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The dhb Aeron Lab Polartec Sleeveless Baselayer was developed in conjunction with Polartec and the pro riders of the Canyon dhb pb Soreen road racing team. This is palpable in terms of real-world comfort and overall performance. Racers are the target audience, but I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a high performance warm weather baselayer.
Polartec may well be most famous for synthetic fleeces, but it's actually developed 300 different fabrics. This one is called Delta. Delta supposedly responds differently to sweat than traditional wicking fabrics, which are designed to spirit moisture away. Apparently, some wicking can be so ruthless our bodies are actually hampered by the lack of moisture.
According to the blurb, Delta counters this by using open-knit, hydrophilic fibres that keep enough moisture for effective cooling, while a hydrophobic polyester ensures continuous, cooling airflow. Lowering core temperature this way, says Polartec, saves energy that would otherwise be lost through excessive sweating.
Essentially, it does the same job as any other base layer, just in a more nuanced way. I was surprised to find the seams more pronounced than usual, but this didn't translate to irritation or marking of the skin.
Judging by our medium, the sizing chart is accurate. Interestingly, it feels more relaxed across the shoulders and the fabric has more 'give' than the other synthetic/hybrid models I've been testing recently. It's not baggy, just seamless, as promised by the blurb.
Against the skin, the yarn feels closer to a bamboo cotton than a wool, let alone more conventional synthetic (most of which are now rather good, regardless of price).
I subjected ours to a mix of shorter, 10 mile TT-paced blasts with a few hills and fast descents to keep my tempo changing, some 20-25 mile training loops and longer, meditative 50 milers. The test period was decidedly chill, especially around dusk and dawn, with 1-3°C being quite common.
These are conditions where a sleeveless model isn't the most obvious move, but worn beneath jersey cum jackets, the Aeron Lab Polartec retains welcome heat. My arms and shoulders felt a little nippy but my core remained perfectly temperate. I wasn't surprised to feel dry and fresh either.
As the mercury climbed I headed out for more aggressive rides and, true to claims, the fibres seemed to retain fractionally more moisture – but without the progressively rising heat and corresponding sense of dampness.
That subtle moisture retention is particularly palpable on the longer rides, while I could still feel the cooling flow regulating my temperature. I rode the same route four times in varying temperatures, with consistently pleasing results. No salty residue, or heat rash on my skin.
Continuing this theme, I've worn it for four consecutive 50-mile outings and odour stayed well within socially acceptable limits, albeit out of my comfort zone. There's no hint of fraying, bobbling or similar deterioration, and it machine washes beautifully at 30-degrees.
£40 is upper mid-range, and similar to Hydra Tech's Pro Fresco Sleeveless Men's Baselayer (£43.99) which has commensurate performance – if you can tolerate the sheer/mesh aesthetic – and the Assos Summer NS Skin Layer at £50. I actually rate the Aeron Lab Polartec over its £45 Merino Mesh stablemate, too.
Overall, the dhb Aeron Lab Polartec Sleeveless Baselayer is a very comfortable and competent model – and especially good for hard, competitive riding.
Very capable, reasonably priced baselayer for warmer weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Aeron Lab Polartec Sleeveless Baselayer
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
dhb says: "Stay cool and save energy with the dhb Aeron LAB Polartec Sleeveless Baselayer - a high-performance, race-fit garment employing cutting edge fabric technology designed and developed to give you the edge when the heat is on.
"dhb's partnership with Polartec moves up a gear with the arrival of this high-performance baselayer, rigorously tested and celebrated by the professional riders of the British-based Canyon dhb pb Soreen road racing team."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Body-mapped summer baselayer
Polartec® Delta™ active cooling
Dropped hem for race position
bluesign® APPROVED fabrics
Main: 49% Lyocell, 49% Recycled Polyester, 2% Elastane(Spandex)
Side Panel: 70% Recycled Polyester, 30% Lyocell
Light yet rugged.
I've been pleasantly surprised by the baselayers' ability to regulate temperature and evict unwanted moisture.
Nothing has given cause for concern thus far.
Excellent by any standards.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very straightforward – responds equally well to machine and hand washing.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, especially for intense efforts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lived up to its hype.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing of note.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Hydra Tech Pro Fresco Sleeveless Men's Base Layer is £43.99 with commensurate performance – if you can tolerate the sheer/mesh aesthetic. It's also a few grams lighter, which may be a consideration if you are riding/competing in warmer climes. I happen to rate the Aero Lab Polartec over its £45 Merino Mesh Stablemate. The Assos Summer NS Skin Layer comes in at £50.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is an impressive baselayer in every respect.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)