Light but warm layer with understated styling and a high level of breathability
Winter cycling kit that works can be pricey. But with its Club Thermal Long sleeved jersey – available in men’s and women’s fit – Kalf has attempted to duck the elevated pricing trend.
We tested the female cut version which is paired in the collection with waist tights and available in two colours, the navy we had and ‘merlot’ (plum/purple).
Kalf Club Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey: construction
When Kalf first arrived on the scene, it set out its objectives very clearly: to offer quality kit with a premium worthy eye for detail at a manageable price tag.
Pulling the Kalf Club Thermal jersey from its wrapping, the fabric is light and soft with a distinct air of expense running through its threads.
Italian thermal roubiax fabric, constructed from 80 per cent Polyamide Micro and 20 per cent Elastane, is the base material. The relatively high Elastane content makes for a close to form fit and the upper back, front panels and backs of the arms feature a thicker, brushed material for additional warmth.
Closure comes from a notably chunky full length zip, and there are three rear pockets plus one zipped valuables keeper.
The navy blue version, though attractive, doesn’t scream visibility. However, Kalf has used its signature pearlescent reflective logos – these glow a faint green/yellow swirl when caught under light in the dark and are present at the lower back, sleeves and left chest.
In a nod to the summer range, the silicone grippers at the waist feature the Kalf’s emerging signature chevron print.
On first inspection, the Kalf Club Thermal jersey didn’t look to be the warmest – but pulling it on, it certainly has the feel of a premium item.
The material is soft and inviting, and slim fitting but not so much so that it feels like a race jersey that requires a deep breath to wear with confidence.
The fit is quite short – long enough that you’re never in danger of exposing flesh but it is nice to have a little extra length in winter sometimes.
I tested the jersey in a range of conditions – chilly but sunny spins hovering just below 10ºC, colder rides at 2ºC and during a full on drenching that transformed the inside of my shoes to what felt like two Olympic size swimming pools.
When riding just below the teens, the jersey performed excellently – it was breathable enough to allow me to work hard, but I felt well cocooned and cosy. The fabric is relatively light, so I paired it with a gilet for the first few miles.
The fit drew several compliments, and didn’t feel out of place when paired with the highest of high end bib tights you can get. Indeed, the two items felt quite on par.
In the wet, the jersey did suck up a fair amount of moisture when worn under a packable jacket – which is to be expected – it doesn’t boast of any waterproofing and in a deluge the unavoidable truth is that you will always get wet. In terms of warmth, there was plenty.
Down to 2ºC – on a day with a ‘feels like’ temperature that was lower thanks to icy cold winds – I used the thermal jersey as an under layer, with a windproof jacket on top. With this solution the breathability really came into its own and I could work hard without feeling claustrophobic in my layers.
All in, I’d describe this as an ideal jersey for the intermediate seasons – spring and autumn, and a breathable option suited to higher intensity rides in winter when paired with a long sleeved base layer and gilet.
One minor grips was with the extra roubaix layer sewn into the back/inside of the arm. It’s a great idea when it comes to protecting the arms – usually outstretched on the bike – from windchill. And it achieves this goal. However, it’s not flat stitched and presents a very slight nuisance.
It’s a shame also that Kalf hasn’t been able to offer matching bib tights in the women’s collection. Cycling Weekly understand the brand chose to opt for waist tights because sales across the summer range – which included bibs and waist options – were skewed so strongly in the direction of the latter that bib tights weren’t a viable option this year. However, we hope to see this change come next year.
At £75, the Club Thermal jersey from Kalf carries a price tag that sits below the premium fit it offers. Jerseys that offer similar levels of warmth and breathability are available at a similar price tag, but the fabric used sets it ahead of most.
A lightweight and breathable jersey with a touch of the premium woven in thanks to luxury fabric - ideal for autumn and spring and suited to winter rides when paired up with accessories.