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The Northwave Blade Air 3 jersey is designed to perform in warmer temperatures and it really does, with the choice of materials doing an excellent job of keeping you dry and cool.
I'll be honest, when it turned up at my door in early April I did wonder how I was going to test it, with the average outside temperature around 5 degrees and no sign of letting up. For that first week it didn't get any further than being tried on for size, the large fitting nicely on my 6ft 2in frame, and the strikingly patterned soft 3D mesh Sitip fabric being nicely stretchy and soft against the skin.
The other standout from that initial try out was the weight – or lack of: the materials used means it weighs in at a scant 127g, unnoticeable when on. Hold it up to the light and it's literally see-through, although the unusual pattern hides what's underneath when it's worn – you couldn't see my tattoos, for example, so there are no worries of embarrassment. (It's not me in the pics, by the way.)
Other details include a mesh insert material on the sides, Lycra sleeves with silicone dot grippers, and three pockets out back with a discreet reflective strip.
Most of my riding through our Arctic winter had, as with most I guess, been on the turbo inside a single car garage which is part of the house, so generally quite warm with the heating on. An opportunity is an opportunity, so the first couple of rides were somewhat static, but a decent test of whether it does help with the heat; usually I wouldn't wear a jersey in there at all as it gets way too warm even with a fan on. Surprisingly, it showed that the jersey did work in principle as I didn't really get much hotter than with no jersey on, and it was an improvement in terms of feeling drier with the material wicking the sweat away.
This wasn't a viable way to really give a verdict, though, and as luck would have it, towards the end of April the UK enjoyed a solid week of unusually high temperatures and the first real appearance of the sun – perfect conditions to give the jersey a real test.
I rode three times in the middle of the week after work, each warmer than the last, culminating in a high of 26 degrees. In real world conditions the Blade Air 3 didn't disappoint. I purposely didn't put a baselayer on (I generally prefer to wear one) and the temperature feel over a standard jersey was marked. It still felt hot when stationary but once moving the airflow allowed the jersey to really perform, the exceptional breathability keeping me completely dry and as cool as the air temperature allowed.
It was comfortable on the bike too, the soft material nice against the skin and the raw-cut sleeves not tight on the arm while the gripper prevented them from riding up.
The three rear pockets are reasonably sized – not as big as some jerseys but I'm thinking it's to prevent them being overloaded and pulling the jersey's stretchy, thin material down at the back – plenty of space for the usual bits, anyway. I would be wary of putting tools or keys in there though as I think it would be all too easy to snag or even rip the material; I didn't risk it to find out.
As the weather was good and I was impressed with the jersey, I wanted to wear it on consecutive days, so handwashed it with my usual sports liquid and hung it out in the garden. The construction demonstrated its properties again as it was bone dry in the breeze within 10 minutes and ready to wear again. Later on in the testing I machine washed it too and it came out without any problems, but again if you have a machine that has a tendency to snag items I would take care.
Overall then, if you want a summer jersey for those warmer days or you ride abroad regularly, you won't go far wrong with the Blade Air 3. It's available in four colourways and with a retail price of £56.99 it's pretty good value too, and available at various online outlets for as low as £45. The recently tested Castelli Flusso Jersey FZ comes in at £80 and Rapha's Super Lightweight jersey retails for £90, making the Northwave a bit of a steal.
A stylish and great performing summer weather jersey that is easy to wash and dry quickly for reuse and won't break the bank
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Blade Air 3 Jersey
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
A lightweight summer jersey designed for hotter temperatures or a fast-wicking jersey under a gilet or light jacket.
Northwave says, "From Northwave's Performance Line, the Blade Air is perfect for hot weather rides. Lightweight, highly breathable 3D fabric provides effective moisture management, whilst a raw cut sleeve gives a fit that's like a second skin.The full length zip is not only convenient but allows for customised ventilation. Three rear pockets provide ample storage for all your cycling essentials. Reflective borders on the rear pockets enhance your safety in low light conditions by making you more visible to other road users."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Extremely breathable 3D mesh Sitip® fabric provides makes the difference in hot-weather rides
* Openwork mesh inserts on sides enhance breathability
* Raw-cut cuffs with dotted gripper fit like a second skin
* YKK full zip with camlock puller
* 3 back pockets
* Full reflective border across the pocket area
All seams are neatly stitched with the material evenly aligned.
During the recent heatwave it really came into its own, keeping me dry and cool throughout a week of high temperatures, its construction making it a doddle to wash and dry ready for the next day.
The thin material does a great job but doesn't inspire great confidence in its longevity, although if carefully worn and cared for it may well prove me wrong. It's certainly been fine for the few weeks testing.
Designed to be figure-hugging for it to work as intended, it has a decent amount of stretch in the material so it never felt restrictive, the arms being the only area of concern if you are built like Arnold Schwarzenegger as there is a limit to how far they will expand.
The size L tested fitted nicely, if a little short; I would assume as it fits right that the jersey is meant to be that way.
As befits its lightweight summer nature, it doesn't trouble the scales at all, weighing just 127g. Not the lightest out there, but unnoticeable when wearing it.
The Sitip fabric is soft against the skin and the seams don't rub at all, making for an extremely comfortable bit of kit.
In a world of ever increasing prices the Blade Air represents pretty decent value, with a retail of £56.99 and the usual online reductions making it wallet friendly.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Being so thin and light it was a doddle to wash. It was hand washed a few times when I wanted it for the following day and machine washed when I didn't need it straight away. It literally took 10 minutes to dry when hung outside for a super-quick turnaround.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
In its intended environment it was a godsend, wicking away sweat like a good baselayer while allowing the airflow to keep you cool. A such it didn't need unzipping (well, in our 25°C temperatures) and was comfortable on all-day rides. The pockets are spacious enough for the usual bits and bobs, with care – the material is easy to snag, so avoid keys and other things likely to catch or pull.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The performance in warm weather, super-easy to wash and dry, overall design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It rucked up a bit at the front because of the zip, but that's a very minor (and probably unavoidable) problem.
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
The high quality, excellent performance, great fit and great price all lead to 9.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman AirPro Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives