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The SL Pro Jersey is Specialized's flagship top. It has some good features and performs well on warm days, but the sizing is slightly odd so make sure you get it right when buying.
According to Specialized's size chart, girth-wise I'm a Small but length-wise I'm a Large or Extra-Large, depending on whether you believe the US or International size charts. Specialized does a 'Tall' version in S, M and L, which could be the one for you (or me). With the SL Pro being cut to 'provide a precise, second skin level of fit that's ideal for hard days out, aggressive training, or top-level racing', getting the right fit is critical as there's not much forgiveness.
The SL Pro in Medium on me felt restricted across the shoulders/arms (remembering I'm supposed to be a Small), had a perfect sleeve length and grip mid-bicep, and could be a bit could be longer at the rear (it's not me in the photos). Standing up, it was very tight under the arms and across the chest; on the bike it felt better but still a bit tight. Ironically, the chest fabric then felt too loose, flapping at speed. Standing tall, the front ended just below my belly button, which felt OK bent over on the bike. So very much a mixed bag on the fit front. Try and buy with care.
I'm a sucker for sleeves that are the correct length, that don't bunch up, and allow the maintenance of a proper tan line. The SL Pro's do just that, with their welded (not stitched) edges.
The pockets are deep enough to completely swallow a hefty mini-pump, a mobile in a waterproof case, and a rolled-up shell, and the zipped valuables pocket is side-opening, zipped from the bottom up with a subtle yet effective reflective trim, to match the trim on the outer edges of the left and right pockets. It's apparently 'sweat-proof', but I wouldn't bet a £500 smartphone on it.
As befits a 'Pro' jersey, inside the valuables and central pocket there's an aligned headphone/earpiece hole so you can stay in touch with your DS on that HC climb when the road narrows and everyone else on the sportive is blocking their line to get you that critical gel or bidon. Or, more likely, so you can get Google Maps directions to the Sunday morning cake stop. Inside the jersey there are three cable loops to keep wires in place. The pocket corners are reinforced, a necessity when the fabric across the back is so light and breathable.
The lightness of the fabric does mean if you load the pockets it pulls back on the rather high-fronted collar, making its presence felt around the neck in my case. The jersey already felt tight across the chest on me, though this might not be the case for other body shapes. The zip's presence was exacerbated by there not being a zip garage – an omission on a £100 top. Likewise, construction lacks flatlocked seams, which seems a bit stingy, but overall it's a well-finished garment that has survived a few months' washing to look like new.
During a two-hour ride in overcast, muggy 24°C weather, wearing a Lusso Dryline baselayer and the matching SL Pro Bibs (review to come), I didn't feel the need to unzip – even with repeated one-minute uphill all-out trips to maximum heart rate.
During this throwing about the place, the sleeves held fast. I had the very good Endura SL Pro shell in the left pocket, pump/tools in the centre, a Pocpac with cards/cash in the zipped valuables, and finally my mobile in the right. All this cargo was forgotten, and I didn't need to pull down the back at any point.
That said, I was aware of the tightness across the shoulders and the high-fronted collar pulling backwards. This was less obvious when not carrying a shell in one pocket, and I did also pause during a ride to pop the pump into the frame bracket to lighten the pocket load, transferring the tool pouch to the left pocket to better relieve the issue of the collar pulling backwards. Having worn other lightweight high-end jerseys where pocket weight has not been an issue, I can only surmise it's the combination of a high collar and sub-optimal shoulder/chest fit making this an issue here.
Overall, the build quality of the SL Pro is high and it has good features – especially the sleeve length and pockets – going a long way to justifying its £100 premium RRP. You do need to make sure you get the fit right, and with the 'Tall' option available that shouldn't be hard to do.
Get the sizing right and this jersey should do you right for fast, warm rides
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized SL Pro 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?
It's for fans of the big S who want a full-featured warm-weather jersey.
Specialized says: "You wanted the best, and our SL Pro Jersey gives you the best. It represents everything that we know how to do with a cycling jersey, so you can expect a surreal, ready-to-race fit, premium fabrics, a thoughtful construction, and all of the performance features you could possibly dream of. This is SL Pro.
"From start to finish, we spared no expense and thought of every detail down to the stitch. For the construction, we used our venerable VaporRize™ knit fabrics that provide the optimal blend of moisture management and durability. Not only this, but the materials used have an incredibly soft hand against the skin for all-day comfort on the road. And compared to the rest of the SL line, this jersey has some unique features, like our Cold Fabric technology that reduces the surface temperature of the dark fabrics to keep you evenly cool while under the sun and a welded "cuffless" sleeve design that improves your aerodynamic profile and overall comfort.
"Of course, you'll also find convenient features like three rear pockets, a zippered sweatproof pocket for housing your electronics, and a full-length front zipper, but you'll also get our Form Fit that makes the SL Pro jersey feel painted on. This detail ensures that the jersey predictably follows all of your movements in the saddle, without leaving any material bunched or flapping in the wind."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
VaporRize™ knit fabric construction is extremely lightweight, soft against the skin, and nothing short of aggressive when it comes to moisture wicking and evaporation.
Cold Fabric technology reduces surface temperatures on dark colored fabrics to keep you cool without sacrificing style.
Three rear, one sweatproof zippered, and one side panel stash pocket provide all the room and security you need to carry your ride essentials and electronics.
Arm openings feature a "cuffless" welded sleeve construction that increases comfort, minimizes chafing, and increases aerodynamics.
Full-length front zipper lets you regulate your level of ventilation on hard climbs and chilly descents.
Tall sizing offered with additional body length.
Deflect® UV 30 protects your skin from harmful, ultraviolet rays.
Form Fit provides a precise, second skin level of fit that's ideal for hard days out, aggressive training, or top-level racing.
Very well executed, though seams aren't flatlocked.
Not great – you really need to pay attention here.
Came up small. Me: 94cm chest, 84cm waist, 94cm hip
Specialized Medium (tested) sizing: chest 97-103, waist 79-83, hip 97-102
So I should be Small – but my height is 183 = Large, but measurements for L are C104 W84 H103
Pretty light for a fully-featured jersey.
With the awesome sleeves I'm sure it would feel great – if the size was right.
At £100 RRP it isn't cheap, but sits alongside other premium offerings.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Still looks like new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Ignoring personal fit issues, the features and fabric add up to a premium racy experience.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pockets and sleeve length.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fit across the shoulders and chest, and the way the collar pulled back as a result.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? In the right size, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but with sizing caveats.
Use this box to explain your score
Get the size and fit right and this is a very good jersey whose fabric and features offer a premium riding experience.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling