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Altura's Icon Women's Short Sleeve Jersey is a lightweight, comfortable top that's great for summer rides. It doesn't have the tailoring or features of many higher-end alternatives, but its refreshing design, reflective detailing and performance features make it a good choice for the money.
The Icon's stretchy fabric and side mesh panels give a snug, comfortable fit. It has sufficient give to respond to any position you adopt on the bike without feeling (or looking) over-stretched. The waist hem, reflective at the rear, has lost some of its tension during the test period, but the grippy, silicone strip at the front still does a great job of holding the jersey firmly in place.
The sleeve cuffs are narrower than many, while the sleeves themselves aren't as long as some either – a bonus in warm weather. The reflective band here doesn't have a huge amount of give, but I didn't feel that it was over-tight.
In terms of tailoring and finishing it isn't up to the standard of more expensive jerseys – for example, Lusso's R1 Style Breathe jersey or Alé jerseys I've worn – but it's a tenner cheaper than the Lusso, and half the price of some from Alé.
For me personally, the jersey needs more length in the body – it's only just long enough when I'm on the bike, and off the bike it comes up too short. I tested a 10, which was snug but not overly tight everywhere else; maybe a size 12 would have been a better length. I'd say size up if you want length over snugness. (It's not me in the photos.)
Altura has got the collar height right for a warm weather jersey. There's a full-length zip guard and a garage at the top too – no irritation whatsoever, even if you opt to go without a baselayer. The zipper itself is well sized; it's easy to locate and adjust.
I've really enjoyed using the jersey in recent weeks. It's great for riding in temperatures around the 20°C mark, with breathability helped by the mesh side panels. I never noticed a build-up of heat or sweat under my arms – even with an undervest it's an effective fabric.
The main front and rear panels are thin enough to help keep you cool if it's hot or if you're working hard, or both – though I did find that if the fabric became damp with sweat and I didn't have an undervest on, it felt overly clingy and heavier.
The three, easily accessible rear pockets are well sized for a smartphone and snacks, and the zipped one is ideal for keys or cash. The zipper toggle of the latter is much more user-friendly than some out there.
I think the Icon's design is subtle without being featureless. Other colours and designs are available, but the blue/teal I tested is staying strong with no fading and there are no signs of wear to date. I've washed it after every use, as the synthetic fabric does hold odours.
For what you're getting, the Altura Icon is a decent price. If you want more effective fabrics, I'd say Santini's Tono Chromosome (£90) (review to come) or Lusso's £64.99 R1 Style Breathe I mentioned above are probably better options, but the Icon compares well with Cycology's range at £65 (we tested the Spin Sista last year), although Funkier's Prima Pro is now £39.99 and Decathlon's Van Rysel Racer jerseys are just £24.99 – Tass tested the £34.99 Van Rysel RR 900 last year and thought it was great. I don't think the Icon is over-priced, though, and if you work for the NHS you can get 30 per cent off the price at the moment.
Overall, the Icon is a good choice for anyone wanting a lightweight, practical top for warm weather riding. Just be aware that it is shorter than most in the body.
Lightweight, practically designed jersey that won't break the bank
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Icon Women's Short Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: 10
Tell us what the product is for
Altura says, "Look cool and stay cool on your next adventure with this refreshingly different short sleeve jersey. Bright colours and bold design will make you stand out from the crowd.
"The jersey is constructed from the breathable state-of-the-art Altura Dry™ fabric wicks moisture away from the body while extra ventilation is provided by mesh underarm gusset.
"Added safety and visibility through reflective details, while three rear pockets keep valuables safe and to hand. The finishing touch is a silicon print inside to hold the jersey securely in place when you go into hyperdrive."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-High wicking fabric
-360° reflective detailing
-3 rear pockets with 1 zippered pocket
-Mesh underarm panels
-Silicon grip hem
Not the neatest but holding together.
Keeps you cool enough, though fabric can get clingy and retains moisture.
Elasticated lower hem is losing some tension already, but no noticeable snags or fabric deterioration anywhere else.
I found it a little too short in the body, but spot on everywhere else.
Stay true to size if you like a snug fit. If you want a little more length and room, size up.
As you would expect from a lightweight short sleeve jersey. For comparison, PEdAL ED's Kawa Essential Jersey is 131g and Lusso's R1 Breathe is 120g.
Short length didn't detract from comfort. Ideal collar height for warm weather riding.
Some are cheaper, but still a pretty good price for what you're getting – and less than others.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Standard 30 degrees, non-bio detergent, no softener. Comes out fresh every time. Does need washing after every use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great while moving, but you might feel a clingy chill if the sun goes in and you've worked up a sweat.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
No build-up of heat or moisture under the arms thanks to mesh style fabric here.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How it retained moisture in the upper rear panel if I was working hard.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Unlikely, due to poor fit for me personally.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a good jersey for the price – not as tailored or tidy as some, but performs to the standard you'd expect at this price point.
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…