Shark is Italian brand RH+'s latest high-performance, aerodynamic race range but with a twist. Bad weather protection is high on the agenda, with this Shark Short Sleeved Jersey offering waterproofing and windproofing aplenty. You pay a pretty price for it, though.
- Pros: Aero fit, keeps the weather out
- Cons: Pricey
Ever since Castelli released the Gabba, this style of winter jersey-cum-jacket has been picked up by the majority of clothing manufacturers, and you can see why. It's a very versatile piece of kit, especially if you race or train hard in the worst conditions the UK can throw at you.
The Shark range includes everything from long-sleeve jerseys, bib tights and shorts through to caps and arm warmers, so it works like a system that you can build outfits from.
With a temperature range of 5-12°C the short sleeve jersey makes a lot of sense, giving you more flexibility than the long sleeve version for those days in the winter when it can be quite warm in the midday sun, hot enough to get your arms out, then when it slips back into the shade you can just roll up your arm warmers.
RH+ has used Polartec fabrics for the construction of the jersey's main front panels and shoulders. Power Shield Pro is a "dense knit multi-component softshell fabric" which, according to its manufacturer, has been re-engineered to create "an even stronger balance between warmth and breathability while drastically increasing the...ability to repel water".
It's impressive too, and certainly keeps the water out better than its waterproofing level would have you expect. It's rated to 5,000mm – which means it'll stand up to drizzle and light rain – but even in short, heavy showers it worked fine. Prolonged heavy rain, not so much, but if you check the weather forecast before you leave and heavy rain's likely you'd probably be opting for a full-on waterproof jacket.
Thermal protection from the cold is another place where the fabric does well. Windchill isn't ever an issue as it's just blocked, keeping you warm even on high-speed descents. I tried wearing the jersey with a summer mesh baselayer and even then never felt cold, and the temperature was dropping to around freezing. Those front panels really keep windchill at bay.
The rear panels don't actually use water resistant fabric at all; they and the underarms are made of FD Platinum Dryskin, a material that RH+ uses in its summer clothing range.
I can't confirm RH+'s claims of 40 per cent faster drying than traditional fabrics, but it does keep you cool and unsweaty.
Aero we go
As I said, this is an aero jersey and the cut reflects this. It's very close fitting, but the panels are shaped to suit your body when on the bike, like any good wind-cheating garment should be. It's not as form fitting as a skinsuit or anything, so aero gains are going to be marginal, but you do feel good when you're wearing it.
The softshell fabric is a little more rigid than that of a Lycra based summer jersey so you don't get that second skin feel; as you move about on the bike you can feel the fabric being a little restrictive, but it is something you get used to.
The sleeves are long, coming almost down to your elbows, and you get a nice tall neck too so skin being exposed to the elements is actually quite minimal.
A dropped tail sees plenty of coverage at the rear and you also get the usual three pockets with the middle one being very roomy. The two side ones sit a little lower than the centre pocket for easier access, and the material is taut enough to carry heavier items. On the right pocket you also get a zipped valuables pocket big enough to fit cash, cards and so on.
This jersey is £175 which, if we are honest, you could buy a whole winter outfit for, but against the competition it doesn't look especially overpriced.
Ashmei's 3 Season jersey, for example, will set you back a cool £220. It's one I tested last year and was very fond of, and though I'd say the RH+ Shark doesn't quite match it for all-out performance – hey, you're saving £45.
Castelli's Gabba, the jersey that kicked it all off, is now in its third generation, with the short sleeve version coming in at £150. We tested the Gabba 2, which Iwein found highly impressive, with similar attributes to the Shark. The storm flap on the rear of the Gabba and the use of water-repellent fabric all round does make it sound the better option if the conditions are truly horrible.
Another option is the Café du Cycliste Josette, which covers the same bases and costs £165. You can see the pricing theme here.
On the whole I like the RH+ Shark. Paired up with a set of arm warmers it's a jersey you can get a lot of use out of and with its slim aero cut it's ideal for hard training rides and racing situations such as cyclo-cross.
Three-season jersey for those who train hard or race in all conditions
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road.cc test report
Make and model: RH+ Shark Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
RH+ says: "Shark's secret relies on their skin. From there the Powerlogic Lab started to develop the new Shark clothing line in order to meet aerodinamic requirements as well as protection from the elements at the same time, and it did so in a way never explored before: thanks to advanced fabrics such as Polartec® Power Shield® Pro and Polartec® Wind Pro® that combine hydro-repellency and waterproofness with a never-met-before level of breathability, rh+ Shark line stands as a real Milestone in the new way of dressing and protect the modern high demanding cyclists.
Rain isn't an enemy anymore: you'll never look at the clouds in the same way as before..."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Riding position preshaped aero SKIN Fit construction
* Main fabric WD Gold Polartec® Power Shield Pro® (100% PL): waterproof 5.000 mm/ca, water repellent 80%, breathable 3,4 m3/h
* Side and back panels fabric hydro repellent FD Platinum DrySkin (80% PA, 20% EA)
* 3 rear Streamline Aero Pockets
* Rear zipped mini pocket for values
* Aero sleeve lenght: 31cm with Ultralight Bonded end
* Grip Fit Xlight waist gripper with anti slip inner silicone
* Full zip with custom self locking camlock
* Thermoformed microfiber front zip garage
* Reflective applications
* UV protection
* Sizes: S > XXXL
It's a slim fit jersey and cut Italian style, so it's a little smaller than usual, although RH+'s size chart is a pretty good indication.
It's up there at the more expensive end of the market, though still less than some.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Thirty degree gentle wash plus you can iron it, so nothing too technical to worry about.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For riding hard in inclement conditions you can't really knock it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The aero fit on the bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
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 overall score
It's not quite as good against the rain as the Castelli Gabba but if you want a similar style of jersey that's highly breathable and versatile enough to be used nearly year round then the Shark jersey is a very good option.
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.