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The Cafe du Cycliste Leonie jacket's insulated front panel does a fantastic job of keeping your core warm, but the limited stretch in the fabric used here can make the jacket feel tight around the shoulders, and some aspects of the fit don't match the size guide.
The Leonie has a classic fit, which according to Cafe du Cycliste means 'cut close to the body and designed for serious riding' but with 'a slightly more relaxed shape' than its race-orientated garments.
It's available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL, which covers chest sizes from 88cm/36in to 110cm/44in, and I tested an XS as I fall within that size's limits, being 5cm below on both chest and waist measurements. With the windproof front panel's limited stretch, I would not have wanted anything tighter, so if you are close to the upper limit you might want to size up.
However, the sleeves are long and have a much looser fit, which caused the material to fold in several places, mostly near the shoulders, even when riding in a stretched-out position. My arm length is on the maximum for the XS size, so it isn't to do with having short arms compared with my chest/waist. It didn't affect performance, only the look and style.
While the front section felt quite tight, the dropped rear below the pockets felt loose and I could feel it moving and flapping while riding.
Fit issues aside, the jacket does a great job of keeping the core warm. It uses two distinct fabrics – the three-layer windblocking front and the ribbed material on the rear, collar and sleeves. The sleeves are partially protected too, with front-facing areas covered by a windproof fabric.
I used the Leonie on the road in a range of temperatures from close to freezing up to the mid-teens Celsius, and overall it was comfortable and warm. Its ability to block winds was very welcome, especially against a bitingly cold northerly, although on colder or the windiest days I could certainly feel the distinction between the windproof and non-windproof sections of the sleeves.
The insulation is also effective, and the mix of fabrics and rear panel, in particular, regulate body temperature well. It kept me warm when I needed it, but as the temperature rose or my effort levels increased it didn't feel too hot or sweaty.
The jacket does have zips on each shoulder, designed to improve airflow and help control your temperature, but I found I barely used them. Even on warmer days, the rear panel combined with the main zip provided effective control – and that zip is far easier to open and close while riding than those on the shoulder.
While the deep cuffs have a close fit to keep cold air out, they're not tight and I found them comfortable at all times, with or without gloves; there is also plenty of stretch should you wear a watch.
The neck area has been very well constructed – when zipped up it has a tall, close fit, blocking out the wind effectively, and I found there was no need to take an extra neck warmer with me on cold rides. There's also a big garage area at the neck for the YKK zip, plus a long section of fabric beneath it to stop it potentially catching the skin.
Although it isn't designed for wet weather riding, with no waterproof fabric or DWR treatment, the Leonie shrugged off a few short rain and hail showers. The pockets also provide enough storage space that means carrying a packable lightweight jacket is quite possible for changeable days. There are four pockets in total, three that are deep and easy to access, plus a zipped pocket that would be good for keys or cards.
Despite only using the Leonie on the road, and taking care while wearing and washing it, the sleeves started to show some fraying very early on.
Another black (or blue) mark is that the jacket is only available in this dark blue, and there are very few reflectives.
The jacket costs £206, which is expensive when compared with other winter jackets that also don't have any waterproofing, such as the Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket that Rob tested last year, which is still £180, and Albion's 3.0 insulated jacket at £165, which Hollis tested in January, although it does not have any rear pockets.
Overall, the Leonie is a jacket that copes well with winter weather, and although you can feel cold wind getting in through part of the sleeves, I always found my core stayed warm. Just be aware that the sizing doesn't quite seem to match up to the guide; you might want to size up, but then you might run into the problem of the extra-long sleeves folding over.
Comfortable jacket that performs well in a range of conditions, but some question marks over the fit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe du Cycliste Leonie jacket
Size tested: XS
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?
Cafe du Cycliste says:
With design cues taken from the high hills that stretch out behind Nice, Leonie mixes colder weather protection with evolving signature style. Built around a mid-weight and highly breathable blend, the jacket provides warmth on cold roads without adding unnecessary weight or bulk.
The three layer core section is constructed with a windproof face, lightweight insulation and a permeable mesh interior to perfectly balance active performance and protection on cooler weather rides. The sleeves also include windstopper panels while the rear fabric is high wicking and ribbed to ensure all around excellent temperature control.
The jacket features a contrasting zip along with three cargo pockets and a valuables pocket to give enough capacity for longer rides. Reflective elements provide added visibility and safety in poor or low light conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Cafe du Cycliste lists:
98% polyester | 2% elastan
three cargo pockets
made in Europe
It performs very well overall, and the front panel is excellent, but without full windproof coverage, you can feel the wind coming through parts of the sleeves, especially on colder days.
There's some fraying of the fabric on the sleeve.
I am below the recommended maximum for the size, but the fit didn't quite seem right. The chest and waist were tight, while the sleeves felt long. There's limited stretch in the front panel, and I could feel tighter spots near the shoulder, while the sleeves had numerous folds in them. I could feel the dropped rear flapping occasionally, too.
Soft and warm materials help make it feel comfortable.
More expensive than most non-waterproof insulated winter jackets, if not all.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Quite simple. Washed multiple times at 30 degrees, and air dried. Although it features an insulating material, it didn't take too long to dry after washing.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It kept me warm on colder days and the high, close-fitting neck is fantastic, negating the need for a neck warmer. The pockets are well shaped and sized, providing enough space without being too loose and risk the contents falling out.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The high neck that kept the wind out while remaining very comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The front panel's inability to stretch enough could be felt near the shoulders at times when riding.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
More expensive than most windproof jackets – Rapha's Pro Team Winter Jacket is £180 and Albion produces the 3.0 insulated jacket for £165, although that doesn't have any rear pockets. The Assos Mille GT Evo is a bit more, though, at £230.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? No, just a little too expensive and not quite perfect on the fit.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Maybe, if the fit was right for them.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a great quality jacket that works well at keeping you warm, but the windproof front lacks stretch, which you can feel around the shoulders.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding