This Le Col x McLaren Project Aero Jersey is the result of a collaboration between the two companies to create the ultimate aero performance cycling top, but for me it falls short in a number of areas. The materials are comfortable, and what you might expect to see to create a fast jersey, but the tall front creates ridges and an uncomfortable zip that affect even basic performance, never mind aerodynamics.
The pursuit of ultimate aerodynamic performance is a continual battleground for bike brands, component makers and, increasingly, cycle clothing companies, with the jersey proving one of the most effective areas for improvement.
This collaboration between the clothing company and car company, with its knowledge and understanding of aerodynamics, aims to create a jersey that will help make you a little faster.
The front and sleeves of the jersey feature 'air tripping High-Speed Lycra fabric' – the vertical ridges you can see sitting within the Lycra, positioned to disrupt the air on those parts of the jersey that first come into contact with the wind.
Le Col claims the jersey gives a 6W saving at 40kph compared with a WorldTour short sleeve jersey, although it gives no specifics as to which jersey or brand is being compared.
According to Le Col's sizing guide, I fall between sizes, and so I sized up, as recommended. The size small on test fits tightly, but not in an uncomfortable way. (It's not me in the photos, that's Liam, who's 9cm taller than me.)
The sleeves are long, extending all the way to my elbow and only just fitting to a point where they can remain straight with no folds. The ends are reasonably tight, with an elasticated cuff section that isn't as smooth or as comfortable as any other jersey I have used.
On the bike, I found the length of the front an instant problem. At 168cm I am not the tallest rider, and I suspect the jersey might be designed for taller folk, but I have never had this issue with other jerseys, either aero or more standard designs. With the zip fully closed, the front forms ridges in the fabric, which I am sure will affect aerodynamics and airflow.
Another problem, which became a real frustration, is the zip itself, which is quite large and very easy to open but rises to a point that it contacts and irritates my trachea, right on the voice box area. It meant I always used the jersey with the zip slightly undone, regardless of the weather, simply for comfort. Most aero kit has a very low neckline, so this seems at odds with the performance aim.
With the exception of the top zip area, the fabric is comfortable next to the skin, with no irritation or discomfort.
The front panel is a little thicker than some jerseys, aero or standard designs, and in very hot weather it can feel a little too warm, especially on long climbs. Compared with a standard, non-aero jersey, there seems less airflow through the fabric, which I assume is intentional, to improve aerodynamics. In more typical temperatures – certainly below 20 degrees – it's comfortable, and bearable up to about 25 degrees.
While the sleeves stay firmly in place, with the tight cuffs working, the waist isn't quite as good, riding up on the back far easier than I would have expected. Adding items to the pockets to weigh the jersey down does help slightly, but it's not perfect, and another aspect that might affect aerodynamic performance.
Having pockets at all is likely to cause some debate, as true aero clothing would be devoid of them. No pockets might suit short time trials, but certainly isn't ideal for more general all-day riding. When empty, the pockets sit tight against the back, so performance isn't likely to be overly affected.
The pockets are a generous size, both in length and width, with enough space for essentials and a smartphone in a waterproof case, and are also really easy to access. There is also a zipped pocket which, although small, is ideal for a key or maybe bank card.
The jersey also features an internal radio pocket; these might be standard for professional teams, where radios are used during racing, but I doubt anyone who purchases this jersey will have the need for it. It's also very visible from the outside, with stitching that takes away from an otherwise smooth back panel.
Black is the only option, with orange trim that's a nod to McLaren and the colours it uses with its F1 team. Not everyone is happy to wear black, and it seems a shame there's no reverse option – with orange used for the majority and black for the detailing.
At £170, this is at the expensive end of the market. 7mesh's Skyline is more – £200 – but there are plenty of very good options for less.
