Following up from my dhb accessories review I’ve now ridden far enough in dhb’s updated Aeron and new Aeron speed range of jerseys and bib shorts (which I’ll deal with in part 2) to give you some idea of how well they perform and whether they offer value for money.
The Aeron range has been round for a few years now, around 2011 as far as I can see. Though it’s fair to say that the range was perhaps a little confusing. The bib shorts came in Aeron, Aeron Race and Aeron Pro, each step up adding a little bit more in terms of features and a bit more in terms of pad comfort. There was an Aeron Pro jersey but, as far as I can recall, no base Aeron or Aeron race jersey. I’ve used a pair of the Aeron Pro bib shorts for commuting, cyclocross and mountain biking in the last 3 years and they’ve held up exceptionally well. They do look a little worn now but that’s because they’ve been worn, extensively.
dhb’s range has become a little bit more extensive and arguably a bit more rationalised. So, you have the Classic and Blok levels at the “bottom”, then the Aeron and ASV range at the top. It’s quite hard to separate those two. One is aimed at the performance rider and the other is aimed at the professional. I wouldn’t worry too much about those descriptions in terms of actual performance, much of it is down to sizing and fit. In effect the Aeron range is as good as the ASV one but with a slightly different emphasis. For 2016, dhb has also added the Speed variant to the Aeron range. That does sound a little complicated I guess, but, in practice, it just means that it’s the range you go to for that bit more aero or that bit more race orientation. There’s an update coming to the ASV range shortly so it will be interesting to see how the Aeron range compares against that when launched. Phew, with all that explained on with the reviews, jerseys first, then bibs in part 2.
Let’s just start by saying that’s cheap. Not as cheap as some of the dhb classic or blok stuff but that’s cheap. Ok, you might be able to buy cheaper, but for a cycling specific jersey that’s a pretty excellent price.
And there’s actually quite a lot going on here. This is a summer jersey, perhaps even more so than the Aeron Speed and I’ll explain why later. When you put it on you can, if you stretch it a bit, see your bib straps underneath. I don’t see that as a flaw by the way, it’s pretty much the case with all lightweight “meshy” jerseys of this type, particularly when the jersey is dark and the straps underneath are white.
The material is polyester and elastane (spandex) so getting a good tight fit is easy. If you want looser then size up. There are some other fabrics present as well. Those black bits at the side (and there’s a section running up the middle of the back) are made from a different mesh weave. They’re present for a bit of cooling and appear to work very well. I’ve not yet climbed a mountain in 30 degrees but I’ll report back if that ever happens (this is Wales after all). You’ll see that the bottom of the jersey kicks up slightly. It’s not cut entirely square to the rear. And that’s deliberate because it makes for a better design and ensures no bulging in a race position. I’m not particularly tall but there should be a sufficient length left for the taller rider. There are also elastic grippers running round the entire circumference of the waist. All very well made and will ensure that the jersey stays where it should.
The sleeves deserve a mention here. They are a decent length (I like this but it is a matter of taste) and terminate in some “rubber grippers” (there’s probably a technical term for this, I was going to go with giant elastic bands!) They compress comfortably and ensure that the jersey doesn’t move. I have a minor point here which is that I like them, a lot. But, here’s the thing, the cuff is the same feature that appears on both the Aeron and Speed variants of the bib shorts. But, if you choose to buy the Aeron jersey in this colour there’s no matching colour in the Aeron bib shorts.
So, if you want to have this feature at both arm and thigh then you need to match the Aeron jersey with the Speed bib shorts. No biggie. Just depends on whether you have OCD on any level. The Aeron bib shorts, in black, with their plain elastic gripper, match very well. And, of course, there are 4 other colours in the Aeron jersey available so getting an Aeron jersey to match your Aeron shorts isn’t hard. I’ve been using this colour with a black hemmed pair of Aeron shorts was well as the green and yellow hemmed version of the Aeron speed shorts. Well done if you followed all of that.
Round the back it’s business as usual. You can see that mesh centre insert present for cooling. The standard three pockets and zipped valuable pockets are also present. All of the zips on the jersey are provided by YKK. There are no reflectives round the back on this occasion. But, given the intended use, you can forgive that omission.
I opted for the XL in this jersey as I was at the top of the large measurement and didn’t want it to be too constricting. The overall fit is excellent and racy. If you wanted a more relaxed fit then you may need to size up one more again.
My overall impressions of this jersey are that it’s very good. It’s well made, does what it says on the tin and won’t break the bank. Despite that nothing about it feels cheap. It looks good and should be sufficiently robust.
