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I really like the Cafe Du Cycliste Ingrid Men's Audax Cycling Jersey. It adds meaningful warmth with very little bulk, is race-slim yet with an easy and very comfortable stretch, and has good pockets. A windproof front would make it more useful still, however, and it's expensive.
Check out our guide to the best winter cycling jerseys for more options.
This is different from many cycling jerseys in a couple of respects. Firstly, it has a soft, fleecy finish on the outside that immediately feels quite luxurious despite being synthetic (it's polyester), and secondly, it has a hood.
It's not the usual kind of hood that's either shaped like a regular hoodie's (looks cool but not very useful on the bike) or a sack-like acreage of fabric designed to go right over a helmet (mostly just annoying). Instead it's shaped to sit closely around your head and cling neatly to your forehead and temples, and thus works very well under helmets; there's no excess fabric to fold and bunch up.
The downside is it looks a bit like a scuba diving balaclava or one of those cloth inner helmets spacemen wear, so if you want a bit of extra warmth in a social situation you'll look a bit of a plum. It's very good at what it's meant for, though, and is slim enough not to cause problems when it's down and you're layering other jackets on top.
You might want to layer up earlier than is otherwise necessary, simply because the Audax is not windproof. It's pretty good at resisting draughts for what it is, but a windproof panel on the chest would – at least for me – extend its usefulness quite considerably. Still, a decent gilet can fix that for you.
That said, I wore the Ingrid Audax over a single (winterish) long-sleeve baselayer on rides around 3-4°C and only really felt a chill on fast descents. It's not a top that loses all its heat at once, or simply feels like it isn't there at speed, but cold draughts do leak in. As soon as the pace/winds drop it's very comfortable again.
It helps that it breathes and wicks moisture very well. There's a mesh ventilation panel running down your spine on the inside that CdC says 'further aids core temperature control', but to be honest I can't see how it works. The main panels are all a single layer of fabric, and this central one is the same plus an extra layer of mesh... surely that will insulate rather than cool? Or maybe that's the point? But then if it IS for insulation, it's in the wrong place: core temperature involves internal organs such as your heart and liver, and not the bones in your back.
Either way, I never felt my spine was a different temperature to the rest of me, so it's perhaps moot anyway.
Happily, all the Ingrid Audax's other features make sense. It has three regular pockets across the back, and on top of those is an extra, pretty useful stretchy mesh pocket. It runs right across your back (approx 33cm), though the top corners are sewn closed for the first 7cm so it doesn't simply gape open if you wedge a jacket in there.
Under both these pockets, on the right-hand side, is a zipped valuables pocket which can take a phone.
There's a chest pocket too, though with only a 10cm opening and an open mesh construction, it's not for phones or anything that can't get splashed. It's probably good for credit cards, cash and ID, but I don't have to bribe many checkpoint guards while riding here in Wales, so I never needed to load up.
It's possible that's quite useful in Albania, where this is actually made – it's only designed in France.
The stitching everywhere is very neat and feels tough, while the seams are either flatlocked or overlocked as appropriate. Comfort is excellent (even with a backpack), and the tall neck (with zip garage) is very welcome.
The sleeves are the perfect length for me, too, while the simple elasticated cuffs are secure and work well inside gloves.
The NX logo is reflective if, for some reason, the Mountain Fog colour isn't showing up. This also comes in Alpine Green, Tangerine, Pastel Green, Dahlia and Lamb Chop. I made one of those up; I'll let you decide which.
At £206 this is pretty expensive for a warm jersey, but when you compare it to tops of similarly high quality from similarly fancy boutique brands, it's reasonable. The Q36.5 Hybrid Que X, for instance, is £209. That does have windproof panels and a bit of water resistance, mind you, though it lacks the hood and plenitude of pockets.
Meanwhile, the 7mesh S2S Jersey LS is even more at £280, though that has enough wind and water resistance that it's almost a hybrid of jersey and jacket. It's still extremely breathable, nevertheless.
You could save a considerable amount with something like the Band of Climbers Empire LS Thermal Jersey at £115. It's a good choice if you specifically want a mid-layer and don't care about versatility: as an outer it suffers from a lack of interesting colours and has no reflectivity, plus it doesn't offer the same high-neck/hooded coverage as this Cafe du Cycliste.
This is a lovely jersey; it's warm, breathes really well, fits incredibly comfortably and looks good. The build quality is impressive too, and it feels like it'll really last. It's not the cheapest way to stay warm, but it's probably one of the plushest and most pleasing.
Very comfortable, warm and breathable jersey with a clever hood – it'll cost you, though
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe Du Cycliste Ingrid Mens Audax Cycling Jersey
Size tested: Large
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?
Cafe du Cycliste (CdC) says: "Greater distances can require a leap of imagination and Ingrid is built for longer. Combining high technical performance with a sense of pionnier, the Audax collection jersey is ideal for tough days out on the road."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
93% polyester 7% elastane
moisture management properties
three cargo pockets
unique 'drop' pocket
2 zipped pockets
made in europe
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This is excellent as a mid-layer and great as an outer too, though limited then by a lack of serious windproofing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The fit, comfort, warmth, breathability and looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Not a serious dislike, but windproofing – if only across the chest – would really extend its usefulness as an outer.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
While you can certainly get cheaper warm jerseys, this is par on price with similar products from similarly boutique brands.
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 overall score
This is well designed, well made and a cosy pleasure to wear. The hood works well too, which isn't always the case. If it was cheaper it could score higher, though to be fair it's priced close to the boutique competition.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,