Like its Racerback sibling, which I've also been testing, Pure Velo's Women's Halterneck Cycling Jersey is a pleasant summer top for casual riding on the hottest days. It's not going to be seen second wheel in the local chain gang, but it's good to see garments for a new generation of female cyclists who might not want to don traditional cycling gear, and there's lots to like.
Okay, when I opened the Halterneck package I raised both eyebrows and muttered a few words under my breath. I've never really been one to pick out noticeably feminine clothing for use on or off the bike, and this was taking things to the extreme. If the Racerback jersey took me out of my comfort zone, this was going to seriously challenge me.
What I am comfortable with is acknowledging that there is a market for this kind of kit. The Halterneck Jersey could well find its way into someone's holiday suitcase for a tourist day trip on an e-bike, or be pulled out of the wardrobe for a spin to meet friends in the park or at a local café.
As with the Racerback, I tested a medium. If you've read that review, you'll know that I fall exactly between small and medium on the Pure Velo size chart (and it's Tass in the photos again).
The jersey fits perfectly around the torso, with none of the seams digging in or pinching at any point. It has a good length – there's no risk of lower back exposure – and the silicone tape on the elasticated base and upper back does a great job of holding the jersey in place. It's super-secure, even with loaded pockets. I never felt irritated by the upper back one either, which sits directly on the skin.
Although the halterneck straps didn't rub – they are soft and stretchy – I was aware of them pulling around my neck. It certainly takes some getting used to if you don't normally wear this kind of design.
As with the Racerback, I had issues with the built-in bra. It relies on contoured, elasticated fabrics rather than the sewn-in cropped top of the Racerback, but for me there was still not enough support (though I'd say there is marginally more support here than with the Racerback). I am used to a very supportive sports top when riding. Some women may not have an issue with lighter support, and if I'd sized down I might have experienced a little more – something to consider if you are between two sizes.
Another gripe for me is the neckline. Fastening up the halter compresses the neckline, creating a bit of a gape. Again, some women might not mind this, but I felt exposed, both to the eye and to the bug world. I did most of the testing on a hybrid, so a more upright position than my road bike, but I think the top could do with some improvement here.
The fabrics are soft against the skin and as breathable as a mid-range cycling jersey. I never sensed that I was overheating, though the sheer volume of exposed skin helps with body temperature regulation.
Just as with the Racerback, the Halterneck boasts fabrics that not only protect from UV but also resist stubborn sun lotion stains. My tan lines confirm that it all works, and the trim is still bright white, even after sitting on skin drenched in carotene sun lotion.
Three easily accessible pockets are generous enough to hold essentials – snacks, phone, spares – and there are some rather fancy reflective tabs either side of them.
The overall design is slightly less 'dotty' than the Racerback, which might be a positive for some.
Pure Velo is realistic about the reception of the Halterneck: 'Whether this fully supported halterneck cycling jersey appeals to everyone or not, you are seeing this here first and that is something we are very proud of.' If appeal is the first barrier, it's possible that the price tag could be the second. With an RRP of £125 this is a very expensive investment; even at its current sale price of £87.50 it's still eye-wateringly expensive.
I can't make any direct halterneck comparisons, but I'd say that Pure Velo's own Racerback offers slightly better value than this at £80 rrp (currently £68).
Overall, the Halterneck Jersey is a decent attempt to cater for women wanting to feel comfortable and feminine on the bike. Its price tag, support level and gaping neck line might not appeal to some though.
Feminine and comfortable but the built-in bra and neckline won't be to everyone's liking, nor will the price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pure Velo Halterneck Cycling Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Pure Velo says: 'This is our statement cycling top. We've kept key components of the classic cycling jersey and given them a Pure Velo twist. Taking women's cycling jerseys to a new level and designing cycle wear for those that appreciate feminine detail without any compromise on quality or performance.
'The Halterneck Jersey by Pure Velo has arrived! Our design is the first ever fully supported Halterneck cycling jersey for women. With a 360° multi layered bust support you will not need to wear a sports bra.
'Feel confident with premium performance fabrics that give great coverage, breathability and supporting structure for an all-around stable fit. Designed by a woman in England and made by women in Italy. It has not been tested in a wind tunnel, but it has been rigorously tested under blue skies.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pure Velo lists these details:
* 360° multi layered bust support with non-slip technology
* Fully adjustable neck-tie
* Female specific garment shape and cut
* Three reinforced back pockets to carry your Pure Velo ride pac, mobile phone, gels, pump, tube, lightweight extra layer etc
* Soft breathable fabric
* Excellent coverage
* Silicone elastic across the bottom of the jersey holding the garment in place whilst riding
* Reflective elements
* Moisture wicking
* Pilling resistant
* UV protect
* Suntan lotion resistant
* Made in Italy with premium Italian performance fabrics
Very clean finish.
Halterneck straps take some getting used to if you've never experienced them before.
Not a lot to compare it with, but £125 at rrp seems very expensive, especially for something that may get limited wear. The Racerback jersey is better value at £80 rrp.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy if you follow the guidelines:
* Machine wash at 30°
* Do not use bleach or fabric softeners
* Do not tumble dry
* Do not dry clean
* Do not iron
* Wash dark and light colours separately
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does what it says: exposes your skin for tanning and protects what isn't exposed with breathable, comfortable fabrics.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's not really my kind of thing, but I do like the efforts by Pure Velo to cater for women who genuinely want to be able to wear this kind of jersey.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The gaping neckline.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If I knew someone who wanted this kind of thing, yes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It functions well on the bike in terms of comfort, breathability and feminine looks/feel, but the gaping neck line and high price tag go against it.
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…