The Bontrager RL Jersey provides a balance of comfort, style and performance, although choosing the right type of jersey for you depends on the type of road cycling you do.
Are you racing at your local track, and therefore looking for every aero advantage you can find? Or are you a Weekend Warrior, out on Saturdays and Sundays with your clubmates in search of the best espresso within a 100 mile radius, wanting a jersey that stays comfortable with long miles?
Bontrager has pitched the RL jersey somewhere in between, claiming the “perfect balance of fashion and function”. On the function front it does very well, with pockets deep enough to carry food, spares and a gilet without pulling uncomfortably across the stomach, while the cut is streamlined enough that you don't get any annoying fabric bunching around your torso.
Add to this a full-length zip and useful placing of 'Profila Cool' mesh inserts for warmer temperatures or days spent climbing, or indeed riding at a higher tempo, plus reflective inserts for visibility during evening cycling, and the jersey is well equipped to deal with most things you could ask of it.
The only shortcoming in fit I could spot was at the front, where it is perhaps slightly short when paired with the RL bib short, which you can read a separate review of here. On the bike this isn't a problem, but if you have a long torso then a sizeable gap can appear when stepping off the bike at your chosen watering hole.
On the fashion front, the version we tested, in the black and 'rasta' colour scheme, polarised opinion. On a ride out with my clubmates, I had one joke that I was the former champion of Jamaica, while another wasn't convinced by the paw logo displayed on the chest. That aside, the main black colour looks sleek, and if the red/yellow/green stripes aren't for you, there are three other bright (and in my personal opinion, better) colourways available.
Out of the wash, the Profila Dry fabric holds up well, with no noticeable shrinkage across the shoulders or around the waist, and in this colour at least you don't have to worry about splash marks staining the back should the weather turn nasty.
In terms of value, £54.99 seems about right, and overall it's a good offering from Bontrager, which has made a decent effort of developing a jersey equally adept at riding at tempo and looking snazzy at the same time.
Good jersey for all kinds of riding, with a comfortable and form fitting cut. Good size pockets too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager RL Jersey
Size tested: Men's, Large
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?
Bontrager says: "Ride hard. Race harder. The Bontrager RL cycling jersey is the perfect balance of fashion and function."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Profila Dry fabric with strategically placed Profila Cool mesh inserts
Full zip for ventilation on long climbs or warm days
Three open-back pockets provide convenient access to your ride needs
Drop-tail design for cycling-specific fit
Fitted - Streamlined fit for all-around cycling performance
Reflective elements enhance visibility
The fabric wicks moist away well, keeping you comfortable, while there is no restriction around the midsection.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well - suitable for most types and styles of riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lovely cut, and very well placed ventilation panels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
This design may not be for everyone (but there are three others to choose from).
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 25 Height: 188cm Weight: 83kg
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 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