Sportful’s Fiandre range, Italian for the iconic Flanders region, has been developed to deal with the changeable and usually wet conditions associated with the area. For those in the UK at least, we can certainly appreciate the attention from Sportful to these conditions.
What the Fiandre WS LRR Jacket SS lacks in a catchy name, it certainly makes up for in performance. As early adopters of taping the seams of Gore’s Windstopper material, Sportful has created a jacket that can keep out all but the worst of the weather.
Optimised for temperatures of 5-15 degrees Celsius, the initials in the jacket's name stand for: Windstopper, Light Rain Resistant and Short Sleeve. However, we would argue that this garment is definitely robust enough to be worn in more than just light rain, as we are yet to have waterproof failure from the autumnal rain.
The WS LRR is seriously impressive, combining ergonomic cut and attention to detail from Sportful with Gore’s reputation for creating some of the best weatherproof fabrics in the industry. This ergonomic cut provides a low rear to protect from any road spray from the rear wheel and a higher front to prevent bunching up of the material whilst in a riding position. A silicone gripper and slim cut keep any weather out around the waistband.
When not in a riding position, the jacket does bunch up around the upper back and shoulders and the high-cut at the front rises above the bibshorts, but if you can get past this pre-ride discomfort, the fit whilst riding is damn-near perfect.
The full-length YKK Vislon waterproof zipper leads up to an extra high collar lined with micro fleece, which provides protection from the elements and a small dose of cosiness on those early rides where you might wish you were still in bed. Additionally, the soft brushed fabric interior of the jacket adds further comfort.
Although the jacket is short sleeved, it could be more accurately described as a medium sleeved jacket. Extending all the way down to the elbow, the sleeve gives protection to the upper arms when riding in an aggressive position from any driving rain and wind. A small elastic insert on the cuff of the sleeve offers some give, but we would recommend trying this piece for size for anyone with bulkier arms — it can feel slightly restrictive and this is really the only serious disappointment with this jacket.
Paired with arm warmers, the short sleeves offer versatility come springtime as the jacket is light enough to be packed into a jersey pocket when the sun does come out and the temperatures increase.
The wind and weather proofing of this jacket does come at a slight cost in terms of breathability. It's more than adequate during a steady paced winter ride, but on longer climbs or when the pace picks up in a group ride we found ourselves unzipping the collar to prevent overheating. However, when it comes to winter clothing we'd much prefer having to unzip to cool off rather than needing extra warmth.
Three rear cargo pockets are appreciated in what can sometimes be an elusive feature on a rain jacket, and there is some reflective trim on the rear and one shoulder of the jacket, although visibility is certainly lacking here. Sportful also offers a fire red version, but this lack of any serious reflectivity on both designs should be a consideration for those who ride in the dark in heavy traffic.
For riders with smaller arms and who don't commute in darker hours, this jacket is seriously dialled for wet, windy and changeable conditions. If you get the layering correct it will be only the coldest and most extreme wet days when you will be wanting for a different piece. The versatility that comes with the short sleeves and the packability of the jackets means this is also a piece that can be used from early autumn through to late spring, keeping the elements out throughout.