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This year Adidas, along with the rest of the bike industry, spotted that aero is the big thing. Everything is getting streamlined, wind tunnel tested and generally designed to help you slice smoothly though the air. After all, once you're going at any kind of speed, it's the wind more than anything else (weight, tyre rolling resistance or vague worries about your lack of form) that slows you down. Hence, the Adistar cd.zero3 jersey has been optimised in a wind tunnel, to make it as slippery as possible (as have the excellent matching bibs).
The results are fairly obvious, with details like the clever panel design over the shoulders, to keep the seams out of the windstream. Three fabrics are used in this jersey, with the front and rear of the torso being mostly made of a very breathable open-weave fabric. Sheer Lycra is used across the top of the shoulders and for the forward-facing part of the sleeves, and an unusual, slightly rustly fabric is used on the back of the shoulders.
Fit, as you might expect, is on the tight side. Generally, this is a good thing – it makes for an absence of flapping, and effective aerodynamics. Here, though, there is a thick band around the bottom of the jersey, made from a rather unyielding material, which is just too tight.
Generally when you put on an aero jersey, you start off thinking that you've got a size too small, pull the two sides together to zip it up, and then you're in and it's all okay after all. With this jersey, it went along those lines until I'd zipped it up, to find the bottom of the jersey continued to dig in to my skin, making it quite uncomfortable.
Otherwise, the fit was good – comfortable and sitting flat against my skin – so it wasn't simply a question of having the wrong size. Looking at the sizing chart, I'm definitely a Medium. Neither am I yet blessed with a disproportionately large waist – and it's not an issue I've had with any other jersey. My guess is that the idea was to keep the jersey firmly held in place – there are silicone dots on the inside of the offending band – which is a good thing aerodynamically, but it just doesn't need to be done with such violence.
In use, the rest of the jersey is pretty good. The breathable fabric used for the main part of the torso is really excellent, keeping you cool and comfortable even when riding hard. I couldn't really confirm that the aero benefits made me any faster, but the design mostly makes sense from that perspective.
One area where I think a little more work may be needed is around the neck. It's a bit loose on me, and I'd be fairly confident that it creates more drag than the much lower-cut neck on something like the Castelli Aero Race.
Aero-focused cycling wear is sometimes not the most aesthetically pleasing. Here, Adidas has gone for something of a classic style, with elements borrowed from its long history of sportswear. Looks are very subjective, but to my eyes it's a bit football referee from a couple of decades ago, and to be honest, that's not a look I go for much on a bike. It's also available in predominantly white, but no other colours. I think that Adidas could learn from other cycling brands here – last year's Adizero ultra-lightweight jersey was available in an insipid blue and no other options. A wider choice of colours would be good.
The full-length zip is a quality YKK Vislon, and when closed is largely hidden from view behind narrow flaps (for the aerodynamic benefit, of course). Around the back are the regulation three pockets, plus a zipped fourth. The pockets are a decent size for an aero jersey – significantly bigger than those in the Castelli Aero Race (or the Adizero jersey, for that matter), although obviously you'd only want to put aero things like gels in there (or an Aero), not stuff them full of sandwiches, right?
The zipped pocket is lined with a water-resistant fabric, suggesting the idea is to keep things like phones protected from sweat or spray. Not unusually, it's rather too small for my average-sized phone (Sony Xperia Z3 Compact), so I used it to keep my house key safe (and dry). Either side of the pockets are vertical reflective stripes, well positioned to be visible from behind or the side. They're subtle, but effective.
Finally, a word on the sleeves. They're mostly made of the sheer Lycra used across the shoulders, with sections of the rustly fabric beneath. The ends are raw-cut and seamless, with oddly inelastic gripper band on the inside. They're pretty comfortable, but were a little too big for my pipe-cleaners. They'd be better cut slimmer and stretchier, so they could conform to a wider range of biceps.
A decent stab at an aero jersey spoiled by the unnecessarily constrictive waist
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Adidas Adistar cd.zero3 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?
Adidas says: "This men's cycling jersey is built to shed seconds when it counts. Combining the sleek fit of a time-trial suit with road-race comfort, it's made for long rides in the saddle. It has three back pockets and features an aerodynamic design with a covered zip on the front."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Three back pockets with elastic tops; One moisture-resistant zip pocket
Full zip with low stand-up collar; Covered zip for reduced wind resistance; Zip cover and inner flap help prevent chafing
Leading-edge sleeves and trailing edge hems for aerodynamic speed
Strategically placed seams for reduced wind resistance
Wind tunnel-tested, specialised fabric insert for aerodynamic speed; Open and closed mesh for superb breathability, moisture transfer and racing comfort; Reflective details
100% polyester mock eyelet
A range of technical fabrics used to good effect. Clever panel-shaping on the shoulders to keep the seams out of the wind.
It is aero, and it also breathes well and is mostly comfortable, except for one thing. I'd suggest the aerodynamics of the neck could be further optimised.
No real areas of concern.
The fabrics all feel good against the skin, and that used on the front and back breathes very well too. However, the weirdly tight waistband undoes all the good work. I didn't greatly enjoy being squeezed in the middle like that, and as a result it an uncomfortable jersey to wear.
It's a technical jersey for a price that's a lot less than last year's lightweight Adizero. I'd venture to suggest that it isn't great value if it's really not comfortable, though, and it wasn't for me.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The waistband ruins it, to put it bluntly. It's so tight that I wore it reluctantly, which is a shame as otherwise it's a nice jersey.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The effort that's gone into aero optimisation, the comfortable fabrics.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The waistband. Also, the styling doesn't really do it for me – it looks like a football referee of yore.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only if they were very small waisted.
Use this box to explain your score
I don't like to mark something down on a single detail, but this was a jersey I wore reluctantly, despite quality fabrics and an otherwise well-considered cut. Recommended for the small of waist but not really anyone else.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 190cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Commuter - something with disc brakes, drop bars and a rack My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.