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Winter gear can take some of the joy from riding with bulky layers required to stay warm. Sportful's Fiandre No-Rain Light Jacket aims to alleviate this with a jersey-like fit but jacket-like protection.
The top does have an excellent fit to it. Constructed with a stretchy material - a nylon, polyester, elastane hybrid according to the label - the cut is able to be close, hugging the limbs. For me, it felt like a summer long-sleeve more than a winter top, which is I think what Sportful are going for and is a refreshing change from the bulky jackets I'm used to at this time of year. It is a lighter version of the Sportful Fiandre NoRain jacket that we've tested before.
Coloured panels are Gore Windstopper material, which provide this jacket's weather protection. It is used across the main areas exposed to the wind and rain: chest, shoulders and arm. It is surprising the amount of warmth such a lightweight, fitted top provides thanks to these panels.
Generally, I like my layers and will dress on the cautious side, but this jersey managed to keep me warm with sometimes only a baselayer below on the milder winter days - 8deg and above. Layered with a jersey and gilet on top I could wear it when a bit colder on hilly rides; when I'm going to be working a bit harder. Thanks to the stretch, layering like this is possible whilst maintaining a good fit - I tested a medium but normally fit a small.
The rear isn't constructed with Windstopper fabric but treated with Sportful's NoRain water repellency to allow the back to breathe. NoRain is applied throughout the jacket and will cause water to bead and drip off. It's good for the odd shower that might catch you out but isn't going to keep you dry for long as the material will eventually saturate.
Another good feature to this jacket is the tall, close fitting collar that avoids the need for a buff to stop any wind chills. It's cut so that it leaves clearance for the chin but goes high up the back of the neck. The zip is a nice chunky YKK 'Vislon' waterproof job that is of outer layer quality, unlike some intermediate jackets.
Three pockets at the rear are long, with lips at the opening to stop things falling out. Not that there is much chance of that, if anything they are so deep that getting things out of them can be a bit of a mission whilst riding along. Still, only a minor point and big pockets are useful for this jacket's principal season.
I tested the fluorescent colourway and what with neon being in at the moment, and the low light at this time of year would choose it over the white. It is a stylish piece of high visibility clothing, which are few and far between. A small reflective band is fitted across the elastic waist collar at the rear on both models, which is good considering the coloured Windstopper material is absent from this angle.
If you find yourself weighed down by winter clothing, and prefer your kit technical and fitted, the Fiandre NoRain jacket could be just the ticket. I've been impressed by the warmth that such a lightweight jacket - which does indeed feel more like a summer long-sleeve - can provide and it has become my jacket of choice on my more intense winter rides.
It's not going to leave heavier weight jackets gathering dust as I wouldn't wear this below 6 degrees, but when the winter sun is out and with spring around the corner it would take place in many a cyclists wardrobe. It's a little pricey with an RRP of £135 but I've seen it for around £100 and for what is such a flexible piece of kit think it represents good value.
Technical fitted hi viz that's as light as a jersey but offers all the perks of a jacket.
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Make and model: Sportful Fiandre Norain Light Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product 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?
'Inspired by the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Fiandre No-Rain Jacket is designed for the Flemish winter but excels in all conditions with the weight and fit of a jersey but the protection of a jacket.
Ideal for temperatures between 5° and 15°C'
I'd agree with Sportful here, well the factual stuff anyway.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The weight and fit of a jersey, with the protection of a jacket
Windproof and water resistant Windstopper® light front and sleeve panels
Full No-Rain back for water repellency without overheating
YKK® Vislon waterproof zipper
Three rear pockets with rain protection
Elastic in all the right places to provide a close fit with Windstopper panels for protection.
Kept me warm like a winter jacket but with the fit and feel of a long-sleeve.
I've ridden and washed it a good few times during the test and it is still looking good and bright.
Perhaps a little pricey but can be found for quite a bit less than RRP. It is an excellent performance jacket and many will be willing to pay for that.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As it should - a more racey cut that makes winter rides feel a bit more like a summer day.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The high cut collar that prevents the need for a buff.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The deep pockets that along with the lip I found hard to get items out of whilst riding.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 23 Height: 184cm Weight: 66kg
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,