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Stop looking for that one missing arm warmer hiding with your odd socks. Go ahead and stuff your long-sleeve jersey and rain shell into the bottom of your dresser drawers. Summer is finally here and it’s time to work on your farmer tan, a farmer tan so shocking the entire beach will stop and stare when you peel off your T-shirt. To help you get there we’ve spent the last few weeks riding in every short-sleeve jersey we could find, many of which are helping Tour riders perfect their own farmer tans this July.
Words: Ben Edwards
Assos SS.Cento [ left ]
Looking for the perfect jersey to pair with the greatest long-mile bib shorts ever made, the Assos s7 T.Cento? The SS.Cento has been given a new fit aimed squarely at the long-mile rider. It’s contoured to eliminate excess material, but not quite as fitted as the SS.Uno for those of us with a more “amateur” physique and bike fit. Any long day requires good temperature regulation and the SS.Cento features new Type 145 fabric, which helps wick moisture away with lightweight mesh panels at the underarm across an ideal temperature range of 65 to 90 degrees. Those panels are highly elastic ensuring that a free range of motion goes hand in hand with the breathability. Three generous pockets, a zippered security pocket, headphone slot and reflective accents add to the jersey’s long-mile functionality.
Up Its Sleeve: The SS.Cento Type 145 fabric is pretty intelligent stuff. When your body temp increases, it speeds up moisture-wicking to increase cooling; when you cool down on a descent, the jersey slows down evaporation to keep you from getting chilled.
Fit: While this Assos fit is designed to be a bit more relaxed, be prepared to size up if you are comparing to U.S. jerseys. It is still the ideal entry point for new Assos riders who favor a more relaxed position on the bike. $249; Black, Blue, Red, White, Yellow; assos.com
Giordana FormaRed Carbon [ right ]
One of the best jerseys ever made, Giordana’s FormaRed Carbon, or FRC, wears its technology unabashedly. It starts with Asteria 2.0, a compressive fabric with a surprisingly soft touch. Giordana then uses carbon threads in strategic panels to control the exact direction of the fabric’s stretch. The three rear pockets and zippered security pocket also use this fabric, called Host Carbon, to keep loads secure when you hop out of the saddle. The cuffs are aero, the underarms mesh, and the waist uses more carbon for a secure fit. To all of this add Giordana’s decades of experience with race fit and you have a jersey unlike any other, one that truly moves as one with your body on the bike.
Up Its Sleeve: The FRC’s Asteria 2.0 fabric uses a super-high thread count, which provides a surprisingly soft feel against the skin other compressive fabrics just can’t match.
Fit: It’s Italian, it’s high-end, and it’s at home on the racecourse, so we were surprised to find the sizing fairly realistic for the FRC. Slim riders, even tall ones, will find a Medium jersey snug, aero and comfortable. $200; Red, Blue, Black, White, Fluo/White, Fluo/Black, Lime; gitabike.com
Pearl Izumi P.R.O. LTD Speed [ left ]
With the aero race jersey for the BMC Racing ProTeam designed at Pearl Izumi’s Speed Shop, the name for this one was a no-brainer: P.R.O. LTD Speed. It combines P.R.O. Transfer fabric and P.R.O. Aero fabric to create aerodynamics, breathability and UV protection. In-R-Cool allows Pearl Izumi to use dark colors yet still keep surface temperatures low enough to recommend the jersey on days with triple-digit temperatures. The jersey is structured around an aggressive race fit, and two back pockets deliver enough storage for fast club rides and local racing—and your team can get it custom too. A third, hidden water-resistant pocket means it’s perfect for the summer lunch ride when electronics and a few bucks need to go with you.
Up Its Sleeve: Speed Sleeves, Pearl Izumi’s patent-pending anatomic sleeve construction, is reported to save more watts than a pair of aero wheels—a fact Taylor Phinney displayed during his winning stage 5 breakaway at the 2014 Tour of California.
