The new Sportful R&D Cima jersey offers excellent hot weather performance with a very figure-hugging, race-ready fit that makes it ideal for summer cycling and racing.
Sportful works closely with the pro teams it sponsors and learns valuable lessons from the demanding world of racing. The R&D Cima jersey is the latest product to come out of the Italian company's research and development programme, a pro-tested jersey designed for hot weather and high mountains.
The jersey is constructed from a stretch woven fabric with a honeycomb texture that's designed to improve the breathability. The fabric is super-thin but fortunately, unlike some lightweight jerseys, it's not at all see-through so your modesty is preserved.
Reduced panels and seams contribute to the low bulk and weight. There are just six seams in the entire jersey, with two each in the shoulder and arm areas. One piece of material covers the back, arms and neck area. The small size jersey tested weighs just 97g, making it one of the lightest jerseys tested on road.cc.
Features have been trimmed back to keep the weight low, but you still get three good sized pockets out back and the jersey stays in place even when you load them up. The Sportful logos are reflective and there are some additional reflective details on the pockets.
The arms have a raw cut opening with a thin band of silicone tape on the inside face. Comparing it with other Sportful jerseys I've tested, I found the sleeve openings a little on the tight side, with the silicone tape proving more restrictive than the stretchy material it is applied to. Given the tightness of the jersey, I'm not sure the silicone tape is really needed and I'd be seriously tempted to trim them off.
There's no silicone tape on the waistband, instead just a small strip on the middle, but the elasticated hem does a fine job of keeping the jersey from moving about. With such a figure-hugging fit, the jersey isn't budging anyway, even during the most animated riding.
The neck has been cut very low, so much that you need to choose your baselayer carefully. The idea behind it is to improve air flow around the neck; less material on the neck, basically, to aid the cooling in the heat. It certainly provides a noticeable difference on long climbs.
The fit, as you'd expect of a pro-tested jersey, is figure-hugging. Oh my, is it a close fit. While it feels a bit restrictive standing tall for these photos, once on the saddle with your body bent over to reach the handlebar, all is good and comfortable. That close fit ensures the jersey fabric lies flat against your skin, not only providing good aerodynamics (though Sportful doesn't big up its aero performance) but also meaning the fabric can work to pull sweat away from the body.
And that's a task it does extremely well. Worn on really hot rides and hammering up plenty of sweat-inducing climbs, the jersey remained remarkably dry – drier than most regular jerseys I've worn in similar demanding conditions.
Even though the new R&D Cima is packed full of the latest tech and benefits from professional race testing, and is Sportful's most expensive jersey, the price is a lot less than you could expect to pay for this level of premium performance. The Assos SS.equipeJersey_Evo8 is another £25, and Rapha's Pro Team Flyweight Jersey is £35 more; the Cima is lighter than both, and offers top-level performance for hot weather riding.
Wonderful hot weather performance; it doesn't come cheap but it's still great value
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful R&D Cima jersey
Size tested: Small
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?
Sportful says: "A new lightweight jersey concept offering innovative construction for hot weather and long climbs.
Uses a stretch woven fabric that offers light weight but also excellent coverage, wicking and support. We have also eliminated as many seams as possible to enhance the next-to-skin feel. The result is an extra-lightweight jersey that still fits and feels like a more traditional race jersey."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Sportful lists these features:
Structured stretch woven fabric offers exceptional moisture management, low weight and support
Raw-cut sleeves with internal silicone for light, stay-put fit
Low-cut collar for increased airflow
3 rear pockets
Rear reflective highlights
Excellent construction quality with very neat stitching.
Brilliant performance in the heat but works well in cooler conditions too.
Despite the thinness and low weight of the fabric, durability hasn't been a concern.
The fit is very close, racy and figure-hugging, but the panels are well shaped and it's comfortable once you're in the saddle.
It does come up a bit smaller than other small sized jerseys.
It's one of the lightest jerseys ever tested on road.cc, and you notice its lack of weight when you need it most, on sweat-inducing, lung-busting climbs where every little helps.
It's not quite as comfortable as a looser fitting jersey, but for racing and high-intensity training it's plenty comfortable enough.
It's a lot of tech for not a lot of money compared with the prices you can pay for such high design.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to look after.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works well in the heat and demanding riding situations it is designed for.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Keeps you cooler in hot weather and on long climbs.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The slightly restrictive silicone sleeve hems.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
You get a lot of tech and a very lightweight jersey for a price that undercuts most high-end premium jerseys this one needs to be compared against, so it's easy to recommend for hot weather and mountain riding, just check the sizing carefully.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.