Questions mark persist over whether the design will become commonplace, but if judging the jersey on what it actually is as opposed to comparing it to standard offerings, it scores near enough full marks. It's got everything you'd come to except from a Velocio product: slim fit, breathability, good stretch - and also the price tag, an asterisk that certainly limits who can justify the spend.
Great, slim fit
Star quality design
Not ideal on the hottest of days
There’s an expectation of what a cycling jersey looks like, and Velocio have thrown a major spanner in the works: the zipper’s gone and the front better resembles a snug-fit sports shirt mostly commonly seen in sports halls and gymnasiums.
When I first unboxed the signature zipperless jersey, it took me a few moments to come to terms with what I was presented with. Zipping up a jersey is not just an essential part of getting dressed for a ride, but unzipping it to allow a bit of air to be breezed against you is just what we do.
They say we don’t like change, but after two months of testing, it turns out I’m quite a fan of such a radical overhaul of the cycling jersey. Velocio have won me over with their zipperless take on the modern jersey.
It’s been a battle in deciding how to judge this jersey: do I rate it on its actual offering, or do I compare it to traditional jerseys? If I’m to do the former, then a near five star is on the cards; if I’m to opt for the latter, it gets four simply because I don’t see how zipperless jerseys will ever take off, regardless of how good Velocio’s product is. Some traditions shouldn’t change, and I think I’m in that camp.
Nevertheless, Velocio have produced an antidote to what’s gone before and created a stylish, well-fitting jersey that performs and looks just as good as a jersey that sticks with what we all know.
In keeping with expectations, environmentally-friendly clothing is now becoming the standard bearer in cycling garments, and Velocio are across the board with this, claiming that 85 percent of the fabric used is recycled. They break down the jersey’s material as 90 percent recycled polyester and 10 percent elastane, the latter a key element in the jersey’s compression fit. Another thing to note is just how light the jersey is.
The absence of any zipper means that the jersey is all uniform up until the low profile collar, joined in the middle by a simple white cut that really gives this jersey, at least from the front side, the look of a running garment.
Down to the sleeves and the jersey is bordered by a slightly thicker white strip that does a great job at maintaining position; the hem of the jersey, meanwhile, remains the same colour and has the right amount of elastane to also stick exactly where it ought to.
To the back and the jersey looks every bit like a standard one, packing in three normal sized pockets that are easy to access, including one zippered pocket that is the right size for keys or whatever else you’re extra-conscious about keeping that bit safer.
Over the course of eight weeks I tested the light olive coloured jersey in the mountains of Catalonia, the relentless rolling hills of northern Spain and mostly across the length and breadth of Portugal. It responded to every test I put it through - except in one scenario that I’ll come to.
Such locations mean that I’ve worn this jersey in a varied range of temperatures, accompanying it with arm warmers on chillier outings that didn’t impact its fit or performance, and it feeling breathable when the mercury rose above 30 degrees.
The fit is slim and quite racing-like, and it fitted to my body shape better than most jerseys have in the past. Its compression was so good that I have little doubt it would impressively show off any pectoral muscles I could theoretically one day have, a prospect that to my disappointment is highly unlikely ever to happen. Such fitting quality is a testament to this jersey’s stretchability.
When ridden under the sun, the light olive jersey gives off a golden hue to match the colour of my arms - wishful thinking yet again - that adds to the premium-look, while the small logo on the upper left keeps the entire design clean and simple, resisting the need to over-complicate matters.
What did cause a bit of complication, though, was removing the jersey with stuff still stuffed into the pockets. It’s a minor complaint, and one that can very easily be resolved by emptying pockets before undressing, but pulling a jersey laden with keys, wallets and a gilet over the head became that little bit harder to do.
Initial hesitancy to ride the zipperless jersey was borne out of a fear of other riders assuming that I wasn’t across cycling standards, but this was overcome very quickly once I realised that the jersey itself is up there with the very best I’ve ever worn.
Velocio, an American brand only formed in 2014, say that the idea behind doing away with the zipper is because a wide-flapping cape isn’t necessary on a day-to-day ride. And they’re absolutely right: we barely ever move a zipper down until the ride is over.
But when we want a bit more air, when we’re climbing up a mountain or battling against intense summer heat, the option of zipping down a jersey is as welcome as dipping our head into cooler water to cool us down. It’s, some would say, a saviour. It's why this jersey is perhaps left at home on hot summer days, and saved for cooler summer rides and the shoulder season.
On more than one occasion, I found myself frustrated at being deprived of the zipper option, although this must be tempered by saying that even on such occasions the jersey never felt stuck to me, constantly and consistently wicking away the sweat and maintaining its breathability.
That, ultimately, is what is behind my dilemma in how to present this review: in comparing it with tradition or judging it solely on what it is. Even by doing the former, and the disgruntlement that comes with that, this jersey still didn’t reduce performance output, and nor did I feel significantly deprived without air hitting against my open torso.
Value and conclusion
Will this zipperless style take off? Do Velocio even intend on rewriting the rulebook? The answer to the first question is a near certain no, and the second response is no doubt a shrug of shoulders; it’s most probably not their intention, it’s just another line in their increasingly vast and highly-rated collection.
Zipperless jerseys will remain an outlier, that I am convinced of. But I’ve also been persuaded that they don’t mean reduced quality, and perhaps most importantly they don’t signify a poorer look on the stylist count. As one rider said to me: “Despite its aytpical look, it fits you so well.”
Would I buy one myself? Providing I could stump up the cash, now knowing how they are to ride and how I look while wearing one, yes, I would. And that’s the biggest compliment I can give a jersey that I was originally - and understandably - so very sceptical about.
Sizes: XS - 4XL
Colours: navy, light olive, sky
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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