The Shimano Climbers Jersey is breathable but not particularly lightweight, despite the name, and with its 'sports posture' cut it supplies a looser fit for riders who sit more upright – which also happens to make it great for indoor training.
First of all, 'climbers jersey' led me to expect a super-light mesh summer jersey – but that was before I checked the spec. At 161g (size M), it's not particularly light for something billed as a climber's jersey, and with its 'sports posture' fit, it seems more suited to someone tackling Ditchling Beacon in the London to Brighton than Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France. However, the fabric, which is covered in micro perforations, genuinely performs well in the heat both outdoors and indoors.
The Climbers Jersey is made from 100% polyester, without any of the elastane used by closer-fitting jerseys. That means it's not stretchy – it almost has an old-school 00s feel as well as fit.
The sleeves are raglan rather than set-in, using a single piece of fabric extending all the way to the collar rather than a tube stitched to an armhole, and this gives the jersey a smoother line when your arms are reaching forward to the bar. However, I did find that because of the looser fit, the sleeves – which have a T-shirt-like fit without silicone gripper – rode up quite easily when in the cycling position and negated this. In the jersey's defence, my cycling position is slightly more aggressive than the upright one it's designed for.
At the start of the test period (March) it was way too cold to go out in this jersey. As I write this (mid April) we now have both a heatwave and a lockdown. So although I've been using it for my daily exercise allowance, I can't claim to have put this jersey through its paces in the high Alps or even on my local Surrey Alp, Box Hill, which has been closed to traffic and cyclists.
However, since turbo-specific clothing like the Madison Turbo jersey is currently booming, I did head over to the virtual Box Hill on Zwift's London Loop and tackled it with a peloton of virtual cyclists, and I found the Shimano jersey unexpectedly excellent.
If you're covering up while indoor training – whether to spare your family the sight of your pale, dripping torso or because you do indoor group sessions – many prefer a looser 'top', some even go for a T-shirt, like Sufferfest's. I found the lack of clinginess of the Shimano jersey really comfortable even when the sweat started popping, and it allowed air to circulate better than a baselayer does.
It absorbed the sweat well, rather than letting it drip onto the floor, and the fabric kept its shape perfectly, not wetting out and not sticking to skin.
I sat around after the session to find out how quickly it would dry and was equally impressed. It never felt waterlogged, and seemed to wick the sweat pretty well without me getting chilly.
Features include three rear pockets in the conventional configuration, and inside the middle one is an additional sweatproof pocket which is just about big enough for a smartphone. If you don't actually put things in it, it still provides a useful barrier between sweaty jersey fabric and valuables.
Despite the loose fit, the jersey length is exactly right on me: it doesn't hang too low, the pockets sit nice and high, and there's no excessive bunching at the front when on the drops.
The full-length zip works really smoothly, though there's no zip garage at the top.
I really like the black-and-white print, but it also comes in green/navy and navy/black versions, both with the same striped chest and shoulders.
These are strange times and I'm aware a reviewer wouldn't normally test a jersey's indoor performance as well as outdoor. But if you're doing more indoor training than before and can't bring yourself to invest in turbo-specific clothing, the Shimano Climbers Jersey can do indoor and outdoor equally well, as long as you don't mind the more casual fit outdoors. And if you emerge from the lockdown with a slightly fuller figure, who knows, you might actually be glad of it.
For a fairly standard polyester jersey, albeit well made and good looking, £75 is on the expensive side, However, if you view it as a dual-purpose, indoor as well as outdoor jersey, the Climbers Jersey offers better value. The Madison Turbo is cheaper at £54.99, while Lusso's R1 Breathe, another summer performance jersey but with a much snugger, more 'pro' fit, is also cheaper.
However, at the other end of the scale Gore's hot-weather C7 Race jersey costs £159.99, and jerseys from premium brands such as Le Col, Rapha and Assos will also take you into triple figures.
To sum up, the Shimano Climbers Jersey isn't the lightweight, pro-level garment it sounds like it's going to be. Rather, it's a mid-to-high-priced jersey that's cut specifically for a more upright position, with a loose fit and sleeves that tend to ruck up if you crouch too low. However, it's breathable, wicks well and looks stylish. It also works surprisingly well indoors, which may broaden its appeal during the lockdown.
Stylish summer jersey that also works well indoors, but has a loose fit and is specifically cut for an upright posture
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano Climbers Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
'Climbers jersey' usually means very lightweight mesh specifically designed for mountains in midsummer. Shimano says its Climbers Jersey is 'exceptionally breathable' but it seems as though mostly what makes it a climber's jersey is that it's cut for a more upright riding position "as used by hill climbers".
Here's what Shimano says about the Climbers Jersey's fit:
SPORT POSTURE ARM PATTERN
Made for a slight upright posture used by hill-climbers, entry riders that haven't yet developed a strong core, or other riders that have a hard time bending deeply forward over the handlebars.
STRAIGHT UP COMFORT
A moderate, more comfortable fit built for riders that prefer a more relaxed, upright riding posture.
Moderate fit and easy to move. The sports fit that is comfortable and less stressful with slim fit.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Exceptionally breathable jersey.
Sports posture arm pattern.
3 back pockets with sweat-proof pocket.
Very nicely made, precise stitching throughout.
The 100% polyester with micro perforations allows plenty of airflow and works well with the looser fit – for indoor as well as outdoor riding.
It has emerged looking as good as new from multiple wash cycles.
Personally, I prefer a more anatomical fit for a more aggressive position, but as the Shimano Climbers Jersey is designed for a more upright position, I can't criticise it for not being quite right for my particular requirements.
For a jersey that's meant to be on the loose side, the size medium was spot on for me. The length was exactly right, collar sizing and sleeve length were also good.
161g isn't especially light for a summer jersey.
Very comfortable with an unrestrictive fit and perfect for its intended more upright position.
It's a nice looking, good quality garment but the price does seem pretty high for a fairly standard jersey.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to care for and came out of the wash looking as good as new every time.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I was impressed with its performance, though I haven't tested it in the full heat of summer. However, I did also test it indoors and discovered that it works very well as a turbo lockdown jersey thanks to the loose fit and good ventilation.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's stylish looking, well made, very breathable and I was pleased to discover its hidden talent as a turbo jersey.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
If it had a closer, more anatomical fit it would probably be one of my favourite jerseys because I like the design and performance of the fabric, so I'm just disappointed that (through no fault of its own) it doesn't.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Not much can compete with the performance-to-price ratio of the Triban RC 500, which is also 100% polyester and aimed at summer riding. The Altura Icon Warp is another summer-weight jersey that works well indoors too, and undercuts the Shimano by £20. The Rapha Pro Team Training Jersey, which has a relaxed fit for long summer rides, is more expensive at £85.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not, because of the loose fit.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if it was right for their position and riding style.
Use this box to explain your overall score
I have given the Climbers Jersey a score of 'good' because it's well made, stylish and performs well in warm weather and indoors. However, there are jerseys out there that do the same thing for quite a bit less. Additionally, I do feel the jersey is slightly pigeonholed with its 'sport posture arm pattern' that allows the sleeves to ride up untidily in a more aggressive riding position.
About the tester
I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic
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: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, School run on a tandem
Simon finished his MA in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.
As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.
He and his eight-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).