Louis Garneau Course Wind Pro LS Jersey
Louis Garneau Elite 2 Women's Bib Tights
Winter Kit Keeps the Elements at Bay
(Editor's Note: Sheri tested and reviewed the full women's kit, while John Marsh tested the men's Course Wind Pro LS Jersey on its own. See his capsule review below.)
I live in the Chicagoland area and loathe having to go indoors on the trainer when the weather changes. So a few years back I invested in a fat tire bike and some warm(er) riding gear. I previously reviewed Garneau’s Cove Hybrid Jacket and found it to be awesome for warmth and comfort, so I was interested to put their winter jersey and bib tights to the test, too.
My first impression of the kit was that it looked and felt "high-performance." The attention to detail – from the placement of the reflective elements and wind protection to the sophisticated graphic design used sparingly but thoughtfully – was evident. My only negative first impression was that Garneau used mesh for the lower back and abdomen areas of the bibs instead of carrying the thermal material higher. I’ll discuss this later in the review.
Garneau Has Another Winner with this Jersey
This is one terrific jersey. It is very versatile and can be worn in different temperatures from cool to very cold just by adding a base layer or jacket. I’ve worn the jersey in temperatures ranging from 27 F to 65 F degrees (-2.8 C to 15.5 C). At 60 degrees I wore it on its own, with no base layer. As the temperature drops I’d add a base layer. For very cold conditions, I’d wear it with a base layer under a jacket.
In all conditions, it kept me warm, comfortable and dry thanks to the fabric having both wind-breaking and breathable properties. There’s very little bulk since Garneau uses light-weight fabric and a racer cut, meaning it fits snugly. This makes it ideal to wear under a jacket, and not at all bulky if you choose to wear a vest on top of the jersey.
The jersey sports 3 rear pockets with reflective trim, which is unusual for a winter jersey; most don't have open pockets. I found it easy to retrieve and store items in the pockets even with gloves. The center pocket also doubles as a multimedia pocket. There’s a small slit on the inside of the jersey to let you fish through a headphone cord.
(Note, the photo at left of the back of the jersey mistakenly shows the rear hem in black; the hem is actually in the same neon yellow color as the sleeve cuffs for added visibility, as you can see from the jersey-front photo at the top of this review.)
Another nice design element is the cycling-specific collar. It is lower in the front so as not to restrict movement. The back is higher to protect you from the wind and cold. I never had an issue with a cold wind going down my back even in the drops.
The 4-way stretch fabric and pre-shaped shoulders let you have a close-to-body fit without being restrictive. I found no issues with fit even when I added a base layer.
Details and Fabrics are Jersey Highlights
The two Polartec fabrics used in this jersey make it comfortable, breathable and wind-blocking. Some of the key details include:
- Polartec® Light Wind Pro for 4-way stretch wind-breaking and breathable hard-face knit with brushed back for next-to-skin softness and warmth
- Polartec® ThermaSoft 180 provides stretchability and thermoregulation to keep you comfortable as the pace picks up
- A wide silicone gripper along the back hem keeps the jersey from “hiking up” when in the drops
- Full-length zipper with inner flap for added comfort and warmth
- UPF/SPF 50 for sun protection even in the winter
Men's Course Wind Pro LS Jersey – Capsule Review
While Sheri was putting the full women's kit to the test, I was testing the men's Course Wind Pro LS Jersey only. It's the same jersey, at the same price, with all the same materials, tech features and advantages as the women's version.
About the only difference is the look, which is a bit more masculine. I tested the black/gray version pictured here; there's also a black/bright yellow version available. Note that I would also give the jersey a 4-and-a-half stars rating for its overall quality, performance and utility.
Unlike Sheri, I was already familiar with Garneau apparel, having tested the Course Power Shield Jersey a couple years ago – and still loving it for its utility and versatility. So I was eager to try the 2017 version of the Course Wind Pro long-sleeve jersey.
It's difficult to add much to Sheri's thorough review, other than to point out that during the testing period, unlike Chicago, Atlanta had yet to reach any real winter temperatures. So my testing was purely with the jersey on its own, or coupled with a base layer. Like Sheri, I reached for the jersey at about 60 F degrees and lower. It's a great stand-alone substitute for a regular short-sleeve jersey, base layer and arm warmers. Putting a base layer beneath it took me comfortably down to the mid-50s, and on the warmer days it didn't get uncomfortable if the day happened to heat up to the mid-60s, either.
When I do get out in real winter temps, I can see coupling this jersey with a jacket and possibly base layer to easily stay comfortable. It makes for another versatile addition to any active cyclist's winter wardrobe. —John Marsh
Bib Tights Offer Comfort and Warmth
For winter bibs, these are light-weight yet provide protection from the elements, including cold, wind and water. With a good amount of compression in key areas, yet 4-way stretch at the knees, I never felt restricted during my pedal stroke. I tested these bibs both on my road bike and fat tire bike.
In addition to the compression and freedom of movement afforded by the articulated knees, I appreciated the fact that these bibs kept me warm down to 35 F degrees (near 0 C). The 7-inch (18-cm) ankle zippers made for easy dressing and undressing. And coupled with the Course Jersey, they make a highly fashionable, warm winter riding kit.
But the tights had some negatives, as well.
The biggest downside is that the bibs are constructed of mesh down to the lower back and abdomen. Most winter bibs you see have the thermal fabric covering at least the lower back (which keeps kidneys warm) and part of the abdomen. It seemed like Garneau took a winter tight and added a summer bib to the top. (Interestingly, a few weeks after receiving these bibs, I bought a pair of Garneau Women’s Course Elite Bib Tights on sale for $149.99 (from $299.99), which do in fact have more coverage on the lower back than the Course 2 design.)
In addition, the front bib closure is easy to use, but you still need to remove the jersey to reattach when nature calls. And I found the bib inseam and torso a little short for my 6-foot frame. I would have liked about another inch on the torso length and two inches on the inseam.
Fabric Technology Used in the Bib Tights
Below are some of the fabrics used in the Course Elite 2 bib tights that make them comfortable, dry and warm.
- Double layer of Super Lite Dry at front and back for protection from wind and water.
- Additional layer of Heatmaxx at the knees provides 4-way stretch opaque construction knit with brushed back for next-to-skin softness.
- Carbon-X Mesh made with carbon fibers, its compressive properties help blood circulation to increase resistance to fatigue.
- Power Mesh four-way stretchability for breathability and quick drying of bib straps. As I mentioned earlier, I’d like to see this material not be carried down into the lower back on a winter tight.
5Motion Chamois for Added Comfort
This was my first time testing Garneau bibs. I found the chamois to be comfortable, especially after a few washes to soften it up. However, I did experience some chafing in the soft tissue area on longer rides.
The 5Motion ergonomic shape is patented by Garneau. Some of the technical elements of the chamois include:
- Combines 3D pre-shaped wings and a deep split at the back bridged by vented mesh to allow for multi-directional motion and comfort
- Mesh area at the front adapts to the body for increased comfort and moisture-wicking.
- The top sheet contains carbon fibers and has high-tech bacteriostatic properties.
For winter riding, this kit is a good option for keeping the elements at bay. While I give the Course Wind Pro® LS Cycling Jersey a near-perfect rating, I feel the bib tights come up a little short. I really feel that the mesh bib design shouldn’t be carried down to the lower back and abdomen on a winter garment. However, with that said there are still some very nice elements to the bib tight that makes the jersey and bibs a very fashionable, high-performance, warm winter kit.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio.