The Le Coq Sportif Arac short sleeve jersey is a stylish piece which shares many of the features found on the maillot jaune of the Tour de France – but a couple of significant failings reduce its appeal as a jersey for everyday riding.
Le Coq Sportif have a long association with cycling’s greatest race, manufacturing the Tour’s leaders jerseys from 1951 to 1988 before making a comeback in 2012.
That return to the peloton was also marked by the launch of the French brand’s first performance line – clothing for you and I.
The Arac jersey is part of the range and is heavily influenced by the leaders jerseys of the Tour, sharing the same cut, fabric and design features as the tunic worn by Chris Froome.
The jersey is designed to offer an anatomical and aerodynamic fit, and that is most keenly felt on the sleeves. They’re designed to be skin tight to smooth air flow and are made from a stretchier fabric, made up of an 82 per cent polyester and 18 per cent elastane mix, to achieve a close fit.
The sleeves are laser cut and the inside is lined with a silicone gripper band, designed to lock the sleeves in place. Trouble is, the gripper is almost adhesive and is take some significant maneuvering to get the sleeves to sit without pulling the skin.
That’s not a deal breaker as it is possible to get the sleeves in position without the gripper causing irritation. More troubling, however, is the seam which joins the sleeves to the rest of the jersey. It’s a fairly coarse seam and, as the jersey is designed to offer a very close fit, can rub against the skin, particularly if the jersey is worn with Le Coq Sportif’s excellent Cailly sleeveless base layer. While the overly-adhesive silicone gripper is possible to ignore over the course of a long ride, a coarse, irritating seam is not.
It’s a shame as the rest of the jersey is, on the whole, very good. It’s light, breathes well (thanks to the lightweight polyester fabric and an additonal mesh panel on the back of the neck) and is stylish in an understated way, with the Le Coq Sportif logo on the right breast and left shoulder, as well as the French tricolore on the back of the neck. The styling is inspired by that of the 1951 yellow jersey, with a collar lined with Le Coq Sportif’s signature print and the same wide, flat-seamed collar as that found on this year’s yellow jersey.
There’s also a three-quarter zip, which provides plenty of ventilation, and three well-sized rear pockets, although we’d like to see an additional zipped pocket on a jersey of this price in order to provide a secure space for keys or a mobile phone.
That, perhaps, is crux of the problem. It’s a jersey designed for racing but in this guise sold to the masses. If you’re after the marginal gains offered by aero sleeves then it ticks that box with undeniable style, but for everyday riding there are better options.
Website: Le Coq Sportif