PEdAL ED's Kawa Essential Jersey's plain design will appeal to those who like to dress stylishly understated, but an average performance and quirky fit make the price tag rather tough to swallow. It's certainly one for the more petite riders out there.
Just like PEdAL ED's 3/4s that I also tested, the Kawa Jersey is made of a combination of nylon and elastane to create a supersoft, stretchy garment. If you are wearing it without an undervest, it feels great against the skin.
It moulds to the body shape without being restrictive and also holds its length without stretching; normally that would be a good point, but because of the cut I could have done with more length – more on that in a minute.
I rarely zip jerseys right up, not liking the feel of excess coverage at the neck, but I was more than happy to with the Kawa, whose collar is lower than many jerseys. There's also an effective zip garage at the top and base, to stop it irritating your neck or damaging your shorts.
Some of the issues I've had with the jersey could come down to it being on the small side, but the sizing chart put me in a bit of a conundrum. I'm a medium in most clothing, occasionally a small. Using PEdAL ED's sizing chart, my height puts me as a large (just – I'm 176cm and large is 176-178cm), my waist is medium, and my chest a small. (It's not me in the photos, that's Tass, whose measurements would put her as medium-bordering-on-large.)
Medium seemed the obvious choice, but while it fitted perfectly around the shoulders, chest and waist, it came up very short in length. Even off the bike it struggled to cover my lower back and stomach, so adopting a low riding position put it even higher.
Efforts to pull it down while riding were fruitless, with the fabric springing back to its natural length despite the wide, elastic band at the rear hem (though it does do a decent job of stopping the jersey from swinging round).
I tested it in combination with PEdAL ED's non-bib 3/4s, but really it needs to be teamed with bib-shorts to avoid lower back exposure.
The sleeves are also shorter than many out there, and like the main body of the jersey they keep to their length and slide up somewhat when you lean over the bar. On cooler days you'll need to get your arm warmers pulled right up.
Another consequence of the jersey's length is that the pockets are really hard to access as they sit a good way up the back. Not only that, but I often keep my phone in the middle pocket and the excessively high position meant it sat on protruding vertebrae. After two hours of being bent over the bike, it was really causing discomfort.
I know this won't be an issue for everyone – I do have a particularly bony back – and the simple answer is to move the phone to another pocket, but ultimately this wouldn't be happening if the jersey was longer and the pockets lower. No one wants a battle to extract things from pockets while riding.
On a more positive note, when coupled with a baselayer the jersey does a great job of keeping you warm during steady rides in temperatures between 12 and 15°C.
Up the tempo, though, or use it in warmer weather, and it's not as breathable as some. It's made with a heavier fabric than many summer jerseys, with no variation. I found that moisture would quickly build up under the arms and on my back. Without a baselayer the top became rather clingy and cold; with a baselayer I just felt I was carrying around excess moisture that was reluctant to evaporate, as it doesn't dry out quickly either, albeit not causing me to feel chilly.
To be fair, PEdAL ED doesn't seem to be trying to sell this as an exceptionally high performing jersey, describing it as 'ideal for long trainings, as well as easy rides in the city'. I'd say it does the latter reasonably well if you're riding at a slower pace and in a more upright position (so not encouraging it to ride up your back), and if you aren't working up a sweat on a long training ride then it's fine. Up the tempo to cause sweating, though, and its performance drops.
As I mentioned, the jersey has the standard three rear pockets. It may look like the middle one is mesh but this is simply an aesthetic feature – a panel of transparent fabric sewn over the actual pocket.
The strip of elastic that lines the top of the pockets offers security for contents, but it pulls excessively on the lateral seam. Without reinforcing-tabs that some manufacturers use, the fabric is already showing significant wear/thinning after only four weeks of use.
There is also a zip pocket, though the opening is very small and I struggled to make much use of it with my rather large hands.
To help you be seen, there is a reflective tab on the rear of the jersey and the PEdAL ED logo on the front is also reflective; neither are really big enough to have a serious visual impact, but every little helps.
If you don't like this red, it's available in three other colours – a lighter red/pink (coral), navy blue, and 'clay'. It also comes in six sizes, from XXS to XL.
At £106 the Kawa offers a decent saving over the Rapha, though the Souplesse is a lightweight, high-performance design.
Funkier's Prima Pro offers a similar thickness of fabric and protection and a more conventional cut for only £45.
Sarah liked Lusso's merino jersey, another understated design that wicks and breathes well and costs £69.99.
I'm sorry to say that I have the same sentiments about the Kawa as I did about the PEdAL ED 3/4s I tested: the women's collection feels like an afterthought. Although the Kawa does have some good points, ultimately it seems to be a shrunken version of something that could easily fit a man. A lack of attention to detail and the female anatomy has resulted in a garment that will simply fall short for many women.
Below average performance and a cut that will suit only short-bodied riders
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road.cc test report
Make and model: PEdAL ED Kawa Essential Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
PEdAL ED says, 'The Kawa Jersey is designed to be the essential jersey for almost every kind of ride. Ideal for long trainings, as well as for easy rides in the city, the Kawa will keep you cool and dry during Spring and Summer rides, thanks to its unique fabric and simple design. Our goal with the Kawa is to provide every kind of rider with the best feeling possible while riding a bike. In particular, this Jersey is the new standard for everyday rides and training, thank to the innovative and highly breathable Sensitive® fabric, ideal for a relaxed and stretchy fit. The Jersey is equipped with three big cargo rear pockets and a side zip-pocket for valuables, to guarantee enough storage during Spring and Summer long rides, while the reflective front and rear logo complete the look of the Jersey.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
PEdAL ED lists:
- Sensitive® fabric
- Sun protection material
- Three rear pockets
- Side zip-pocket for valuables
- Air circulating fibres
- Reflective detailing on the front and rear
Initially looks sound but after four weeks of testing the fabric where pocket trim joins the side seam is overstretched and showing signs of wear. There is no reinforcement here to carry the strain of loaded pockets.
I didn't find its breathability to be as good as others I've worn, or as comfortable because of the fit/cut.
Showing signs of wear around pocket trim/side seam after four weeks' use.
Too short in the body for me.
Make sure you check PEdAL ED's sizing chart. I'd say go with the largest category that you fall into. I fell into three different ones and took the middle one; maybe there'd have been a little more length in the garment if I'd sized up.
For me, the short body length meant my back was left exposed. Loaded pockets cause issues with comfort too.
Cycling jerseys vary in price hugely, but for over £100 I'd say it's overpriced given the shortcomings. It's more than three times the price of Decathlon's Van Rysel 900 SS Jersey, and more than twice the price of Funkier's similar weight Prima Pro.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Simple to care for.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps you warm on spring/autumn days, but up the tempo and it retains moisture; also falls short on fit and features that would make it comfortable and functional.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Cheaper than Rapha's Souplesse Aero, but more than three times the price of Decathlon's Van Rysel 900 SS Jersey, and over twice the price of Funkier's Prima Pro.
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
It is exceptionally short in the body (which can cause discomfort), and while I accept that there might be some women out there for whom it will be fine, for the vast majority it won't. Below average breathability for any kind of tempo riding reduces its versatility. At £106, it's an average jersey at best, I'd say.
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…