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review

Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket

9
£250.00

VERDICT:

9
10
A very high performance jacket that copes with rain, wind and cold without overheating
Weight: 
331g

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Dressing for the UK winter just got a whole lot easier with the new Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell, a comfortable, warm and waterproof jacket that copes well with a wide range of weather conditions. It really is one jacket to rule in all weathers.

Like the rest of Sportful's Fiandre range, this new jacket is designed to cope with variable and constantly changing conditions. It's been race-tested, like all Sportful's top-end clothing, by the Tinkoff-Saxo professional cycling team. It's designed to keep you warm and dry, and be breathable enough to avoid overheating.

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy this online here

To create this new Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket, Italian company Sportful worked with fabric specialist Polartec to adapt its relatively new Neoshell material for its needs. Neoshell has been used in a cycling garment by Sugoi previously, but Sportful got Polartec to make the fabric stretchier, to enhance the fit and comfort.

Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket - inside.jpg

You might be wondering what Neoshell is all about. It basically offers the rain protection of a traditional hardshell waterproof jacket, with the warmth, fit, comfort and breathability of a softshell. Sounds like the holy grail of winter cycling jackets, when dressing for winter can be fraught with indecision; there are too many choices and chances for getting it completely wrong, resulting in either getting wet or overheating.

The fabric is constructed with taped seams everywhere to ensure that the whole jacket really is waterproof. There's a waterproof YKK Vislon zipper on the front and three pockets around the back, plus a dropped tail and lots of reflective details. The collar is nice and tall and the cuffs are a simple design, intended to provide a close seal around the wrists.

Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket - collar.jpg
Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket - sleeve.jpg

The cut of the jacket is a good shape too. It's designed to be a close-fitting top, and for wearing over a single baselayer. I found it a bit tight across the shoulders when standing up, but on the bike it's fine. I'm probably right on the line between a size small and medium though. The fit around the torso and arms is excellent, with no excess material to catch the wind.

It's not as immediately comfortable as pulling on a softshell; despite Sportful's efforts to make the fabric stretchier, it's clearly more restrictive than a regular softshell fabric. Any concerns fade away when riding, though, because on the bike it's very comfortable.

Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket - riding.jpg

Cycle clothing technology has advanced quite a bit in the last few years. There has been a rise in the popularity of rain-resistant high-performance softshell tops that can cope with the unpredictability of the British weather well. But they're not without their shortcomings, especially in prolonged heavy rain.

There are no such shortcomings with the Extreme Neoshell jacket. It really is one jacket you can wear no matter the weather. It's designed to excel at temperatures below 10 degrees, but I found the breathability sufficient to wear it above 15 with a short-sleeve baselayer underneath. I do run cooler, though – overheating is rarely an issue for me, but staying warm is!

It really is properly waterproof. We've had some stonking rain showers recently and so I've had plenty of wet rides to thoroughly test the jacket. Lucky me. On one ride it rained solid for the entire two hours I was out. The jacket kept me dry. Another ride saw about three of four short showers interspersed with sunshine and blue skies. Again, the jacket repelled the rain brilliantly, and dried out really quickly between each downpour. There are no weaknesses – all the seams around the arms and shoulders stand up to the rain just fine.

Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket - arm.jpg

Those two examples demonstrate this jacket's brilliance. It copes in sustained downpours and also deals with sudden but short bursts of rain. On rides when the weather forecast makes it hard to predict what rain you might encounter on a ride, this jacket looks after you. I can now leave the emergency waterproof jacket at home, it's redundant.

And it's not just good in the rain. On cold and dry days when there's no hint of rain clouds on the horizon, the jacket provides adequate warmth to keep you comfortable. You can adapt for different temperatures by wearing a different weight baselayer or swapping from a short sleeve to long sleeve. Even with a short-sleeve baselayer there is good warmth on the arms, and with a long-sleeve there is no overheating to speak of.

Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket - pockets.jpg

It's impressively breathable. The material actually lets a small amount of air through from the outside – not so much that you feel it, but you do notice the absence of heat build-up. I've battered up hills and done sprint intervals and it has refused to allow me to overheat. I've taken it above the maximum temperature recommendation and it has coped just fine.

