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Craft's Elite range is the clothing line used by their ProTour teams: RadioShack and Rabobank. Here we test the Elite 2012 Jersey, a short sleeve at the pinnacle of jersey design - but cutting edge doesn't come cheap.
Aptly named Elite, this is Craft's top of the range and designed for their Elite riders. It feels 'elite', the material is soft, with an almost silk feel to it. An elastic material with 'hexachannel' fibres knitted in a honeycomb construction is what Craft describe it as. Basically, it feels great in your hands and even better around your chest. The material is broken up by meshed sections at various hotpoints: back of the neck, mid-back, armpits curving around to lower back and lower chest - at the point where shorts overlap. An unusual but sensible position, as I find the overlap often gets a bit sweaty.
Putting the jersey on it feels like a real premium item. Testing a medium, it is one of the best fitting jerseys that I have tried. I often require a small to avoid any bagginess but the elastic material moulds and contours extremely well. An almost tailored fit left me keen to get out on the bike with my new found form, if only I could pull myself away from the mirror!
Vanities aside and on the bike, it didn't let down. The material continues to provide the best kind of fit: unnoticeable. Silicone hem grippers stop any bunching up and elastic mesh around the arms mean they fitted snugly up the whole arm rather than a simple elastic strap, which can often create ballooned shoulders.
A lightweight 108g (M) and with the 'haxachannel' material possessing strong wicking quality, this jersey certainly does a good job at keeping the wearer both cool and dry. Craft have gone for a 70s pastel gradient, which I quite like, and with a concealed zip I think this is a stylish garment. Three pockets at the rear are a good size and even include a hole inside the middle one for a headphone cable. A fourth small, zipped pocket also sits atop the middle; only really big enough for a few notes and a key or two. 'Reflective points' are listed but this is limited to the Craft logos fore and aft and a few very thin lines on the shoulder.
Overall I've been impressed by this jersey from Craft's Elite range, parent to some equally impressive shorts. With an RRP of £75 that many would scoff at, it is one of the best technical jerseys out there and the price clearly reflects that. I've tested far less comprehensive jerseys near this price range so I think it presents good value. It is a nice way to own ProTour level kit without becoming a billboard or wannabe.
ProTour level kit, and one of the best technical jerseys out there.
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Make and model: Craft Elite jersey 2012
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
'A light and ergonomic jersey with an advanced wing panel pattern design to enhance freedom of movement and aerodynamics. Constructed with the highest technology fabrics for unrivalled ventilation and fit.'
I'd agree but in far less technical terms, the fit is second to none and fabric feels great.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Wing panel construction to enhance freedom of movement and aerodynamics
Bodymapped mesh inserts on hot spots
Hexachannel fabric for active cooling effect
Full front zipper
Silicon printed elastic at back bottom hem to make the jersey stay in place
Ergonomically shaped fit for the perfect riding position
Hole inside backpocket for MP3/headset wire
4th rear pocket with zipper
They haven't just stitched together a load of panels; a lot of thought has gone into the design, resulting in a excellent quality.
Excellent wicking and fit.
It is lightweight and the meshing looks delicate so you might want to watch what else you put with it in the washer. Other than that though it doesn't look like it will fall apart.
You don't come much lighter than 108g for a M.
Top marks here, one of the best fitting jerseys I've experienced.
It is expensive but warranted.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a lightweight, summer jersey, superb.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The soft, silky fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Hard to think of anything.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes - those that are enthusiasts; I wouldn't recommend it to my mum!
Age: 23 Height: 184cm Weight: 66kg
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,