Autumn/Winter Special: dhb Aeron Rain Defence Range Review
Autumn/Winter Special: dhb Aeron Rain Defence Range Review
Review of the dhb Aeron Rain Defence Range.
The dhb Aeron Rain Defence Range is great; there you go, job done! Ok maybe a little more detail is required. I’ve been taking the Rain Defence clothing out on days when I would much rather be inside on the turbo, just to prove to you, dear reader, that yes, it actually works. If you’re looking for an outfit that you can wear on wet days when you need to turn in a performance, then the dhb Aeron Rain Defence Range is what you need.
We’ve all been there; looking at tomorrow’s weather and it’s not looking good for the ride. Maybe it’s a race, a sportive or a hard training session; you can’t bail, but that weather looks bad. What are you going to do? Well with dhb Aeron Rain Defence you can ride it without bundling under layers of flappy, sweaty rain gear. Instead you can ride around in a race fit jersey and base-layer, knowing you’ll be able to perform to your best abilities.
If you’re of a certain age then you might remember having to don multiple layers of clothing when getting ready for foul weather. It would be ok to start, well a little bulky; ski gloves weren’t always the best on the bike. But you could do it, however after half an hour, you would be sweating like a maniac and getting wetter from the inside out. You’d finish the ride frozen and dripping, wishing for the good weather to return.
Thankfully those days are long gone. With modern lightweight, breathable fabrics, treated with DWR coatings, we can ride all year. I’ve been using dhb’s Rain Defence clothing over the winter and have come away really impressed. On test were dhb’s short-sleeved jersey, bib-shorts and arm and leg warmers; all I needed for some foul weather riding.
The Rain Defence range is made from a highly breathable, mid-weight fabric; it’s heavier than a summer jersey, but not much. Unlike most water-proof clothing dhb don’t tape the seams in their Rain Defence clothing. Taping seams on water-proof items stops water getting in through the holes made when sewing. So why not on the Rain Defence kit? According to dhb taping would reduce the breathability more than it would increase water-proofing, so they left the seams un-taped. They’ve also put in a rear vent across the shoulders to help relive heat build up. Both the jersey and bib-shorts use this material, while the arm and leg warmers use a different material that is water-resistant.
Starting with the jersey and straight away you feel it’s different. The material has a smooth, almost rubbery feel to it. There’s more stretch than with a Goretex type jacket, so fit is good. The cut is a racing one and there was no flapping excess material; important for an item like this. While the sleeves are short, they are long short sleeves! Not to the elbow like some, but longer than a standard short-sleeved jersey.
A full length zip is covered by a rain guard, to prevent water being driven in. Two pockets run across the back and are covered with a flap to stop water getting in there; nice touch. They’re big enough to take gloves, or extra clothing and a reflective strip runs across the flap. A third, water-proof zipped pocket sits on the right pocket, good for phones, money or car-keys. Getting my hands into the pockets required a bit of extra thought if I had gloves on, but nothing too difficult. A dropped tail extends cover for your posterior, always appreciated on wet days. This can be folded up if you want and another reflective detail sits here, adding to poor light visibility. You can get the jersey in pro-look black or a red and navy colourway; logos are small and discrete, great if you are racing.
The shorts have the same feel as the jersey, but with more stretch, making pedalling easier. The straps are perforated so they don’t get too damp while riding. Leg grippers are long, with a lightly patterned silicon grip that didn’t leave strange marks on your thighs! The CyTech Comp HP chamois was very comfortable; if I’m suffering in the wind and rain I really don’t need a sore rear as well. This was one comfortable pad, in ‘cross races, long road rides or CX Sportives it did it’s job and kept me riding. In some events this meant having gritty mud and sand blasted at them, but nothing got in to cause any discomfort. Again logos are kept to a minimum and flex with the fabric; so far they have proved resistant to washing and look to stay that way.
The arm and leg warmers are made from a different fabric and are rated as water-resistant rather than proof. While the front feels similar to the shorts and jersey, the rear has a brushed Roubaix finish on the inside. Silicone grippers kept them in position, with no annoying slippage. The fit is tight, which was perfect for my skinny cyclist arms and I went with a small size. With the legs however I needed to go up a size to a medium and I’m no Michael Hubner! The rear of the legs are made from three separate panels, which are noticeable when you first put them on, but not while riding.
So that’s the description, how did they perform? Well as you might have guessed from the intro I was impressed. Riding in temperatures below 10 degrees centigrade, with rain and wind is never pleasant, but sometimes it’s gotta be done. With the Rain Defence gear it was definitely doable. I was amazed at being able to go out the door with only a lightweight base layer under the Rain Defence jersey. I thought “OK, this is going to be a short ride”, but no, instead of running back home to get warm, I was able to stay out for three hours. During the ride it rained for just over half the ride, varying between a fine drizzle and “blimey! Where’s the ark?”
As I wanted to get a proper test, no mudguards were used; lucky me! The leg warmers took a huge amount of water on board and although they stood up fairly well, once I hit the flooded back lanes I could feel they had been beaten. Although to be fair Wiggle do say they are only water-resistant and earlier in the ride they had done their job. They were warm though and I found they were great on really cold days and for riding practice laps in ‘cross races. Once the rain stops they do dry out quickly though, which means you aren’t left with cold water sitting on your legs.
The jersey was definitely the stand out item in the range. It was warm all through the ride and didn’t feel wet at all. The fit was good, so there was no ‘flappage’ going on; which can be annoying into a wind. The rear bum flap stayed in place and extended a bit more warmth to my rear end, which was nice. With no guards on the rear it also kept some of the road spray off my shorts, although some will get through it helps on long rides. With the wind blowing cold and the rain increasing, I found I was feeling cold around my stomach. I think this was due to water running off the jersey and soaking the shorts, where it was chilled nicely by the Arctic wind. It didn’t last long, but was the one point where I felt a little uncomfortable.
The full length zip meant I could let some air in when climbing, but the rear vents and overall breathability was so good that I left it zipped for most of the ride; also it was bloody cold! I thought I might have some problems getting in to the covered pockets, but it wasn’t an issue; apart from the usual glove induced clumsiness. If you overload the pockets then the contents will be exposed, but on fast training rides/races there’s only so much I carry anyway.
At journey’s end I unzipped and must admit was amazed, the dhb Merino short-sleeved base layer was dry. I expected to find it wet after the ride, from sweat if not rain, but no, beyond a bit of dampness where it sat under the shorts and jersey, it was dry. As I said for the warmers, they had dried out nicely and my legs and arms were now dry and warm. The shorts too had dried, and like the warmers had a nice crust of road crud, but the chamois was dry.
So that was a three-hour fast ride, in the rain, wearing a waterproof and I wasn’t soaking. This is a very impressive bit of kit and would make a useful addition to anyone’s racing wardrobe. In fact not just racers, I would recommend dhb Rain Defence clothing to anyone who wants to brave the elements. Well done dhb, that’s a cracking bit of kit!
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