Defeating the bad weather that can be a hurdle to getting out on the bike during winter is key to Sportful's Fiandre clothing range, and this Light Short Sleeve jersey is a really good pick for changeable weather conditions.
It's essentially a souped-up gilet, with more protection than a gilet but less than a jacket. The sleeves are cut off just above the elbow, and much like the iconic Castelli Gabba, it's designed to be worn over arm warmers. It fits really well, as is the norm with Sportful's Tinkoff-Saxo pro team tested clothing, and provides adequate protection from the elements for all but the coldest days, by which point you'll be reaching for a winter jacket anyway.
It's constructed with a Windshield 3L material on all the front-facing panels, so it keeps the wind out. The rear panels, meanwhile, are made from Sportful's NoRain Light material, which offers some rain protection. You don't get any pockets, though there is a fairly large vertical zip to allow access to your jersey pockets underneath.
The very low weight and thinness of the material mean it packs down very small, so you can stuff it in a jersey pocket when it's not needed. Worn on those rides when the weather forecast is all over the place, it provides a good barrier to the wind and offers a decent level of rain protection, certainly enough to keep you dry in a short shower.
The dropped tail and NoRain Light fabric also do a good job of keeping your lower back dry from rear wheel spray when splashing through puddles after a downpour.
With Sportful's own NoRain arm warmers, a short sleeve jersey and short sleeve base layer, the Fiandre Light Short Sleeve jersey is the ideal top for current autumnal conditions. I've also found it a good choice over the top of a long sleeve winter jersey, providing a nice boost in wind and rain protection.
The breathability is really good, too; you can wick up a decent pace without worrying about overheating, and the short sleeves ensure you don't suffer from hot arms. In lower temperatures you can hunker down inside the really tall collar, making it ideal for early morning rides.
You get a good dose of reflective details, and the yellow colour tested is extremely bright, ideal for gloomy winter days in the country lanes. Other available colours include black and red, and it's available in sizes XS-3XL.
Great performance for mixed conditions autumn and winter riding
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Make and model: Sportful Fiandre Light Short Sleeve
Size tested: Small
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?
It's more than a vest, less than a jacket, and oh-so-perfect for variable conditions.
This is a Sportful staff favorite because it provides enough protection to keep the wind away but lots of breathability to prevent overheating. It's much more practical than a vest, without going the full step to a jacket.
WindShield 3L stretch windproof fabric on front, shoulders and upper arms NoRain Light fabric on back for water repellent breathability Zippered openings for access to pockets YKK® Vislon® main zipper with wind flap Reflective heat transfer strips
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Short Sleeve Top
WindShield 3L stretch windproof fabric on front
WindShield 3L stretch windproof fabric on shoulders and upper arms
YKK® Vislon® zipper with wind flap
NoRain Light fabric on forearms
Zippered openings for access to pockets
NoRain Light fabric on back for water repellent breathability
Reflective heat transfer strips
High quality construction is evident with good attention to detail, and it's very lightweight.
Works well in changeable conditions with a bit of wind and occasional rain. It's certainly not trying to be a waterproof but it has enough breathability that you can wear it for an entire ride, and the fit is good enough to prevent any horrible flapping in the wind noise.
Having tested it in Italy and the UK in a range of conditions, and put it through numerous washes and dragged it through the dirt, it's stood up really well.
It's very light. You don't notice it when wearing it, and won't notice it in a jersey pocket either.
Comfort and fit is exceptionally good.
It certainly won't be for everyone, it depends on the sort of rider you are and the riding you do, but it adds a good deal of protection to look after you in changeable weather conditions.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For mixed conditions riding when the weather can't make up its mind, the Fiandre Light Short Sleeve jersey is a really versatile top and provides enough protection for most riding conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A really good fit and just enough protection for changeable mixed autumn/winter conditions when it's not that cold.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Some might bemoan the lack of pockets, because it's breathable enough that you can wear it for an entire ride quite happily. Some more reflective details would be nice.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It won't be for everyone but it's better than most gilets with enough protection to look after you in a variety of riding and weather conditions.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.