The speed jersey is a bit of a step up in terms of tech from the Aeron jersey. But it remains very reasonably priced indeed, commanding a “premium” of under a fiver. It’s hard to draw comparisons with other kit without having worn that other kit but it positions itself along something like the Rapha Pro Team aero jersey or Castelli Aero jersey in terms of its positioning and aesthetic. It’s a figure hugging aero jersey for warm summer days. That said I found it surprisingly comfortable in even some fresher conditions. The collar is cut in a typically “aero” way but there’s still something to keep the chill off your neck. Indeed, the collar is a nice double lined affair and sufficiently close cut without being constricting.
It’s hard to get the effect of it sitting on a hangar but it does suggest something a bit speedier than a run of the mill jersey and has the figure hugging and slippery look that one might associate with your typical aero product. The musclier photo that heads the article gives you some idea of how it looks on. I repeat, as I have previously, that I am in no way aero but please don’t let that tiny detail detract from what dhb have achieved here. If you have the build of a racing snake and get the right size then it’s going to be much like a second skin.
What’s quite interesting to note is that the top section is one seamless panel. The upper chest and arm run round the back to meet a further single panel which joins them. To me the avoidance of seams at the front of the shoulders is to be commended, at least in terms of comfort though I have no idea how many, if any, watts it adds. The contrast trim is achieved through sublimation rather than the addition of extra panels so there’s no additional seams in that area to create drag or, most importantly, cause any chaffing. There is, of course, a seam running laterally across the chest. In practice you can’t feel it. Once again, whether that adds any watts I have no idea.
Down the side, there’s a large section of mesh to keep you cool which carries over into the inner sleeve as well. It’s here that I have a slight design comment to make. This is the “premium” aero version but it looses the elastic band cuffs present on the “cheaper” Aeron. It also means, as I pointed out earlier, that the Aeron Speed jersey isn’t an exact match in terms of design for its intended partner bib shorts. It would be better, I feel, for the Aeron to have the traditional termination and the Speed version the elastic trim. Both work, I’m just a sucker for aesthetics. But, for balance, there’s almost certainly a reason for that omission. The Aeron jersey sleeve are the same all the way round. The Speed jersey has the mesh underneath. It’s probably quite difficult to work the elastic gripper into the Speed jersey construction so, on that basis, dhb my OCD forgives you.
Again, you’ll see that the front is cut a bit higher than the rear. It’s quite a short jersey but that’s a good thing once again in my view. It means that it sits absolutely where it should when you’re in race position.
Round the back once again we have the traditional three pocket plus one zipped pocket approach. There’s nothing awfully fancy about the waist but the requisite silicone grippers are all present and correct inside. Again, no reflectives, but it’s a summer race and/or climbing jersey so that’s fair enough. Once again all the zips are provided by YKK.
As you can see the material is pretty thin and the mesh very airy indeed. Where the Aeron was 95% Polyester (and 5% elastane) this is 84% Polyester and 16% Polyurethane. This jersey feels a bit more stretchy for want of a better description. I’m at the upper end of the large sizing (41 1/2) so went for the XL in this jersey as well.
The Aeron speed jersey is only available in two colours at the moment, this and a blue (red) and black combination. There are a pair of bib shorts to match each jersey and also a an black affair.
So, which one to choose? Should you opt for the Aeron or Aeron Speed jersey? Well, it depends. The Aeron is a proper, lightweight summer jersey. It will wick sweat very well and be a great jersey to climb in. Though not described as being speedy it won’t flap around given the figure hugging construction. The fit is excellent and it’s very comfortable. The elasticated sleeves are a lovely addition and come a decent length down the arm. It’s a nice jersey to wear, comes in a variety of colours and won’t break the bank. It’s a simple design done well.
But, sleeve OCD issue aside, my personal preference was for the Speed jersey. As I said above it isn’t making me more aero but it feels more like the type of material I want to wear on a hot summer day. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with the material of the Aeron, far from it. But I just prefer the feel of the Aeron Speed. It’s a nice soft material and perhaps I slightly prefer its gentler compression to that of the Aeron. There’s zero flapping at speed (as befits an aero jersey), it sits where it should and gets on with the job well. As I said earlier it also feels good in a variety of temperatures. Given the closeness of the weave I’ll report back in due course as to whether it’s any less wicking than the Aeron when climbing a mountain but I suspect any differences will be marginal.
My overall experience of both jerseys was very positive and both offer great value. I’ll turn to deal with the bib shorts in part 2 but, in the meantime, I’ll be doing a fuller and more in depth review on the Aeron Roubaix long sleeve jersey and also a review of the new Classic Micro Roubaix “warmer” short sleeve jersey which is quite an interesting product.