To say that the Cafe du Cycliste Zahira Diamant jersey is a statement in 'fashion' underplays the impact somewhat. Whatever you think of the looks, though, it's a great quality jersey that doesn't assume everyone is whippet-thin.
Let's get that design out the way early doors: put simply, it's a case of loving it or not wanting to be seen dead in it. It was the latter for me initially, although strangely I slowly came to embrace it...
Still, I know people who loved the design, so I'm putting this down to personal preference, and will now review it as if the design is something much more neutral – because as a practical jersey, it's very good. (It's also available in a 'Fleur' design, also likely to divide opinion…)
What I like about it is that even in a medium the cut is generous (I normally fit a large jersey), allowing space for people with a more rounded profile than myself. On me, that means the jersey feels relaxed rather than my usual tighter fare, with plenty of space around the mid-section.
The overall fabric is incredibly breathable and lightweight, while there's lots of stretch in the silicone band around the waist to suit thinner wearers like myself and more substantial riders too. That give extends to the rear, where the pockets also benefit not only from an elasticated top cuff, but from the general elasticity of the fabric too.
As a result, you can fully load your pockets to almost uncomfortable levels without running out of secure space. Plus, if security is important, there's a zipped pocket for valuables, though it's not waterproof.
The neckline is a little bulkier than the rest of the fabric, but that's a good thing as it doesn't collapse or roll down, in turn protecting your neck from the beating sun a little. In warm weather I find silicone grippers against the skin can cause chafing when combined with sweat and sun cream, so I'm pleased that the Zahira jersey doesn't use them at all, instead relying upon the natural elasticity and slim-but-not-tight cut of the arms for retention.
It means the jersey is comfortable all-round, while being practical and spacious too. On the quality front, I have no complaints either. The zip is lightweight but pulls easily with one hand, and features a tidy sprung YKK zipper too. Throw in the reflective upper arm bands and you've got a well-featured jersey for when the light fades on long days in the saddle.
At £114 there's no getting away from the fact that this is an expensive jersey, but it does perform well in the heat. Can that justify the price? I'm not convinced, but if you like the design and can afford it, it certainly does the job.
Leaving the love-it-or-hate-it design aside, as well as the very high asking price, it's a great quality summer jersey that caters for not only the slightly built among us, but those who appreciate a little breathing room too. And on that front, it's hard to fault.
Expensive and stylish/garish – but a great jersey in terms of performance
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe du Cycliste Zahira Diamant Cycling Jersey
Size tested: Medium
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?
Cafe du Cycliste says:
"Inspired by the energy of a continent and featuring a reworking of classic patterns, Zahira is an ideal warmer weather jersey. With a partially mesh structured fabric, it provides superb breathability, thermoregulation and high performance even in challenging conditions.
"With a free flowing design based on 'African wax' iconography, Zahira combines hyper-modern styling with exceptional on the bike performance.
"Constructed for maximum comfort, the lightweight, high wicking, blend ensures excellent moisture transfer even as the mercury rises and constant airflow to aid core temperature control.
"The jersey features a reinforced pocket structure to allow for loading up without it losing shape, a full zip with guard and a silicon gripper for stability. Cut slightly longer than normal to provide additional protection, the contrasting sleeves feature horizontal reflective stripes for added safety when the sun begins to drop."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- 100% Italian Polyester
- Ultra Lightweight Fabric
- Full Zip
- 130 grams [claimed weight]
- Moisture Management Properties
- Two Cargo Pockets
- Zipped Key Pocket
- Audio Cable System
- Reflective elements
- Race fit
- Made in Europe
Very good construction values, but the light weight does mean it could be fragile on wooden garden furniture, for example.
Very lightweight and breathable. What's not to like?
Can be a touch fragile when faced with rough surfaces, but if looked after is ok.
Cafe du Cycliste says this has a race cut, but I can assure you there's far more space here for the bigger rider – which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all in the real world.
Comes up bigger than normal, so a medium was perfect on me and I normally wear a large.
Light weight is one of the defining characteristics of this summer jersey.
Comfort is excellent, chiefly because of the elasticity of the polyester fabric and the lack of arm grippers and light weight.
The design is striking with some great features, but £114 is a colossal amount of money for a jersey in anyone's book.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy – just don't put it near any Velcro!
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, and it benefits from having extra space in the midriff too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Light weight, breathability, added features.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The design isn't for me, but others love it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if I could have it in a toned down design and a bit cheaper!
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A great jersey, no question, but it's expensive, and you'll either love or hate the design.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding