When you see the word thermal in a jersey's title you expect it to have a certain amount of weight and thickness about it. The Kalf Club Men's Thermal Jersey doesn't have either of those things, in fact it barely feels any heavier than most summer tops, but boy is it ever warm – even with the thinnest of layers beneath it.
- Pros: Race fit, very warm
- Cons: Only in black or navy
It is created from an 80% polyamide, 20% elastane mix throughout, with a brushed fleece effect on the inside to create a 'Roubaix' fabric, keeping you warm and cosy thanks to some impressive thermal properties.
I first wore the Kalf on a breezy day when the temperature ranged between 3°C and 6°C with nothing but a mesh, short-sleeve summer baselayer underneath and I really wasn't expecting to be as comfortable as I was.
There aren't any windproofing panels so if the breeze is carrying a nip you'll feel it a little, but at all other times the Kalf keeps you toasty. With a thicker winter baselayer on underneath I could happily head off out into sub-zero temperatures without any discomfort.
The material itself is quite thin – hold it up to the light and you can easily see through it – but it seems to work better than many others, the dhb Blok Thermal for instance.
Breathability is good too, as I never really got clammy or sweaty in it even when riding hard up hill. The Kalf isn't in any way water resistant so it is a jersey purely for dry day use, but if you do get caught out in a shower you'll not get cold as long as you keep moving.
The thinness of the material also lends itself to being part of a layering system. For the really cold or windy days you could easily go baselayer, Kalf Club, softshell or windproof jacket without adding any bulk to your upper body.
Chilly early spring or late autumn rides can also be accommodated too with a bit of playing about. You'll certainly get your money's worth out of it across the year.
The decent amount of elastane in the mix means that the Club is a close-fitting jersey, so ideal if you aren't a fan of material flapping around or you want a racer's cut.
The whole jersey still allows a full range of movement, so it never feels restrictive, and even if you don't have a mountain stage winner's physique you'll be perfectly comfortable in the Kalf.
A large range of panels are used throughout, which helps to give a flattering look, plus the high front and dropped tail work perfectly when on the bike to avoid any bunching of the material or exposing any skin. (The second zip you can see in the pics belongs to the Club Thermal Men's Bib Tights underneath – review to come.)
Size-wise, things are pretty spot on to the chart found on Evans' website, and even though I'm right at the top end of the medium size range I still had plenty of room to move, plus the length in the body and arms worked perfectly.
In terms of extras, the Kalf is actually quite a simple jersey, and carries most of the details you'd expect these days.
First off, the full-length zip gets a garage at the collar to stop it from irritating your neck, and for me is a must on any jersey.
Around the back you get three deepish pockets which are taut enough to carry your ride essentials without too much sag or bounce on rough surfaces. For ease of access I'd prefer to see the two side ones slanted towards the hem, but it wasn't a major issue here.
To the right of the outer right pocket there's a zip to a valuables pocket underneath, for keys or cash. It's not lined so you'll want to put your electronics in a plastic bag, and as the zip extends from the top to bottom you need to make sure it's fully closed otherwise things can easily fall out.
The Kalf sits midway in the range of jerseys we've tested on road.cc. The previously mentioned dhb costs just £55 at rrp, while Rapha's Classic Long Sleeve Jersey II is £120, for example. It's well priced, a better performer than the dhb but saving you a fair chunk over the Rapha and other top-end offerings.
The black on test isn't the greatest colour for a dull winter's day, but the jersey is available in navy too – though it's still not exactly bright. You do get a few reflectives for night-time use: a Kalf logo on the rear pocket plus some chevrons on the cuff, ideal for showing your indications, as long as your gloves don't cover them up.
Overall, it's a great performer on cold, dry days – and if you get your layering right it'll remain useful well into spring, making it a really good buy.
Stunning warmth and fit but a few more colour options would make it even better
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kalf Club Thermal Men's Long Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Kalf says, "A long sleeve mid-layer for cool to colder rides, the fabric is an Italian thermal 'Roubaix', brushed on the inside for a soft feel. The breathability and insulating properties of this material were developed for harsh conditions (hence the 'Roubaix' name – after the Paris–Roubaix race) and it's a tried and tested fabric."
This is an unbelievably warm jersey considering its minimal thickness.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
There is a three-pocket cargo layout on the jersey's rear panel with a zip-up valuables pouch too. Side-panels and the closely knitted fabric ensure the jersey is form fitting, but not too snug to allow for layering. Other functional details on the jersey are an iridescent reflective trim, Vislon® durable zips and a silicone gripper at the hem.
Sizes - S to XXXL
I'm at the upper end of the medium size range but it fitted me a treat.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Being black, there is very little to worry about when it comes to staining, plus everything cleaned up fine after a 30 degree wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A great winter jersey on its own or as part of a layering system.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great thermal properties.
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
Use this box to explain your overall score
I was very impressed with the overall thermal performance from the Kalf, plus it's very well made and great value for money. An excellent buy and fully deserving a 9.
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.