A jersey that keeps you cool in the heat and warm in the cold sounds too good to be true, but the new Sportful R&D Celsius makes a great fist of it. This jersey copes well with the fluctuations of the unpredictable and constantly changing temperatures of the UK, keeping you warm on a chilly early start and cool when the day heats up. Add in the excellent fit and a price that, while not cheap, holds its own against the competition and there's a lot to like.
Sportful has used its R&D range over the past few years to demonstrate new technologies and ideas in fabric and garment design, with some notable highlights such as the recently tested R&D Strato jacket, a long-sleeve jersey with an integrated gilet.
What the Italian clothing brand has done with this new Celsius jersey is unlike anything I've seen in a jersey before. It has added an open mesh layer behind the front panels of an otherwise lightweight summer jersey.
These mesh panels are intended to provide a bit more insulation when the temperature is low but also manage higher temperatures equally well by increasing airflow next to the skin, and helping to pull moisture away from the body to keep you dry.
The rest of the jersey is made from a stretch woven fabric on the front and a structured high wicking fabric on the back, both very thin between the fingers with a nice textured surface. It's comfortable against the skin too.
Features are well thought out. A full-length high-quality YKK Vislon zipper gets you in and out of the jersey, and of course, helps you regulate temperature. A lay-flat neck design, laser cut sleeves with elastic inserts, and a silicone gripper lined waistband take care of the extremities.
There are the regulation three pockets for carrying food and spares, and these are well supported so they don't sag even when loaded to the gunnels.
This jazzy design will certainly help you stand out, as will the reflective details dotted around the jersey. There's also a plain black option if you are more conservative of taste.
The fit is on the racy side with a figure-hugging cut. It's an ergonomic shape, though, and doesn't restrict movement when cycling, feeling good no matter how long the ride is. The size range goes all the way from XS right up to 3XL and there's a useful guide on the Sportful website if you're not sure which you need.
It's a well-made jersey too and has coped with plenty of use so far. It's also been through multiple washing machine cycles on a regular 30-degree setting and durability is fine so far.
As a jersey designed to work in as wide a range of temperatures as possible, the R&D Celsius can deal with changeable conditions, from the chill of the early morning ride through to the heat of the midday sun. That makes it ideal for the current late spring weather, great for longer rides when it's cold in the morning but you know it'll definitely warm up by lunchtime.
On slightly warmer mornings it lets you get away without a gilet. Where I'd normally have worn one over a regular jersey for the first few hours while the sun was gradually warming the air, I was able to go without, the jersey's extra layer at the front providing just enough additional warmth.
A recent 200-mile audax really highlighted how well this jersey copes with fluctuations in temperature. It was chilly in the morning, rising to warm and muggy during the early afternoon, with cooling temperatures in the early evening and a heavy dose of strong winds and rain in a thunderstorm, plus of course lots of cafe stops. The jersey kept my temperature at a nice balance and remained dry throughout it all.
On windier rides you'll want to add a gilet for a little extra protection; it's really designed for the warmer months when hopefully the worst you'll have to cope with is the chilly air from descending a mountain or that first hour of a ride until you've warmed up.
Sportful has set out to create a jersey that can be worn all day in comfort and cope with variable temperatures, and based on that long ride, plus lots of shorter distances, that appears to be the case.
How much you want to pay for a jersey is entirely down to you, but compared to what else you can get for the same money and taking into consideration the performance of Sportful's new R&D Celsius, I think it stacks up well. Yes it's expensive, but there aren't many jerseys that can deal with changeable temperatures as well. You can pay the same or more for jerseys from Assos, Rapha, Castelli and others, but as far as I'm aware none have this unique extra layer at the front to combat changeable temperatures. Santini's Redux, for example, is great in hot weather but it's another 25 quid and doesn't offer the same warmth in cooler weather.
The R&D Celsius is a really interesting jersey that provides a bit more warmth when it's chilly along with the capacity to still provide breathability when the temperature ramps up. It's an appealing option for warmer months because of the extra versatility it offers.
Novel jersey that copes really well with the fluctuating temperatures of spring and summer
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful R&D Celsius jersey
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Sportful says, "Many of our longest summer rides involve early starts, long hot climbs and cool higher altitudes. With the Celcius, we strive to create a jersey that functions well in a broad temperature range. The unique construction adds an open inner mesh structure that actually accelerates breathbility and moisture transfer by creating next to skin ariflow at warmer temperatures. In cooler conditions, warmth is maintained by keeping the skin dry."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Stretch woven fabrics for light weight, fast drying performance
Open mesh inner layer on front for thermal adaptability
Lay flat neck construction
Full YKK Vislon front zip
Low profile waist elastic witll silicone for grrip
Structured high wicking fabric on back for maximum wicking
Arm with elastic inser and laser cut cuff
3 rear pockets
Expensive, but you get a lot of performance for the price and there aren't many rivals that do the same job of keeping you cool when it's hot and warm when it's cold, so you're getting your money's worth.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Goes through a normal wash fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works really well at dealing with lots of temperature change.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Its ability to provide extra warmth than a regular summer jersey but still be cool and breathable when it warms up.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not much to dislike really – some won't get on with the race fit.
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
A lot of technology and performance is packed into this smart looking jersey. It doesn't come cheap, but its versatility and usefulness across a wide temperature range is a real bonus. If you can afford it, it's a really good buy.
About the tester
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 has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. 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.