With all the news about how the fashion industry is destroying the environment, with cheaply made clothing ending up in landfills because vintage shops don’t want the rejects, I considered the mound of decaying old custom club kit in my closet: jerseys and shorts with brittle elastic and unravelled seams – unwearable but with nowhere to go but the bin. There has to be a better way and the clue lies in one kit in my wardrobe that has been in constant rotation for over six years – Velocio. The company has dedicated itself to sourcing recycled fabrics, using biodegradable packaging and donating revenue to environmental causes. It’s a company you can feel good about supporting although for some items you’ll be digging deep into your pockets to do so. We’ve put Velocio’s jersey to the test, comparing it to the best cycling jerseys available and with the Radiator Mesh Jersey, you’ll find a summer or indoor training jersey that is made with recycled materials but still is of the highest quality.
Design and function
The Radiator Mesh Jersey is a form-fitted, lightweight garment meant for the hottest summer days or sweatiest indoor training sessions and as advertised as soon as air blows across it, the jersey starts shedding excess body heat and sweat all while looking mighty fine.
Anywhere air will move across the torso – the front, side and upper back – is made from panels of Polartec Delta fabric, “a complex knit made with Tencel that actively cools you as you move through the air”. The fabric has a lightly perforated appearance but unlike some lightweight summer jerseys, it is fairly opaque in the ultramarine colour we tested. Other lighter colours such might show through more.
The sleeves and the centre back panel are made from a more traditional-looking 50 per cent recycled polyester, giving the jersey structure without feeling oppressive. The combination makes for a light, comfortable top that you barely notice when moving, and which claims UPF30 sun protection.
The colourway is all solid, with understated branding, and comes in five bright colours: royal blue (ultramarine), gold yellow, coral, celeste, and fire red.
There are thoughtful touches like the extra panels on the inside of the pockets to keep them from sagging under the weight of a cell phone, a rubber gripper on inner waistband to prevent it riding up, zipper garages top and bottom, and small reflective touches on the arms and the pocket logo. Although the front panel felt quite short when standing – taller riders might want to err on the side of the larger size if in between – the back panel hit just right so that the pockets are easily accessible, and the disparity in length makes for a fashionable fold-free appearance in the saddle and out.
The design is meant to be aerodynamic, with no collar and a slim fit with light compression. The arm cuffs are lacking elastic or grippers but the fabric keeps them in place without ever digging in, and the arm length is perfectly midway between shoulder and elbow. It’s everything you’d expect from a race-ready fit – no flapping in the wind, great wicking ability, comfort, mobility and coverage.
I enjoyed the Radiator Mesh Jersey thoroughly on dozens of sweltering rides but I did have a few minor complaints that nudged it down to my second favourite jersey – behind Velocio’s Ultralight jersey, which has slightly more stretch to it. I never felt constricted by the Radiator Mesh jersey but if I had bulkier biceps or was more curvaceous I can see where it would start to have a bit too much compression in places. Velocio has a size guide that takes into account height and weight but if you’re on the curvier side you may want to err on the larger size. A generous 30-day risk-free return period comes with every piece Velocio sells.
I’m not a huge fan of the crew style collar – as trendy as it might be. The straps of the bib shorts sometimes peeked through the neck opening – like a bra strap showing. It’s not the tidy appearance I come to expect. I also had a problem from the outset with the upper zipper garage. I felt like the crew cut allowed the collar to stretch apart, nullifying the upper zipper garage and thus failing to provide enough protection against the metal. After a few washings, some of the metal from the top of the zipper coil even poked through and stabbed at my neck. A quick trim with some nippers solved the issue, and it was hardly enough to disqualify me from recommending this jersey but it could be easily solved with a little bit more fabric on the upper zipper garage.
These negative points were quite minor in comparison with the great benefits of the Radiator Mesh Jersey when it comes to exercising in hot, humid conditions. The Polartec Delta mesh fabric that gives the jersey its name dissipates heat like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I put this jersey to the test in the worst of North Carolina’s summer in conditions so bad the air condensed on my face and rained down from it before I could even break a sweat. But the Radiator never had that plastic bag feeling that cycling kit can have in such weather. Quite the opposite – as soon as it had some air moving across it, the fabric whisked the heat away. Once you’d worked up a sweat, the jersey worked even better.
Velocio calls the Polartec Delta fabric “magical” and I have to say, I agree. I’d be hours into a ride in absurdly oppressive heat and only then realize that I hadn’t even had to unzip at all. In fact, the jersey is so light and comfortable I’d forget about it altogether.
The jersey is priced on the higher side at $139, which puts it mid-range for other high-end cycling clothing makers like Rapha – but if you live in a hot climate or spend a lot of time training indoors, it’s a small price to pay for a thoughtfully designed, environmentally friendly and superbly functional jersey.
Tech specs: Velocio Women’s Radiator Mesh Jersey
- RRP: $139
- Sizes: 7 (XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL)
- Pockets: 3
- Fit: Race
- Colours: 5
- Fabric: 50% Recycled Polyester / 40% Tencel / 10% Elastane