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Spatzwear makes some bold claims for its BurnR Gilet, and gives the thing a bold price to match. It makes for cosy riding, but the squeezy fit can start to annoy.
I thought someone was sending me saucy underwear when this turned up in the post. Seriously folks, the tiny shreds of black fabric that comprise the BurnR Gilet make it obvious something truly different has landed on the doormat. The big idea is the BurnR can be worn in three ways: as a baselayer, a midlayer or as an outer gilet.
Yorkshire company Spatz started out with some equally singular-looking knee-length overshoes, and now produces baselayers, bibshorts, jerseys and gloves as well as the BurnR Gilet. The company has set out to take on some of UK cycling's toughest challenges – cold, wind and rain.
Spatz make some big claims for the BurnR: 'It is totally revolutionary and will change your riding forever', the website announces. At this (also life-changing) price, it jolly well ought to measure up.
"Engineered of seamless construction,' says Spatz, 'the BurnR sits snugly against your body for a super close, aero fit." Well, the first part is not really true – the BurnR actually has four seams. Two are where the front and rear join at the shoulder, and two lie at the bottom of the windproof chest panels.
The latter are flat stitched, but the shoulders are simply overlocked and leave a ridge inside the garment. This wasn't really noticeable, even worn against the skin, so although it's not seamless the seams cause no issue.
On the other hand, the 'beautiful woven in detail' Spatz proudly announce left some very interesting tramlines all over my back, while the full-length zip made it look as though I'd undergone a heart transplant. Seamless or not, this garment pressed into my skin more than basic baselayers ever do.
The 'super close fit' is obviously a factor, and is bordering on too small. The polyester/polyamide/elastane fabric is extremely stretchy, but over my post-lockdown paunch and moobs the feeling was like that of wearing a push-up bra (or so I'm told). Compression clothing is meant to be good for the circulation, but it's not so easy on the lungs.
This is partly down to the sizing. According to Spatz's size chart I'm right in the M/L range, yet the elastic at the arm holes cut into my pits as though I'd gone a size too small. I'd like to try a larger one but I don't know if I can stretch to it (ho, ho).
Regarding performance – whether as a base layer or more conventionally as a gilet – I have no complaints. Stretching the garment onto your body opens a honeycomb of vent holes which make it very breathable, but despite this I never felt it lacking wind protection – and believe me, even in June a fast descent in the North Pennines can be a bracing experience.
Curiously, though, the 'wind-blocking chest layer' doesn't extend as far south as the nipplearium, at least on me. It's more of a shoulder cosy. Also, the neck is low-cut, so while the zip does up snugly and parks away unobtrusively, there's nothing to cover the throat. On the other hand, on warm days, I didn't overheat.
The good length means the BurnR comes right down over the lower back to cover the upper reaches of the bum, and jersey pockets can still be both filled and accessed.
The BurnR is compact, too, and packs into a jersey pocket at least as easily as a conventional windproof that may offer a good deal less warmth.
The BurnR comes in three sizes, though as already hinted, you may want to size up. I don't see any women-specific options on the website.
Spatzwear says the BurnR is only produced in small batches, which may go some way to explaining the high price. Its versatility mitigates some of the expense, but there are other garments out there that can also be used over or under a jersey, such as the Assos UMA GT Spring/Fall Airblock Vest that Anna Marie liked. That's expensive too, though, at £130.
Stolen Goat's Men's Palace Bodyline Gilet is another stretchy one and fitted our reviewer really well, and is very much worth a look at £65.
On the whole, I enjoyed using the BurnR as a rather unconventional gilet, and it succeeded as a baselayer with a few reservations. That leaves the third claimed use which is that of a 'midlayer'. By this I take it Spatz mean that you wear it over a vest, with bare arms, but when I appeared before my wife in bib tights and BurnR, she looked me up and down and said, 'Are you auditioning for Village People?'
I'd limit this look to the triathlon contingency, which may include you – I can imagine it being quite nice on a swim (one Spatz founder is a triathlete, so this figures) – or of course if you are, indeed, auditioning for the Village People.
Stretchy, unusual and effective gilet-cum-baselayer that sizes up very small – and costs big
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Spatzwear BurnR Gilet
Size tested: M
Tell us what the product is for
Spatzwear says: "This is the Gilet you have been waiting for. Perhaps the most versatile garment you'll ever own. Whether you race, train, commute or explore, the "BurnR" will be your weapon of choice...
"Due to it's unique design and manufacture, the "BurnR" can be worn as an outer layer, a mid layer or even next to your skin. It packs up tiny and tucks into your back pocket mid race/ride with the minimum of fuss."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Composition: 70% PES (polyester), 20% PA (polyamide), 10% EL (Elastane?).
Wind-blocking chest layer
Thermal, wicking fabric
Super close fitting but extremely stretchy for comfort regardless of body shape
Dropped rear to keep your lower back protected with enough stretch to fit over your jersey pockets
Whilst Spatz claim "seamless construction" there are in fact two seams at each shoulder - one flat-stitched, the other not. The zip is also sewn in. The needlework is basic but good and hasn't pulled, despite the tight fit.
Against the maker's claims, this worked better as a gilet than a baselayer, given the rather restrictive fit that left impressions on my torso. I'd prefer a plain layer underneath. The breathability and temperature control are very good, and I used this a lot.
This depends a bit on how you wear it. As a base or midlayer it should be fine, but as a top layer the stretch fabric opens up a lot of opportunities for snags.
It says 'super close fitting', and there's no arguing with that.
It comes up a bit small. I found the size chart-recommended Medium/Large too tight under the arms and quite restrictive across the chest.
Neither the lightest gilet nor baselayer, but still a mere shred in real terms.
I found this a bit restrictive across the chest and, when worn as a base layer, the 'beautiful woven-in detail' imprinted itself on my torso.
You could argue it's three garments in one and therefore worth three times as much, but only if all the others share the compromises too – which they needn't.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine at 30% and dries quickly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a base layer, it's certainly warm without overheating, but I found the close fit a bit restrictive. I liked it better over a short or long-sleeved jersey, provided those were also quite close fitting.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Insulates well without overheating you, breathes really well, and is versatile.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Tight under the arms, leaves tramlines on my body, and is expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's quite expensive. At £135 the BurnR is £5 dearer than the Assos UMA GT Airblock Vest which is similar, if not a direct comparison, as it doesn't claim to work as a baselayer. Then again, you can only wear the BurnR as one thing at a time... Stolen Goat's Palace Bodyline Gilet is similarly stretchy, weighs less and fits well, and is only £65.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No. Too dear
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a good garment, but at the price, I want it to be even better. The 'super-close' fit arguably crosses the line into too small, while the front zip and rear details can press into the skin – sizing up may ease or even fix these issues, but ordering two to send one back would be a very expensive exercise.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,