I recently got to test a cool weather cycling top, created by our internal cycling apparel designer extraordinaire. To sum things up, the Spark long sleeve jersey is a stylish piece that doesn’t compromise on functionality.
Things I like about the jersey:
Breathable, moisture-wicking fabric
Zippered front pouch
Longer back panel
Things I’d change:
Not very windproof (but can be paired with a shell)
Wider colour selection (I want this jersey in bright blue, pink, etc.)
Over the last three months, I wore the Spark jersey in various conditions: for downhill shuttles, all-mountain rides up and down Fromme, and XC rides on the Shore and in Squamish; in warmish sunny weather (12°C), in constant rain (8°C), and on a cold, sunny late November afternoon (2°C).
The fleece micro-check texture on the inside works two ways to ensure your comfort: it creates a soft insulating layer against your skin when it’s cold, but it also has tiny air channels around the checks that allow air to circulate and move moisture away from your body towards the smooth outer face where it dissipates and evaporates in dry weather. Although I found the Spark a bit warm for XC riding when it was dry, sunny and 10°C or warmer, I didn’t overheat and I appreciated the insulation whenever we’d stop. You can always unzip the mesh-lined kangouroo pouch to allow heat to escape if you get a bit warm. For really cold temperatures, I’ll try layering it over a merino wool base layer.
In the rain (that not-too-heavy, yet constant West Coast rain), the jersey did eventually soak through, but it took a while, and I think it had to do with the fact that water was coming up at me as well as down on me. Whatever protection the trees offered from the rain, it was rendered useless once we headed home down Jack’s Trail, which had become a narrow stream. By the way, my jersey was thick with mud at the end of this ride, but it came out perfectly clean after one wash.
Although the high neckline doesn’t really stay up unless you’re wearing the hood, it remains a nice feature as it’s still high enough to create a barrier against cold drafts on the ride down. The hood is also very handy once you’re done riding and want to conserve all your body heat. Some gals might find the sleeves a tad long, but I’m happy to pull the extra length over my hands when I get cold. The jersey is cut longer in the back, which I personally appreciate since I hate feeling a draft on my lower back when I’m leaning forward.
My only complaint would be that I really felt the wind come through the fabric when I was going down a long straightaway. However, more windproof often means less breathable, which is not what you want in a garment designed for high-output activities. You can always throw on a shell if need be.
All in all, I love the Spark long sleeve jersey. It’s super comfortable, nicely cut, moves with your body, and is pretty sweet looking. I’d even wear it when I’m not mountain biking if it wasn’t always in the laundry pile. If you’ve got a mountain biker on your Christmas list, get her this top with the matching Prolix shorts, Transmontane gloves, and Smartwool PhD socks. That should get her stoked.