Fit: Pearl Izumi may be based in the States, but the sizing of this jersey is based on the svelte racers of the BMC squad and called Tailored European. If you ride in Pearl Izumi’s Standard U.S. sizing, size up for the P.R.O. LTD Speed. $135; White/Black, Electric Blue, Red/Black; pearlizumi.com
Castelli Aero Race 5.0 [ right ]
Castelli has been a pioneer in aero apparel since day one and has now evolved to a place where its aero jerseys are not only faster than ever, they do everything else just as well as traditional race jerseys do. The new Aero Race is not only significantly faster than the previous Aero Race, it’s actually faster than last year’s San Remo Speedsuit. Velocity Dry fabric on the chest and back of the neck with 3D fabric that wraps down the arms to cover the back keeps the Aero Race 5.0 very comfortable in a wide range of climates. The three back pockets are generous and use a high-compression band to keep the contents locked down even out of the saddle. Castelli has managed to create this aero fit and keep it put without a lot of gummy silicon grippers at the sleeves and waist.
Up Its Sleeve: While this is an aero jersey first, it weighed 109 grams for an LG, putting it in the territory of dedicated climbing jerseys; and thanks to its quick-drying fabrics you’ll be comfortable rocketing down the other side as you use all of that aero advantage.
Fit: Castelli set the benchmark for diminutive sizing. If you wear a medium U.S. race fit, you might have to swallow your pride and go XL with the Aero Race 5.0. It also takes a few moments of tugging the sleeves and the waist into the right position, but then it stays put and stays comfy all day on the bike. $180; White, Olive, Black; castelli-cycling.com
Voler Black Label [ left ]
The newest iteration of Voler’s top-of-the-line Black Label gear is inspired and informed by the thousands of custom team kits Voler makes. With a foundation of Airies Micro Plus fabric, Black Label jerseys manage to remain light and very durable with a soft, natural touch. Genesis fabric is used in strategic areas to help drive moisture from your skin to the fabric’s outer surface, keeping you and the fabric dry in the process. Other numerous high-end features abound that make its $100 price tag hard to believe—flat-lock seams, reflective accents, silicon grippers and laser-cut flat armbands. A full zip and three generous pockets with a zippered security pocket round out the Black Label, making the jersey a true workhorse in any rider’s wardrobe.
Up Its Sleeve: Some 99 percent of Voler apparel is made in Grover Beach, California, giving Voler the ability to iterate very quickly and unprecedented control over every aspect of production.
Fit: Not surprisingly for a U.S. manufacturer, Voler’s race fit is roomier than Europe’s. Riders wanting a very snug jersey will need to size down, and riders graduating from a more relaxed cut will find Voler’s race fit a great place to start. $100; Black, Grey, Red; voler.com
Craft Elite Bike Attack [ right ]
The lightest of the light, the Craft Elite Bike Attack jersey feels as though it’s made out of material too light for a base layer. If you can see the Orica-GreenEDGE riders’ tan lines through their kits at the Tour this summer you’ll know they are wearing their Craft EB Attack jerseys. The fabric is a super-lightweight mesh and uses a fiber alignment called hexa-channel. This allows the EB Attack to pull moisture away from your skin to the outside of the fabric where it can quickly evaporate. The specific hexa-channel fabric used on the front of the EB Attack weighs only 86 grams per square meter, giving a size large jersey a total weight of just over 100 grams. While the jersey features a full zip and a fourth zippered security pocket, other features are kept to a minimum. The sleeve’s hem is simply folded and the waist features silicon only on the back.
Up Its Sleeve: Ergonomics is Craft’s specialty, and a background in multiple sports, including Nordic skiing, has led to Moving Wing Technology—a specific cut and level of elasticity used at the shoulders and back to ensure proper fit and unrestricted movement.
Fit: Maybe its because this company is from of the land of the Vikings, but Craft’s performance fit is quite similar to U.S. performance fit; that is to say, a Large is really a Large, with a longer torso and wider shoulders than an Italian Large. $150; Black/Red, Black/White; craftsports.us
GORE Xenon S [ left ]
The Xenon S is the ideal jersey for riders ready to graduate to a more technical, form-fitting jersey, but not quite up to the full WorldTour pretzel fit. Made of polyester and elastane, the Xenon has a smooth form-fitting chest and shoulders with extremely lightweight mesh back panels. Multiple reflective highlights give you peace of mind when the day’s ride rolls on past sunset. Nobody does pockets better than GORE, and the Xenon has four. The side pockets are tapered for easy access and the fourth pocket is a zippered security pocket that doesn’t take away from the jersey’s performance feel.
