Italian company Sportful have looked to the typical weather and riding conditions of Belgium for inspiration for their Fiandre range of clothing (Fiandre is Italian for Flanders), which has been fully updated this winter. The pick of the new range is this Light WS Jacket.
In designing clothing for Flandrian weather, Sportful have created clothing that is perfectly suited to typical UK weather conditions: lots of rain, rapidly changing conditions, fluctuating temperatures during the course of a ride. It's difficult to know what to wear sometimes. This Light WS Jacket makes it all a bit easier, as it copes with all of that weather with ease.
The Light WS Jacket is constructed with Windstopper LightStretch fabric used for the front and rear panels, and Sportful's own NoRain water repellency treatment on the arms and shoulders, in a very slight build and fitted shape, with a long dropped tail and a comfortable tall collar.
The Light WS Jacket was actually first tested before going into production on stage 16 of the 2013 Giro d'Italia, the now infamous stage that went over the Stelvio and was blighted by severely bad weather that became the defining moment of the race. This was the jacket the Tinkoff-Saxo squad reached for to stave off the cold and snow.
I've not had weather quite as bad as that - yet - for testing this jacket, but for the past few weeks the jacket has proven to be a very valuable asset for the typically changeable weather conditions common at this time of year. Slinging it over a long sleeve base layer, and maybe a jersey when it's colder, and it gives me just the right setup for tackling cold, windy or wet days, and often all of that weather at the same time.
The Windstopper LightStretch fabric provides a great fit and stretch with a very light weight - it's very thin between the fingers - yet offers ample protection whether pushing against a relentless headwind or scurrying away from clouds threatening rain on the horizon. It's properly wind resistant, and the Windstopper and NoRain treatment give you a good window of protection against the rain before you need to worry about reaching for a waterproof jacket. I've been in rain for nearly an hour before I noticed any sort of moisture invading the confines of my inner layers.
It's plenty breathable enough for fast riding, as you'd expect of a jacket developed for the demands of professional cycle racing, and you can really clobber along at a decent pace without feeling the effects of overheating. It doesn't provide as much insulation as some jackets, you still need to get your layers right, but there's plenty of warmth for all but the coldest days. I've worn it over Sportful's excellent R&D Alpha jersey on sub-zero days and been very cosy.
Every detail of the jacket has been carefully considered. The shape and fit of the cuffs is just right and fits well with any sized gloves you might be wearing. The jacket is elongated at the rear to provide just a bit more protection for your bum and the tall collar keeps the breeze out and is lined with a soft thermal material. That all makes for a jacket that is very nice to wear and really does help you head out the door when it's a bit Belgian outside.
It's completed with a full-length YKK Vision waterproof zipper and three generously sized pockets, with drain holes at the bottom, and lined with reflective details. It's available in three colours, black, yellow or blue.
Excellent jacket for keeping the wind and rain at bay to get you through the winter
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Make and model: Sportful Light WS Jacket
Size tested: small, black
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?
If you could pick just one jacket to cover all your autumn, winter and spring riding, this would be it. The Fiandre light windstopper jacket offers full wind protection and excellent water resistance combating wind-chill even in the coldest conditions.
The excellent water repellency and the waterproof zipper keep you dry, and the outstanding breathability of Sportful's lightest Windstopper® fabric prevents overheating and a clammy feeling. Plus it's extremely light and the stretch fit guarantees comfort.
Sportful's lightest Windstopper 3 layer knit fabric. At just 170 grams it offers outstanding breathability, excellent stretch, and famous windstopper wind protection. The DWR water resistant finish makes it an excellent product where protection and light weight are paramount.
NoRain water repellent finish comes to a light weight stretch Lycra® to use as a stretch/breathable component in extremely light weight garments where water repellency is required.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Windstopper® LightStretch for total wind protection with breathable water repellency
Windstopper® LightStretch back
3 rear pockets
Drain holes at bottom of pockets
Reflective heat transfer strips
YKK® Vislon® waterproof zipper
Magnetic zip garage
Lycra® trim wrist fits easily over or in gloves
NoRain light fabric on the sides
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really good for those days when the weather just can't decide what to do, this jacket ensures you never get caught out. Really good fit and shape too, and very light so you hardly notice you're wearing it
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Just its ability to cope with all sorts of weather and temperature ranges makes it an ideal UK winter jacket - you could wear it everyday of the winter quite easily.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Occasionally a wish it had just a bit more insulation, but that is easily solved by adjusting the layers worn underneath it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A solid and reliable winter jacket for whatever weather might be thrown your way.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
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, mtb,
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.