The BTwin 520 Warm jacket is toasty – sometimes a bit too toasty for a mild winter. Suited to low or sub-zero digits, the 520 also repels light showers with ease, but will struggle with heavy downpours.
The 520 felt quite heavy when it arrived, especially when weighed against a similar softshell jacket. It comes in at 562g, which is noticeable, though you do get decent protection from the elements.
The fit of the jacket is trim, with the exception of where the top of the sleeve meets the top seam of the shoulder, which reminded me slightly of Ming the Merciless. I don't have particularly narrow shoulders but the seams didn't lie flat, which made me slightly conscious of the cut.
Things are much better across the chest and back, with a high-cut front and low-cut rear, perfect for keeping fabric out of your way at the front when pedalling while providing good coverage to your kidney area.
The zip has a decent glove-grabable toggle and a large flap to prevent draughts getting in, which doesn't snag the YKK zipper. The very stretchy waist band has a solid line of silicone gripper, and this does a very good job of keeping the jacket in place.
The cuffs are elasticated and quite complicated affairs, with a lot of material present around the wrist. A slimming down of the design here would be appreciated, especially when you're wearing high-cuff winter gloves.
You can carry a decent amount of stuff in the 520, given its five pockets. The rear zipped one is claimed to be water repellent, and has a hole for headphones, but I struggled to get a smartphone in a waterproof case in there and zipped up.
The three traditional pockets across the rear are average sized, with the two outer openings quite trim – it took a bit of fiddling to extract nutrition while riding. There's also a pump pocket stitched into the inner seam of the left pocket; I use a frame-mounted pump in winter, but tried this out and it works pretty well, a nice touch.
On the front the zipped chest pocket has enough space for keys and some coins, but little else. It's not something I found myself using a lot. Toggles on all the zips are a good touch.
Inside the jacket you get a neck buff that's buttoned into the jacket. I tried putting it on while wearing the jacket but it's not so simple, plus it leaves you with a bit of a faff once you want to remove it when you get to your destination. I ended up taking it out and using it like a normal buff; used in this manner it's a decent addition to the jacket, especially given the price.
Looking inside the jacket, there's an array of different materials, focusing on windproof materials at the front and back, with more breathable material at the sides and down the spine.
Two zipped openings with mesh linings allow you to tune airflow on the side of the ribs. These catch more air than you expect and are fairly useful as they can be easily opened and closed during a ride. The breathability is decent enough, but it does seem to lose heat fairly quickly at anything under 2°C. It's more suited to 2-8°C, anything lower needs a bit of thought about layering beneath, though this can be pace-dependent.
Graphically, the jacket is simple enough. There are four choices of colour, with two featuring additional reflective panels and fluorescent colours (prices vary depending on the colour). I was concerned about the large presence of white on our test jacket, but it doesn't seem to have stained, and mucky ride residue has washed away easily enough. There's no peg loop in the collar (a bugbear of mine), which would have been a simple addition given the amount of features that BTwin has packed into the jacket.
Finally, given all those features and the jacket's performance, it's great value at £64.99 (£74.99 for the orange and yellow options), and the red and blue are currently discounted to £44.99. You'll need to be lucky with sizes, though – only S and XL are available online in some colours, though you might find others in a Decathlon store.
Great cold weather jacket with plenty to offer, but it will need a hardshell over it for really wet days
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BTwin 520 Warm Cycling Jacket
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?
"For whom? Men
Use? 3-hour rides
Sizes? Available in sizes S to XXL
The third layer is the layer that protects you from the elements, for instance, the cold and the wind, while the lower layers offer warmth and breathability. By wearing a suitable cycling jacket, you will maintain your performance and stay comfortable, whatever the weather.
This 520 cycling jacket keeps you nice and warm with its high collar. These mechanical vents offer great moisture management."
I say it's a useful garment for anyone riding in winter temperatures at any level. Decathlon's description is at the level I would place it in terms of performance.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Main fabric: 57% Polyester; 31% Polyamide; 12% Elastane
Yoke fabric: 88% Polyester; 12% Elastane
Flatlock seams have stood the test. Nothing to worry about in terms of construction.
Looks pretty much as it did the day it arrived.
Shrugs off light showers easily enough, but it's not intended as a waterproof.
Doesn't hold moisture to uncomfortable levels but it's more of a winter garment than one suited to warmer spring days.
Tops of the sleeves bunch up a bit, shoulders are uncultured.
Feels fairly heavy when wearing, even more so when wet.
Cracking jacket for the money.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
A bung in the wash with other cycling gear always had it coming out looking clean, even the white panels. The printed logo has lasted very well. Does need regular washing to avoid becoming smelly.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Used well on a variety of rides from commutes to club rides, and it did everything without giving me major cause for complaint.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
A decent workhorse. Lots of thought has gone into the features it offers.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The slightly unrefined feel of the shoulder cut and weight of the fabric.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes, on a budget.
Use this box to explain your score
This isn't a premium jacket, but it does the job of keeping you warm in winter months well. Decent for the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Kinesis Racelight T (winter) Cervélo S2 (Summer) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking