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Verdict: 
Very well made with high quality materials and patented thermo-regulation tech. Just a smidge pricey, though
Weight: 
175g
Contact: 
www.x-bionic.co.uk/men/biking/road-bike/spherewind-biking/574538/detail

X-Bionic's Spherewind Biking Vest is a very nicely-detailed gilet with high-quality materials positioned intelligently to give good protection from the elements. Styling is perhaps not as classy as some, but the performance is good. If you believe X-Bionic's grand claims, the woven section on the back gives performance benefits. It's awfully expensive, though, which I suspect might reduce its appeal for a lot of folk.

You might have seen our recent reviews for X-Bionic's The Trick range of gear. The bib shorts and jersey both feature some extra insulation along the spine, which is designed to promote sweat production before you overheat, helping your muscles operate as efficiently as possible. It's an interesting idea and one that X-Bionic says will definitely make you perform faster. In our tests, we established that it made you sweat more, but it was rather harder to establish definitive performance benefits without lab equipment.

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Now the summer is coming to an end, you might want to take advantage of the clever thermo-regulating technology while also having more protection from the elements. If so, this matching gilet could be the answer. And it's orange, too, fitting this season's on-trend colours perfectly.

It's got the woven section down the back, like the rest of the range, and it's otherwise mostly made of windproof and water-resistant panels to keep your torso dry. A gilet is a really useful thing to have for spring and autumnal riding, as keeping your chest warm and dry helps you to stay comfortable in a much wider range of conditions than you would with only a jersey.

This is an expensive gilet, though – comfortably the most expensive we've ever reviewed. That won't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with X-Bionic – the company focuses heavily on developing unique technology to improve sports performance, and all of its gear is high end. The good news is that it's well made and an effective barrier against the elements.

The insulating panel on the rear doesn't offer any protection against water and nor do the black panels either side of it, so if you're riding on wet roads without mudguards then you'll start to get a wet back. But this isn't that uncommon – lots of gilets have non-waterproof rear panels to help prevent overheating.

>> Want more protection? Check out our guide to windproof jackets here

X-Bionic's name for that panel is the 3D Bionic Sphere system, oh yes. Its job is to assist your body's heat regulation and allow sweat to be wicked away from the skin, while still offering more insulative properties than a simple Lycra panel for when it gets cold. Obviously the comfort of your torso is going to be dependent on the other layers that you're wearing, so it's hard to assess the specific effect of this panel, but I didn't have cause to complain when wearing it.

Let's look at the rest. The majority of the front and the lower back panel are made from a hybrid material that combines a fine woven fabric, to give strength and a little stretch, with a laminate for water resistance. It's pretty effective, offering good protection from rain and wind and being plenty tough enough to cope with being rolled up and stuffed in a jersey pocket or chucked in the washing machine. The lower back panel is a good idea, helping to protect the area most likely to get sprayed by your rear wheel in the wet.

There's a quality YKK zip down the front with a storm flap behind to keep the draughts out and a protective garage at the top to stop it irritating your throat. The zip pull is chunky and easy to find when you're riding hard. Small details, but the sort of think you need to get right at this price. The large X-Bionic logo on the back is reflective, as is a fabric strip a little higher up – more welcome details. The tail is dropped by a few inches for a more cycling-specific cut.

Inside the neck is a soft woven fabric which is really comfortable against the skin. There are no pockets, instead well-positioned openings at the side allow access to the contents of your jersey pockets. I was initially sceptical of this, thinking it would be fiddly to have to reach through to grab a gel or your phone, but it was actually quite untroublesome and I liked the way that it kept pocket contents mostly out of the weather's reach. The openings are very well designed so they don't let draughts in when you're not reaching through.

In terms of sizing, I had a large which was really a bit big for me. That's Big Dave in the pictures, and as you can see it's not really tight on him. Per the size guide I'd be a medium, but for going fast I might be inclined to size down to a small. And if orange isn't your bag, you can have a lime-yellow or black and white.

Verdict

Very well made with high quality materials and patented thermo-regulation tech. Just a smidge pricey, though

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: X-Bionic Spherewind Biking Vest

Size tested: Mens, Large

Tell us what the product 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?

X-Bionic says: "Light, windproof and with performance-enhancing temperature regulation. The jacket is light and simple, embodying protection and comfort with an unembellished design. The 3D-BionicSphere® System on the back guarantees optimal temperature regulation on the jacket's interior. This makes the jacket not only highly functional, but also indispensable for tough training."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

High elasticity

Highly elastic material on the back ensures a superb fit and optimum freedom of movement.

Diffuser

The diffuser design on the inside of the collar with longitudinally arranged ducts lets moist, warm air out of the jacket and supports climate control.

3D-BionicSphere® System on the back

Guarantees effective ventilation so moisture is quickly wicked and transported away. No sweat means insulating air pockets in the wavelike structure protect against cold.

Reflectors

For good visibility and improved safety in night-time traffic.

Covered Zipper Garage

Reduces irritation from chafing.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very nicely put together from a range of fabrics. Good neat stitching, good quality zip and sensibly positioned reflectives.

Does a good job of keeping wind and most of the rain out of the important areas. The woven spine insulation panel is present and correct, as in the other X-Bionic gear we've reviewed. Does it make you faster? Who knows.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

No concerns.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

Nice touches like the soft neck lining and zip guard elevate this above less comfortable gilets.

Rate the product for value:
 
2/10

Hmm.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It worked well; it's comfortable and protects you reasonably from the elements as a good gilet should. I liked the hidden openings to your jersey pockets.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Decent protection, good levels of comfort and well-designed access to jersey pockets.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I don't think the styling is as classy as you'd expect, and the price is a bit silly.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your score

There are quality materials and well-thought-out detailing here. Whether the addition of the patented thermo-regulation technology is enough to justify the price is debatable though. I've scored it on performance but the fact is I'd never pay this much for a gilet.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 190cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Commuter - something with disc brakes, drop bars and a rack  My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS

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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

 

 

Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels.  His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding. 

27 comments

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Morat [272 posts] 3 years ago
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I got a gilet free from a charity ride.... It's got a zip, no arms and it's warmer than No Gilet. I'm not quite sure what to think about a £180 vest.

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jasecd [473 posts] 3 years ago
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A smidge pricey? You'd have to be crazy to spend that on a gilet.

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Deac [172 posts] 3 years ago
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£182.00  35 Aldi did there cycling specialbuys yesterday.

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aladdin pain [83 posts] 3 years ago
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In the same way that Serotta was eventually felt by some to be the official bike of dentists, something tells me our children's children will know this as "the urologist's gilet."

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themartincox [553 posts] 3 years ago
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not often you can say it, but you could buy 2 Rapha gilets for that price!

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gthornton101 [153 posts] 3 years ago
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Is making you sweat more a good thing? Doesn't your body sweat appropriately on its own?  39

My Aldi gillet (sorry, jacket with zip off arms) was £15 and does the job. I'm sure this one is great and all, but IMO that is a silly price tag.

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The _Kaner [1143 posts] 3 years ago
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as Andy Pipkin would say " Ah don't get it!"

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mylesrants [387 posts] 3 years ago
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So if it were £30 would anyone buy it?

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Martin B [5 posts] 3 years ago
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Interesting technology - unsure of the styling - but at least you won't see it in Aldi

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The _Kaner [1143 posts] 3 years ago
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Martin B wrote:

Interesting technology - unsure of the styling - but at least you won't see it in Aldi

...or will you!

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Valryfiets [28 posts] 3 years ago
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No, I wouldn't buy it for £30 and I wouldn't want to wear it if it was free. Claimed performance benefits aside the logos running over the shoulders are minging (as is the X factor logo on the lower back). That motoCross spine protector look is ridiculous too. If I wanted a hi vis gilet for the wet I'd buy the Castelli fawesome in fluo green when it was on sale for £70.

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rjfrussell [397 posts] 3 years ago
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Bizarre to see this review in September not at the start of April.

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Jez Ash [231 posts] 3 years ago
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rjfrussell wrote:

Bizarre to see this review in September not at the start of April.

Sorry about that - would have been sooner but I broke my back in late spring, so a few things got put on hold. Still, I've been wearing a gilet (ahem, not this one) plenty in recent days.

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fenix [741 posts] 3 years ago
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rjfrussell wrote:

Bizarre to see this review in September not at the start of April.

Not bizarre really - my gilets get great use in autumn too.

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harragan [209 posts] 3 years ago
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It simply looks awful. The styling is terrible. The price is madness.

Would I buy it and wear it if it were £30? No. Not a chance.

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edster99 [338 posts] 3 years ago
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£180 ? If had money to piss up the wall. err... no not even then.
And while I'm at it : you could buy a Castelli Gabba for that, followed by a very nice lunch. I think it also highlights the issue there is with Road.cc's reviews. The number of stars should have at least some relation to VFM. It should be absolutely unquestionably a quantum leap ahead of any other gilet to get four stars at that price. And how can you say it is when you've got one that is patently the wrong size? I'm a bit unhappy with the ratings you are using, and it calls into question your other reviews.

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notfastenough [3725 posts] 3 years ago
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Eh?! I like Rapha and Castelli stuff, so I'm no stranger to the "how much" looks from people who ask about the cost of kit, but seriously, how much?!

