The BTwin 500 Warm Cycling Jacket is one of those jersey-cum-jacket styles designed to keep you comfortable during the colder months and on rides of around two hours. Frankly, it delivers in pretty much every respect and is a marked improvement on the otherwise likeable 300 that I tested late last year. However, it's worth trying for size – the medium felt a little snug around the shoulders.
Just shy of £40 buys a surprisingly high spec: it's made from a polyester/elastane, polyamide and polyurethane mix, though it doesn't feel overly synthetic, and it has stood up to forest fun on my cyclo-cross and mountain bike biased builds. The fabric around the armpits and sides is thinner to encourage decent airflow without feeling draughty on blustery rides, and the thin pile fleece type lining also takes the edge off things.
The cut is racing snakes snug, with no room for anything other than a long-sleeve baselayer underneath. There is plenty of length in the arms and back, though, with silicone gripper to prevent creep, especially when hammering along on the drops or tri-bars. The cuffs also create a brilliant wind-cheating seal, even with shorter gloves.
Although a little tighter than I'd prefer around the shoulders, in practice there is sufficient give in the fabric that I never felt constrained – at least on rides around the 2-2.5hr mark, which is precisely what the 500 is designed for.
Compared with the 300 and in temperatures around 3 degrees or so, I've felt just the right side of cool. A longer neck prevents icy blasts from whistling inside, and the thinner side panels prevent rider-generated heat turning clammy yet still block the chill.
This song has remained largely unchanged in milder condition – up to around 8 degrees – as long as you're wearing a decent quality wool or synthetic baselayer. Low rent polyesters did leave me feeling a little damp around the chest, armpits and lower back after two hours of climbing, sprinting and cruising along quiet B roads.
The outer fabric is usefully water repellent in the showery sense; 90 minutes' persistent drizzle and 45 minutes of sleety stuff didn't permeate the top layer, which dries fairly quickly at room temperature. However, I would recommend packing a micro-jacket if conditions look more challenging.
Rather than the standard three pocket terrace at the back, Decathlon has mixed things up a bit. Two deep pockets at the rear will readily accommodate 600-750ml water bottles, bananas, spare tube, multi tool and so on, and there's also an elasticated hip pocket, which some will find ideal for energy bars/other treats and their spent wrappers. I found it surprisingly accommodating of keys, even my jailor's bunch. Unlike with some mesh designs, I never had to worry about stuff being ejected come the first lumpy stretch of tarmac, or creeping out as I rode.
A light clip just beneath the rear pockets is a nice touch, though the pocket tops seem accommodating of most clothing clips.
Round the front, there's a subtle, medium sized breast pocket for valuables, such as smaller smartphones and money.
Bottom line, I've been pleasantly surprised by the 500's performance in cool, windy conditions. True, it doesn't fare quite so well on longer rides in milder weather and I'd probably throw a 2.5 layer laminate jacket on top when the mercury's dropping towards minus figures. Nontheless, for general winter riding/training runs or middle distance commutes, the 500 Warm is hard to fault. I thought the black and orange colour scheme with smatterings of Scotchlite struck just the right balance, but there are red/charcoal and blue/black alternatives.
Good staple with few faults for everyday riding and training
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BTwin 500 Warm Cycling Jacket
Size tested: Medium, Black/Orange
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?
Decathlon says: "Designed for regularly cycling in cold weather (2 hour rides).
"Provides a feeling of warmth and light weight thanks to its breathable airy fabric. Its insulating membrane protects from the cold, wind and light rain. Includes a hook for a ViooClip type light."
I generally concur with this description. It's a decent training jacket cum jersey for colder conditions but doesn't feel too warm when temperatures creep up to around 10-11 degrees or so.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Main fabric : 88.0% Polyester (PES), 7.0% Elastane, 5.0% Polyurethane (PU) Yoke : 57.0% Polyester (PES), 31.0% Polyamide (PA), 12.0% Elastane
WARMTH Very good thermal insulation thanks to fleece lining. Longer in back. Windproof.
BREATHABILITY Breathable fabric on the sides and under the arms for good ventilation.
VISIBILITY Reflective patches on shoulders & wrists. Hook on lower back for ViooClip light.
LIGHTWEIGHT Thin, light fabric that keeps body heat in.
WATER REPELLENT Water-repellent fabric on the back and torso
POCKETS 3 pockets in the back for keeping objects separate, including 1 for rubbish
Very well made, especially for the money.
Snug fitting jersey cum jacket suits spirited riding and breathes very well, even when temperatures climb into double figures.
Well made and comes with a two-year guarantee. Should last a good few seasons, save for a major spill.
Good in the showerproof sense.
Surprisingly good, even in milder temperatures.
Snug, racy fit.
A little narrower than ideal around the shoulders for me, but bang on in every other respect.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very straightforward, just stick to moderate amounts of non-biological detergent and 30-degree machine cycles.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the 500 has been a really pleasant surprise. Though lacking the outright warmth of the 300 I reviewed last year, it offers an excellent balance of warmth, breathability and water resistance. For rides around the two hour mark, I've rarely felt anything less than temperate. That said, pack a micro jacket if heavier rain is forecast.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Nice design, intelligent pocket provision.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Medium was a little too snug around the shoulders for me.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a decent training jacket cum jersey at a decent price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)