This semi-form-fitting jersey from Specialized is made of UPF 50 sunscreening fabric, making it a good choice for long rides in the summer. Cyclists spend a lot of time in the sun so we need all the skin protection we can get.
The Solar Vita Jersey has a full-length zipper, which I like because it makes it easy to get on and off. Depending on what you’re wearing underneath, you can also open the zipper partway for better ventilation.
A gripper at the bottom back of the jersey keeps it in place no matter what moves you make on the bike. The sleeve openings have a soft, stretchy material instead of a gripper, providing a more relaxed and comfortable fit.
Three back pockets share space with an additional zippered security pocket for keys or ID, to ensure they won’t fall out. That’s a nice feature. But the pockets are too small. The back of the jersey has a tapered panel and the pockets have been squeezed to fit that width—the designers have clearly chosen form over function. Never a good choice, especially when other manufacturers can marry the two so elegantly.
Another problem I have with the pockets is the wiring port. To make sure you don’t miss this important feature, the designers have stamped a headphone decal on the right pocket to draw attention to it. My problem: why do you need a wiring port in a cycling jersey?
Cyclists, who share the road with 2-tonne behemoths travelling at high speeds, shouldn’t further endanger their lives by stuffing their ears with headphones. Not only will it impede their sense of hearing, it’s distracting, and it only takes a split second for an accident to happen. I know there are people out there who think it’s cool to ride their bikes while listening to music, but it’s dangerous, judging by a few sad stories I’ve read. The last thing advocates for safe cycling need is the cycling industry pandering to unsafe practices.
Bottom line: If you’re not put off by the wiring port, this is an attractive, comfortable jersey that provides excellent protection from the sun.
Colours: Comes in black/white, ion/black, teal/white and white/black. (Ion is a bright limey green)
Price: $90 US ($99.99 CND)