It doesn't help that it also looks awful.

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KiwiMike [1307 posts] 3 years ago
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edster99 wrote:

The number of stars should have at least some relation to VFM. It should be absolutely unquestionably a quantum leap ahead of any other gilet to get four stars at that price. And how can you say it is when you've got one that is patently the wrong size? I'm a bit unhappy with the ratings you are using, and it calls into question your other reviews.

VFM is a totally subjective call. For some people, 'value' pertains to performance, meaning they will not accept poor performance, no matter what the price. As I've upgraded my tools over the last decade I find it harder and harder to even bother with something that I know won't last the rest of my life. So for me, a £20 chain tool has almost no 'value', whereas a £70 one has immense value - I know it will be something I can pass on to my kids. I also put increasing 'value' on the enjoyment I get from using the tool.

If you are spending £5k on the cycling trip of a lifetime and need a super-light yet very high-spec gilet, you are highly likely to 'value' spending £100 over £50, even though the difference might be not much. Just as people 'value' spending £200 on stereo cables when buying a £2k setup, but would consider that ridiculous on a £200 stereo. People are happy to pay for £50 cables on £5k bikes, but not on £500 ones, even though the performance benefits are the same.

So when you read a Road.CC review where something is 4-star, it's completely transparent. Here's a 4-star review of a £55 gilet: http://road.cc/content/review/57813-sportful-hot-pack-vest - If we scaled reviews to match prices, up or down, that would totally skew things and debase reader's intelligence. Who are we to say what is an appropriate amount to spend on any product? I don't know what you value - weight, looks, warmth - so who am I to dictate?

You can read the author's technical review, their thinking, justification etc, then compare with the price and ask yourself if that represents Value For Money.

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Chutzpah [71 posts] 3 years ago
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rjfrussell wrote:

Bizarre to see this review in September not at the start of April.

It's less than ten degrees in the morning when I go to work and more than sixteen degrees when I cycle home at the moment.

But I guess it's bizarre that I'm wearing a gilet to cope with such conditions most mornings at the moment.

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crikey [1251 posts] 3 years ago
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'And for you, beloved son, I bequeath you my chain tool'

'Gee, thanks Dad'

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jasecd [473 posts] 3 years ago
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edster99 wrote:

So when you read a Road.CC review where something is 4-star, it's completely transparent. Here's a 4-star review of a £55 gilet: http://road.cc/content/review/57813-sportful-hot-pack-vest - If we scaled reviews to match prices, up or down, that would totally skew things and debase reader's intelligence. Who are we to say what is an appropriate amount to spend on any product? I don't know what you value - weight, looks, warmth - so who am I to dictate?

You can read the author's technical review, their thinking, justification etc, then compare with the price and ask yourself if that represents Value For Money.

But they do mention price in many reviews - often describing bikes as bargains when they're well priced and highlighting current discounts on clothing. Even here they've described this gilet as "a smidge pricey" in the headline. They've also got a value graphic in the blue box where they give it 2/10 and comment "Hmm".

I often rely on these reviews when buying new kit (most recent purchase being the excellent DeFeet Kneekers warmers, described by road.cc as "£20 makes them a good buy") and I assumed that price would be one of the factors considered when reviewing - is this not the case?

I'm not trying to split hairs, but I'm actually just confused - does price have any influence on a products rating? If this gilet was £2k would it still get four stars?

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KiwiMike [1307 posts] 3 years ago
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jasecd wrote:
edster99 wrote:

So when you read a Road.CC review where something is 4-star, it's completely transparent. Here's a 4-star review of a £55 gilet: http://road.cc/content/review/57813-sportful-hot-pack-vest - If we scaled reviews to match prices, up or down, that would totally skew things and debase reader's intelligence. Who are we to say what is an appropriate amount to spend on any product? I don't know what you value - weight, looks, warmth - so who am I to dictate?

You can read the author's technical review, their thinking, justification etc, then compare with the price and ask yourself if that represents Value For Money.

But they do mention price in many reviews - often describing bikes as bargains when they're well priced and highlighting current discounts on clothing. Even here they've described this gilet as "a smidge pricey" in the headline. They've also got a value graphic in the blue box where they give it 2/10 and comment "Hmm".

I often rely on these reviews when buying new kit (most recent purchase being the excellent DeFeet Kneekers warmers, described by road.cc as "£20 makes them a good buy") and I assumed that price would be one of the factors considered when reviewing - is this not the case?

I'm not trying to split hairs, but I'm actually just confused - does price have any influence on a products rating? If this gilet was £2k would it still get four stars?

