The Le Coq Sportif Performance Arac jersey is a lightweight option for the summer, although we suspect many people will buy it as much for its classic looks as for its performance.
The simple design looks like something out of the 1950s (see Rapha) but the Arac jersey is made of modern materials. The front panel is almost-perforated polyester. You know the kind of thing: it's not quite a mesh but the inner face is covered in tiny holes that don't quite go the whole way through the fabric. Lots of air comes through and that textured surface doesn't easily stick to your skin – well, not as easily as if the holes weren't there. It dries pretty quickly too.
Although it looks very similar, the rear panel is actually even more like a mesh. You can't see through it but it's even lighter and more breathable.
The sleeves are a mixture of polyester and elastane and they're very, very stretchy. Even those with twig-like cyclists' arms will probably get a close fit here although those with bulging biceps might find the silicone strip inside the end of the raw-edged sleeve a little tight. I'm somewhere in the middle and found the fit to be close but comfortable.
I didn't find the body to be cut quite as close as the sleeves but it's certainly on the slim side. A silicone-lined elasticated band draws the hem in while a reasonable amount of stretch in the fabric means that the jersey will suit slightly heavier builds too. There aren't too many seams here, Le Coq Sportif having kept things simple with few panels, but all of them are flat-stitched so you can barely feel them.
If you find yourself getting sweaty despite the breathability of the fabric, a long front zip allows you to let more air in. It's not quite full length but it does reach down to about navel level and that's really useful when the temperature is high. The zip is pretty well hidden when done up.
Although it looks like you get a pointed collar like off of ye olden dayes, that's actually a panel that's completely sewn down so the tips can't flip up in the wind. This is a feature that Le Coq Sportif use across their cycling range. It's a brand with a lot of heritage having created a jersey specifically for cyclists as long ago as 1929, so why not play up the fact with some classic-looking features?
The inside of the collar is lined with a red triangle print that's intended to reference the Tour de France's red polka dot King of the Mountains jersey. That's another association that Le Coq Sportif like to make having supplied the Tour de France leaders' jerseys from 1951 until 1988 and again from 2012.
You get three pockets in the lower back, as is usually the case, the tops of the side two being slightly slanted for easier access. The only other feature to mention is the reflective logo on the left shoulder blade. It would be better on the right shoulder for us Brits and anyone else who drives/rides on the lefthand-side of the road, but Le Coq Sportif is a French brand so that's understandable. We know they're French, by the way, because there's a little tricolor detail on the back of the neck.
Downsides? I must say the Arac doesn't resist odours particularly well (you could say that about a lot of polyester jerseys) and there are certainly multi-panelled jerseys out there that are more cleverly shaped rather than relying on stretch in the fabrics. That said, this jersey is designed to look classic, so that approach wouldn't really look right.
If this colour option doesn't do it for you, the Arac jersey is available in a few other designs including black/white and one covered in red triangles – like those on the collar lining of this one, but much bigger.
Lightweight and breathable summer jersey in a classic style
road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Coq Sportif Performance Arac Jersey
Size tested: Medium, 2 sent - Green/Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Le Coq Sportif say, "With the same technology as the jerseys worn by Tour de France leaders, this multi-panel jersey contains four different materials to put you up there with the best cyclists.
"It is entirely breathable thanks to the use of complementary, specially-adapted materials and cut close to the body for ideal aerodynamics. The back is made of moisture-wicking mesh for improved breathability, and there is a 3D mesh piece on the top of the back to optimize heat evacuation. The jersey's ergonomic structure is completed with silicone strips to keep it in place when racing and prevent air penetration, and flat seams to prevent chafing.
"Inspired by the authentic 1951 yellow jersey, with a collar lined in the brand's signature print, the contrast stripe on the chest recalls vintage jerseys. The model printed with mini-triangles makes reference to the jersey given to the "King of the Mountains"."
It's well made with flat seams throughout and a YKK zipper.
The fabrics are good but they're not the most advanced out there. You can certainly get jerseys with more breathability.
The flat stitched seams are very welcome if you don't use a summer base layer. The sleeves are close fitting but very stretchy.
I feel that you're paying a bit for the heritage and style here but it's not a bad price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Not the most technically advanced jersey but it puts in a decent performance with lots of style.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The close-fitting sleeves and the stylish looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Personally, I'm not into the fake collar look, but that's a matter of taste.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.