Up Its Sleeve: Most of the edges and hems of the Xenon are bonded and taped rather than stitched for super lightweight and smooth contact with your body or base layer.
Fit: The Xenon S is a bit roomier than typical Italian sizing, and size Large is a form-fitting Large. While the fit is still designed for the riding position, it’s comfortable in a more upright endurance position. Riders with a lot of handlebar drop may experience some tugging at the sleeves. $150; White, Red/White, Red/Black, Blue/White, Yellow/White; goreapparel.com
Bontrager RXL Summer [ right ]
Staying cool with simplicity, that is the name of the game when it comes to Bontrager’s RXL Summer Jersey. Profila Cool mesh provides the majority of the fabric—chest, back, side panels and even the pockets—with a little Profila Dry over the shoulders. The slight 3D nature of the Profila Cool mesh weave keeps most of the fabric from ever contacting your skin, which helps you better regulate your body temperature and makes it dry incredibly quickly. The fabric is so supple that it does a very good job wearing comfortably in any riding position and even off the bike, despite an unstructured fit.
Up Its Sleeve: The Bontrager RXL Summer Jersey is cheap. It provides the cooling and comfort on a hot day of jerseys costing twice its $110 price tag.
Fit: Bontrager calls the RXL Summer “fitted” versus its race-inspired “pro fit”—so size-down for the RXL Summer. Due to its unstructured nature it needs to be worn close to conform to your body, but once it does, it essentially disappears on your skin. $110; White, White/Cyan; bontrager.com
Santini Interactive Aero [ left ]
Aero is great when the speeds are high, but lousy when it means your sweaty jersey is clinging to your chest as you climb. Santini has combined an incredibly close, aero fit with light, slick and breathable Artico fabric on the chest and sleeves, along with micromesh Lycra on the back, to regulate temperature and moisture despite the tight fit. No jersey we have ever worn provides a more sculpted fit at the arms and shoulders. There will be no watts lost due to flapping sleeves with the Interactive Aero. A full zip and three pockets, which provide a very stable hold on the contents, make it ready for long days.
Up Its Sleeve: Interactive means the jersey has a small zip at the rear that meets a corresponding zip on the Interactive bib shorts to turn this two-piece set into a road racing skinsuit.
Fit: Large is small and small is tiny. This is for racers; belly fat and muffin tops need not apply. The on-bike fit is designed to work with an aggressive, WorldTour position, probably because Team Belkin helped design it. Needs to be paired with Interactive bib shorts for maximum results. $235; Titanium, Black, Royal; santinisms.it
Rapha Super Lightweight [ right ]
This is Rapha’s typically refined, finished and beautifully crafted take on pure hot-weather summer wear. Based on three proprietary synthetic fabrics that are designed to be light and cool under pressure, the jersey leverages them in specific areas to meet specific demands. The main body is comfortable against the skin, the mesh panels under the arms provide exceptional breathability, and the cuffs and collar are extra-soft for comfort in those high-friction areas. The jersey weighs only 125 grams yet still maintains the feel of natural textiles and a slightly vintage look. Adding to its technical performance is fit designed for a fairly aggressive riding position.
Up Its Sleeve: Don’t let the handlebar mustaches and tattoos fool you, the Rapha Super Lightweight Jersey is a technical jersey designed for riding fast in the hottest conditions. So what if you look great grabbing a locally roasted and sustainably sourced iced coffee afterward?
Fit: The jersey’s fit is in line with its technical nature, but not as small as Santini’s or Castelli’s race fit. Some larger riders wanting a tight-fitting Medium will be limited by the jersey’s tight-diameter neck, which is surprisingly inelastic. $160; Light Blue, White, Chartreuse; rapha.cc