I think we are talking the same language - sure, make reference to price as part of a reviewer's personal value judgement. What some were questioning was that the price should impact the review of performance. I don't think it should.

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Jez Ash [231 posts] 3 years ago
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I can't (and neither can Mike) really speak on behalf of "road.cc editorial policy", but personally, I do factor in price / value in my overall rating. However, the higher up the price-scale you go, the less the "value" factor tends to be weighted.

Someone with £40 to spend on a gilet is likely (although not guaranteed) to be quite keen to shop around and get the best value they can get for the outlay.

Someone in the lucky position of having £200 to spend on a gilet is likely to be driven more on non value-based judgements ("that has the best performance available" / "that's the style I want" / "I prefer X brand") and less concerned about whether something costs £100 or £180.

As those commenting above may or may not have observed, I made several references to the fact that this gilet has a rather silly price, as well as questionable aesthetics and generous sizing. All that being said, it's really well made and offers excellent protection from the elements, and that performance was the primary basis on which my overall score was given.

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edster99 [338 posts] 3 years ago
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That seems to have stirred up some discussion. My point is that the blurb describing the ratings says that 'The overall score is not just an average of the other scores. It reflects both a product's function and value.' Where the value is 2, I would think that to make an overall score of 8, it should be delivering something exceptional on the function side. When I read the review and look at the scores, though, I see a lot of 'very good / good / decent / well made' type comments but not one 'excellent / fantastic / superb' comment.

I fully accept that VFM is subjective, and people use different criteria to evaluate it. I also get the fact that past a certain price point, those criteria have nothing to do with function (which is taken as a given) and is all about fashion / brand association / etc.

So my semi-philosophical question is : if this cost £360 would it still get an 8? or £540? or £720 ? Where does the 'value' get factored in?

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ragweasel [14 posts] 3 years ago
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I've not yet read any of the above comments but I'll venture that charging £182 for this is a fu&%*ing insult.

It's just a gilet - no level of performance can justify that price. If you're so sensitive to the elements that some marginal degree of moisture-wicking-drizzle-proof-elastic-panel technology will make the difference between a good, or bad ride then you probably shouldn't be allowed out.

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KiwiMike [1307 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
ragweasel wrote:

I've not yet read any of the above comments but I'll venture that charging £182 for this is a fu&%*ing insult.

It's just a gilet - no level of performance can justify that price. If you're so sensitive to the elements that some marginal degree of moisture-wicking-drizzle-proof-elastic-panel technology will make the difference between a good, or bad ride then you probably shouldn't be allowed out.

Hmmm...I don't think the bike industry is the consumer space you want to be in, if that's what you consider a 'fu&%*ing insult'.

Genuine question: what do your cycling glasses cost? If we assume that £182 is approximately 4 times what you can purchase a 'good enough' gilet for, then as I consider £1.99 to be 'good enough' for cycling glasses (Been using them for nearly a year, crackingly light, great contrast management, no slip, look fine) then *any* glasses over £8 are likewise 'a fu&%*ing insult'.

Many people consider £20 to be perfectly suitable for night riding lights (the CreeBay Special). By your definition, therefore, Exposure et al are 'fu&%*ing insult[ing]' the entire cycling community.

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ragweasel [14 posts] 3 years ago
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KiwiMike wrote:
ragweasel wrote:

I've not yet read any of the above comments but I'll venture that charging £182 for this is a fu&%*ing insult.

It's just a gilet - no level of performance can justify that price. If you're so sensitive to the elements that some marginal degree of moisture-wicking-drizzle-proof-elastic-panel technology will make the difference between a good, or bad ride then you probably shouldn't be allowed out.

Hmmm...I don't think the bike industry is the consumer space you want to be in, if that's what you consider a 'fu&%*ing insult'.

Genuine question: what do your cycling glasses cost? If we assume that £182 is approximately 4 times what you can purchase a 'good enough' gilet for, then as I consider £1.99 to be 'good enough' for cycling glasses (Been using them for nearly a year, crackingly light, great contrast management, no slip, look fine) then *any* glasses over £8 are likewise 'a fu&%*ing insult'.

Many people consider £20 to be perfectly suitable for night riding lights (the CreeBay Special). By your definition, therefore, Exposure et al are 'fu&%*ing insult[ing]' the entire cycling community.

You can generally spend a bit more money and get a better product. At the lower end of the market, a pair of glasses for £4 might be twice as good at the ones you have. But if you keep doubling up on the cost of an item you get to the point that spending more money fails to give you much extra in terms of function, if anything. (Google "diminishing marginal utility")

That said, I agree with you about the glasses and the lights, and you're right that I don't want to be in a 'consumer space'.