The Alé PRR 2.0 Piuma jersey is great for when the weather is properly hot and muggy thanks to any breeze on offer whipping through the mesh fabric to keep you cool. Its well-thought-out cut means you don't have to be a whippet-thin racer to take advantage of it either.
Often called 'climber's jerseys' because of how light they are (you wouldn't want to carry an extra few grams up a mountain now, would you?), they tend to be shaped for those riders who are very slim and can get away with a second skin-style garment such as the Sportful R&D Cima recently tested. The Piuma is much more relaxed in its form; it's still shaped to fit close to the body to stop any flapping of excess material, but it's not restrictive in any way.
I've always found Alé's sizing to be more forgiving than a lot of other Italian made clothing, too, never finding the need to go up a size from UK designed wear. The medium tested here sat comfortably around the chest and shoulders and was perfect in length for my torso and arms (it's not me in the photos though).
The tail is dropped to give plenty of coverage when in the saddle, and the front arches up towards the zip meaning you don't get big bunching of the material when in a low crouch on the drops.
The neck is minimal, which gives it an almost skinsuit style appearance, with the front sitting marginally above the top of your chest. The rear is a little taller, but I'd like a bit more material to stop the sun beating down on your neck.
Round the back you get a total of five pockets – three in the traditional position, with the right hand one getting an internal zipped valuables pocket too. It's ideal for cards, cash, keys and so on, but some of the newer smartphones might be a struggle. I've got an iPhone 5 and that pretty much fills it.
The fifth pocket sits on the right hand side of the jersey; it's the same depth as the others but about half the width, just right for holding a gel or energy bar. It's perfectly placed to be able to grab the contents quickly, ideal for race conditions.
I found the three 'main' pockets a decent size, holding an inner tube, multi-tool, mini pump and more without hassle, plus the material is plenty strong enough to support the heavier items.
The fabric is what really sets this jersey apart, and Alé has used a few... The front, side, bottom of the neck and underarm panels are made from a double density mesh which is very thin but still feels pretty robust, even though it is basically see-through when you are wearing it.
When you are moving you really feel the wind on your front and you are noticeably cooler than when wearing a standard jersey. If, like me, you always wear a baselayer whatever the weather, then pairing the Alé with a mesh one makes sure you don't lose the effect.
On one recent ride that saw the temperature go up to the mid 30°Cs, albeit with a decent breeze blowing, the jersey never got overwhelmed and I felt quite comfortable – at least while I was moving. Even climbing was fine – although my speed dropped I could still feel the cooler air hitting my body.
The sleeves and rear are made of a thicker, tougher material that has rows of tiny little holes to aid breathability – letting the warmed up air from your body escape. When things are really hot the back panel of the jersey did get damp from sweating heavily, but I never noticed it when riding, plus if you dropped the pace a little or cooled down it soon dried out.
Performance-wise it is a very impressive jersey for any day where the temperature goes above 20°C; any lower than that and you might need to stick a gilet over the top.
When it comes to money the Piuma is a fair chunk of cash at £100, but it is very similar to the £95 Sportful I mentioned earlier, and you can pay a lot more: Rapha's Pro Team Flyweight is £130 – although it is quite a bit lighter.
I've always been impressed with the quality of Alé's kit and how long it lasts, and also the attention to detail. You rarely see any rough stitching or stray thread ends inside or out, which is why it is a bit of a shame to see this on the Piuma; it is mostly internal, though, so won't be seen, but it does cheapen the finish a little.
It doesn't affect the performance of the jersey, though, and it certainly looks the business. It also comes in a range of colours if this one doesn't match your bike or kit.
A classy looking summer jersey that you don't need to be a racing whippet to wear
road.cc test report
Make and model: Ale PRR 2.0 Piuma Short Sleeve 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?
Alé says: "Minimal garment, extremely lightweight and suitable for extreme hot temperatures or for climbs where you do not need any excess weight but a breathable and quick drying garment."
There isn't much to the jersey, but for riding in temperatures above 20°C it is hard to criticise, the breeze just flows through.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Alé lists these features:
5 Pockets Alé system.
Full Camlock zipper.
Sleeve with mesh material.
Security Reflex on the back for visibility.
1cm internal elastic waist hem.
Classic ergonomic raglan sleeves inspired to our BODY MAPPING system according to which the fabrics are selected for their breathability and ventilation degree. The chest area is made in a double density mesh like fabric that grants a minimal protection effect but a great ventilation degree above all. You'll never feel suffocating in hot weather. The shoulders, as well as the back panel, are made in a super lightweight stretch fabric with a rip stop effect granting a very high air flow. The jersey features an innovative 5 Pockets Alé system: 3 traditional and elastic cargo pockets, a 4th Security Pocket with zip and a 5th eco pocket on the side. Minimal construction on the waistband with 1cm elastic piping.
The usual high quality I've come to expect from Alé in terms of material and stitching, although there are quite a few stray thread ends on the inside of the jersey.
Very good when things get ridiculously hot.
Considering how thin and fragile the mesh panels feel, you can stretch and pull it as hard as you like without it tearing.
Quite relaxed for this type of jersey – cut close but not skintight.
This is the one I'd choose going by the sizing chart.
Not cheap but on par with the lighter Sportful R&D Cima recently tested, and cheaper than Rapha's by a fair margin.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues whatsoever on an a 30 degree wash; comes up clean and the washing machine didn't eat its lightweight fabric.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works a treat when the conditions are very warm and humid.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The slightly relaxed fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I would like to see a full height neck.
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 pricey jersey and maybe something you aren't going to get loads of use out of in our UK climate, but the Piuma jersey does exactly what it's designed to do: keep you cool. It's great quality and well designed, plus the cut means it'll fit 'normal cyclists'. It's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.