I've done the same test loops on the same day in different outfits, to really see how the jacket compares, and it comfortably outperforms a regular softshell in really heavy prolonged rain, and a waterproof jacket in the breathability stakes.

> Check out our guide to the best winter cycling jackets here

Essentially, this jacket makes it easy to dress for a ride. Regardless of what the weather is doing, you can just sling this on over a baselayer and hit the road, safe in the knowledge you'll be protected from whatever the weather decides to hit you with. It's the best expression of Sportful's Fiandre range yet, and is perfect for the British winter weather.

What I've not been able to do yet is test the jacket in really cold weather, so I'll update this review once I have done. I've been testing it for the last two months, and it's been getting a lot of use. It's been through many washing machine cycles and the fabric comes out clean every time, and it's showing no signs of wear.

Verdict

A very high performance jacket that copes with rain, wind and cold without overheating

road.cc test report

Make and model: Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket

Size tested: Small

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?

Sportful says: "The jacket that excels in every cool or cold condition, from sun to rain. There's never been anything like it.

"We set out to make the ultimate jacket: highly breathable, warm, with perfect stretch fit, and fully waterproof. This is the jacket that you'll choose for dry conditions, yet it's a full-protection rain jacket when you need it. The only jacket you need for conditions 10° and colder."

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

Exclusive Polartec® NeoShell is windproof, waterproof, highly breathable and elastic

Mid-weight fabric can be worn with a base layer or add a thermal layer for cold conditions

Fully taped seams for full waterproofing

Waterproof YKK® Vislon® zipper

3 external rear pockets

No-sew finishing on pockets, hem and cuffs

Reflective transfers on back

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Impressive build quality and seems durable too.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Excellent performance in rain, cold and windy weather. It copes with it all.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

No problems yet.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10

The fit and shape is good. It's not quite as comfortable as a softshell, but it's just fine on the bike.

Rate the product for value:
 
9/10

There's no denying £250 is a lot of money, but it's a serious investment for winter cycling and it replaces a handful of other jackets that you no longer need.

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

For dealing with the unpredictable British winter weather, this is a fantastic bit of kit. You've got no excuses for not going out on the bike in the rain now though...

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Material deals with rain really well and avoids overheating.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Slightly tight fit across the shoulders. Could always do with a few more reflective details.

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

Yes it's expensive, but it'll replace all your current winter tops and jackets in one fell swoop. It's all the jacket you need for the variable winter weather.

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 worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. 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, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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35 comments

Avatar
noodle man | 8 years ago
0 likes

Iv'e been given a prototype jacket to test from sportful. The pockets are now stitched vertically and the cuffs seem to be more elasticated. These features improve the jacket considerably in my opinion but after around six washes in very cool water my last ride which was only 20 odd miles in torrential rain resulted in me getting utterly soaked through. Windproofing is exellent but the waterproofing is only good for the first five or six rides, after this it looks like it needs re-proofing.

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Angry Egg | 8 years ago
0 likes

Also those with pigeon chests like me beware, its tight! I have a 40 chest and 32 waist, i can just sqeeze into the a medium. A large might have been better for me, not too much of an issue but still...

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Angry Egg | 8 years ago
0 likes

I've had the jacket for a few rides now and done about 200 miles in it. I have not had the pockets fall apart with use and I even lightly pulled the pockets divide a little to see if they were going to fall apart. I've not been in a serious downpour yet so I can't say if it will hold on not during the rain. ( the pocket that is)

If there are any problems in the future with the jacket i will mention it here so others who are intrested can know. All in all, very please to get it new for £120 delivered from Germany.

ps. Any know where I can the fiandre bib tights (with the ass flap) medium size new? Seems like theres no stock in the world at the moment

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noodle man | 8 years ago
0 likes

All gone a bit quiet!

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Mark_1973_ | 8 years ago
1 like

I don't know if Road.cc check the comments section but, if so, I wonder if they have any input into this?

Could they get a comment from Sportful and update the article?

