The Assos iJ.haBu.5 has the comfort and lightness of a jersey, but the insulation and protection of a jacket, making it an ideal outer layer for chilly winter and spring rides. It's versatile enough to be a suitable three-season cycling top.
Pros: Comfortable, lightweight, lots of pockets
Cons: Pointless arm pocket
The iJ.haBu.5 has actually been a staple of the Swiss clothing brand's range since 2010, but despite its age, it's still a really good jacket for British winter cycling. It's designed for what the company describes as 'early winter', but the quoted temperature range of 6 to 14°C probably gives a better indication of what that means.
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Assos develops its own fabrics, there's no off-the-shelf stuff here. The iJ.haBu.5 uses Stratagon Light windproof fabric on all the front-facing panels (chest and front of the arms) and a Roubaix RXQ everywhere else. The Roubaix fabric has a fleece waffle pattern, which provides insulation and means it's soft next to the skin.
The two fabrics are thin and lightweight yet very breathable and insulating enough to make this a versatile top – it can be used in a wide range of temperatures. Just choose the appropriate baselayer, from a short-sleeve one for double-digit temperatures and a chunkier long-sleeve layer for cold rides. In my experience, provided the riding pace is a suitably high effort, it's good down to about 5°C. How low you go depends on the baselayer you're wearing under it and simply how hot or cold you get when out cycling.
Neither of the two fabrics used in the jacket is waterproof, but the front panels are water-resistant. They'll deal with a light shower, but any more than that and you'll want to reconsider your outfit or throw on a waterproof jacket when it starts raining heavily.
The jacket fits well. It's generous enough around the torso and shoulders so as not to be restrictive, and the length of the collar, sleeves and waist is spot on. There's enough stretch to provide good freedom of movement, all helping to deliver the great fit. The waistband is lined with a chunky elastic band and it keeps the jacket in place and stops the pockets sagging even when loaded.
Around the back are three regular sized pockets with two extra zipped ones. Together, all five provide plenty of cargo space for a decent length ride. It's always nice to have a zipped pocket to stash the house keys or mobile phone, and two zipped pockets is even better. Nice work Assos.
There's an additional pocket on the right sleeve, which could be used to place an iPod, with the necessary holes and loops for the headphone cable. To be honest, I found this feature a little redundant, and no modern smartphone will fit in it anyway, perhaps a sign of the jacket's age.
The iJ.haBu.5 is a versatile jacket that copes well with a reasonably wide range of weather. It provides enough insulation for all but the coldest rides, and it's breathable and light enough to work well into spring, with careful adjustment of your baselayers. It's an ideal three-season jacket and the sort that can get a lot of use throughout the year. When it comes to performance, keeping you warm and protected from the wind, it's not showing its age, and stands up to competition from newer rivals.
> Buyer's Guide: 14 of the best winter cycling jackets
It's available in a wide range of sizes and a choice of colours if black isn't to your liking. It certainly commands a high price (though shopping around reveals some decent discounts), but it delivers excellent performance on cold, dry days. Others to consider would be the (slightly) cheaper Shimano S-Phyre Windresistant Jersey, which would save you £40, or Sportful's Fiandre Ultimate Windstopper Jacket; that's £185 at RRP, but you can find it discounted online.
Something a few clothing brands offer, but perhaps not enough people are aware of, is a crash replacement policy. Assos offers a crash replacement policy that means if you do damage it within one year of purchase and the garment can still be repaired, it will do so, free of charge (with the exception of damages to inserts and lenses).
Furthermore, Assos will replace any garment within the first three months if there is any manufacturing defect, no questions asked. If the garment is older than three months, Assos will evaluate a case individually in terms of repair.
Excellent three-season jacket with good comfort, insulation and breathability
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Make and model: Assos iJ.haBu.5
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?
Assos says: "We introduced our iJ.haBu5, the first ASSOS Campionissimo insulator jacket, in 2010 and the feedback was overwhelming! A big seller! This is why we want to introduce this amazing jacket in two new colors: iJ.haBu5 Volt and iJ.haBu5 Calypso. By offering these two new items we enable the dealer to keep his product presentation fresh, dynamic and impressive to customers at every visit. The idea behind the LTD ASSOS products is to provide ASSOS Premium and proShop points of sale with something special. LTD products should be sold only to Premium and proShop sellers and not to Basic retailers. This time around LTD means LIMITED! We will offer it only as a one-time item for Winter 12, making it a potential collector's item."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Campionissimo Racing Cut
18 patterns in 6 different textiles
RXQ Sides and Lower arms
Stabilizer back panel
2 zipped cargo pockets
Central easy access pocket
Wind Protective high collar
Reflective front zipper
Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
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Rate the jacket for waterproofing, based on the manufacturer's rating:
Rate the jacket for breathability, based on the manufacturer's rating:
Rate the jacket for fit:
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Rate the jacket for weight:
Rate the jacket for comfort:
Rate the jacket for value:
It's expensive but it's not overpriced; you get a lot of performance out of this jacket. Be sure to shop around as well. The green is a new option but the jacket's been around for a few years, so there are discounts to be had.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems looking after it with regular washes.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works really well as a dry and cold wind jacket with plenty of pockets for longer rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Really good fit and comfortable design, with none of the bulk or restriction of some jackets.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Not much use if caught in a downpour.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Probably
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's very good – a versatile and high performance jacket that works well as a three-season top.
Age: 31 Height: 180cm Weight: 67kg
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, mountain biking
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