Polartec’s brilliant lightweight Neoshell fabric in a close but not clinging cut, creates a super versatile wear-all-day-in-all-weather activity shell. It’s heavier and bulkier than alternatives though, and pocket placement will frustrate some
- - Outstanding breathability
- - Excellent temperature management
- - Versatile any bike or off bike fit
- - Comfortable, quiet soft shell feel
- - Reasonable waterproofing
- - Reasonable price for fabric
- - Very thoughtful detailing
- - Expensive
- - Size down for ‘Chrono’ fit
- - Heavier and bulkier than a traditional shell
- - Some riders will miss rear pockets
Polartec’s Neoshell material has been around for a decade, and if you can afford the price it brings softshell-style comfort and durability to the world of the best waterproof cycling jackets.
Giro’s Chrono Pro jacket sounds specifically super aero and training-focused, but is actually styled to be a lot more versatile while still working really well on the bike. The resulting pocket placement won’t work for everyone, though.
Design and performance
Neoshell has been around for a while but it’s still relatively rare because of its price, and even though Giro has dropped a chunk off the price, the Chrono Pro Neoshell is still expensive. The fabric performance is genuinely superlative though, as long as you understand how it works. Like most shells, it has a DWR water repellent layer that rolls rain droplets off for a couple of hours when new, but even once it’s wetted out we only experienced ingress through the 10k-rated fabric on ‘leading edge’ areas like the shoulder tops.
It’s still got a quiet, softshell feel both inside and out, so there’s none of the normal clamminess and shiver when it’s on bare skin or even over a thin base layer. Where it really excels though is breathability. That’s because it’s not only very permeable in terms of sweat vapour, unlike most membrane fabric it doesn’t need you to get hot inside to create the pressure to push the heat and humidity outwards. That actually feels a bit weird and cold at first, because while it’s windproof there is still some air circulation and there’s none of the initial heat capture of a conventional shell. At the point where you’d normally start reaching for the zip or realising you’d actually worn too much underneath, the Neoshell has a very impressive ability to feel ‘just right’.
This really helps avoid the normal too hot/too cold roller coaster of longer rides with changeable weather, and it’s become my go-to ‘we’ll be fine whatever happens’ outer layer.
Long, subtly cowled sleeves, tall but not choking collar, dropped tail and a waterproof front zip with external and internal baffles on the top 90 per cent of it give excellent draught sealing. The fact the bottom 10 per cent is left exposed for easy connecting and zipping, shows the level of thought that’s gone into the Chrono Pro as well, and there’s plenty of reflective detailing without it looking weird on a dog walk or even around town.
If you’re keen on maximising the Chrono aero aspect, there’s plenty of stretch in the fabric to support sizing down, but my medium has been great for gravel and even mountain biking use without being too flappy to feel disadvantaged on the road. The single-zipped chest pocket with an internal headphone port works well for general wear or biking with a backpack or waist pack too.
However, the lack of traditional rear pockets is definitely at odds with the Chrono Pro name, and its position at the peak of Giro’s road cycling category. This is especially true as even when dry, this lightweight Neoshell is considerably heavier and bulkier than a normal waterproof shell. Together with the fabric performance that makes it great as a ‘put on and leave on’ outer layer (where you’d expect to have pockets), but not so good as a whip on and off ‘just in case’ shell (where you wouldn't expect to have pockets). Obviously whether that’s a big issue is on you, and the increasing number of the best cargo bib shorts available for adding storage reduces the reliance on a jersey rather than a base layer underneath.
Giro’s Chrono Pro jacket uses Polartec’s brilliant Neoshell weather management fabric in a subtle, versatile but still high-performance cut that works really well for every sort of riding, or just athleisure moments. This versatility and inherent toughness help offset the high price but it does make the name slightly confusing, and traditional roadies are going to be disappointed when they reach round the back. Weight and bulk aren’t on its side for back pockets or bikepacking either.
Tech Specs: Giro Chrono Pro Neoshell jacket
- Price: £249.99 / $300.49 / €298.99 / AU$441.49
- Weight: 263g (medium)
- Sizes: S - XXL
- Colours: Black or Vermillion
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