If you want a lightweight and aerodynamic top for racing or hot summer rides, the pro race-developed and tested Sportful BodyFit Pro Race Jersey is a really good choice, though the fit is on the small side so you may need to size up.
Sportful updated the BodyFit Pro Race last year; the Italian company focused its efforts on making a jersey for racing in mountain heat, but says it was surprised when it found it was the most aero jersey it had ever tested when it stuck it in a wind tunnel.
Aero is the biggest buzzword in road cycling right now. Everything is getting more aerodynamic in cycling, and with the body producing about 80% of the overall drag you face when cycling, it's clear there are big savings to be had in upping your aero clothing game.
Achieving this jersey's claimed aero gain is down to the excellence of the fit. It literally hugs your body like a second skin. It's not at all baggy, there's no excess material to flap in the wind and cause drag, it's very streamlined. You feel fast just wearing it before you've turned a pedal in anger.
The sleeves, made from an Aero Stretch Mesh material, continue the aerodynamic theme. There are no hems or extra material, instead, a raw-cut opening ensures the sleeves lie flat over the arms. I found wearing a sleeveless baselayer best with this jersey – short-sleeve baselayers tend to ruffle up the very tight sleeves.
It is an extreme fit, and I found it a little tight across the chest between the shoulders when standing upright for the photos. Hunched over the handlebar with your shoulders rolled forwards a little, matters improved greatly. So remember that when you're trying the jersey on in the shop, and try to get into a cycling position to really test the fit.
Sportful makes no aero gains, and road.cc has no wind tunnel to conduct its own aero testing, but it's well understood that close-fitting clothing provides less drag than baggy clothing. So if you're trying to reduce your overall air resistance this is a good jersey to consider. It's also reasonably priced compared with other aero jerseys on the market.
Where the jersey also excels is in the heat. The material is lightweight, very breathable and excellent at mopping away excessive sweat. It's Sportful's own DryPro Light fabric and has a sort of mesh construction that helps it to dry quickly. A full-length YKK zipper provides extra ventilation when you need to get rid of more heat on the climbs. It's a great choice for hot weather riding, whether on those few rare hot days in the UK or a holiday to the French Alps or Majorca.
You get three good sized pockets on the back of the jersey for storing all the food and tools you need on a ride. The outer pockets are slightly angled to make it a bit easier to get at the contents. I had no problems loading the pockets up – they didn't sag one bit, helped no doubt by the silicone gripper tape lining the hem.
To sum it up, this isn't the jersey you want for relaxed recreational riding, but if you're heading for hot climes where you'll be riding hard and fast, it's spot on – and you could pay a lot more for similar performance.
A breathable, lightweight and aerodynamic jersey but the fit is on the tight side
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful BodyFit Pro Race 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: "We developed this jersey for the riders of Tinkoff for racing in the heat and mountains of the Tour de France. We were surprised when we put it in the wind tunnel and found that it was the most aero jersey we had ever tested. Then we noticed the pro riders using it on cool and wet days because it dries so fast. It's really the ideal jersey for every condition. It's also one of our favorites for long, hot climbs in the Dolomites."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Sportful lists these features:
DryPro Lite for instant drying, excellent stretch, yet good pocket support
Aero Stretch Mesh seamless shoulder construction and raw-cut sleeve edge for comfort and aerodynamics
Extreme cycling position anatomic cut
Covered full-length YKK® Vislon® zipper
Silicone gripper elastic on waistband
3 external pockets sized for the rigors of pro racing
Great hot weather performance, and feels fast even if the aero credentials are impossible to validate.
The fit is extreme; it's designed to be skin tight and aerodynamic, and works best when in the tuck position.
It's not as generously sized as other less racy jerseys in the Sportful range.
It's certainly very light on the scales.
On the bike comfort is good and the fabric does a great job of keeping you dry when you're working hard.
It's not cheap, but you can pay a lot more for this level of design and performance from other brands.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Goes through a regular washing machine cycle just fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works well in the heat and feels very aerodynamic – great for high-performance high-intensity riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Aerodynamic fit, raw-cut sleeves and airy mesh fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A little tight across the shoulders.
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
It's a very good race-focused jersey, ideal if you are all about riding fast in hot weather. If you're expecting a relaxed fit, look elsewhere – this isn't a jersey for relaxed cycling, but for going hammer and tongs.
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.