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Shimano's S-Phyre Winter Baselayer is a brilliant layer that can cope with both cold and mild conditions. It's soft, with a great fit. But the price is very high compared with equally excellent rivals.
The new range of Shimano S-Phyre clothing is certainly at the premium end of the spectrum. At £69.99, the baselayer is almost, but not quite, the most expensive baselayer we've tested on road.cc. Brands such as Craft, dhb, Rapha and Altura are all producing brilliant but cheaper baselayers, some for a fraction of the S-Phyre's price.
That said, this is a seriously good piece of kit. It has great features, like the venting on the spine, and the fit is excellent.
That venting comes in the form of a mesh back panel that looks like a honeycomb structure. It certainly works: I never found myself feeling that 'cold, damp back' sensation that usually comes at the cafe stop. It's certainly pleasant to remain comfortable, even after hard training efforts.
There is also venting under the arms, which not only helps regulate body temperature it also seems to regulate body odours too. The baselayer hasn't developed any foul smells, even after two months of heavy use.
Fit is also very good, with a close but unrestrictive cut and very little stitching. Shimano has used its anatomic 3D construction to reduce stitching to a minimum, and I have to say, I haven't noticed any.
Be aware that the sizing is decidedly small. I usually wear a small but I fitted this medium perfectly. If you've not got the body of a racing snake, size up by at least one size.
The sleeves are well proportioned with the cuffs sitting right on the wrist. The stretch in the fabric means my chest was unrestricted and the fit across the shoulders is close but comfortable.
The neckline is low, which may put some people off, but I prefer this cut as I can then wear it with a skinsuit for cyclo-cross, then layer with a good snood for training rides. The hem of the main body sits relatively high. This prevents any bunching of fabric at the lower abdomen, which can irritate skin and also leave a visible bunching line beneath your shorts.
I'm pleased to report that while the price is high, the baselayer is lasting well. I've used this for cyclo-cross races, caking it in mud, crashing and pressure washing it clean before it's allowed in the washing machine. It's survived everything and still kept its soft feel against the skin.
A better option for deep winter when the temperature drops below zero is the Rapha Merino Baselayer LS. This is warmer for steady rides but it does struggle at higher intensities. At £65, it's only a fiver cheaper than the S-Phyre, though they are quite a regular feature in the sale section.
The S-Phyre is brilliant, but until it comes down in price I couldn't really recommend it for the average rider. If you need a baselayer for cyclo-cross racing, that's a different matter; the fit under a skinsuit makes it nigh-on perfect.
Brilliant wicking and perfect fit but it's very expensive
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano S-Phyre Winter Baselayer
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
"A critical tool for cool to cold weather riding, the S-PHYRE Winter Baselayer is the perfect starting point for a layering system that helps deliver maximum power and control. The S-PHYRE Winter Baselayer utilizes 37°C Temperature Regulation technologies with Anatomic 3D construction to assist the rider in maintaining optimal body temperature in cold-weather conditions across a wide range of exercise intensity levels."
I'd agree with the temperature aims. The temperature regulation is ideal for harder efforts on cold days, but there are better options for cold, steady riding. The venting and wicking really do work.
"Anatomic 3D design integrates dual-surface, seamless engineered-knit technology with an integrated mesh back vent panel allows excess body heat to escape for optimal temperature regulation."
The construction gives a very close and comfortable fit and the minimal stitching isn't noticeable.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- ENGINEERED KNIT FABRIC
- BUILT-IN COMFORT
- HEAT RETENTION
- SEAMLESS CONSTRUCTION
- TEMPERATURE REGULATION
36% Polypropylene, 57% Polyester, 7% Spandex
EUR: XS / S-XL / XXL
The 3D construction and lack of seams result in zero irritation. The venting panel on the back is also well made and shows no signs of wear.
It's ideal for hard efforts, keeping me very comfortable through many different types of riding.
Anything that survives training, cyclo-cross races, cyclo-cross crashes and pressure washing and then retains its soft feel and fit is excellent in my opinion.
Perfect for me while racing, but some will want a longer torso and possibly a higher neck.
These come up small. They're designed for racers with tiny upper bodies so this medium fitted me well when I'd usually wear a small.
Exactly what I'd expect for a mid-weight winter baselayer.
The wicking and fit are noticeable for all the right reasons.
This is certainly a premium product; we've reviewed more expensive ones, but they're few and far between.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Super-simple: pressure wash if I've been sliding around in the mud, then washed on 40°C and tumble dried on cool. No signs of abuse.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. I was left dry and comfortable after hard 3hr training rides at tempo. I'd usually get to the cafe and be clammy. Not with this.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The performance for racing is amazing. It kept me comfortable and fitted really well under my skinsuit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price is just so high.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, I found myself reaching for it before every ride.
Would you consider buying the product? No, I'd go with the Craft at under a third of the price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but only if they needed the best baselayer for winter racing.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's brilliant, but unless you're racing in the winter or have deep pockets the price is a big drawback.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 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, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!