Endura MT500 Thermal L/S II – this MTB and gravel top has been our go-to choice for riding this winter

It’d be easy to pass over the MT500 Thermal Long Sleeve II top in Endura’s vast clothing range, but you’d be missing a top-performing multi-purpose winner

Endura MT500 Thermal L/S II review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

BikePerfect Verdict

Way warmer than you’d expect but still cool enough for harder / hotter rides, Endura’s MT500 Thermal Long Sleeve II shames a lot of pricier ‘high tech’ tops for comfort, versatility and value.

Pros

  • +

    Targeted protection for excellent wicking/warmth performance

  • +

    Impressive heat/sweat management

  • +

    Excellent cut includes bonus hood

  • +

    Practical and durable features

  • +

    Five different two tone colors, seven different sizes

Cons

  • -

    The days you wish you’d worn it but didn’t

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    No eco/sustainability/recycling info

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    Side zips can be hard to operate on the move

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The MT500 Thermal Long Sleeve is an Endura classic that sits somewhere between a riding jersey and a jacket (jerket?) in design to create one of the best bits of kit we’ve tested. It manages to combine the comfortable wearability of the former with most of the protection of the latter and the new II version gets a slimline hood too. That’s made it the go-to top for both myself and Bike Perfect editor Rich for most rides this fall/autumn/winter/spring season. So what are the details that make it such excellent versatile value?

Endura MT500 Thermal LS II

Endura turns its back on conventional insulation placement with the Endura MT500 Thermal L/S II and the results are excellent (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Design and build

Endura doesn’t attribute any fancy names to the fabrics but there’s some practical tech in play in the Thermal Long Sleeve II. The front sections all use the same lightweight, wind-resistant but very quiet ripstop weave a waffle/chequerboard wicking texture directly woven onto the inside face. That’s left ‘naked’ inside on the upper chest, back, yoke, and outer sleeve (the dark bits in the pictures). A thin, soft fleece fabric is added behind the lower front panels though. That same stretchy fleeced fabric is used for most of the back, back of the sleeves, and hood. Small sections of a ribbed ‘extra stretchy’ version of that fabric are added at the elbows and as part of the shoulder yoke too.

The hood has an elasticated hem and the bottom of the jerket has two adjustable locks for a tightening cord. The cuffs are stiffened by turning the windproof fabric back on itself and there’s a doubled-back storm flap behind the zip too. The shoulders are reinforced with silicon stripes to stop bag straps sliding off and there are side zips for large chest pockets that also double as vents. There’s a zipped inner chest pocket that’ll take most phones too.

Endura MT500 Thermal L/S II

The second generation Endura MT500 Thermal L/S adds a snug under helmet hood to the classic design (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

Both Rich and myself have been equally impressed with this top during the past few months so I’ll let him lead. “The Endura MT500 Thermal LS II has become my go-to riding jacket this winter. It’s been excellent in everything from high single-digit (centigrade) temperatures to below freezing – when paired with base layers of appropriate thicknesses. The gilet-like front section good gives wind protection, while the ever so slightly fleeced inner area keeps your core warm. I’ve yet to get properly cold in it even when soaking wet. Wicking sections at the shoulders, upper back, and tops of arms help prevent overheating. The under-helmet hood is surprisingly warm and great for chilly stops or when the wind really bites. The vented side pockets are good for dumping heat when working hard too. My only minor gripe is stretch in the fabric makes them difficult to operate while on the move.”

A man in a blue MTB top

Rich in his electric blue version (Image credit: Don NG)

I’d echo those opinions completely, but also add that its versatility and ‘whatever the weather’ comfort levels have really stood out compared to other kit I’ve been testing. I’ve gone out on numerous night rides with a shell ready to add on top as temperatures drop or weather worsens but come home happy in just the LS II. In contrast, I’ve gone out on lots of other rides, often in far more costly clothing and wished I’d worn the Endura top instead. That’s because not only is the windproofing impressive, but also because leaving the darker ‘leading edge’ bits unlined is counterintuitive genius. While most designs maximize insulation here, Endura maximizes wicking performance so you’re not left soggy and losing heat rapidly as soon as you head back down or reduce ride intensity.

The full-length zip adds extra venting while the amount of coziness the new under-helmet hood adds can’t be underestimated either. You can even bulk up chest protection by stuffing maps or anything else windproof in the roomy pockets if things get really grim.

Endura MT500 Thermal L/S II inside detail

The inside chest pocket will handle most phones and the multi-liner strategy ensures excellent wicking and moisture management (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Verdict

Endura has been in the bike clothing game for decades, but their experience really shows in the counterintuitive fabric choices made for the Endura MT500 Thermal LS II. The result is a jerket that might not seem to make sense in the shop or on the website but will blow most branded fabric kit away where it matters on trail. It’s not so specific in its cut that you can’t wear it out and about off the bike either adding even more value to its already excellent versatility.

Tech specs: Endura MT500 Thermal LS II

  • Price: $139.99 / £99.99 / €119.99
  • Sizes: S to 3XL
  • Options: Two-Tone Green (tested), Black/grey, Blueberry, Aubergine/Cream, Two-Tone Electric Blue (tested)
  • Weight: 430g (medium)
Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect since we launched in 2019. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Forbidden Druid V2, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg

With contributions from