From bikes, shoes, helmets, componentry and everything in between, technical equipment has long been where the Morgan Hill-based company, Specialized, has excelled. While the brand – especially its S-Works contingent – springs to mind when considering the fastest bikes, Specialized is a name which doesn't have quite as much of a domineering presence in the cycling apparel scene.
With this in mind, we were intrigued to test the latest Prime collection. Touted as “the perfect apparel for the perfect ride” by Specialized itself, it’s a range made from what is described as the best fabrics and construction. The Prime collection sits at the forefront of Specialized’s most recent clothing offerings and comes at the most premium price point of all the options on the brand’s website.
Prime Short Sleeve Jersey
The most striking feature of the Prime jersey is the unique and eye-catching colourway. The mauve base colour is muted, while the alternative blue and green sleeves add a subtle pop. While at first glance one jersey made of three colours could seem like a potential clash waiting to happen, the cooler tones means it's a combination that works well, standing out from the crowd without being garish. The subtle Specialized logos also add to the aesthetic, printed on the garment in a monochromatic finish which catches nicely in the light.
But this jersey isn’t just a pretty face. Technically, it performs exceptionally well. At first touch, the fabric felt thicker than some of the lightest summer jerseys I own, but, even in the hottest conditions, I never felt at risk of overheating. In fact, the fabric was high-wicking and left me feeling fresh throughout the ride. This was especially useful during longer days on the saddle when it was important that the fabric didn’t become weighted with moisture or hold odour throughout the ride.
The Prime jersey’s large pockets and zipper for valuables also made it a great choice for those all-day adventures. I could fit arm warmers, a waterproof, snacks and tools in the rear of the jersey, and the zip pocket meant I could rest easy that my keys and phone were protected when going over bumpy terrain. It’s this sort of attention to detail that gives the Prime jersey a premium feel: the Vislon zipper is smooth to open and close, making it easy to adjust on the move while grippers on the sleeves and hem of the jersey ensure it stays in place throughout the ride.
When it comes to sizing, I would say that the Prime jersey comes up larger than other cycling jerseys in a size medium which I’ve tried in the past. While the sleeves fit well, the jersey did have a bit of extra fabric across the shoulders and middle so this is worth keeping in mind if you like a tighter fit. Overall, retailing at £100, this is a reasonably priced garment for the high quality and premium feel Specialized provide.
Prime Bib Shorts
The Prime Bib Shorts accompany the jersey well with the higher rise at the front of the shorts ensuring that there’s no chance of your baselayer peeking through any gaps when standing up straight. The open-suspender design of the bib straps means they aren’t restrictive at the top, allowing lots of freedom of movement and flexibility. The lack of stitching or seams on the bibs also means they feel soft on the skin and there’s no risk of uncomfortable friction or rubbing.
I found the women's Body Geometry Contour 3D Chamois to give me enough support for my longest rides, but I didn’t think it was too bulky to use in faster, more intense efforts. These shorts are an all-rounder, striking a good balance between summer, race-ready bibs while still being suitable for longer rides.
The HookUp magnetic bib connection at the rear of the shorts also makes them a good call for longer days out: it makes nature breaks a little easier by removing the need to take off all layers before pulling off your bib shorts. However, I did have some trouble reaching the top magnet on my own and needed help to re-close the clasp sometimes, so I’d say this could still do with a little bit more development.
In terms of sizing, I’d argue that the bib shorts are a pretty standard medium fit. The leg grippers are a bit thicker and tighter than I’d choose for an optimum feel, but this does come down to personal preference and body shape. Overall, for the price of £120 – the most expensive out of all of Specialized’s bib shorts offerings – I’d say these are worth the investment as a premium piece of kit.
Prime Wind Vest
A perfect safety net for those days with changeable weather, the Prime Wind Vest provides protection against harsher weather conditions. I found the windproof fabric at the front to be highly protective, a nice extra layer when needed. Despite its windproof qualities, the vest still remains breathable thanks to the mesh layer on the rear, and the double zipper means it can easily be worn open up the climbs when things get a little warmer.
The bright orange colour also ensures you remain visible on the roads as the light begins to fade, perfect for long rides or bike-packing adventures. The fit was relatively tight which ensured there was no flapping in the wind but does mean it probably couldn’t go over a thicker layer in the winter. The vest packs down small enough to fit in the jersey’s rear pocket and features the same branding as the bib shorts and jersey making an outfit which ties together well.
Specialized’s position as a giant in the cycling industry means that it wouldn’t put its name to a mediocre product, and this is evident in the Prime range. It feels premium, well-made and considered. Specific features for women’s kit is a welcome addition that points to a range which has been tried and tested by those who understand the requirements of comfortable on-bike clothing. The colour choices are current and stylish and, aside from the few minor gripes we had with sizing, the Prime women’s collection sits firmly in line with some of the best women’s kit offerings in today’s market.