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The Le Col x Wahoo Indoor Training Jersey is a supremely breathable, good looking top for wearing on your trainer, or outside if it's stinking hot. With most of the features you'd expect of a premium jersey, it's a versatile bit of kit for working out hard.
With coronavirus set to restrict outdoors riding across the world for the summer to come and indoor riding more popular than ever, it's no wonder brands like Le Col are creating focused products for the discerning rider. And no other issue defines riding indoors more than sweat. Working hard without the benefit of a 20mph breeze, those litres of moisture need to go somewhere to help cool your muscles.
We sweat to allow cooling by evaporation – the chill you feel when even warm airflow hits sweaty skin is the energy taken from your skin as the liquid evaporates. Your skin is flat and two-dimensional, but a garment's fabric is 3D – each fibre is knitted into a complex shape that has air flowing all around it – so its surface area is much greater than the area it lies on. Therefore it can absorb, then allow to evaporate a much larger volume of moisture than just bare skin. This is why you see many pro cyclists wearing baselayers on super-hot days – not to keep warm, rather to keep them cooler than they otherwise would be. There are a few other issues like comfort and modesty that a baselayer helps with, but the main benefit is improved cooling.
The Le Col x Wahoo Indoor Training Jersey takes the baselayer-as-radiator theory and makes it look seemly, while adding three pockets, a silicone grip strip, full-length zip (with garage) and laser-cut arm grippers. So in other words, a normal summer jersey – but at just 90g weighing about half to one-third the weight of most.
Low weight is hardly surprising in a garment basically made of very small holes to allow airflow, so the trick is in actually making what fabric you do have be spread out as much as possible in three dimensions to maximise its area, and thereby its evaporation potential.
Included in that 90g you get three standard pockets, but no valuables zip pocket – fair enough, it's pretty unlikely you'll need one in your basement or at the gym, where putting a locker key in the normal pocket wouldn't suffice. The pockets are fine for accommodating a phone, or a few bars if you like to eat on the trainer.
Fit-wise it's pretty slim – I'm in the range for medium as reviewed, but feel a large would have been a bit more comfortable, especially around the bicep. The length and fit around the shoulders were spot on.
The jersey comes in two versions – this blue-pink 'Collective Edition', with matching bib shorts available (full review imminent), and a black version. Personally I love the blue-pink – and I think it's definitely the one to go for if you plan on riding outside, as the contrast with skin and bib straps underneath is much less marked than in the black. If wearing outside you should note there's absolutely no claimed SPF rating for the fabric, so suncream would be essential.
I own a few really lightweight jerseys, including an earlier version of the Castelli Aero Race. Comparing the two in the same room, sat on a bike in front of the same fan, there's a marked difference I could feel. The Castelli – and any other summer jersey I compared – felt thicker and warmer. Once underway I was unzipping other jerseys much sooner than the Le Col, to improve airflow around the chest and then back. The looser neck fit of the Le Col meant there was some slight breeze, and as there's no need for 'aero' there are no worries about any possible flap in high wind.
After an hour of all-out efforts, with a saturated cap and sweat all over the floor, my upper body felt comfortable, with no sense of undue wetness. Obviously the jersey was holding a lot of moisture, but with no sense of perspiration pooling, say, in the small of my back, the fabric was still able to take up sweat and then allow it to evaporate.
My turbo plan calls for rides Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with kit going in a wool wash the same day as use. The supreme breathability of the Le Col jersey meant it was always dry as a bone within a few hours of washing, ready to go again. Washed three times a week for a few months, the jersey still looks as good as new, and so long as you're careful to wash it inside out and zipped up, I don't see why it wouldn't last many hundreds of washes.
Similar jerseys at the price/weight point include the Gore C7 Race and the Rapha Flyweight. Both are more expensive – the Gore £159.99, the Rapha £130 – and both profess to be great at cooling you down, but not optimised for turbo use specifically.
But £120 is still a lot for a superlight jersey. And is the extra 20-30g you're saving versus a summer jersey costing half the price justification enough? To argue on weight, or a premium price, is to miss the point of kit designed for wear during edge-of-reason physical efforts, though.
Renowned US cycling journalist and fitness guru Selene Yeager often speaks of 'Happiness Watts' – extra power, or reduced perceived effort that comes from a sense of wellbeing on the bike. Happiness Watts may come from a stunning view, or a great ride buddy, or nailing a section of singletrack, or having your bike's performance absolutely dialled. A sparkling clean drivetrain, or perfectly aligned gears – on paper that might make 0.1% to your speed, but mentally you're visualising shiny gears meshing perfectly, helping power you forward. That attitude boost counts for a lot more than the physics suggest.
To the list of Happiness Watts contributing factors I now add: keeping as cool as you know you can possibly be. The mental game of knowing that you have the best chance of hanging on all the way to the end of that last 150% FTP spike after 90 minutes of work – because your muscles are as efficient as they can be, because your jersey has done the best-possible job of shifting sweat off your skin. You may not be able to change the climate you're in, or get a bigger fan, but you can dress for the best effort – physically or mentally.
Knowing that I owned a number of light jerseys but one was better than the rest made the few times I reverted back to the others from the Le Col feel like a backward step. Warmer, sweating more, not 'enjoying' the session as much – all factors that, when on the ragged edge, make holding on another 15 seconds that much harder. At times like this you forget that the warmer jersey cost £50 less. You would pay a lot then and there to feel better, to achieve your goal. Given a jersey like the Le Col will most likely be worn many times a month, even a 100% price premium over a warmer, thicker jersey is quickly paid off, leaving you as cool as you can be. And that's what it's all about.
Supremely cool, great looking jersey for all-out efforts where you need the best setup
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col x Wahoo Indoor Training Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
It's for people working hard every week on the turbo, who want to be cool and look good doing it.
Le Col says: "The Le Col x wahoo indoor training jersey delivers maximum airflow to keep you cool and focused on your indoor training sessions, with a 3D mesh fabric that works hard to wick sweat away from your body.
"Suited to group training sessions where style is every bit as important as substance, this jersey also comes packed with features such as a full-zip and low collar to increase ventilation and 3 rear pockets that make it equally suited to hot weather rides outdoors."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Le Col:
* 80% Polyamide
* 20% Elastane
* 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
Not flatlocked seams, but nice stitching, and the pocket attachment points are reinforced.
Cool as you can get.
Early days but still looks like new, doesn't feel flimsy or compromised.
For my build, the arms felt tighter than they should.
Comes up a little tighter than expected.
Aside from the arm fit, it's very, very comfortable.
Yes, it's a premium price – but at the edge of effort, it's worth it. And it compares well with some: Gore's C7 Race jersey is £159.99, Rapha's Pro Team Flyweight is £130 (but includes sun protection).
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Still looks like new after many washes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Amazing. Can't fault its cooling ability.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fabric's cooling properties.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
If anything, just the arm fit. But it's a small niggle.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
As listed in the review, similar priced products are heavier, but the Rapha one includes a sunblocking fabric.
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 can only really mark it down on fit – the sizing needs playing with, and most people will need to go up, especially those large of bicep. But overall, even compared to really light jerseys, it sets a new benchmark.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.