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The Specialized Seamless Women's Long Sleeve Base Layer is an exceptionally warm piece of kit, ideal for the coldest of days. The no-seam construction is comfortable, but it has a heavy feel, loses heat quickly if you stop and is on the short side in the body.
I've had this for considerably longer than most pieces of test kit, as it was just far too warm for a long time – for me, anything above 6° is too warm for it. Each time the temperatures dropped, I would pull it on, hoping for it to come into its own... I'd put it on par with Assos's Ultraz Winter Skin Layer in terms of warmth.
I tested the middle of the three sizes (XS/S, M and L/XL), and while it looks pretty small out of the pack, there's a good deal of give in the fabric and proved a great fit. It offers significantly more compression than many winter base layers though, which could make fit an issue for some given the relative lack of sizes (many come in five or six).
The relatively short body is right on the limit of what works for me, personally; teaming it with waist tights wasn't ideal. If you have a longer body, this might not suit. The sleeve length is also just enough, so again, anyone with long arms might be disappointed.
The fabric is thick and weighty. It's certainly more robust than something like Craft's Active Extreme X Round Neck, and it stretches well and moves freely with the body. The name is a bit of a stretch as well – you may have noticed an awful lot of seams for a 'seamless' jersey. It's only the torso section that actually applies to, so it's basically got two fewer seams than normal.
While it feels very snug, I wouldn't describe it as luxurious or cosy; when you pull it on there's no sense of instantaneous warmth. You need to start working for that to happen.
Out on the bike with the temperatures nearing zero, it keeps you lovely and warm; I got away with just with lightweight long sleeve jersey over it on a crisp, dry day. Working up a sweat isn't difficult though, and it's overbearing at times.
It also retains a lot of moisture. I never really noticed while moving, but throw in a roadside repair and it cools off rather rapidly. There are no thin or perforated sections to aid breathability or ventilation, as found on Megmeister's Drynamo Warm Turtleneck, which possibly doesn't help.
It takes decent amount of time to dry after washing, too – much longer than all my other baselayers – and needs constant washing. The synthetic fibres develop odours rapidly. Still, even with all that it's not showing any wear or deterioration.
I've tested very few layers that are specifically designed for extremely cold weather; here, my main reference is Assos' Ultraz. I'd say it easily outperforms Specialized's effort here, but then the Ultraz is almost double the price.
Given how the warmth of the Seamless LS actually limits its use, and that alternatives are either cheaper or perform more effectively, it's difficult to say this is great value for money.
This baselayer offers exceptional protection in very cold conditions, though it doesn't feel as cosy as some and tends to retain water – which means it cools down quickly if you stop. It's priced very reasonably, though, so if the meagre size range and need for constant washing suit, it's reasonable option.
Compressive and warm while you're working, but falls down in other areas
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Seamless Women's LS Baselayer
Size tested: S/M
Tell us what the product is for
Specialized says: "Our Seamless Baselayers utilize synthetic yarns to pull moisture away from your body and evaporate quickly, to keep a consistent core temperature. Pair that with seamless construction, and it's comfort taken to another level."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-Synthetic yarns are blended to have a soft feel and move moisture away from the skin all while providing the perfect amount of compression.
-Fabric Content: 58% Polypropilene, 37% Polyamide, 5% Elastane
Keeps you very warm but retains moisture; though I never sensed it while moving, it soon induces a chill if you stop.
Shorter body than most.
True to size, though there are only three sizes.
Heavier than most, and you sense this when you pull it on.
Comfortable enough, though far from cosy; you sense compression over cosiness.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Needs regular washing. Comes out fresh from a standard 30 degree cycle and isn't showing signs of wear.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Superb protection in very cold weather, but it clings to moisture more than many others. It's lightly compressive rather than cosy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's very warm while you're riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It feels heavy, takes a long time to dry, needs washing every use, gets cold quickly if you stop.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This undercuts many deep-winter base layers from the likes of Assos, Megmeister and Santini. dhb reliably offers a merino layer for £45.
Did you enjoy using the product? In extremely cold weather, yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Unlikely
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is brilliant for riding on a cold day. However the short body, needy synthetic fibres, slow drying time and moisture retention all go against it – there's plenty of competition that outperforms it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…