> Buyer’s Guide: 30 of the best summer cycling jerseys
Castelli Aero Race 6.0 is a lot cheaper at £120, and better, to my mind, in terms of fit and comfort. And Shaun really liked the Pactimo Summit Aero SS jersey which is cheaper again at £100.
Even Rapha's Pro Team Aero jersey is less than the Le Col at £145.
Even if you put the price aside, the Le Col x McLaren jersey doesn't match other jerseys on fit and comfort. While the fabric feels good, the zip is large and sits uncomfortably high (on me, anyway). If you're significantly taller than me, and you're happy with a black jersey then it might have more appeal, but for me the competition is superior in all ways.
Very expensive jersey and falls short on fit, affecting aero performance
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Make and model: Le Col x McLaren Project Aero Jersey
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says:
Implementing learnings from the Wind Tunnel and translating them to your everyday ride - the Le Col x McLaren Project Aero Jersey uses McLaren aerodynamic expertise to reshape the typical race jersey and with it your performance on the bike. Incorporating strategically placed air tripping front panelling and high speed lycra to disrupt airflow and smooth the path of air past leading edge surfaces, enhancing efficiency on the bike.
Debossed and double sublimated logos ensure this Jersey retains its aero credentials throughout, whilst a low profile race radio pocket is incorporated for elite riders to stay in touch when tackling long race days.
Fitted with elasticated Le Col x McLaren banding at the sleeve and with silicone waist grippers to ensure a planted feel, this jersey accounts for practicalities of riding too, with laser cut rubberised rear tabs offering a flash of colour and reflectivity. Finished with three low profile rear pockets and tucks away a fourth zipped pocket.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Le Col lists:
Raw cut edge cuff with internal silicone strip for secure fit
WindTunnel tested and co-developed with McLaren Experts
Air tripping High Speed Lycra fabric on front and sleeves
Folded elastic banded cuffs for low profile aero finish
Debossed and double sublimated logos and design for aero finish
Low profile Race Radio pocket
Le Col x McLaren hemline gripper for secure fit.
3 low profile rear pockets with zip pocket
Laser cut rubberised McLaren Tab and two rear reflective tabs for visibility
6Watt savings at 40KPH vs World Tour SS Jersey
Front Material: 80% nylon, 20% elastane
Rear & Side Panels: 90% polyester, 10% elastane
Engineered for an extremely tight and aggressive fit - size up if on threshold of sizes
Delicate disruptive boundary materials require gentle manipulation into place
Do not force kit when dressing.
Machine Wash at 30°C / 86°F
Do not use fabric conditioner
Close all zippers/velcro fastenings
Dry flat, do not tumble dry
Do not bleach, iron or dry clean
We'd also suggest turning inside out prior to washing and keeping them separate from other items by popping them into a mesh laundry bag
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for fit:
Rate the product for sizing:
Rate the product for comfort:
Rate the product for value:
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems. Le Col recommends turning inside out and washing within a mesh bag.
I washed it at 30 degrees, using standard non-bio, and it was fine every time.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
While I am unable to test the claimed figures for aero performance, the material and close overall fit won't be a hindrance. The sizing caused issues for me, though, and the high zip made it uncomfortable when fully done up.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Pockets are a reasonable size and easy to access.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The overall size feels designed for tall riders, causing me problems with the zip, and the rear back panel does not stay in place as well as other jerseys I've worn.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Very expensive, and more than most of the competition. The Castelli Aero Race 6.0 jersey is £50 less at £120, and Rapha's Pro Team Aero jersey is also less at £145. The Pactimo Summit Aero SS jersey is cheaper again at £100. The 7mesh Skyline is more expensive, though, at £200.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
While the materials feel good and next-to-skin comfort is very good, I wasn't happy with the fit – the tall front is prone to ridges when in an aero position, and the zip sits so high that I found it uncomfortable and had to have it unzipped slightly for every ride. At this price, you can rightly expect near-perfection, and for me this fell short.
Age: 35 Height: 168 Weight: 62
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding
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