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noodle man | 8 years ago
0 likes

Hmmm! Wanted to like this jacket but despite the glowing review I'm sure it's now safe to say it's highly flawed and therefore a worthless jacket. I'm going to send mine back and get a refund. Pretty much pointless hoping for a good one.

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Mark_1973_ | 8 years ago
0 likes

noodle man :

I knew the jacket would leak. If you look at the way it's designed it's impossible for it not to. What you will find now if you look at the jacket is that the whole lower half will be soaking wet where the water has wicked along the fabric.

I can assure you and anybody else reading this that it can and will happen in real world conditions. The first time I wore the jacket was in a two hour ride in moderate rain and my lower back was soaked. In fact, if you look at your picture, you can see that water doesn't need to enter the pocket at all as it has already leaked at the round dots that are supposed to seal the joining points of the pocket. These are at the top of the pocket. The fact that water wicks so readily along the fabric means that the dots are, in fact, redundant, as are the outer vertical pocket tapes.

Besides, the jacket is described as fully waterproof and we have both proven that it isn't.

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noodle man | 8 years ago
0 likes

Not sure if my pic has come out until I post, but I tried the same test as you Mark and after two or three minutes water has soaked through to the inside. Disappointing but not sure if this would happen in riding conditions unless the pockets actually filled with rainwater. Even so, kind of casts doubts on the 'waterproof' claims.

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noodle man | 8 years ago
0 likes

I'll  see if mine leaks around the pocket area when i get home. I did ride in the rain and didn't find it was a problem but it wasnt torrential. It seems as though the pocket part of the jacket hasn't been thought through very well. I know the jacket has been tested by the pro peleton but i doubt Berty had pockets full of anything other than a few energy gels, whereas the rest of us like to carry multi tools, co2, phones etc and keep them seperated to make it easy to find stuff when on the move. 

I was originally told by sportful they had only heard of two other cases of the pockets coming apart. Either people aren't complaining when they should be or i'm really, really unlucky.

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noodle man | 8 years ago
0 likes

Mine is the short sleeve version. Can't imagine they used a different method on the long sleeve ones but you never know. I've emailed Sportful and they seem to be working out a solution, which is more than wiggle are doing by continually sending out faulty goods. I gave mine a check over before i wore it and all seemed ok. I'm beginning to think its a heat and moisture issue that possibly softens the adhesive causing it to pull apart.

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Mark_1973_ replied to noodle man | 8 years ago
0 likes
noodle man wrote:

Mine is the short sleeve version. Can't imagine they used a different method on the long sleeve ones but you never know. I've emailed Sportful and they seem to be working out a solution, which is more than wiggle are doing by continually sending out faulty goods. I gave mine a check over before i wore it and all seemed ok. I'm beginning to think its a heat and moisture issue that possibly softens the adhesive causing it to pull apart.

 

I don't think it's heat, moisture or anything else other than poor design/workmanship. I had one jacket from Sigma Sport and another from BikeInn so the supplier doesn't seem to matter either. The pocket seams were already apart on the first jacket so I thought it was part of the design. The second one, which was also unworn, started coming apart in my hands whilst I was on the phone to the UK Sportful rep (who claimed to have not heard of the problem before) about the water ingress problem.

 

Have any of you tried to see if the jacket leaks around the pocket seams like both of my samples have?

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noodle man | 8 years ago
2 likes

Jacket number four arrived and failed on the pocket seams after the first ride. Really had enough now. Back to wiggle it goes and exchanged for something that wont fall apart. There must be literally hundreds of these faulty jackets being sent out. 

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Angry Egg replied to noodle man | 8 years ago
0 likes
noodle man wrote:

Jacket number four arrived and failed on the pocket seams after the first ride. Really had enough now. Back to wiggle it goes and exchanged for something that wont fall apart. There must be literally hundreds of these faulty jackets being sent out. 

 

Good God fella! Mine is arriving today or tmr. It seems like i mustn't touch the pockets then?! Does it matter if is the short sleeve or the long sleeve version? Is one better better then the other or the pockets are just going to fall apart anyway?

