Endura MT 500 Long Sleeve Jersey: Quick Review- by Grannygear
Gravel clothing. Did you just roll your eyes? I saw you, don’t deny it. I bet that most gravel riders wear the clothing that they already have, so if they come from the road side of things, it is three pocket, close fitting jerseys and bib shorts. If you came from MTB, then you might be a baggy wearing, looser fitting jersey kind of gravel rider.
And that is just fine really, as both make sense. Personally I go more roadie dressed than MTB for gravel rides as the experience feels more road-ish to me than not, but a looser fit is not a bad deal, especially if the ride is more adventure based.
My experience with Endura technical clothing has been mostly from the MTR line of gear which is a bit race focused or at least fast performance, if you will. The windproof front jerseys and snug shells have been well used and enjoyed over time, holding a permanent place in my closet.
But if we widen out to MT500, which is more general purpose MTB in its use, then we can explore some clothing that might well cross over into gravel, and if you mountain bike too, then all the better.
One item is the MT500 Thermo L/S Jersey, kind of a ‘Shacket’ deal in that it has features of both a jersey and a jacket all in one. [https://www.endurasport.com/product/mt500-thermo-ls-jersey/] From the website:
Part of our award-winning MT500 Collection, don’t let the new Thermo L/S Jersey fool you by its minimalist design: this MTB wardrobe staple is a super versatile, highly durable, insulating mid-layer which can also be worn as an outer layer.
- Insulated, brushed back, wicking main body fabric
- Durable, stretch windproof sleeves
- Windproof front panels
- Side zipped pocket system
- Silicone shoulder prints and gripper hem elastic at rear
- Large front zipped pockets with glasses wipe
- Don’t chill on the trail
- 90 day Satisfaction Guarantee
- MSRP $119.99
I wore this over the mid to late winter and always had it as an outer layer with either a long sleeve or short sleeve base under it. I have the LG version for sizing.
I have come to really enjoy windproof clothing that allows for less layers while retaining warmth. Typically we are not in seriously cold conditions here in So Cal, but the winds can bring the chill, making it feel colder than it is. The trick with a windproof garment is balancing breathability with protection. The Thermo jersey actually does a very good job at this balancing act. The wind blocking fabric is in the sleeves and the chest where it makes the most sense and the back and sides are stretchy fleecy. Some thought went into all this and even the sleeves have a bit of a stretch panel built in near the wrists as the wind blocking fabric does not really give very much.
There are pockets in the front…big ones…and two zippered pockets at the hips/back. The collar is about right in snugness and height and the overall the feel of the garment is comfy. So after some good rides in it, here are my thoughts for the good and less than good.
- It has a nice balance of weight vs. protection with room to adjust layers underneath, having a cut that is not roadie snug or extra loose.
- The wind is sure stopped in those sections that are designed for that, but with the open fabric in the rest of the garment, and with a big front zip, you can get the moisture out pretty well.
- Even without a LS base under it, the sleeves did not feel swampy when I did build up sweat in them. And when I did, which you will, the moisture was able to dissipate in a short time.
- The Mango looking color is a nice blend of visibility yet not screaming Hi-Viz.
- Rain will obviously get you in this, but the front panels will shed water well, and if you are moving on and it is just a bit drizzly, it actually works very well to keep you happy.
- The two zipped rear pockets add security to whatever you have in there.
The Less Than Good:
- The sleeves are a bit short. Not just for drop bars, which this was not really meant for, being an MTB thing, but even for me with a flat bar. You can see that in the pics of me wearing it. Cold wrists, I often had.
- The cut is a bit tight at the shoulders when leaned forward on the hoods, but then again…MTB based.
- There are features that make no sense for gravel use, but obviously do for MTB, like the rubber gripper parts on the shoulders that help keep a hydration pack in place, and even the pocket design.
- The big front pockets I could do without. If I put anything like a phone in there or even heavy snacks, it would hang down away from the body as I rode. Annoying. And that sunglasses wipe cloth that is in the left pocket? That thing would pop out when ever I did use the pocket for extra gloves or a snack bar and hang out like a happy little flag, flapping in the wind in search of something to wipe. One word…scissors.
So here is what I would do with what is a compelling garment if I were to tweak it for gravel use:
- Lengthen the sleeves.
- Relax the shoulders/across the back a bit. Just a bit.
- Lose the front pockets, as when you do put something in there, if causes the jersey to hang down away from the body and I don’t stand around with my hands in my pockets anyway when on a ride.
- In place of the front pockets, keep the placement of the zippers and make them vents, not pockets, so I can increase air flow when I need to. As it is, the pockets do not get past the windproof sections of fabric which makes sense for a pocket, but not if they were vents. Duh.
- Add a chest zipped pocket (med size) and add a center, non-zipped back pocket since I will not be using it with a pack on.
Taaaa Dahhhh! Saddle up. So in some ways it is not perfect for gravel use to my liking, but it is still a versatile garment and well worth having as an all-rounder. I like it very much, and although the sleeve length is a show stopper for my ape-y arms, the rider (with shorter arms) that I will be passing it on to is happy as he used it on a cold, clammy, and windy ride and was pretty excited to make it his own.
NOTE: Endura sent over the MT 500 Long Sleeved Thermo Jersey at no charge to Riding Gravel for test and review. We were neither paid nor bribed for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
About The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.