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Bicycle Line's Ninfea is a very nice jersey for casual rides in spring and summer. It's much more lightweight than you would expect a long-sleeve top to be, demanding the support of a baselayer and/or gilet to offer decent protection in changeable conditions.
There's very little to the Ninfea. It's seriously lightweight so can be very easily worn under another jersey. Equally, a gilet fits over it with ease. This is good to know, as on its own it really doesn't offer much protection against the elements. Its paper thin property really is quite unusual in a long sleeve jersey.
The main body of the jersey is made of Carezza Microsense Soft fabric. Bicycle Line tells us how this fabric offers maximum comfort and excellent moisture control when in contact with the skin.
I'd definitely agree on the comfort front: it's soft against the skin and moulds itself to you without looking like it's being over-stretched. I really rate it with regard to fit, too. Refreshingly, for Italian kit, it's not under-sized; I normally take a medium and this medium was spot on. Body and arm length were perfect, collar height ideal. The cut is feminine without being restrictive at any single point, the material having plenty of give.
When it came to moisture control, though, I didn't find it as good as others I've worn. While the fabric absorbs sweat well, this is then retained, and without a baselayer the fabric clings to the skin – not ideal in slightly cooler temperatures.
The underarm mesh panels are much more effective in encouraging moisture to evaporate. If you don't tend to work up much of a sweat on a bike then this will all be immaterial to you. It really is a great jersey for gentle spins in mild temperatures – so that's most of the British spring and autumn... and summer!
Most of the standard features are good: a sturdy zip, reflective tabs and a decent hem with some silicone to hold it in place. The latter worked okay when the pockets were evenly loaded, but if you put something excessively weighty in either of the side ones the jersey quickly swings round.
This leads me to another niggle I have with the jersey: the pocket design. The pockets themselves are relatively roomy and the fabric stretches well to accommodate bulky items. The top edge is a thin, tight elastic which makes getting a phone out rather annoying – the top edge gets caught up (under the elastic), and using one hand to get at it was virtually impossible. It would be easily overcome with a non-elasticated top edge.
The zip pocket is a nice addition for keys or coins, though.
Bicycle Line claims that the fabric offers 50+ UPF protection and I can't say I got burnt while wearing it, but then I haven't been abroad in the recent weeks to test this feature fully...
Personally, I really like the aesthetics of the Ninfea. Despite the majority of it being quite dark, it has enough patterned sections to make it stand out. It might not be for everyone but it's certainly different to many designs.
My biggest reservation about the jersey is its durability. I wash my (non-merino) kit after every wear, so this has meant a fair amount of washing in the test period as the temperatures were spot on for riding in it – 13-17°C. I followed the 30 degree wash, with no harsh detergents. While there is no sign of pilling or bobbling, the jersey is beginning to take on a rather see-through appearance. There is no patchiness to this, like you sometimes get near seams on shorts, it simply looks more transparent. With a baselayer this is of little consequence, but it's certainly something that you don't want to happen within a few months of purchase.
As much as I love the concept of such a lightweight long sleeve jersey, it won't appeal to everyone. On the one hand it could be considered versatile – it fits under a thick winter jersey, it can be worn with or without a baselayer and its low bulk means a gilet is easy to pull on over the top – but on the other, a short sleeve jersey offers all of this with the added bonus of being able to add or remove arm warmers.
Price-wise, you'd be looking at about the same cost, slightly less perhaps for the Ninfea, with a pair of arm warmers setting you back £20-£25 (Cycology's Sun Sleeves, for example, or Lusso's Active Aeros) teamed with a jersey for less than £50, such as one of Funkier's lightweight offerings or a dhb Blok.
Overall, the Ninfea is a uniquely designed, exceptionally comfortable jersey that will appeal to those who don't prioritise breathability. With questionable durability it might demand a baselayer sooner than might be expected, and these niggles go against what could otherwise be considered a reasonable price tag.
Looks and feels great, but if you like to work up a sweat it's probably not for you
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bicycle Line Ninfea women's jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Bicycle Line says, "If we want to summarize the NINFEA women jersey in a word, that should be: softness. Only by wearing it you can understand the comfort that the Carezza Soft Microsense fabric can offer to women cyclists who need a protection on their arms in the cooler days of spring and summer.
"Carezza Soft Microsense fabric is an innovative microfibre fabric that combines a refined appearance with a delicate softness and elegant fluidity. Breathable, light and easy to care, it offers maximum comfort and moisture control in contact with the skin.
"The NINFEA cycling jersey has 4 pockets on the back, one zipped, elastic on the bottom and reflective elements. And combined with the Normandia windproof and water-repellent vest, it makes the perfect tandem for the uncertain climate."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bicycle Line lists these features:
- Carezza Microsense Soft fabric.
- Mesh fabric under the arms, light and breathable.
- Total UPF protection (50+).
- YKK® Cam Lock zipper, full length.
- Three open cargo pockets for easy access to essentials, plus one zipped.
- Silicone gripper at bottom keeps the jersey in place.
- Reflective elements to increase visibility to keep you safe.
Very nicely finished.
Moisture absorbed and held by the main panels made the top cold and clingy; it was reluctant to evaporate from here. The underarm mesh panel was much more effective.
No obvious sign of bobbling, pilling or drastic thinning, but I'm convinced it's more see-through that it was when I started testing it four or so weeks ago. It's had excessive wear and washing but this shouldn't really happen within such a short period.
Really spot on with proportions – ideal body length and perfect length sleeves in my opinion.
I tested a medium, which is my normal size. I half expected the classic Italian 'tight squeeze' but this wasn't the case at all. I'd say stay true to size.
Nothing to it!
Seriously comfortable against the skin – as long as you're not sweating.
You are paying quite a lot for a very thin layer here. It looks good but its performance isn't the best and durability is questionable.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy – came out fresh every time. It does say don't dry in sunlight and I didn't always follow this. I don't avoid sunlight when I'm riding (and sweating) so I'm not sure how much difference this made to the thinning I observed.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Panels on the rear retained excess moisture, which isn't pleasant without a baselayer. You need supporting layers (base and gilet) in order to get best out of it. Bicycle Line does state that this is the case.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit, comfort and unique design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Awkward access to pocket contents, and moisture-retaining fabric if I'd opted to ride hard and work up a sweat.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are very few long sleeve jerseys that match the Ninfea in terms of being so lightweight, so it's difficult to make direct comparisons. Most would opt for a SS jersey and arm warmers. Then the jersey could be considered a cheaper option compared to, for example, a £25 pair of arm warmers and a £45 jersey.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, its flaws were overcome by teaming it with other kit.
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, it's a nice option for anyone who simply enjoys turning the pedals without breaking into a sweat.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Uniquely designed and exceptionally comfortable jersey that's perfect for easy spring and autumn spins. Durability and performance are not up to the standard of other options, though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…