"There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing�, or so goes the old saying bandied around club rides up and down the country every winter as someone inevitably turns up in bib shorts and has to defrost at the caf� stop. While the validity of that line is up for discussion (there definitely is such a thing as bad weather for cycling), having the right clothing on can make a huge difference to your enjoyment on the bike during the colder months.
And that's where Endura's Pro SL Thermal Windproof jacket comes in. Sitting in the Scottish company's Pro SL road range, the fit and performance are geared towards the racier end of the spectrum - a result of Endura's ongoing sponsorship with the Movistar professional team, home of Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa. While those guys might get to take their training to warmer climates during the winter, Endura should have more than enough experience with harsh Scottish weather to know their way around a good bit of winter clothing - so, how does it perform?
On first look, the jacket is well put together and considering its purpose, pretty lightweight (let's not forget that this is for deep winter riding). You get a combination of waffle-textured windproof fabrics across the chest which extend over the shoulders, with a more flexible, breathable fabric filling in the gaps. There's a good, chunky zip in charge of fastening which is nice and easy to use and especially helpful with a chunky pair of winter gloves on, and there's a storm flap behind the zip. The collar is tall - very tall - and features an extra layer inside to stop any drafts. Similarly, the sleeves are nice and long, and the rear has a dropped tail to provide some protection from road spray. In addition, you get three rear pockets with a zipped security pocket, an external gripper at the back, and some reflective detailing.
Endura's Pro SL range is generally very smart and this jacket is no exception - the deep navy design is understated with just white hoops on the sleeves to break it up. Branding is kept to a minimum and so, from the front at least, you should be able to pair this up with most items in your kit bag. From the back, however, the design may be a little more divisive, with a vibrant orange pocket! Personally, I liked the touch and it happens to match some of my other kit, and it certainly jumps out to other road users which can only be a good thing at this time of year.
On the road
When it came to my first ride in the Pro SL Thermal Windproof my Garmin was indicating a balmy 1oC and, with just a long sleeve baselayer underneath, I was going to find out very quickly whether this jacket delivered on its promise. Happily, it did - and then some. Despite the temperature and probably slightly na�ve baselayer choice, after five minutes of pedalling I was up to temperature and very cosy indeed, with the wind completely shut out.
The amount of protection against the wind that this jacket provides genuinely surprised me. The fabrics do a brilliant job of blocking the wind while remaining soft, comfortable and non-restrictive, but it's the other touches which really make the difference here. The collar, which at first I thought I'd find too tall to be comfortable, fits perfectly once you're in a riding position and sits snugly under your chin - no need for a Buff here. The extra layer inside the collar also makes a noticeable difference, blocking out anything else that might try to creep in. The longer-than-usual sleeves are brilliant too, and do a fantastic job of preventing any wind ingress in that crucial junction between jacket and glove. At the back, the longer tail and external gripper keep everything in place and prevent any wind entering while at the front a thicker, stretchy fabric keeps out drafts. The pockets also get an honourable mention. They sit noticeably lower that on some of my other kit, and the openings (while still elasticated) are just that bit looser which makes it a million times easier to fish food and belongings in and out of the pockets when you've got thick winter gloves on. It sounds simple but it's remarkably effective and shows how much thought Endura have put into this garment.
As part of Endura's Pro SL range, this jacket is designed to have an athletic fit and it runs true to size without being restrictive. It's certainly roomier than some 'pro' level kit, but that's no bad thing for this type of kit, providing ample extra room for additional layers when things turn really cold. Personally, I found the fit excellent across the shoulders and chest and down the arms, but found the front a little longer than I might have liked. This certainly wasn't a problem as it provided plenty of protection from the weather, but given the Pro SL moniker I might have expected it to be a little shorter to prevent bunching at the front when riding in an aggressive position.
Overall, this is a brilliant jacket, and the first thing I'd grab for a cold, dry winter ride. It looks good and performs even better with genuinely fantastic wind-blocking from the smart fabric construction and other touches. The tall collar and longer sleeves make a massive difference when the wind is bitterly cold, and the small touches to the pockets are pleasantly helpful when it comes to day to day use. At £149.99 it's competitively priced and would be a worthy investment for anyone considering some substantial winter riding.
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