by Tom Hill
May 9, 2013
A rather special jersey-with-extras.
The Endura MTR range is apparently for the ambitious cross-country rider. While the marketing might risk sounding a bit woolly, its aim seems sound: functional, lightweight kit for moving quickly in. In the same way that Equipe is Endura’s ‘prestige’ road brand, MTR is intended to sit above the work-a-day, but reliable MT500. There is a clear cross country, almost racy bias to the kit and it comes as no surprise that it was developed with input from professional ride-round-in-circles-quickly-type-person Oli Beckinsale.
With a prestige tag, a higher price inevitably follows. £70 is a lot of money for a long sleeve jersey. However, I think Endura is underselling itself describing this top as a jersey. It definitely tiptoes the line between warm jersey and very lightweight jacket. Think of a long sleeve Lycra jersey. Now, imagine that on the front and arms Lycra is replaced by thin, stretchy windproof material that’s soft to the touch. The main back and underarm sections are then replaced with a super breathable, mesh-like material. The top retains the close fit of a Lycra jersey and the standard three pockets (and handy zip pocket) at the back. There is also a well thought out internal pouch, perfect for popping a phone into and running headphones up the inside of the jacket, should you wish to. Styling is stealthy black, with the odd flash of orange and some well-placed reflective flashes. Fit will flatter racing whippets, but your riding mates will be able to tell if you had an extra Weetabix in the morning, let alone over-indulged on your hols.
There is plenty of stretch in the fabric, making the jacket extremely comfortable to wear. Despite being thin, the windproof material does a good job, and sheds splashes of water well. It has also worn excellently, despite the odd brush with undergrowth and multiple washes. The slim cut of the jacket fits best with Lycra shorts, or baggies with thinner fabric. When teamed with a base layer, and working hard, I was comfortable in temperatures down to near freezing. The back panel also does a good job of releasing built up heat, especially when riding without a pack. As a result, I found that this was a top best suited to rides where I kept moving. Solo training rides – great. Lingering, chatting over a puncture repair, or pootling at a sedate pace – risk of chilling quickly. In warmer conditions the windproof fabric quickly started to feel clammy, which means this is not really the best year-round choice [though a short-sleeve version of this top is now available too – Ed.]. Cyclocross season was unusually mild this year, but I’d imagine it would be a perfect top for racing in on sub-zero days. It does also roll up into a relatively small bundle; fine for a back pocket or small hydration pack, and nice to pull on for late-in-the day descents now it’s spring.
I’ve used this jersey a lot. Far more than I expected to. A regular long sleeve jersey and a gilet would do the job almost as well and potentially be more flexible, but when the conditions suit it, the Endura works really well and performs a crossover between mountain bike and road use without compromising performance or looking out of place in either environment. A very well thought out piece of clothing that is probably just worth the price tag.