Apparel & Accessories

Reviewed: Bontrager B2 Windshell long-sleeve base layer

Bontrager's windstopper undershirt is an easy upgrade to make a standard skinsuit or jersey a little warmer, but it comes at a cost

This could be the shortest product review you ever read.

Three words: It works awesome.

But here at VeloNews — although we do appreciate brevity — we know it can’t be so simple. Though I quickly fell in love with the Bontrager B2 Windshell base layer, you’re probably going to want a more thorough explanation of why a $95 undershirt is worth consideration.

Some riders won’t need this type of base layer at all. If your cold weather saddle time happens mostly at your leisure, it’s easy enough to have a jacket or vest that will keep out the chill during long, slow winter miles.

However, if you’re racing in cold weather, a windstopper base layer is a godsend. After wearing the B2 under a non-thermal skinsuit in a cyclocross race where temperatures dipped below 20 degrees, I was sold. The fabric on the chest does a remarkable job of keeping your core warm. The arms and back are a breathable, yet moderately insulated material.

The B2 would also be great under a long-sleeve jersey, if you weren’t inclined to wear a wind vest. But the fit is tidy enough to make it easy to wear with a tight skinsuit.

I also put Bontrager’s undershirt to good use on a 30-degree mountain bike ride, underneath a jersey. Given the wild variability between sweating up a slow singletrack climb and blasting down a fire road, the B2 was a pretty good alternative to a jacket that might make me sweat, although the undershirt alone wasn’t enough protection for extended, fast descents.

As for the price, it’s steep but it’s on par with similar undershirts, like the Pearl Izumi Barrier long-sleeve at $90.

Bontrager’s undershirt is indeed awesome, yet it is designed to meet a very specific need. It probably doesn’t make sense if your winter pastime is Belgian beer, rather than Belgian cyclocross.

But if your waking hours are consumed by tinkering with the optimal glove choice for next weekend’s ’cross race, you’ll love the way the B2 undershirt can provide invisible protection beneath a standard kit.

We like: Stops cold wind in its tracks, trim shape fits easily underneath a skinsuit, and the fabric provides insulation, even outside of the windstopper panel.
We don’t like: $95 is a lot to pay for an undershirt … But hypothermia isn’t cheap either.
Price: $95 >>