Whether it’s April showers or something a little more persistent and heavy, knowing what to wear when riding in the spring when the weather is less than predictable can often be a headache. This is further amplified if you are looking to race or train hard and don’t want to feel restricted by your kit choices.
Tinkoff; one of cycling’s top professional teams, had exactly this dilemma as they readied themselves for the Classics season. They wanted a garment that could keep the Flandrian rain and wind off, was cut for racing but could also be folded down when the pace heated up or the weather improved.
As clothing supplier for Tinkoff, Sportful set about developing a jersey that would satisfy these requirements. The Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain Short Sleeve Jersey was born. Fiandre is Sportful's range designed for the hardships of Belgian riding, whether that’s driving rain or gale force winds.
Although I’m not tackling Gent-Wevelgem or racing over the cobbles at Paris-Roubaix I do like to keep riding whatever the weather and always struggle, when things get a little milder, to layer up accordingly. I was therefore rather excited to put in the miles this spring in the pro-team-tested garment.
The first thing to mention with the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain Short Sleeve Jersey is that it’s not a traditional jersey. It is an outer layer designed to be worn over a short sleeve jersey. It does not have pockets but it does feature a zippered opening, allowing you to access the contents of your jersey underneath.
As the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain Short Sleeve Jersey is designed to be worn over a short sleeve jersey I was a little wary when it came to sizing but was assured sticking to your normal jersey size should offer the best fit. This was definitely the case, as the small size fitted perfectly over my short sleeve jersey, without feeling restrictive.
The full-length zip is a high quality YKK offering and it made pulling the jersey on for the first time a pleasure. Sportful’s attention to detail is second to none and the storm flap cover over the zip added an extra level of protection for when the wind picked up. The sleeves, although ‘short’, are slightly longer than most short sleeve jerseys to add further protection. Not being skin tight meant my NoRain arm warmers fitted seamlessly underneath.
The subtle Sportful logo on the chest and Fiandre graphic on the shoulder is a hint to this jersey’s pedigree.
With the temperature hovering around 10 degrees celsius, light drizzle and strong winds I set off for a 105 kilometre spin. Wearing a BodyFit Pro Sleeveless Base Layer, BodyFit Pro Race Short Sleeve Jersey, Fiandre Light NoRain Arm Warmers and the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain Short Sleeve Jersey on top I felt just about right temperature wise.
The tailwind out made for an easy spin to meet my ride buddies but soon we were turning into the mother of all headwinds and the rain began!
A bitter wind was hammering straight into us but thankfully the jersey’s WindShield 3L stretch windproof fabric on the front was doing its job, keeping my chest warm but without causing me to overheat as I pushed hard into the wind. This fabric has also been used on the shoulders and upper arm sections to good effect. This material is light in weight but definitely not a lightweight when it comes to performance.
Although not claiming to be fully waterproof I knew Sportful’s NoRain technology would not let me down. The light rain was sitting on the surface of the jersey and the rain droplets seemed to simply bead off. Only when the rain became a bit more intense did the jersey start showing signs of moisture coming through.
The jersey weighs a mere 160 grams so felt far from cumbersome. When things did dry up the thin material made it easy to fold down and store in my rear jersey pocket. This is a great feature, especially if you are racing and do not want to carry a rain-soaked jersey around with you.
Sportful’s inclusion of a zippered opening was a real neat one. I could easily access the contents of my rear pocket, whether that was getting to my energy food or mobile phone. This opening also allowed me to regulate my body temperature, ideal for when the pace heated up or when climbing. My only slight gripe was the lack of a zippered opening on the left but this was only a minor inconvenience.
No it’s not a rain cape, nor is it a gilet or a jersey, in the traditional sense, the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain Short Sleeve Jersey stands alone as a reliable outer layer for changeable days, when it’s important to layer up and be prepared for whatever Mother Nature delivers.
It’s durable, lightweight, race proven and definitely delivers when it comes to water resistance and wind protection. If it’s good enough for Peter Sagan it’s more than good enough for me!