Le Col's HC jersey is a great performer in varying conditions and feels great to wear, but it's almost crazily expensive and only available in navy blue.
Pros: Great fit, luxury feel, high performance
Cons: Expensive, colour won't be to everyone's taste
I'm going to be frank: from the outset, I wasn't sure I was going to like the HC jersey. It felt too heavy to be a real performance jersey, I'm not the biggest fan of navy blue kit (the accompanying bib shorts are the same colour which I reviewed recently), and somehow the embroidered logo and branding looked at odds with the obviously performance-oriented cut.
Yet, to be equally frank, after spending a couple of weeks with both the jersey and bib shorts, these initial issues have faded away to leave behind a sense of real quality.
As I say the jersey features a slim performance cut that helps it mould comfortably to the body, with low profile sleeves and comfortable textured arm grippers that extend up the shoulders keeping things svelte against the skin. The fabric, something Le Col calls 'meryl', is heavier than standard technical fabrics found on other jerseys elsewhere, but is very flexible and feels incredibly comfortable against the skin.
It makes the HC jersey perfectly adept at dealing with anything from a warm summers day (although I'd opt for a thinner jersey in the toastiest weather), to cool showery weather too. And, you can use it for a short 40km blast, or a longer 100km-plus weekend café ride.
The fact is that it's breathable when you need it to be, cool in warm weather, surprisingly insulating in cooler weather, and there's more besides.
The three main pockets have plenty of capacity for an all-day ride, and the zipped security pocket has a sweatproof lining so money can be kept safely. The neckline has a small collar that's self-supportive and tapered for a perfect fit around the back of the neck, while the full-length zip features a garage to stop any irritation.
The zip is easy to pull up and down with one hand in the case that you do need extra ventilation, and there's an added reflective strip on the middle pocket for visibility in low light conditions. This all came in handy on a recent trip to the Alps, where the weather flicked from early summer sunshine to rain showers and dark misty light.
Other added features include an internal cable port for earphones, an elasticated gripper band that holds the hem of the jersey in place fast, and quality soft stitching inside for additional comfort too.
And, truth be told, I've warmed to the design as well. Sure, I still don't like navy blue kit as a general rule, but this, with its gold highlights and webbing design on the sleeves, does look classy when you're out on the road. It looks as luxurious as it feels.
There is an undoubted elephant in the room, however: price. At £150, the HC jersey is one of the most expensive jerseys on the market, and that's without any extra ability that might help to justify it, such as aero performance arrived at via expensive wind tunnel testing.
In order to spend £150 on this jersey, I think you'd need to be prepared to buy the (also expensive) bib shorts as well, and also really like the colour and design too. It performs to the highest level, no question, but at £150 it needs to be perfect.
Great performer, but the blue design of the kit set might polarise opinion, while it's also very expensive.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col HC Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says:
"Our ultimate jersey for comfort, luxury and performance.
"The Hors Categorie jersey is our premium jersey designed to be your go-to-jersey for the widest range of rides. Using a luxury technical fabric; Meryl, this jersey offers the best combination of technical performance with a luxury feel & finish. A fabric designed specifically for the wide ranging temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, chosen for both its naturally high wicking & cooling properties in hot weather it also provides insulation against the cold.
"The sleeves feature an innovative silicon gummy gripper design that runs from the shoulder along the entire length of the sleeve, ensuring a perfect fit without forming a tight band at the end of the sleeve. The Gummy Gripper has a laser cut finish to further reduce extra fabric at the end of the sleeve.
"The HC jersey's fit is an on-bike-performance fit carefully crafted with the fabric to fit snug.
"Inside, all the seams have been flat locked to avoid irritation, with covered edges for the collar. There's a zip cover over a lock down Le Col zip puller for ease of use with one hand at high speeds. A silicon gripper at the waist hem holds the jersey firmly in place and an ergonomic cut on the collar removes bunching of fabric whilst in a fast riding position.
"Additional features include the hidden 4th waterproof security pocket in the right hand rear pocket, embroidered Le Col logos and the distinctive Le Col reflective stripe, for safety, on the middle pocket.
"This HC jersey is our Ultimate jersey for comfort, luxury and performance. Suitable for the widest range of rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Features (from Le Col website):
- Meryl fabrics for heat & moisture management
- Silicon gummy gripper panels
- Laser cut sleeves
- Ergonomic collar
- Lock Down full zip & zip guard
- 3 large rear pockets
- 1 zipped waterproof security pocket
- Headphone port
- Reflective stripe and tabs
Quality all-round is practically perfect.
It's brilliant in the wide-ranging conditions a British (and Alpine) summer can bring. It's just a little heavy for the hottest days.
Can't complain here, it seems to resist abrasive surfaces well.
The fit is slim but able to mould to the thicker torsos very easily and comfortably.
Sizes spot on, to be honest. Arguably, marginally on the generous side.
210g isn't that light for a summer jersey, but that's what you get the for the luxury feel.
As a performance jersey, it's one of the most comfortable I've ever worn.
Hmm... £150 for a jersey? You can make your own judgement, but mine is clear. There are more expensive jerseys out there, but not many.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit, luxury feel yet high performance
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Very expensive, colour won't be to everyone's taste
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No, ultimately the navy blue single colour choice isn't for me.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes I could, if they had relatively deep pockets and wanted to match them to the bib shorts too.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Aside from the cost, there's little to pull the overall score down. But it is a heavy, heavy price.
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: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,