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The dhb Aeron Lab XC Short Sleeve Jersey is perfect for summer rides that leave the tarmac behind. It manages to be more durable and resistant to abrasion than a typical summer jersey while not compromising on breathability or performance.
At 119g on the road.cc Scales of Truth, the XC jersey is more than light enough to rival high spec road jerseys in this regard. For example, we've recently tested the Giro Chrono Pro SS jersey (143g) and Rapha Pro Team Training jersey (123g), both of which claim to be lightweight summer jerseys, and yet the Aeron Lab XC jersey also boasts claims of added durability.
This is achieved by the arm and underarm panels being made from an 'advanced woven fabric' and the main body being made from a high gauge fabric. I'm a big fan of the sleeve panels, which have a textured feel and have done a good job of fending off bramble attacks on overgrown summer trails. The lack of snags or puckering bodes well in the event of a crash and I would have more confidence in this jersey surviving over most standard road jerseys and especially ones this lightweight. Fortunately, I haven't had to put that to the test, but given the excellent condition of the jersey after a month of abuse I'm more than happy to accept the abrasion resistance claims.
At first, I was a little skeptical that the high gauge fabric wouldn't be detrimental to breathability. High gauge basically means that there are more stitches per inch on the garment and that a thinner yarn has been used more tightly. This means that there are fewer gaps in the fabric for air to pass through. Despite this, the breathability of the jersey has been good. Admittedly there are some all-out summer jerseys that will do a better job if you're slugging up a hot mountain all day – for example, the Velocio jersey I recently tested was ridiculously breathable – but in reality, especially in the UK, rides often consist of ups and downs and usually about three seasons of weather as well.
The XC jersey has been adequately breathable during this uncharacteristically hot month of testing but also retains an element of usability when the weather isn't quite so balmy. While out enjoying the sun it's also nice to know that the jersey has a UPF 50-plus rating, meaning that only 1/50 of the harmful UV light can pass through.
With all of dhb's Lab kit the cut is performance focused, and the XC jersey is no different. Although not second-skin tight, there is no flapping about to lose you watts, and I was perfectly happy wearing this jersey on the road as well as on tracks and trails.
It also features what dhb calls a 'grown on' collar. In my opinion this is ideal for what the jersey is aimed at – fast off-road riding. It offers enough protection while being aero, unrestrictive and not outlandishly revealing like the V-necks found on some aero performance jerseys.
I often find performance style jerseys too short, but that wasn't the case here, and a silicone gripper along the bottom kept it firmly in place no matter how arduous the terrain.
On the rear you'll find three reasonably sized pockets which are both deep and accessible, and a fourth zipped pocket for valuables. This is an essential element for me on a jersey I wear off-road, as I often like to take a phone, and having it locked away not only gives peace of mind while riding but also prevents it escaping in an all-too-frequent topple.
That said, the three standard unzippered pockets are very good at retaining their stash and also prevent it from swinging around wildly when the going gets rough. Having swapped to another jersey for a few rides, I was extremely glad when the XC jersey came out of the wash and I was able to carry even heavy items like a pump, phone and homemade flapjack without it bouncing around all over the place.
At £90 RRP the Aeron Lab XC certainly isn't cheap, but it is on offer from Wiggle and Chain Reaction at the time of writing, with 20% off. Even at full RRP, though, it doesn't offer bad value for money. I've found it to be an excellent jersey regardless of the added abrasion resistance and increased durability. If you're regularly riding off road then there are very few alternatives that can offer this, and with the Lab jersey it doesn't come at the expense of weight or performance.
Considering the road equivalents for similar money: for a fiver less, you could get the Specialized SL Elite jersey but this offers no valuables pocket and will be less durable off road, or for £85 we've also recently reviewed the Rapha Pro Team Training jersey mentioned earlier, but Nick wasn't too keen on the short torso or sleeve cuff design.
Overall, I've been impressed with the features, cut and comfort of the Aeron Lab XC jersey, and if you're regularly riding off road, whether gravel, cyclo-cross or cross-country mountain biking, I think it's well worth the money. My only small grudge is that it's only available in black, which isn't great for being seen on the road.
Lightweight, performance-orientated jersey with off-road resistance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Aeron Lab XC Short Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
dhb says this jersey is to "take your off-road racing to another level...Supremely light yet exceptionally resistant to abrasion, this technically-advanced summer top will have you chasing success on the trails or gravel."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Advanced abrasion resistant woven fabric on sleeves and underarms
Micro-eyelet construction increases airflow
Extremely durable high gauge main fabric
UPF rating of 50-plus
Grown-on collar and laser-cut sleeves
Minimal bonded hem with silicone gripper at rear
Three vertical pockets, additional zipper pocket
Inserts: 58% Polyamide(Nylon), 32% Elastane(Spandex), 10% Polyester
Main: 85% Polyamide(Nylon), 15% Elastane(Spandex)
I can't find any other jerseys out there that even claim to have abrasion-resistant features. I think that this is the start of a trend both for off road and crit racing. The durability has been excellent without sacrifices elsewhere.
I love the collar, it's neither too short nor long, it's tight but unrestrictive, an aero jersey that can be used every day without looking silly.
I found the sizing accurate; dhb says if you want a relaxed fit then to size up.
Really light considering the added durability.
No complaints at all.
It's not cheap but it's good value – it offers more features than many jerseys at a similar price, and outperforms cheaper ones. It should last ages, too – certainly longer than other jerseys of this weight. Plus it's 20% off at the time of writing.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well, it's fended off plenty of undergrowth, its comfortable, and the pockets work really well and are easily accessible. Breathability is much better than expected and good enough for everything but the ridiculously hot days.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It still looks great after a month of hard use, no scags or fraying.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Only available in black.
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
I feel this jersey has gone above and beyond. Somehow it manages to rival road jerseys of a similar price while adding features that many of them don't include such as a zipped valuables pocket and abrasion-resistant panels, all at 119g. If it was available in a bright colour as well then it'd be pretty near perfect!
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,