The Altura NV2 Elite Short Sleeve Jersey is a great design, fitting second-skin close and packed with interesting features. It's such a close fit I felt like our medium was painted on, especially around the sleeves, although this relaxes slightly with a few wears and washes.
While Altura once had a reputation for being rather generous in the cut and size departments, this one's more for racing snakes. In fact, my initial thoughts were 'should've gone up a size', but as the sleeves were the correct length, sitting just above the elbow, and in proportion to the body front and rear, I concluded it was designed to fit this way.
Having said that, if your preference is for long-sleeve baselayers you might still want to go up a size – if your kit needs to plod on through the wilder months.
Like most jerseys of this ilk, it's made from a polyester weave but not one that feels overly synthetic against the skin. Worn in lots of different contexts and aboard my eclectic fleet, I can confirm that comfort is top notch. Admittedly, the mercury's not risen beyond 25-26 degrees, but the design has certainly kept pace with my own efforts. Given its intended use, the fact that there's no sun protection built into the fabric is a bit of a missed opportunity.
Altura Dry technology is basically Altura's way of saying the fibres are designed to react to the wearer's temperature, trafficking moisture away efficiently. This is bolstered by the 'Draft Venting' – strategically positioned vents that assist rider cooling, the largest of which more or less constitutes the back panel.
Like most synthetics, it still has to reach a certain temperature before the moisture traffic magic begins, but I reckon it's closer to 10-12 minutes rather than the typical 15-20, something I attribute to those massive vented panels.
From then on, dampness levels are restricted to a light, misty glow. Whipping the full-length zipper to half-mast provides instant, cooling relief, though I have to say I'd prefer a bigger tag.
After four, maybe five hours at 90-odd rpm, freshness wasn't in merino country but I wasn't a clammy mess and odour management was well within socially acceptable limits. Good enough, in fact, that I wore it several days in succession, by which point it was developing a funky flavour.
Being polyester, it can be bunged in the machine at 30-40 degrees. I always go cooler and the NV2 Elite has always emerged looking and smelling fresh. True, you wouldn't expect it to get overly scuzzy being a road jersey, but I've a penchant for the wilder side, whether on a 'cross derivative, mountain bike biased tourer, or purebred cross-country mount. Thankfully, I've swerved a spill, but regular grappling by brambles and other frisky foliage hasn't induced bobbling or similar distress to the fabric.
Its wicking prowess also comes in handy following the odd sharp and unexpected shower when I'd forgotten or couldn't be bothered to don a lightweight jacket.
A generous silicone hem tags you like the proverbial shadow however low your machine's front end or how often you fidget between tops, drops and aero bars. Or how much you cram in jersey pockets.
Talking of which, there are five, sensibly proportioned. Though thin and relatively stretchy, they still offer ample support; even across rougher surfaces they've offered reassuringly secure tenure to 600ml bottles, a 5-inch smartphone, bananas and my big bunch of keys.
There's also a zippered 'valuables' pocket, boasting a decent sized tag for easy access.
The jersey incorporates Altura's Darkproof concept which, in my view, is a really welcome bit of technology. It refers to 360-degree retro-reflective patterning that is suitably stealthy by day but comes alive when graced by vehicle or street lighting.
The more intricate patterning is bolstered by bold cuffs, striping between the pockets and, of course, Altura logos. Splashes of DayGlo are also included and, for me at least, complement the stealth effect very nicely.
On dusky evenings it all seems to work very effectively, with drivers seemingly taking note faster than if I was wearing a plain jersey and running blinkies. This was particularly apparent at concealed junctions and other potential stealth points.
It's possible to get a very good, in-house branded jersey for half the Altura's asking price – the likes of the PBK Montagna, for example, which continues to perform well and look good despite regular use – and Sean rated the £56.99 Northwave Blade Air 3 very highly, but while I wouldn't consider the Elite a bargain, I'd say the standard of construction and subtle, well-engineered features represent good value as a package.
Overall, there is a lot going for this jersey, and even though the sunnier months are characteristically short here in the UK, the fast-wicking, practical design lends itself handsomely to training camps or indoor trainer slavery.
Nice jersey with some innovative features, though you might want to size up
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura NV2 Elite Short Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Altura says, "Performance, comfort and styling combine in this aggressive performance engineered Elite jersey."
My feelings: Second-skin close fit, which takes a few miles to acclimatise to, but extremely comfortable and very well executed.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Altura Darkproof® technology offers superior retroreflectivity. NV360° performance offers 360 degree reflectivity for maximum dark light visibility
* Altura Dry™ technology is engineered to move excess moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable
* Altura ErgoFit™ 3D patterning engineered for a more comfortable riding position
* Altura Draft Venting™ strategically located venting zones allow for enhanced breathability and thermoregulation whilst in the riding position
* Integrated silicon grip detailing delivers enhanced fit
* 5 rear pockets with an additional zippered pocket
Seems well made and of the standard I'd expect from this price point.
Outright comfort and odour control doesn't rival that of a merino garment of comparable density, but good by synthetic standards.
Seemingly rugged enough for off-road riding too.
Very snug, which leaves little to the imagination.
About right, although the fit is super-snug, which I noticed around my upper arms. Though toned, I am not overly muscly.
Wicks moisture very efficiently and generally comfortable by synthetic standards.
Little touches such as zipper quality may well become apparent in the longer run.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy. Pop in the machine at 30-40 degrees and line dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Elite has some innovative touches and wicks well. Moisture management and odour control are very good by polyester standards and the Darkproof technology also appears very effective in lower light, bringing the garment to life and attracting attention quicker than blinkies alone. Pockets are similarly well configured and hold a lot of kit without jettisoning over lumpy surfaces.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Darkproof technology, pockets, acres of vented mesh.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I found ours just a little on the snug side around my arms.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Worth a look.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a decent jersey with some innovative features, but while it's by no means poor value it's the upper end of what I'd pay for a synthetic short-sleeve garment. Overall, I'd say it's a 7.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)