Lightweight summer cycling jerseys, often known as climbing jerseys, have been around for a while for the men; thankfully there seems to be a steady trickle into the women's department too, with the Sportful Bodyfit Pro W Evo jersey the latest on the market – we took advantage of the recent scorching conditions to put it to the test
Creating a more-or-less transparent jersey for women must be a bit of a conundrum for most cycle clothing manufacturers. I like to think the biggest question is how to balance sheer mesh fabric with society’s modesty requirements for female chests.
However, I also suspect there’s an underlying question about the demand for extreme temperature clothing: women’s hot weather kit development may well be filed under the same category as freezing-cold-weather clothing, many brands seemingly still unsure if us dainty women are actually capable of riding in such conditions.
So firstly full marks to Sportful for recognising that our sex doesn’t dictate our ability to ride in challenging temperatures and bringing the Sportful Bodyfit Pro W Evo jersey to market.
Designed in collaboration with riders of Trek-Drops Cycling Team the jersey is aimed at high-intensity rides, basically because it’s made from multiple lightweight mesh polyester panels that are incredibly breathable and quick drying. This composition of fabric also makes it ideal for really hot days in the saddle even if you aren’t an intense rider.
In total there are 11 panels and three different fabrics used. The shoulders, arms and sides use a perforated polyester/elastane; the front, a slightly denser pinprick fabric of similar properties, with the rear a reasonably sheer waffle polyester.
This combination of materials not only allows for the all-important breathability and quick drying requirements but also enables the Sportful Bodyfit Pro W Evo jersey to fit like a second skin while maintaining an element of front modesty and being impressively lightweight at just 124 grams.
When pulling the jersey on for the first time it’s clear just how fitted it is, with the shoulders and arms, thanks to their raw-cut finish, just adding about a millimetre of tiger-tight fabric to your skin. The shoulders also create the neckline with a barely-there collar, following the trend for aero jerseys these days, which also keeps the overall jersey weight down.
I was really pleased to see three usable rear pockets which were perfectly sized to take spares, nutrition and still have one pocket all to my phone. I also was pleased that the siliconed waist held the jersey firmly in place, even while out-the-saddle climbing with unevenly distributed pockets.
Riding the Sportful Bodyfit Pro W Evo jersey on the hottest day of the year so far at around 25/26°C and on cooler days of around 19/20°C, I was surprised that the jersey still had an element of versatility to it depending on your choice of base layer.
In fact, I actually went sans base layer on the hottest ride with just a sports bra underneath and although modesty wasn’t on my mind, thanks to the slightly less transparent front fabric, the fact I wasn’t wearing suncream under my jersey was. Thankfully it didn’t cause any issues on that ride as there were sections of shade, but it did make me aware of the importance of applying a good sports suncream for days when you have limited sun protection on on the road.
I was really surprised at how comfortable the jersey was without a base layer. Previous attempts have just left me sweatier than when wearing one, but the Sportful Bodyfit Pro W Evo jersey did well at preventing sweatiness in the first place, and also wicking it away when I did eventually succumb to the heat after a while, and also drying out really rapidly.
Available in four colours and six sizes gives the Sportful Bodyfit Pro W Evo jersey a lot of kerb appeal. With women's-specific climbers jerseys somewhat thin on the ground, Sportful has a captive audience, but this doesn't detract from the excellent design, fit and function, with the £90 price tag fair for a great summer jersey.