If you want a casual cycle top that stands out from the crowd then look no further than the Ion Women's Helia 3/4 sleeve jersey. The styling is clearly derived from surfwear, and while we certainly wouldn't team it with Lycra it goes well with a slim-fit pair of casual riding shorts. It's ideal to wear if you're touring as it's light, packs down small, has integrated anti-pong technology and looks good off the bike.
Despite the three-quarter length sleeves that reach just below the elbow, this is a top that's designed to keep you cool on hot, sunny days. Testing it on holiday in Spain it worked a treat, thanks to the choice of fabrics. The sleeves and back are constructed from a light and breathable 'pique mesh' polyester, which allows lots of ventilation and wicks well. Meanwhile the front is a lighter weight 85% polyester, 15% cotton Jacquard mesh with larger holes in the mesh, which dries extremely quickly and feels nice and soft against the skin.
The sleeves and back are treated with an antibacterial fabric treatment to help reduce the pong usually associated with polyester tops, and it certainly didn't smell too bad after a day of sweaty riding.
The fit is fairly loose which adds to its coolness credentials, and the generous body length means there's no risk of exposing your back even if you're stretched out on the drops. It is cut just slightly longer at the back than the front. A slight niggle is that the neck is quite low at the back compared to traditional cycle jerseys, so make sure you slap on the sunblock. While it's designed to keep you cool, it also works as an extra layer if the temperature dips.
The Helia has some nifty features. There's a microfibre glasses wipe sewn inside the front hem on one side, and on the other side is a discreet zipped pocket perfect for stashing cash and a credit card. We weren't sure about the large Ion badge sewn onto the front of the top, but we didn't notice it once wearing it and it didn't snag on pack shoulder straps. The ion logo on the back and the glasses symbol on the front are both reflective.
The Helia also comes in a red colour scheme, called Hibiscus, as well as the Lavender pictured.
Surf chick style jersey ideal for long, hot days in the saddle when you want to stay cool and keep the sun off
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road.cc test report
Make and model: ION Helia 3/4 sleeve jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Ion's watersports roots are obvious from the styling of their clothes. The brand aims to make functional cycle clothing with progressive design. I'd say the Helia lives up to that.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
DriRelease® jacquard mesh fabric - dries four times faster than classic cotton
Sanitized® finish on fabric keeps you dry and fresh
Integrated goggles/glasses wipe
Small zipped pocket
3/4 length sleeves
Back of neck sits lower than most cycle jerseys - beware of sunburn!
Comes up big so definitely go for the smaller size if you're between sizes
Is pretty pricey - Pearl Izumi do a similar one for £45.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. It was comfortable and surprisingly cool so ideal to wear when you want to protect your arms from the sun.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The casual surfy styling and cool-feeling fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not at full price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Would have scored more but fell down on value.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mtb, Audax