Of all the seasons, winter really seems to ask the most of cycling gear. Not only is it cold and prone to be wet, but unlike in summer it’s difficult to finish a ride of any length wearing the same thing as at its start. Though everyone knows this, it can be hard to find clothing that works well with other layers to accommodate the varied conditions that cooler weather riders inevitably face. Made largely of a mid-weight synthetic fabric with a soft brushed interior, GORE BIKE WEAR’s Power II Thermo jersey just such rare beast. It is a close-fitting mid- or outer-layer that, since its arrival in October, has been in use non-stop, quickly becoming my favorite winter jersey. Hit the jump to find out why.Though not as form-fitting as some of its stablemates (being classified as “slim” rather than”tight”), the Power II Thermo jersey is one of the better-cut tops I’ve worn. Everything about the jersey is designed around the riding position. Don’t be surprised if it feels a bit funny in the bike shop changing room, but everything from the raised hem and snug collar to the dropped tail and long, pre-bent sleeves comes together when on the bike. Slightly thinner and stretchier panels (black in this color combination) provide for a bit more flexibility where it’s needed and less heat retention where it isn’t. Subtle but surprisingly visible reflective accents are sewn into chest, tail, and arm seams and there are the usual three pockets and elasticated hem at the back.
Over a short-sleeved base layer, the Power II Thermo can be worn as an outer from the mid-40s (off road) to the mid-50s (on it). As it’s not particularly wind-resistant, it is when layered that the GORE jersey really comes into its own. Under a mid-weight soft shell, the Power II is comfortable down to just below freezing on the road bike. Off-road, I’ve worn it under no more than a wind shell and stayed happy despite temperatures in the 20s. Alright- as happy as an idiot riding in the snow when it’s that cold can be. Next to its pricier sibling, the Oxygen Thermo, the Power II Thermo’s strategic use of thinner fabric improves thermal management (especially under a commuting or hydration pack) and the lack of a zippered back pocket is more comfortable as well. The slightly stretchier cuffs are also an improvement and can be more easily pushed up skinny cyclists’ forearms when things get too warm.
At $110, the Power II Thermo isn’t an inexpensive piece of clothing. That said, as I almost always wear it over a short-sleeved base layer, it’s easy to get several days’ worth of commutes (or a couple of commutes and a mountain bike ride) out of it between washings. Its versatility means that it can be used for three seasons as well. This being the case, I am already well on my way toward getting $110’s worth of use out of it. Despite its complex multi-panel design, the Power II Thermo appears very well put together, and the GORE Oxygen Thermo jersey (made of the same fabric) has held up wonderfully over the past fifteen months or so. For anyone looking for a warm long-sleeve jersey, I’d recommend that the Power II Thermo be their first stop.