It's always a special feeling when you receive new cycling kit in a nice box, not a random plastic bag. It makes you feel special, and unboxing it – although you already know what you're going to find – is like opening an early Christmas present.
In the box I found Le Col's Pro Aero bundle, which includes its Pro Aero Jersey and its Pro Bib Shorts. And, as an even greater surprise, Le Col sent me both its green and black jerseys to try so that I could decide on the outfit given different light conditions. At first sight, I thought that the dark colours could have been a downside when riding in the shadow and on heavily tree-covered roads, as I could be less visible despite the reflective tabs on the back.
However, given the fact that I tested this kit in bright, sunny summer conditions in the UK (and we know how rare that is), I had no significant issues with being visible – but also because I always use my bike lights, even in the summer. At the same time, though, it's worth saying that the aero jersey also comes in yellow, which is a high-vis jersey. And that's the one I would purchase without a second thought.
At first glance, the material looks like it's from another era, reminding me of some of the wool kit you see at Eroica events. That feeling is also given by the debossed Le Col logos on the chest and back. Yet, the kit doesn't look merely retro or vintage. It's quite simple and elegant, but don't be fooled: this is high-performance cycling kits, and they are not just fashionable.
Le Col makes the aero jersey with 80% nylon and 20% elastane, plus polyester on the back and side. The materials give the jersey great stretch property, and because they're conceived as aero jerseys, they fit snugly on your body. Of course, if you want to feel more comfortable, you'd have to size up, but then you'd lose their aero properties and race cut.
I highly suggest looking at Le Col's sizing guide online before buying. But then you should trust the feeling, even if the jersey may feel a bit tight at first. That's exactly how it should feel: not too tight, but tight enough.
And that's how my jersey and bib shorts felt (I tested a size M). A bit tight at first, but not excessively compressing. After a couple of minutes of having them on, the material fits nicely, and when you ride, it becomes even more comfortable. I don't know how much is the result of the marketing created to promote aero products that I had in mind while riding, but when I used Le Col's and others' aero kits, I felt like pedalling was somewhat more comfortable than with other, more relaxed gear.
The bib shorts are made of 80% polyamide and 20% elastane and provide a high level of compression and stretch – but are still lightweight, and the bib mesh gives good airflow and breathability. Le Col doesn't say much more on its website it says the shorts are "built around an Italian Pro Chamois". I found that on both long and short rides, it lived up to its expectations.
I tested this kit on easy rides and harder sessions on the hills, and on both occasions, the jersey and the bibs were always in place and didn't move. That resulted from the excellent fit of the size I tested and the quality silicone grippers placed at the bottom of the long sleeves (just above the elbow) and waist. In terms of breathability, even when the temperatures were higher (max 20°C), the materials performed very well, and I never felt overheated, even when I was wearing the all-black kit.
But remember, the aero kit was tested and developed in the wind tunnel and with input from the world's top riders (Bora-Hansgrohe is using it), so it remains high-performance kit. If you're looking for more forgiving equipment, you should consider other models from Le Col. But if you're looking for the top of the class, look no further.