Giro Chrono Expert Wind Vest

Lightweight, form-fitting, and packing away into an integrated pocket, could the Chrono Expert be the ideal gilet for Spring?

Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Giro Chrono Expert Wind Vest has an excellent fit with the 2-way stretch fabric of the main body, while the perforated rear panel provides excellent breathability—even when working hard. An integrated packable pocket makes the gilet easy to stow away, but the lack of any pockets for storing essentials when riding—or access ports to the jersey pockets—does limit its practicality.

For
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    Lightweight

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    Packs into own pocket

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    Highly breathable

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    Form fitting

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    Reflective detailing

Against
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    Zip is on the ‘wrong’ side

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    Doesn’t have usable pockets

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    Doesn’t allow access to jersey pockets

Giro’s Chrono Expert Wind Vest is a lightweight shell, designed to take the edge off colder weather, but also to be easily packable should the conditions take a turn for the warmer.

Pairing just as well with a breathable fleecy long sleeve jersey as a lightweight summer short sleeve, the range of application extends right from the very start of Spring all the way up to the end of the autumn, making this a highly versatile garment.

Although the Californian company is perhaps best known for its helmets, it also has an extensive range in shoes, shorts, jerseys and other cycling apparel.

The Construction: Giro Chrono Expert Wind Vest

Giro Chrono Expert Wind Vest

Two disctinct fabrics are employed in the Giro Chrono Expert Wind Vest. Perforated for breathability, the back panel has a 100% polyester construction. Whereas the main body is 100% Nylon, featuring a 2-way stretch which makes this gilet significantly more form fitting than many other shells—although it still isn’t quite a ‘second-skin’ type fit.

Happily, the Nylon fabric is also approved by Bluesign—an independent verifier of responsible and sustainable manufacturing.

The elasticated hems help to keep the fit snug, minimising the potential for any draughts to shoot through the gilet, cooling you down and making it act as a parachute.

With a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating, the Chrono Expert Wind Vest will provide some protection if caught out in a shower. But as a gilet, wet weather protection isn’t main objective of this garment. For those rides which you know are going to be soggy, a dedicated winter jacket or hardshell rain cape would be the better option.

Giro Chrono Expert Wind Vest

For sunnier weather, it’s good to know that this gilet has a UPF 50+ rating of the main fabric. This fabric mostly covers the front of the gilet, which isn’t the area where you tend to need so much sun protection. Although that said, it does extend to the tops of the shoulders and so would provide some valuable protection there.

Unfortunately, no UPF rating is given for the rear panel, which is really the most important area when it comes to sun protection for cyclists. As the material here is heavily perforated, I’d imagine that not much protection is afforded.

However, with the wind blocking properties of this gilet, you’d likely overheat if you tried to use it solely as a sun block. A UPF rated jersey would be a better choice for sun protection in hot weather, keeping the Chrono Expert Wind Vest for the applications to which it is best suited, i.e. blocking the wind.

The ride

Giro Chrono Expert Wind Vest

I found the fit to be pretty spot on, there was no irritating flapping even out on breezier days. At the same time, it didn’t feel at all restrictive, which is an impressive balancing act to pull off with this kind of shell—even one that has 2-way stretch.

The balance between breathability and isolation from the wind was equally good. I didn’t feel clammy at all, even when putting in harder efforts. Paring the Chrono Expert Wind Vest with a long-sleeved fleecy jersey made an excellent combination for those chillier days. Taking the bite out of the wind for the first part of the ride, while being quick and easy to take off once it had warmed up a little bit.

As the pack size is so small, it isn’t an imposition to bring the gilet along on any ride as a just-in-case layer, popping this on immediately once stopped is great for trapping in some of that warmth when fixing a puncture, for example.

There is an integrated stuff sack pocket, which is excellent for keeping it neatly tucked away. I didn’t use this so much on rides, tending to just stuff it in my jersey pocket. But when organising my kit the day before a big ride, or even just within my chest of draws, it makes everything significantly neater.

But this stuff-sack can’t be used to store anything in when out on a ride, and there are no additional pockets anywhere on the Chrono Expert Wind Vest. This isn’t an issue in itself, but as there isn’t any easy way of getting to your jersey pockets—be it by an access flap at the back or a second zip so the gilet can be undone from the bottom at the front—it’s very difficult to quickly reach your essentials.

The other issue I had was that the zipper is on the opposite side to all of the other jackets and jerseys I’ve used. This made it a lot more difficult to pull on the gilet when riding and relying on muscle memory. I never got quite used to it while I had it on test, but I suppose if you are using it day-in and day-out as your only gilet, you probably will become accustomed.

Value

In terms of value, the Giro Chrono Expert Wind Vest sits comfortably in the middle of the range. There are cheaper options, such as the Alé Nucleo gilet which comes in at £50 and is similarly lightweight and windproof—although it doesn’t currently come with a women’s specific option.

At the other end, there is the Le Col Sport Soft Shell Gilet which will set you back £85. We found that the significant amount of stretch from the mesh rear panel provided such a comfortable fit, it was easy to forget it was even being worn.