First: Castelli Climber’s Jersey
Castelli’s close relationship with their pro riders is no secret and the products they inspire continue to pour out of the Castelli factory – the San Remo Speed Suit, the Gaba Jacket. The latest is the Climber’s Jersey. Only 116grams dry, Castelli uses a super light mesh called Strada Light 3D. The 3D nature of the fabric means that most of it never touches your skin, so it never clings or absorbs water. Pour a bottle over your head to cool down and moments later the jersey is back at race weight. Amazing. It features Velocity Mesh on the shoulders to stay aero, Lycra bands at the sleeves, piping at the waist keep it in place and a full zip means you can climb with it flapping in the breeze like a real pro. Nothing will keep you cooler… or should we say, less hot.
Fit: Surprisingly roomy for Castelli. If the fit is too roomy the rear pockets will shift when loaded so you may need to size down from your typical Castelli race fit, or buy the Garmin team version which runs smaller.
Sizes, Price and Pairing: Small to XXXL, $130. Pairs nicely with the Inferno bib shorts, which use seven different fabrics to keep you cool.
Keep in Mind: The Strada Light 3D fabric offers very little sun protection, sunscreen is mandatory.
Second: Assos SS.Uno_s7
Based on the original SS.Uno, a staple of the Assos line for many seasons, the SS. Uno_s7 is designed to take the everyday jersey to the next level. Not a purely hot weather garment Assos uses four separate textiles, 15 patterns and 12 separate components to help the SS.Uno-s7 perform when the sun is high and hot. A new mechanical weave process creates a garment that is a low volume single layer fabric with two distinct surfaces yet is incredibly light, dries amazingly quickly and enjoys comfortable stretch. Spandex panels on the shoulders keep the fit as perfect as a Swiss watch and an antibacterial treatment reduces odor and fights the aging influence of sweat. In contrast to many other hot weather jerseys the SS. Uno_s7 provides UV 50+ sun protection.
Fit: As the fit is designed around the European race standard, if you are a medium in the US, you are a large in Assos. Of all the jerseys here, the SS. Uno_s7 provides the closest, most comfortable fit while riding.
Sizes, Price and Pairing: XS to XXL plus a Wide XXL, $200. The NS.skinFoil undershirt helps the jersey shine on even the hottest days.
Keep in Mind: This jersey is expensive, but will last a lifetime and different Assos base layers can be used to extend its usefulness well beyond hot weather riding.
Third: Primal Axios Helix
If the Primal name conjures up images of a Pink Floyd jersey, a beer belly and New Balance sneakers paper-boying up a half-century climb, you would be forgiven. Now Primal Wear will be on the riders 30minutes up the road to. The Axios Helix is made from three fabrics, open mesh SLR Ion at the front and back, dimpled Z92 aerodynamic sleeves and AE Elite mesh side panels and shoulders for more airflow. It all adds up to a jersey that doesn’t cling, even when wet, dries very quickly and handles extreme heat better than any jersey in its price range. A full zip, three pockets, silicon waist grip and a simple folded seam at the sleeve round out the jersey’s Spartan features. The fit, called Racecut, was unexpected – simply fantastic. Comfortable in the riding position with sleeves that lay flat, shoulders that never flapped in the breeze and pockets within easy reach it gives up nothing to the Italian made race fit patterns.
Fit: This is race fit for Americans. If you wear a large Primal recreational jersey, you wear a large race-cut, it will just be close to the skin and designed for a more aggressive riding position.
Sizes, Price and Pairing: Small to XXXL, $100. The Axios Helix Bib mates the same race inspired fit with matching graphics, compression and their top of the line HX8 chamois.
Keep in Mind: Race cut is designed to be comfortable on the bike, not in line for BBQ after the century, so be sure to make your decision after replicating the riding position in the dressing room.
Honorable Mention: Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Climber’s Jersey
Pearl Izumi approached this jersey from a singular focus – ventilation. Instead of vented panels in strategic places Pearl Izumi makes the entire jersey out of their Direct Vent material. There are no Lycra panels or carbon infused micro fibers, just ultra-light, ultra-breathable Direct Vent. The Elite LTD Climber relies on silicon grippers at the waist and elastic at the arms to keep the jersey in place. Acknowledging the rider who wants to excel climbing on a hot day is fit and performance oriented they have given the jersey two additional sizes, small/medium and medium/large to help deliver the perfect fit. A full zip, three pockets and fourth sweat proof security pocket make this a great companion for long days in the heat.
Fit: Pearl Izumi’s sizing is generous. Our tester, 6’2” and 174lbs, rode a medium looking for a jersey that didn’t billow up top, which did sacrifice some comfort at the waist. A better fit would have seen this jersey reach the podium.
Sizes, Price and Pairing: SM to XXL, $100. Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O. In-R-Cool bib shorts use Direct Vent uppers, the same material used in the jersey.
Keep in Mind: At $100 the Elite LTD Climbers jersey utilizes simplicity to deliver hot weather performance. Don’t expect a jersey full of high-tech fabrics and all-weather performance.
Capo GS13 – Capo changed the way cycling brands approached clothing forever by focusing on kits, not individual pieces and the GS13 is their latest example. The jersey is packed with fabric technology to keep you cool, literally and figuratively. Price: $200
Exteondo Elevation – Named after the small village in Spain where it was founded in 1976, the Elevation represents Exteondo’s top of the line jersey made of lightweight, fast drying, antibacterial and highly breathable Tactel fabric. Price: $180
Mavic Helium – A storied name from a storied brand, the Helium is super lightweight and uses AirLite ST fabric to pull moisture from the skin and let it dry quickly. It also provides a high level of UV protection. Price: $120
Giordana FR-C – Ultra lightweight, fast wicking fabric designed to fit right against the skin is kept strong with carbon threads. This also prevents the rear pockets from sagging when full or snagging when you reach into them, a very nice touch. Price: $200
Rapha Team Sky – Was it inspired by the original peloton kit? You be the judge. We do know it has been designed to handle the July heat with ColdBlack technology and if you want your name on the side like Froome you better start training. Price: $210