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Angry Egg | 8 years ago
0 likes

I've just brought this jacket for 120 from bergfreunde. What do I do now? This is supposed to be my ultimate winter jacket. Should I super glue where the stitches meet fabric near the pocket?? Any advise before it turns out like the posters above? Mine is the version with arm warmers. Any advise welcome

 

 

 

 

Avatar
noodle man replied to Angry Egg | 8 years ago
1 like
Angry Egg wrote:

I've just brought this jacket for 120 from bergfreunde. What do I do now? This is supposed to be my ultimate winter jacket. Should I super glue where the stitches meet fabric near the pocket?? Any advise before it turns out like the posters above? Mine is the version with arm warmers. Any advise welcome

 

 

 

 

I'd leave it and see what happens. Wouldn't try and superglue it as this might attack the fabric. Great price if you can live with the pocket issue. In fairness the main problem I've had is with the pockets. It seemed great in wet and cold weather. But as other posters have said, it's faulty and you shouldn't have to put up with it.

Avatar
Angry Egg replied to noodle man | 8 years ago
1 like
noodle man wrote:
Angry Egg wrote:

I've just brought this jacket for 120 from bergfreunde. What do I do now? This is supposed to be my ultimate winter jacket. Should I super glue where the stitches meet fabric near the pocket?? Any advise before it turns out like the posters above? Mine is the version with arm warmers. Any advise welcome

 

 

 

 

I'd leave it and see what happens. Wouldn't try and superglue it as this might attack the fabric. Great price if you can live with the pocket issue. In fairness the main problem I've had is with the pockets. It seemed great in wet and cold weather. But as other posters have said, it's faulty and you shouldn't have to put up with it.

 

I actually have a Fiandre light windstopper jacket which has the same issue with pockets. I thought it was one off and the extrene would be better made...

oh well, i also picked up a 2nd hand fiandre no rain circa 2014, will see how it goes.

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noodle man | 8 years ago
1 like

Cheers for that. Wife has been sending them from the post offce.

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noodle man | 8 years ago
1 like

Hi Mark. It's on bikerader-Road buying advice. Just as an extra kick in the teeth, iv'e now discovered wiggle have dropped the price a further twelve quid, meaning iv'e now spent 12 quid on return postage and lost another 12 by paying extra for a jacket iv'e worn a total of around 6 hours. Not impressed with wiggle for sending out garments with the same faults and even more unimpressed with sportful for producing such a flawed jacket.

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bendertherobot replied to noodle man | 8 years ago
0 likes
noodle man wrote:

Hi Mark. It's on bikerader-Road buying advice. Just as an extra kick in the teeth, iv'e now discovered wiggle have dropped the price a further twelve quid, meaning iv'e now spent 12 quid on return postage and lost another 12 by paying extra for a jacket iv'e worn a total of around 6 hours. Not impressed with wiggle for sending out garments with the same faults and even more unimpressed with sportful for producing such a flawed jacket.

 

Where are you returning it from? Collect+ is free.

Avatar
Mark_1973_ | 8 years ago
1 like

I've read people saying how waterproof this jacket is - not my experience at all. The fabric itself is unbelievably waterproof but the weak point is where the rear pocket is joined to the body of the jacket.

The outer vertical seams are taped externally but this taping is redundant as water can easily run down into the pockets and wicks into the jacket along the joining points. I proved this by stretching the jacket over a bucket and allowing water to sit on the fabric. It sat quite happily in a large bead on the fabric itself with no penetration whatsoever - however, once I swilled it near the pocket seams it wicked into the fabric and spread along the lower half of the garment.

Can anybody else with this jacket confirm if the same happens (I can't see how it won't as it's an obvious design flaw)?

Noodle Man - are you allowed to direct me to the forum you mention on here?

I've tried uploading a picture but not sure if it will work....

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noodle man | 8 years ago
1 like

Quite suprised the tester didn't encounter any of the problems mentioned. Iv'e had three of these jerseys, all with the same pocket issues and one with the stitching bursting on the seams. There are also numerous reports of faulty fiandre extreme's on another internet forum. I have never had such problems with any other cycling specific item of clothing. Not sure this design should have ever reached market with such poor QC.

