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The Oxford Venture Windproof Gilet is the more upmarket version of the Endeavour, which also impressed me. As well as blocking wind, its laminated fabric does a decent job of resisting persistent showery rain. For all its charms, although it's packable in a bag, it's not something you'd cram easily into a jersey pocket.
It's made using Oxford's three-layer 'Warmdry' technology: an external laminated layer designed to block chill wind and encourage water to bead up and roll away, with base and mid-layers designed to retain some warmth while expelling unwanted heat.
There's a high-vis fluoro yellow version as well as the 'Night Bright' black on test, and both feature two big reflective panels, one on the chest and the three-pocket terrace at the rear.
Oxford describes the panelling as 'subtle', and they certainly are by day. However, at night when caught in vehicle headlights or even under street lighting (to a lesser extent) they turn a brilliant, silvery white.
Oxford has turned the performance dial up a notch with the Advanced Rider series, and the Venture has really impressed with its ability to manage the elements. It arrived just as weather forecasters were predicting an ice age and I was looking in the garage rafters for spiked winter tyres...
Early morning blasts have confirmed the laminated outer's chill-beating credentials – I could feel the wind rustling and see damp beading while remaining completely comfortable. The slightly raised, fleece-lined collar plays its part, too, although when temperatures have dipped below zero I've used a neck warmer for some additional warmth.
Averaging 19mph for two or so hours in temperatures ranging between 1 and 10°C, I've always felt comfortably warm and dry, with minimal 'misting' before the Venture started wicking (worn atop mid-range baselayers and jerseys) at the upper end of that temperature scale.
Oxford's size chart is very accurate, and the medium fitted me well. Rather than simply being an Endeavour with pockets, the 'dynamic fit' here means a slightly racier cut than its cheaper sibling. Hunkered low on the drops and letting rip on descents, there's been no hint of flutter, bunching or gathering, with the silicone gripper at the rear keeping it from riding up.
It's bang on for training and general faster-paced riding, but might limit layering in really cold weather. That said, with a thinner winter jersey I've found it possible to sneak a lightweight waterproof jacket beneath, too, without hampering movement – and ensuring dry arms.
I've had no problems wearing it over a heavier, fleece-lined jersey and long sleeve baselayer, and just about got away with the Btwin 300 jersey-cum-jacket when temperatures crept close to zero, thanks to the give in the Venture's fabric.
As well as being reflective, that three-pocket terrace at the rear has easily swallowed large smartphones, 600ml bottles, bananas, spare tubes and house keys without issues or annoying bounce. Crucially, everything remains readily accessible, too.
There's also a generous breast pocket up front, which my long-zoom compact 'travel' camera fitted into well, although if I was to have a minor moan, the zipper tag could be longer and easier to work in winter-weight, full-finger gloves, as could the one on the main zip.
This full zip makes for easy donning, not to mention temperature regulation should things fluctuate, as often happens during early season rides.
So far, it's holding up very nicely with not so much as a loose thread. Full length mudguards are a big help, but dark colours also help to hide grimy patina and this one's no exception. Washing is just a matter of popping it in the machine with minimal detergent at 30 degrees, though I've done an accidental 40 without any problems.
At £49.99 it's cheaper than many, but still a little more than others.
I tested the Proviz Reflect360 Plus gilet back in 2017 and that's now £69.99, but the non-Plus option is £54.99 and features a waterproof and windproof fabric, hip pockets, perforated back and of course, the incredible retro-reflective technology.
Altura's Nightvision Storm Thermal Gilet is cosy and comfortable, with good weatherproofing, but Stef wasn't overly impressed with the Nightvision print – and it's £60.
A cheaper option is BTwin's Visibility PPE Certified Sleeveless Reversible Gilet 560 at £39.99, a reversible model that's especially handy when it's bitterly cold and you want to layer up, thanks to the slightly looser fit.
Also from Decathlon, Van Rysel's £24.99 Hi-Viz Cycling Jacket (reader, it's a gilet) is another very competent option if you're on a tighter budget, though it lacks the Oxford Venture's refinement.
At the other extreme, dhb's Aeron Alpha Gilet features Polartec fleece fabric, but at £100 it's more than twice the price of the Venture.
Bottom line, I've been impressed by the Oxford Venture. Its cut and weatherproofing are very conducive to longer, faster rides, and while its retro-reflective technology doesn't quite rival that of Proviz, it's still very eye-catching. The only minor drawback is that it doesn't pack down as compactly as some.
Very good gilet for faster paced riding, just a bit bulky for jersey pockets
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Oxford Venture Windproof Gilet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Oxford says: "Our Advanced Rider Series offers a better level of versatility to protect from the widest range of conditions. This means we can ride our bikes harder, further, and for longer through the wet, cold, and heat.
The Oxford Venture is a windproof gilet. The Venture gilet is a perfect accompaniment for all-seasons rides, whether that be commuting in the darker months or those early morning summer rides. It can be packed down easily and stowed away in a jersey pocket once the temperature picks up. A slightly raised collar provides added protection from cold winds. Designed with comfort and performance in mind, it has a dynamic fit which provides a snug fitting with stretch panels that move when you move.
The Venture has a subtle reflective panel which are stylish by day and visible by night. Featuring Warmdry™ technology which provides a three-layer windproof construction whilst allowing the gilet to be highly breathable."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Breathable stretch back
* Fleece-lined collar
* Silicone-gripper waist
* Reflective rear stash pocket
* Zipped chest logo
* Available in Black and Fluo. Hi-vis yellow to stand out in your surroundings
* Reflective logo
Feels robust and nicely made.
Excellent performance across the board. Laminated fabric makes it trickier to fold compactly than some, for storing in a jersey pocket.
Solid materials, high-quality zippers, and no hint of fraying or other deterioration, several weeks down the line.
Snug, windcheating fit but accommodating of layering.
Heavier than some, but I've only noticed its qualities in the most positive sense, on the bike.
Fabric does an excellent job of repelling chill and showery rain, while still wicking sweat with surprising efficiency.
Competitively priced, given the specification. There are cheaper, capable models for those on a tighter budget, but you can also pay considerably more.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very straightforward, simply pop in the washing machine with minimal detergent/soap flakes, but don't exceed 30 degrees and allow to dry naturally.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Oxford has turned the performance dial up a notch with the Advanced Rider series and the Venture has really impressed with its ability to manage the elements, and offer impressive road presence and carrying capacity. The fabric provides excellent defence against bitterly chill winds and still does a decent job of repelling showery rain. The pockets are well designed and generous. As for the retro-reflectives, these might not quite rival Proviz 360 designs but aren't far behind, and there's also a fluoro version, which has an obvious edge in very murky, misty conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit, great cut, excellent retro-reflective panelling and proper pockets.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not a major dislike, but the zipper tags could be bigger, and the fabric doesn't fold as compactly as some.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £49.99 it's cheaper than many, but still a little more than others. I tested the Proviz Reflect360 Plus gilet back in 2017 and that's now £69.99, while the non-Plus option is £54.99. Altura's Nightvision Storm Thermal Gilet is £60. A cheaper option is BTwin's Visibility PPE Certified Sleeveless Reversible Gilet 560 at £39.99, and Van Rysel's Hi-Viz Cycling Jacket is £24.99. At the other extreme, dhb's Aeron Alpha Gilet features Polartec fleece fabric, but at £100 it's more than twice the price of the Venture.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Impressive gilet offering an excellent blend of comfort and practicality at a good price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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, mtb,
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)