The Orro Cycling Gilet, from the same range as the jersey we reviewed recently, carries the same black and gold theme and gives useful protection against autumnal or springtime conditions.
Pros: Decent wind and water resistance, excellent fit, mesh back keeps you cool
Cons: A bit pricey, available only in black
It's September, so it's time to start thinking about kit for cooler rides, or those with a risk of a shower. A good gilet is a great thing to have in your cycling wardrobe, as it will keep your core warm and can be stashed in a jersey pocket if the sun comes out. This, from Orro, is just such a gilet, intelligently designed using three technical fabrics, and it will help keep your torso warm and mostly dry on autumnal rides.
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Gilets come in all shapes and sizes – we've tested insulated gilets, featherweight wind-blocking gilets, waterproof gilets... and each is good in its own right. The Orro gilet is designed, says Orro, "for the rider who likes to travel at speed", and I reckon that's about right.
The front is made from Flier fabric, which is clever stuff. It's wind resistant, as you'd expect, but also offers reasonable protection from water (quoted at 8100mm, which is not on a par with a hardshell, but will keep a shower mostly outside). It's also quite stretchy in the horizontal plane, helping deliver a close fit which isn't constrictive.
The back of the Orro gilet is made from a fabric called Fresh, which is a very airy mesh. It gives no protection from wind or rain, but is positioned to allow your body heat to escape, and it does this job very effectively. When you're riding at speed, this combination of protection at the front and dissipation at the rear works a treat.
There are side panels, made from a third fabric, this time called Stretch. See if you can guess what that does... Yep, it adds some more elasticity to the overall fit, the same trick as used in the matching jersey, helping to achieve an overall fit which is close to the skin and hence free of flapping, while being able to accommodate different body shapes.
On the subject of which, there are five sizes here (no women's version at present), catering for chest sizes between 36 and 44 inches, according to the size chart. Sizing is on the Italian side – I am a medium according to the chart, but the supplied large fitted me just right, and I wouldn't have wanted a smaller size. (It's not me in the photos.)
One key metric for gilets is how well they pack down. Especially at this time of year, you might well want that extra layer just for the start of a ride. The Orro will easily pack down to fit in a jersey pocket, and in most of my jerseys could share a pocket with a pump without any difficulty.
> Buyer's Guide: 9 of the best cycling gilets
That's impressive, especially given that it has no fewer than four pockets (which obviously adds bulk). There's wide divergence in the approach taken to pockets in gilets, with some offering simple flaps through which you can reach your jersey below. Here, Orro has simply replicated the arrangement on its matching jersey, with three decent sized pockets and a zipped valuables pocket big enough to accommodate most modern smartphones. That makes fetching something out mid-ride very easy, although you just need a few extra seconds to transfer the contents from the gilet to the jersey when taking it off – meaning that you're probably less likely to want do do that while riding.
Orro has done a good job on the details too, with comfortable fabric used on the collar and a helpfully grabbable zip pull. I'm always glad to see the presence of some reflectives on this sort of garment too, as this time of year you can get caught out with the earlier dusk. Orro has a sewn-in strip on the central pocket (as you can see above) which helps with visibility, especially given that black is the only available colour here.
Priced at £89.99, this isn't a cheap gilet. That price puts it somewhere in the middle of the range between the value-driven brands and the really high-end stuff. dhb's Aeron gilet is £40, the Huez Moonrider is/was £155... You can get fully waterproof gilets for the same sort of price, but for my money, the arrangement used here is maybe better if you like to ride hard. If you like the black and gold aesthetic and are happy to spend this much, I'd definitely recommend this gilet.
Good performance in autumnal conditions and great fit, best suited for riding hard
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Make and model: Orro Bikes Cycling Gilet
Tell us what the product is for
Orro says: "The perfect accessory for the rider who likes to travel at speed; the Orro Gilet is a lightweight and packable gilet that's perfect throughout the year. The Flier front panels help keep the chill at bay as you fly down the open road whilst the mesh back keeps you cool and dry. To ensure optimum comfort, it features a low cut French style collar that is designed not to interfere with your jerseys zip."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Orro lists these features:
Front - Flier Fabric (100% polyester, 100gsm)
Wind and water resistant - 4 way stretch for fit
Water resistant - >8100mm
Breathability - class 2
Back - Fresh Fabric (100% polyester, 90gsm)
3D structure that is elastic and highly breathable
Sides - Stretch Fabric (86% micropolyester, 14% elastane, 140gsm)
Very elastic and soft microfibre
Full length, covered YKK camlock zip with top garage
3 gold reflective logos
3 full-sized back pockets with 4th zipped centre pocket
Reflective strip across the top of the back zip
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Very nicely put together from quality fabrics, with nice touches like the concealed front zip, soft collar fabric and reflectives.
Rate the product for performance:
Great performance for riding quickly, helps keep the core warm and largely dry. Zero insulation on the back, so you won't stay warm when you stop, but this is designed for going fast.
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for fit:
Cleverly designed panels and three different elastic fabrics help make this fit really nicely.
Rate the product for sizing:
Sizing tends to the Italian – I am a medium per the chart, but the large tested is a very good, close fit.
Rate the product for weight:
Reasonably light and packable. You can buy quite a bit lighter, but this is a decent weight given the weather resistance and the inclusion of pockets.
Rate the product for comfort:
I found this a really comfortable gilet which kept the elements at bay while doing an excellent job of dissipating body heat.
Rate the product for value:
Ninety nicker is high mid-range for a gilet – there are more expensive options from the likes of Rapha and Huez, and equally there are some decent options for as little as half this price.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – good protection and pleasingly pocketable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's a great option for hard, fast riding – the reasonable impermeability of the front combined with the meshed rear does a great job of keeping your core temperature under control. I like the pockets too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not much – it wouldn't be my choice for a pottering ride or one where you'll be sat outside the cafe, as you'll likely get cold.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Somewhere between the more value-driven brands and the high-end alternatives. Endura's Pakagilet II is £35, dhb's Aeron £40, while Rapha's range from £90-£140.
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 thought this was a well-thought-through gilet offering features that faster cyclists are likely to appreciate. There is plenty of competition, and the price is higher than a lot of decent offerings, but the cut and performance may justify that.
Age: 37 Height: 188cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
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