Sportful's Fiandre Cabrio Jacket has a cunning trick up its sleeve... It has a removable back panel, allowing it to be adapted to different conditions: extra insulation when it's colder, or more breathability when it's warmer or your intensity level increases. It's a lot of money but there are no jackets at this price that offer the same level of versatility. In a way, it's two jackets for the price of one, and is ideal for three-season cycling as it can deal with most typical winter weather. Add in great fit, comfort and especially nicely designed cuffs and it's a very good investment.
The Fiandre Cabrio is unlike any jacket I've tested before. Being able to remove the back panel so it can cope with a wide range of conditions isn't something I can ever recall seeing before, nor is it something I've ever thought would be useful in a jacket. But Sportful hasn't been afraid to push the boat out with bold designs in recent years and shun convention, all in the name of making riding in unpleasant weather more appealing. The Cabrio is its newest and boldest idea.
More on the back panel in a bit, first the rest of the jacket. It uses Gore Windstopper 4 Way Warm fabric for the front panels, while the sleeves and removable back panel are made from Windstopper 4 Way Mid. It's given a 5 to 15°C temperature range by Sportful, which is an accurate assessment of its insulation abilities when worn with a baselayer to match the conditions. I alternated between different weight short-sleeve baselayers for warmer rides, to long-sleeve bases for colder rides.
You get three rear pockets, accessible whether the back panel is in place or not. No zipped valuables pocket though...
The main zipper is a high-quality YKK item and it's covered with a flap of Windstopper material for extra weather protection. Also providing additional protection is the high collar. The elasticated waistband is lined with a sticky silicone material to keep it in place and not slowly ride up your back.
The cuffs are very smartly designed. An inner cuff hugs the wrist closely while the outer Windstopper sleeve is separated a few inches up the arm. This provides a really good seal, stopping draughts getting up the arms, and also fits well with gloves – you can pull the glove over the inner sleeve and then pull the outer sleeve over the glove to seal everything off from the elements. It's one of the smartest jacket cuffs I've tested in a while and shows good attention to detail in this sometimes tricky area.
Back to the back panel... For starters, it's not something you can remove while on the move. It's a bit tricky to get on and off and is easiest done before a ride or at a mid-ride cafe stop. Basically, you either make a call before the ride based on current weather, or start with it in place and remove it during the ride if the weather heats up. The panel is small enough to stash into one of the three pockets, provided they're not full with food and essentials.
As I said, the pockets can be accessed with or without the back panel in place, but it is trickier with the panel than without, and compared with a regular jacket.
If it's colder, with the Windstopper panel in place the jacket is comparable to a regular jacket made from similar materials.
With the back panel removed there is a small but tangible difference; the exposed NoRain fabric promotes breathability, which is really useful towards the higher end of its recommended operating temperature.
Fit and comfort are really good too, as I tend to find with Sportful garments. The small on test was neither restrictive nor baggy, with a close aero fit for fast-paced training rides. For a jacket with this level of protection it's nice and lightweight, too.
It's available in a range of fetching colours, including a super-bright yellow, and in sizes XS to XXXL.
Overall, it's a versatile jacket that keeps you warm when it's cold, keeps the wind out, fends off a decent amount of rain, and breathability is very good. It's a good choice for three-season cycling, and will see you through from autumn to spring in typical UK conditions.
There is a lot of choice at this price but the Fiandre Cabrio is really well appointed and offers excellent performance, with enough versatility that you could justify the expense by the fact that you're sort of getting two jackets for the price of one.
Comfortable, warm and breathable winter jacket with removable back panel for increased breathability
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Fiandre Cabrio Jacket
Size tested: Small
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?
Sportful says, "TWO JACKETS IN ONE.
Suitable for extreme winter conditions with rain and even snow, but at the same time versatile and adaptable to changing temperatures and conditions during the ride thanks to the removable cover."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Gore® Windstopper® 4 Way Warm fabric in front to protect core
Sleeves and back in Gore® Windstopper® 4 Way Mid for maximum protection
Rear removable NoRain panel to ensure both breathability and water repellency
Reflective Fiandre tape for maximum visibility
3 back pockets
Front YKK® zipper
Very nicely made.
Works really well in a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions with more adaptability than regular jackets.
It's put up with a lot recently and so far durability is good.
It's not waterproof, but like all of Sportful's Fiandre range the level of water resistance is ample to deal with quite a bit of light rain and horrible weather.
Gore Windstopper is impressively breathable, and removing the back panel massively boosts breathability when it warms up.
No issues with fit at all.
No issues with sizing.
It's that usual jacket protection with jersey comfort thing.
£200 is a lot of dosh, but although there are lots of jackets in this price range few have the same versatility, so if you look at it as two jackets in one it could be seen as pretty good value.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps you warm and protected on horrible winter bike rides, with useful versatility that few jackets can match.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Fit, comfort, warmth and breathability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Pockets are tricky to access when the back panel is zipped up.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are lots of similarly featured and priced jackets, but the Cabrio has the edge when it comes to versatility.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Maybe
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a really interesting jacket and given the wide variety of weather in this country at this time of year, anything that helps with adapting when out on the bike is a good thing. It's certainly not a game-changing idea but it's definitely got merit.
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.