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Mark_1973_ | 8 years ago
1 like

Got this jacket too. Sent the first one back as it leaked around the seams and joining points on the rear pockets - replacement exactly the same.

Also had the exact same issues as others above - the vertical bonding that divides the rear pockets comes detached from the body of the jacket at the slightest touch.

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noodle man | 8 years ago
2 likes

Jersey replaced because of quality issues. Got a lift into work this morning so i can test the jacket on a long ride home. Reached into the rear pocket to remove my phone and the pockets seam has come unglued before i've even worn it on the bike. Awful quality!

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naishtt | 8 years ago
0 likes

Thanks Noodle Man for the reassuring feedback on cold weather performance.

Surprised to hear about the quality issues as I've always found Sportful to be very well designed and made.   

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Luv2ride replied to naishtt | 8 years ago
1 like
naishtt wrote:

Surprised to hear about the quality issues as I've always found Sportful to be very well designed and made.   

Although Sportful are one of my favourite brands I've found their quality control to be a little lacking.  Amongst items returns are R&D bib tights, R&D Wind Jersey, No Rain light top and a few others.  A mate also had to return a pair of R&D bib tights.  In all cases the stitching wasn't up to scratch, leading to burst seams and tears.  The replacements have all been fine though (in fact they are now some of my most used kit) but just make sure you buy from an outlet which does free returns, just in case.  The design aspect is spot on, the technical materials are great, just the manufacturing process seems a little hit and miss IME.

Avatar
noodle man | 8 years ago
2 likes

This jacket is fantastic in cold weather. I run very cold and believe me, if i'm ok in 1 degree temperature then anyone should be. I have however had to send mine back for replacement. The arm warmers have burst stitching after two rides and the rear pocket seams all came unstuck on the first ride. I hope this is a one off as the actual performance of the jacket is amazing in all conditions. 

Avatar
naishtt | 8 years ago
0 likes

How's that cold weather update coming along David or anyone else who has one?

I'm keen to hear how it performs at the lower end of its stated range. e.g. below about 6 degrees, especially for someone who runs a tad cold. Obviously it's possible to layer up but how's the insulation - it looks pretty thin?

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sethpistol | 8 years ago
0 likes

I've got this and agree with David, breathability is amazing! it's thin enough that you can play about with layering for different temperature which makes it usable most of the year round. It's a 'race fit' so yeah probably won't fit every rider perfectly but if it does then go buy it! PS Angry Egg -  that Fiandre Cap is out in April and yep it's waterproof!

Avatar
Angry Egg replied to sethpistol | 8 years ago
1 like
sethpistol wrote:

I've got this and agree with David, breathability is amazing! it's thin enough that you can play about with layering for different temperature which makes it usable most of the year round. It's a 'race fit' so yeah probably won't fit every rider perfectly but if it does then go buy it! PS Angry Egg -  that Fiandre Cap is out in April and yep it's waterproof!

Ah damm it! The wrong side of winter! But still I have the arm warmers for this jacket and they are my go to. Can't really afford the jacket at full price but if the quality is as good as my Fiandre WS jacket then I will definitely get one eventually. Although the pocket stitchings are abit fragile.

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Luv2ride replied to Angry Egg | 8 years ago
1 like
Angry Egg wrote:
sethpistol wrote:

I've got this and agree with David, breathability is amazing! it's thin enough that you can play about with layering for different temperature which makes it usable most of the year round. It's a 'race fit' so yeah probably won't fit every rider perfectly but if it does then go buy it! PS Angry Egg -  that Fiandre Cap is out in April and yep it's waterproof!

Ah damm it! The wrong side of winter! But still I have the arm warmers for this jacket and they are my go to. Can't really afford the jacket at full price but if the quality is as good as my Fiandre WS jacket then I will definitely get one eventually. Although the pocket stitchings are abit fragile.

 

Wiggle were doing this in Short sleeve at £216, less £40 in their recent sale.  You'd have some spare warmers though!  I've resisted so far, partly because this would make much of my carefully acquired kit obsolete.  Then again, it can take too long to get ready sometimes as I find I have too many choices.  Paring down clothing options, and bikes, is actually quite appealing but I never quite manage it...

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