The Polaris Windshear Windproof Jersey is extremely good at keeping you insulated from cutting winds and colder weather – and is a strong option for autumn commuting and steady rides.
Let's face it, no one particularly enjoys it when the nights draw in and the layers have to be put on to stave off the cold, wind and rain. But the Windshear jersey is aimed at making getting on the bike less of a chore, by keeping you more comfortable in cold and windy conditions – and it does so with some success.
For a jersey, the Thermastretch fabric is very thick; it seems closer in construction to a jacket than a jersey. It's this well-fitted layer of windproofing that is extremely effective at creating a barrier between you and the elements, and gives some reassurance that it can deal with light showers too – even though there are no claims to that effect.
Inside, there's a fleece lining throughout for added warmth, in addition to the windproof layer on the outside, so it's easy to see why the you might be tempted to use it as a jacket instead of a jersey. Without a jersey underneath, though, it's incredibly effective.
The trouble is, in some regards it's too effective. Breathability is not one of this jersey's strong points, and so the heat build-up inside causes quite a lot of sweating when you're riding at a reasonable tempo. And if the sun does poke its head out, you're soon unzipping the front to get some much-needed cool air in.
There is an irony to this, as the zip itself isn't particularly windproof, so you can always feel a cold line of air sneaking through the front to your baselayer. And because you're sweating more than usual, this can actually give you chills despite the insulating properties of the fabric.
This means the jersey is best ridden in at comfortable, steady speeds – which a lot of cyclists stick to during the winter anyway. This minimises the air getting through the zip, and keeps your body temperature lower so there's less build-up inside the excellently insulating fabric.
There are also some nice touches incorporated into the jersey, including decent sized, lined pockets. The middle incorporates a Velcro fastener in the top, and there's also a zipped mini-pocket for keys and valuables.
Thumb holes in the sleeves are also included, and because the sleeves are nice and long the thumb holes don't cut into your thumbs, even if you have longer arms. They also help to stop air from sneaking up the sleeves.
Also included are reflective tabs and bands across the jersey, including a split design on the front that, when zipped up, makes the Polaris brand logo. These are well positioned and effective on dark mornings and evenings. On the white and black test product I had to test, they blended in during the day too. I'm not sure how discreet they'd be on the red/black and blue/black alternatives, but the option is there if white isn't your thing.
In terms of cut, the Windshear jersey is what I'd call 'sporty'. It's not racy and tight fitting, but it's also not as relaxed as you might find in a cheap, supermarket variant. It has enough length in the front without bunching up while riding, while retaining a long back assisted by silicone gripper banding around the hem. Couple this with the well-considered sleeve length and good height collar, and it's a comfortable jersey to wear riding at more leisurely speeds.
Quality seems good too – I can't imagine any of the seams unravelling any time soon, and the thickness seems to help it resist shrinkage in the wash. The fleece inside has also remained soft after a few washes as well, which bodes well for longevity, while the reflective strips are well sealed to the outer.
It's a mixed bag, this jersey. Even as I write this review, I confess that I keep typing 'jacket' instead of 'jersey', having to correct myself each time, such is the blurred line in my mind about it. At its rrp of £64.99, it's relatively cheap for a jacket, but as a jersey it's not such good value. But then its performance when used for lower intensity riding is good, and it truly can be used as both. It's just a shame it doesn't breathe better.
In conclusion, if you're looking for an autumn-winter jersey for steady or commuter riding that can double as a jacket in cold and windy conditions, this isn't a bad option at all. If you want a windproof garment that breathes to give you performance on winter tempo training rides, I suggest you look elsewhere, probably at a higher price point.
Ticks the box for steady riders and commuters. Performance cyclists, look elsewhere
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Make and model: Polaris Windshear Windproof Jersey
Size tested: Medium, Black/White
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?
Polaris says: "The Polaris Windshear jersey is the latest edition to our fantastic windproof road collection for AW 15/16 . Windproof front panels keep the chill out whilst the brushed thermastretch fabric wraps around the body for warmth and comfort. Thumb loops ensure no draft between your gloves and jersey whilst 3 large rear storage pockets and a zipped rear security pocket ensure you can carry everything you need for your road adventure , whether big or small, easily. Strategically placed reflective print ensures you are visible on the road whether it is your commute or Autumn training."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Windproof front panelled jersey
- Brushed Thermastretch fabric for warmth and comfort
- Thumb loops and YKK zips
- Three large rear storage pockets and one small zipped rear security pocket
- Windproof layer 100% polyester
- Stretch layer 92& polyester; 8% elastane
- Silicone hem grippers
Absolutely no issues at all out of the wash; the zip could be beefier but no problems.
Excellent at keeping warmth in and the cold air out. Just a shame it doesn't breathe.
I doubt it'll be unravelling any time soon, but the white colour might start to stain after a while.
For a jersey it's heavyweight – more like a jacket to hold and wear.
Comfortable, aside from the sweatiness if you ride too hard in it.
At this price point for a jersey, it needs to be breathable – and even then it'd be expensive. Luckily, I think it could also double as a jacket layer, which improves the value somewhat.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It kept me very warm at whatever speed I rode at, so it meets its brief.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort of the fleece layer at steady speeds.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of breathability, which causes a lot of sweating if you pick up the pace. And the zip isn't very windproof.
Did you enjoy using the product? Only for pottering around and commuting. It won't be coming with me on faster training rides.
Would you consider buying the product? No, not for my quick tempo style of riding.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they were a steady rider, or looking for a jersey/jacket to wear for commuting.
About the tester
Age: 25 Height: 188cm Weight: 83kg
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding