Bikerumor Review: Lightweight Summer Cycling Jerseys, Bibs from Sugoi, Pearl Izumi, Specialized & Nalini

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It’s already hitting 100º or more here in Greensboro, NC, and it’s miserably humid to boot. Mix in afternoon showers that turn to steam hovering over the asphalt, and you’ve got the reason why air conditioning was invented.  And just remember, August is yet to come.

I’ve been testing three jerseys, two from Sugoi and one from Pearl Izumi, and bib shorts from Nalini and Specialized, all of which are lightweight and cool…meaning they’re just what the doctor ordered in the midst of one of the hottest summers ever.

From Sugoi are the RS (left) and RSE (center) jerseys. The RS is an extremely fitted jersey with lighter mesh sleeves and back and a 3/4 zip. The RSE is their top of the line, almost see-through jersey that’s ridiculously light and vents well. The RSE has a full zip.

From Pearl Izumi, I tested the P.R.O. Limited Climber’s Jersey, which has the largest vent holes in the material and lets more air flow through to the skin than any of the others. It’s also a full zip, but it’s a very tiny, plasticky zipper that’s a touch flimsy, though easy enough to get back into alignment.

Check out detail photos, actual weights, pricing and the bibs after the break…

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Here’s the backs of the jerseys. The RSE was a custom printed one for Press Camp and not a design you can buy as shown here.

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With so much focus on saving a few grams on the bike, it doesn’t hurt to look at the clothing’s weight, too. All items tested here were men’s size Large. The Sugoi RS jersey weighed in at 181g. While it’s the heaviest, heavier in fact than both pairs of bib shorts, it’s the most form fitting, so it probably creates the least drag…but the slight flapping, full zips and lighter material on the other two made them cooler on really hot days.

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It has three main pockets with a smaller fourth pocket on the outside right of the center pocket. A stitched hole provides earphone access to run the wires inside the jersey. There’s gripping banding on the inside bottom of the jersey to keep it from pulling up. Of the three jerseys, this one is by far the most snug…to the point where it feels like it’s really a medium.

Both the RS and RSE (below) have a small cable management loop on the inside of the collar to keep your earbud(s) from slipping down into your jersey if you pull them out of your ear(s).

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The Sugoi RSE is the lightest jersey tested at just 136g.

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The Sugoi RSE has the simplest rear layout with just three pockets and mild stretch banding at the top. It also has an earphone cable port, but no grippy banding on the bottom of the jersey. Yes, that’s the beginning of a rip at the pocket stitch. MSRP $100.

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The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Limited Climber’s Jersey is one of those that you may not be able to get. It’s not listed on their website anymore, but if you can find one in your local bike shop, grab it. MSRP is $100 and although it’s a few grams heavier than the RSE, the mesh holes are larger and it feels a bit lighter and breezier on.  For the hottest weather, this one takes top honors by a smidge.  Dump some ice in the pockets before a hot lap and it’s all the better.

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The Pearl Izumi jersey has an internal smaller pocket for your radio or MP3 player with cord slit, but there’s no internal cable management loops. It does have grippy stuff along the bottom edge of the inside, though.

COOL BIB SHORTS

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To cover my better half, I’ve been rockin’ the Specialized BG Pro SL Bibshort (left) and Nalini Ciliegio Bibshorts. Both are size Large, and the bottoms on both are pretty comfortable. That’s where the similarities end.

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The Specialized has much thinner bib straps, especially in the rear, but they’re less “porous” than the Nalini’s. Despite the generous rear coverage of the Nalini’s, they never created hotspots or felt like they limited heat or moisture transfer. Another nice aspect of the Nalini’s is that they stretch considerably. At 6’2″, I have a hard time finding bibs that don’t cinch up uncomfortably and make pit stops a bent over fiasco.  The Specialized, while cool and comfortable when bent over in a riding position, are a bit short for me when standing erect and their limited stretch make it hard to pull them down far enough to relieve myself mid-ride. The Nalini’s are perfectly comfortable in any position and pull down easily enough when nature calls, but stay in position very well during riding.  For tall folks that are trim and fit as most cyclists are, these are money.

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Another big difference is the chamois. The Nalini (left) uses fairly straightforward, consistent padding with a top cover that feels like soft, sueded genuine leather except that it’s modern, high performance fabrics. It’s exceptionally comfortable.

The Specialized is a multi-density affair that uses their Body Geometry research to place padding where it’s needed and only minimal cush where it’s not needed as much.  Being their “SL” chamois, it’s pretty thin and probably more geared to racers than all-day rides or those just out to get in some miles.  It’s not uncomfortable, but the limited padding shows its limits on longer rides.

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The material on the Specialized bib shorts feels pretty high tech. The insides of the front and rear panels are gray, and the side panels are a bit see through (without being risqué), which helped keep them cool even on a ride that hit 101º.

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The Specialized BG Pro SL Bibshorts weighed in at 172g.

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The Nalini Ciliego Bibshorts came in one gram lighter.

Which one is right for you? Well, that depends largely on the amount of padding and bib coverage you like. Both are great, but they’re different. Most importantly in these hot summer days, they both run pretty cool.  It should be noted that I’m testing out some Pearl Izumi bibshorts, too, which are super nice, but the bib part is mainly the same material as the shorts, and has broad coverage, so they run a bit warm under a jersey…probably will be fan-freakin’-tastic come fall, though.

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