Specialized Element SL Race Long Sleeve Jersey – review
Very impressive water resistant jersey, ideal for autumn, spring and milder winter rides
In the UK we’ll often experience sun, rain and wind seemingly rolled into one on a ride and the battle in not getting too hot and too cold on the bike can be a frustrating one.
In step Specialized with the Element SL Race Long Sleeve Jersey – a super-capable, water repellent and breathable jersey for ‘in between’ days when the weather can’t make it’s mind up.
The Element SL follows the trends for lightweight, water resistant, race-focused jerseys and it’s made from ‘Platino 230’, a three-layer fabric with soft lining, waterproof membrane and water repellent outer. It’s this material which is at the heart of its success. The fabric is relatively lightweight but impressively breathable and, depending on your choice of base layer and additional layers, can be used across a wide temperature range and in a variety of conditions.
When rain begins to fall it beads up on the jersey. It’s not fully waterproof but certainly good enough for several hours of riding in light rain and about an hour if it’s heavy, when the fabric begins to struggle – but Element SL strikes a fine balance between warmth, breathability and water resistance.
When worn with a short sleeve merino base layer, I used the jersey for a cool but fast commute and kept warm the whole time, while coupled with a windproof gilet and long sleeve base layer, it offered warmth and comfort over a three-hour, windy, wet and exposed ride. While it’s not a deep winter piece, it’s versatility meant I kept reaching for it for most rides in autumn, while it’s also suitable for milder winter days (which have been a theme this year), and will come into its own again in spring.
The jersey has a race-focused fit – it’s close but the fabric doesn’t feel restrictive and the cut is excellent on the bike. There’s a long dropped tail with a light elastic to keep it close and long arms which don’t ride up when stretched out on the bike, and the sleeves taper nicely to ensure a close fit and good glove coverage. The construction of the jersey, with multiple panels, keeps it jersey close to the body, which helps lock in warmth.
I also liked the close and high neck and overall the general attention to detail is excellent. The open vent below the shoulders helps regulate body temperature while not letting any cold air in when riding fast or on a descent. There’s a full-length zip but I spent more time with the jersey done up thanks to the breathability of the fabric and the shoulder flaps. The zip is also very robust, which is refreshing, as often this is small or fragile and with repeated use surrenders an otherwise good garment to the bin. The fabric chin guard was well set and worked properly. Out back you’ll find two deep back pockets with water holes for drainage. They’re covered with flaps to offer some rain protection for any stowed items.
The jersey is available in a visibility-friendly neon and black or the black and orange option we tested. Both options are, in my opinion at least, stylish and the cut and quality of the jersey ensure it looks good on the bike.
This is the sort of jersey that keeps you riding and pushing on when the weather switches from murky, to grim, to just plain awful. A jersey that offers this much flexibility in a range of weather conditions, from near freezing to above ten degrees is a real find. Impressive, indeed.
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