Spatz started with premium, extra-long overshoes that rewrote the rules on keeping your feet warm in foul weather, then followed up with gloves, base layers and an incredibly warm but minimal gilet. Now it's gunning for a share in the best mountain bike jerseys market.
The Squadron jersey is part of a new range of regular cycle clothing, but as usual for Spatz, it's designed and tested by a team of ex and current pros and gold medal Olympians for maximum performance, regardless of price. That’s a lot of hype to live up to with a price to match, but if you’re a gravel or cross-country rider who likes hammering day in, day out and/or wants to carry extra stuff, it’s an investment well worth making.
Design and aesthetics
Spatz is big on 3D fabric for its base layers, so it’s no surprise the Squadron gets some variable depth to its material in the form of broad vertical ribs in the lower front panels and right up the back. The yoke, upper chest and sleeves use a very stretchy yet still slightly windproof fabric, while the inner sleeve and flanks of the jersey are an open 3D mesh. In terms of cut, the sleeves are long enough to sit just above the elbow, and the body of the jersey gets a deeply textured gripper on the rounded hem to keep it in place. The collarless neck is round and open like a skin suit, with a full-length double zipper up the front.
The Squadron literally shines in terms of detailing too, with reflective lettering used for both big yoke and pocket top logos, sleeve and chest text, and even inside the mesh pockets on the back and right triceps. These pockets are backed up with three deep jersey pockets and a weather-resistant zipped sub pocket with a headphone cable port into the host pocket. There’s a small, seam taped pop-through slot for a headphone/radio wire just to the right of the collar, too. The anchor points for the hems of both lines of pockets are reinforced with small squares of backing fabric to handle heavy loading over time. While the squares of white backing fabric can’t be seen from the outside, they look incongruous on the inside, especially as a couple of them are off-center. We mentioned that to Spatz though, and it’ll be getting that sorted ASAP.
While some of the best mountain bike jerseys go for a more natural fabric feel, the super-stretchy material of the Squadron is as synthetic as they come, but the initially cold feel dissipates almost immediately. The high stretch of the fabric keeps the T-shirt sleeve cut snug and flap-free and there’s still enough stretch to get arm warmers under them without cutting circulation. There are a few radiating wrinkles from the armpits when on the bike, but there’s no loose material flapping on the upper chest and the nape of the neck and shoulders are totally flat and clean which is crucial for minimizing drag. The leading edge fabric is also slightly windproof, which is noticeable and welcome on fast descents or colder mornings. Once you’re used to the synthetic feel, the ribbed body fabric is comfortable throughout a broad bandwidth of temperatures from double figures centigrade upwards and it dries fast after showers. The collarless design and open side mesh and underarms are unsurprisingly where you’ll notice wind chill first, but they definitely help with cooling, and the whole jersey wicks fast if the pace or weather is hot. The double-ended zip gives you plenty of top, bottom - or both - air-con options as well.
While it feels a bit more of a reach around than normal at first, the narrower footprint of the back pockets also keeps load lumps tucked out of the smooth airflow on your flanks rather than creating loaded love handles. The fabric pockets are also higher than normal which means a bit more contortion to get to them, especially if you’ve squeezed into a small size. The extra height means you can tuck in a pump or other bulkier items without worrying about them shaking out if you’re head down on rough descents though. The outer mesh pockets are also separated enough to make ‘blind’ pocket-picking from the two different levels relatively easy. If the standard three pockets are enough, the mesh ones are useful for empty wrappers or other litter too. The zipped pocket is useful for keys, and if you are running cabled headphones the ports for those are obviously a bonus.
The pocket on the right sleeve can be used for an emergency gel or small energy bar, but if you ride on the left-hand side of the road it’s also a great place to put an LED light that can flash backwards and outwards for extra visibility.
The Spatz Squadron jersey is definitely premium-priced, but the fabric fit and performance are excellent in both broad temperature range comfort and minimal drag. The level of thought that’s gone into the features and detailing gives it a real practical edge, too, particularly if you like to load up for a long ride or be prepared for changeable conditions.
Tech Specs: Spatz Squadron jersey
- Price: $169.99 / £149.99
- Colors: Khaki/black (tested) and black/black
- Sizes: S, M, L