As the weather slowly but surely warms up, it comes time to put aside the heavy winter jacket or softshell and switch to a lighter weight long-sleeve jersey. This new Podia Merino Long Sleeve Jersey is a really good pick, with a lovely softness to the material backed up by a good, if small, fit and nice understated styling.
Podia isn't a name you'll likely be familiar with. It's a brand that started out as a cycling travel blog and grew to produce snazzily designed socks, before developing a small but focused range of clothing. This new long-sleeve jersey has been a while in the works and Podia is proud of what it has achieved. Based on my testing, it has every right to: it's a lovely thing.
The jersey is made from 165g weight Sportwool, a blend of merino wool (33%) and polyester (67%), the type of which was made hugely popular by Rapha over 10 years ago and has been used by dozens of clothing brands since.
It's a good material for a cycling jersey: luxuriously soft next to the skin and itch-free, odour resistant, wicks sweat and copes with a wide range of temperatures, resisting that horrible clammy feeling when it gets warm.
I tested a medium (it's me in the photos) but the sizing is closer to a small from many other clothing brands, so it's definitely taking the racy Italian approach when ordering. If you're anything but a racing snake you might want to consider sizing up. There is a handy size chart on the website.
Get the size right, as I did, and the cut of the jersey is fantastic. It hugs the torso nicely with no excess fabric to flap in the spring breeze, is well shaped around the shoulders, and the sleeves are a perfect length. Spot on. It's nice when you pull on a new jersey and it just feels right straight away. It makes you want to just get on your bike and ride.
There isn't a huge amount of features, but those there are I really like, such as the angled cuffs to give better coverage when your arms are stretched out in front of you. The tail is dropped as well, and to help the fit and prevent the rear sliding up there's silicone gripper tape lining the rear section of the hem.
Taking care of visibility on late evening rides is a generous amount of reflective tape across the top and bottom of the pockets. I like this very much – too many long-sleeve jerseys don't make enough effort, surprising for a top that is probably going to be worn on evening rides after work.
A high-quality YKK Vislon 4VS Cam-lock zipper (that's quite a mouthful) is smooth and nice to use, the zip puller locking down so it doesn't jangle about, while the zip garage stops it irritating your skin or getting caught in your beard.
Three rear pockets provide all the cargo capacity you need for a day's ride. You can get an inner tube, pump, smartphone and a couple of bars/gels in there quite easily, and a lightweight jacket or gilet if you pack carefully. I like the fact that it also has a zipped pocket for keeping the house/car keys safe.
The jersey's performance is very good. Worn over a short-sleeve baselayer it provides good warmth for chilly early morning rides, and it copes nicely when you turn the heat/intensity up. When you do get a sweat on, the material dries out quickly, making it ideal for mixed tempo or long rides in the hills.
It's really comfortable and, in my opinion, good looking, plus it doesn't need any special care when washing. Durability thus far has been good too.
The only downer is it costs €135 (roughly £117) and that's at the thick end of the merino-based long-sleeve jersey wedge. You can definitely pay a lot less. Then again, it's a lot nicer than many jerseys costing half the price, and really needs to go up against the recently reviewed PEdAL ED Essential Jersey or the Rapha Classic Long Sleeve II jersey, both of which cost about the same and offer similar levels of quality, design and performance.
If you want more colour choice, there's the Rapha Core Long Sleeve jersey for £85 that we've not yet tested, which comes in seven colours. If what you crave is a jersey with more wind protection, the Sportful R&D Strato jacket at £120 is worth a closer look. You basically get a gilet for an extra three quid!
Still, if you can get past the price of the Podia, there's a lot to like. It's stylish, fits well provided you get the right size, has lots of nice features and performs brilliantly on the bike. I can't wait to see what else Podia has up its sleeve.
Very nicely designed and comfortable merino-based top, but it's up against some well-established rivals
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Podia Merino Long Sleeved Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Podia says, "A classic and elegant long sleeve jersey made from a Merino Wool blend fabric that performs well in a wide range of conditions.
"A 165gram Sportwool brings the best of natural and synthetic worlds together. Merino Wool offers comfort, thermal and odour resistance while a blend of polyester ensures the jersey maintains it's shape and elasticity.
"Reinforced back pockets are joined by a fourth concealed zip pocket. Reflective edging around the pockets ensures you will be seen in low light. A wider YKK VISLON® 4VS Cam-lock Zip in orange for easy opening and closing. Tapered sleeve cuffs allow better coverage while riding.
"Designed and produced in Europe."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Soft Merino Blend Sportwool
YKK VISLON® 4VS Orange Cam-lock Zip
Three reinforced rear pockets
Fourth concealed zip pocket
Reflective details on the rear pockets
Tapered sleeve cuffs
It's very nicely made, right down to the reinforced pockets.
A really versatile top for this time of year, on its own over a baselayer or under a wind/rain jacket. Manages heat well, wicks sweat and doesn't pong when worn a lot.
I found the fit perfect...
...but it definitely comes up small.
It's light for a long sleeve jersey.
The high-end price tag puts it right in the sights of similarly priced long-sleeve jerseys from more established brands.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It has been through a 30-degree washing cycle with my other cycling and non-cycling clothes and come out the other side just fine. No problems.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Provides good insulation on chilly spring mornings, and copes well when you turn the heat up. A very versatile bit of clothing for this time of year.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lots of reflective details, fits very well, lovely and comfortable on the bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The only things to dislike are really the highish price and the smallish sizing.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
Ignore the price and there's a lot to like here – it's very good – but bring the price in and it's difficult to give it more than 7. If you want something different and the price is no hurdle, it's a lovely top.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.