab a coffee and cake at a cafe you don't find it sneaking up at the front and exposing a gap between your bib shorts and the hem. In short, you still look socially acceptable! This was demonstrated in that a large fitted me well, as a 188cm, 83kg man with swimmer's shoulders.
The Beta Windstopper jacket is also suitably practical. There are three good sized pockets on the back, big enough for all the essentials, I'd say, each of which boasts a drainage hole for water in the event of a sudden downpour. The jacket isn't designed for heavy rain – the outer fabric is water resistant at best – so these seemed a bit beside the point, but it's good to know they're there just in case you get your weather prediction wrong.
Other important considerations? Given the need to be visible on the road in murkier conditions, I'm a fan of Santini's sparing use of reflective banding (seen over the tops of the pockets and in the 'Beta' graphic on the back) and the fluorescent yellow panels on the back and sleeves. It's not garish, and it does the job from a safety perspective. The only downside is you won't want to be wearing it while doing maintenance on your bike (as I foolishly did), because you'll get dirty chain oil on the cuffs...
In terms of quality, which I touched upon earlier regarding the decent and secure zip, the jacket impresses. Seams are well stitched internally, and following a few washes at 40 degrees (the instructions recommend 30 degrees) the fabric remains in as-new condition, and the fit the same. There's no hint of any logo peeling or degradation, and no loose threads that I've noticed. Top marks here.
This leads me to the price... At £149.99 (available for a little less if you shop around), it's not a cheap item. However, I've always been of the persuasion that if you'll get good use out of a jacket without having to replace it after one winter, the investment is well worth making. If you agree, then I think the Beta Windstopper represents pretty good value for the performance it offers.
Overall, we're looking at a desirable stylish, performance-driven jacket suitable for dry and potentially damp conditions, with a wide operating range of five degrees to the mid-teens. It wins my approval.
A desirable, stylish, performance-driven jacket suitable for everything except deep winter and summer
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Make and model: Santini Beta Windstopper Jacket
Size tested: Large, Yellow/Black
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?
Santini says: "The BETA jacket was created to ensure perfect thermal balance in different climatic conditions. Built with Windstopper fabric XFree 210, Beta is able by itself to keep you warm as low as 5° C (40° F), as if you were wearing jersey and jacket, but it feels incredibly breathable and light enough to be suitable for temperatures up to 18°C (65° F). Extremely versatile, Beta will also offer protection from wind and rain thanks to the Windstopper membrane. A garment so complete, you won't need anything else."
The jacket is ideally suited for tempo riders. The Windstopper XFree 210 technology works with an outer Windstopper membrane for added water resistance just in case you get your weather prediction wrong.
A breathable thermal insulation combines with a full front zip and a fleece-lined collar to keep you warm. The jacket also features an aerodynamic fit, three rear pockets and reflective details to improve visibility and safety.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Windstopper XFree 210 technology provides complete wind protection
Windstopper membrane combines to give water resistance
Very good heat retention performance thanks to fleece-lined collar and double cuffs
Full front zip
3 rear pockets with drainage holes
Reflective details improve visibility and safety
Stated operating temperature range: 5° - 18°C
It's not packable, but then that's not the purpose of the jacket. For the performance, it's relatively lightweight.
Good levels of comfort afforded by the slim cut, with well-thought-out sleeve and hem lengths.
The £149.99 rrp is a lot for any jacket. But, if you don't want to go out in the pouring rain, this is a good option that delivers very good performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – it lives up to the claims.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great cut, and very good performance in conditions some claim are perfect for cycling.
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: 25 Height: 188cm Weight: 83kg
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding