The 2XU Sub Cycle Jersey – and its matching bib shorts – are part of a small cycling range from an Australian company better known for its compression, running and triathlon gear. Unfortunately, there's a slight 'first generation' feel to the Sub Cycle that leaves it with some niggling issues.
First, the positives. The Black/Green Shapemania colour scheme is bold and stylish, while bright colours on the back and sleeves aid safety. The elastic topper on the three rear pockets is a reflective silver, but there's enough black elsewhere to stop it all getting too garish. Asymmetric cuff colours are a nice touch. On the downside, if the golf-sock-as-cycling-jersey look doesn't appeal, there are no other colours available.
The rear panel is 'Aero Mesh X' fabric that vents well and dries rapidly, while the front, sleeves and shoulders are 2XU's thicker, though still perforated, 'High Fil Sub' for a little more wind protection. All seams are overlocked bar the sleeve cuffs and hem, which are flatlocked. Nothing itches or chafes, whether the jersey's wet or dry. Silicone grippers inside the stretchy elastic cuffs mean the sleeves stay firmly put.
Strangely, there's no silicone inside the elasticated rear hem, leaving it to ride up relatively easily. It's quite likely to do that, as the fit is aero-efficient tight (the model in these pictures would need a smaller size).
I fall bang in the middle of the recommended chest size for a medium, and the fit is tight but a little strange. The elasticated cuffs are on the verge of being too narrow, while the neck is too loose to sit against my skin. And while it's tight enough across the chest to give a small but noticeable compression feel during hard-breathing efforts, the zip refused to lie flat against my front, preferring instead to undulate all the way down. This creates patches of noticeably cooler air, looks messy, and offers dubious aerodynamics.
With no flap behind it, the zip leaves red teeth marks wherever it does press against your skin, though the grippy little puller extension makes it very easy to adjust while riding. And while we're looking closely, some of the stitching is a little untidy... but don't get too close, as this fabric is the kind that develops smelly pits after a single ride.
Wear it again without washing and the odour actually lessens once the jersey gets warm and moist (honest, guv), but ideally it needs washing every time. The Sub Cycle cleans up well, with no ill-effects from its time in the machine.
2XU says nothing about UV protection, while the rear mesh is very open, so assume it gives none.
That's quite a list of negatives, but bear in mind that each is fairly minor and nothing is a show-stopper. None of this was enough to ever make me wish I was wearing something else, as it's cool, mostly perfectly comfy and from a foot away looks great. However, it's enough to stop it becoming a go-to item. With four sizes from XS to L, sizing up won't help, as while it would relax the arm and chest fit, it would only make the large neck and snaky zip worse. If you have skinny arms, a barrel chest and a big neck, however, you may be OK.
While a subtly tweaked Sub Cycle Jersey could be a real winner, competition is fierce. The dhb Aeron Speed jersey may not look as sexy, but it's a great fit, highly breathable and only £55. At the 2XU's price, £80 gets you the Castelli Prologo V jersey, a well-evolved (fifth generation) short sleeve top that's cool, well made, and cut for a slim yet unrestrictive fit. The high-scoring, tight-fitting Santini Tono SS Jersey is also worth a close look at £79.
Bright, good-looking and (mostly) comfy summer jersey that could do with some refining
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road.cc test report
Make and model: 2XU Sub Cycle Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
2XU says the Sub Cycle Jersey introduces "the seasonal offering of 2XU's Sub Cycle Jersey in vibrant colours and prints."
Though the company does a large selection of compression, tri and running gear, this is the only short-sleeved cycling jersey currently in its range.
The Sub Cycle is a slim-fitting, mesh-backed top for hot days, with bright colours and reflective trim for good visibility.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
2XU says this: "The 2XU Sub Cycle Jersey is engineered with a HIGH FIL SUB fabric for ultimate moisture management and rear AERO MESH X panelling for unmatched breathability."
A mesh rear panel, flatlocked seams and strong grippers keep this jersey comfy in high temperatures. It's generally very good, but look closely and some of the print is a little fuzzy-edged, and not all the stitching is neat.
Slim fit keeps it aero, though a front panel that won't sit flat doesn't help.
It's not exceptionally light, but the upside is a solid-feeling construction. Some stitching is a little untidy, but nothing came loose during the test period.
Sizing is tight-ish and the main body is a good, slim fit, but details niggle. The neck is wide, the arm grippers are narrow and the zip refuses to lie flat against your chest.
A decent slim fit for the stated chest size, if a little restrictive during hard breathing. A wide neck and a flappy front mean sizing up isn't advisable.
On par with many and lighter than some.
Generally good, but sleeve cuffs are a little tight and the zip can irritate the skin.
It's comfy, boldly good-looking and performs well on the bike, but the slightly odd shaping and occasional messy detail let it down, especially for £80.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washes up well, which is good as the fabric is the kind that can smell after a single ride. It's no worse than many others, and as it hums less when warm and damp than once it's dried out on the bathroom floor, it's not too antisocial.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Cools and wicks well, while the easy-grab zip makes temperature adjustments simple.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Strong looks and good, if not excessive cooling for warm spring days.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The slightly odd fit and unprotected zip.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.
Use this box to explain your overall score
With small tweaks to the fit, some colour options, and perhaps a small price drop to reflect the quality, this would be an easy 7. It'll be interesting to see how the range evolves.
About the tester
I usually ride: GT GTR Series 3 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mountain biking