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Cycling clothing: Polartec's got your back all year round

7 Aug 2017

Heritage meets innovation for the ultimate in high-performance cycling wear, whatever the conditions

This feature was produced in association with Polartec

Today’s pro cyclists know that the right kit is just as essential to success as training and nutrition.

In the cold, wet and grimy Spring Classics, staying warm and dry is vital to maintaining optimum performance, while on sun-kissed summer stages in the Tour de France, lightweight, breathable fabrics will stop them overheating.

These demanding requirements are why many pro team kit suppliers turn to American firm Polartec for the high-tech fabrics that form the foundation of their performance cycling wear.

Founded in 1906 in Massachussetts, Polartec’s 111 years of experience and constant striving for innovation keep the firm at the forefront of technical fabric design.

Indeed, so immersed have they become in the world of cycling that they have now partnered with double Tour de France winner Alberto Contador to support his under-23 development team.

It’s not just the pros who benefit, though – amateur cyclists can also ride in comfort all year round thanks to Polartec’s cutting-edge fabrics, which appear in many of your favourite brands.

So, next time you’re updating your cycling wardrobe, here are six key Polartec fabrics to look out for...

Six key Polartec fabrics for year-round performance

1 Polartec Delta

In the height of summer, the Polartec Delta fabric featured in the RH+ AirX Lite Jersey (£60, works harder and smarter to keep you comfortable and cool.

It’s all down to the unique way the fabric is constructed in a breathable, hydrophobic (water repellent) and hydrophilic (moisture attracting) yarn blend.

Its specialised elevated knit construction lifts the fabric’s yarns, resulting in increased airflow and moisture dispersal, with no rubbing.

By holding the sweat within the fabric before it evaporates, it also uses the moisture to provide an invaluable skin-cooling effect.

2 Polartec Power Stretch

Some days it’s too cold for a standard jersey but not cold enough for a jacket, and it’s days like this when you might turn to Castelli’s Potenza Jersey (£175,

It’s made with Polartec’s Power Stretch, an incredibly strong yet stretchy fabric that’s designed to give a close, comfortable fit in a tight-knit yarn for superior warmth with excellent breathability.

The fabric’s high tensile resilience means it will keep its shape no matter how hard you’re working on the bike, maintaining optimum performance.

3 Polartec Alpha

Designed for colder conditions, Polartec Alpha is a key feature in Rapha’s Brevet Insulated Jacket (£150,, a garment that is designed to keep you warm and dry on long winter rides.

It works by using low-density fibres sandwiched between permeable woven layers, to provide adaptable breathability and active insulation – this means it responds to both changeable conditions and your activity level (whether you’re riding hard or taking it easy) to keep you warm, comfortable and dry, so there’s no need to keep adding or removing layers while riding.

And it does all this while remaining lightweight and packable enough to stow in a jersey pocket.

4 Polartec Power Dry

Base layers are among the hardest working garments in the cyclist’s wardrobe, which is why you should look for one made with Polartec Power Dry.

A bi-component construction makes it incredibly efficient at wicking away sweat, actively pulling moisture away from the skin and transferring it to the outer surface to evaporate and dry quickly.

And being a mechanical wicking fabric, rather than using a surface treatment, it’s guaranteed to never wash away, performing superbly for the entire lifetime of the garment.

5 Polartec Power Shield Pro

Polartec’s Power Shield was the original soft shell fabric, but Power Shield Pro takes it to the next level, combining superlative air permeability with durable water resistance to keep you dry inside and out during dynamic riding.

While the abrasion-resistant surface layer locks warmth in, the middle membrane layer blocks out 99% of the wind, allowing 1% through to enhance moisture vapour transmission – making Power Shield Pro up to 50% more breathable than standard windproof soft shell fabric.

6 Polartec Neoshell

A truly revolutionary engineering breakthrough in waterproof, breathable fabric technology, Polartec NeoShell – as used in the Sportful Fiandre Extreme NeoShell Jacket (£255, – provides unrivalled protection against the elements while at the same time doing a superb job of allowing body heat and moisture vapour to escape.

It achieves this through dynamic air exchange at the surface, preventing water and wind permeation from outside, while the sub-micron membrane layer releases moisture more easily from within.

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