The Donda Jersey #3 is a good looking, well priced and breathable top that performs well in warmer conditions. However, the choice of full mesh arms and shoulders limits its use a bit.
Donda is a new British-based brand with a focus on the 'everyday cyclist'. This broadly means it creates cycling kit that can be used for most cycling types without specialising in one area. Its direct-to-consumer approach means it's also priced competitively compared with some more established brands.
The jersey is called the #3 because it is the third jersey that Donda has designed and made; it's not the most complex of naming conventions, but the design itself looks good and has a simple and elegant aesthetic.
The fabric used for most of the jersey has a good amount of stretch and sits well against the skin; it offers fairly good breathability too and wicks moisture well, pulling moisture away from the skin quickly and effectively, helping to keep you cool throughout a long ride. It has a full-length zipper, too, so you can let more cooling air in if needed.
From the sleeves across the shoulder to the neck, Donda has used a mesh material, which is unusual and not something I have come across before. It keeps your arms and shoulders cool and well ventilated, but as the majority of heat is lost through the back it's perhaps not the most strategic placement if keeping cool is the aim.
That said, I didn't find that the jersey performed poorly in terms of heat retention and I didn't ever find myself overheating. I didn't test this in the full heat of summer, the highest temperature being around 23 degrees, but I would put this firmly in the 'warm weather' category. I would suggest using it between around 15 to 27°C.
One reason I found this more suitable for warmer weather is that, where I would normally wear a jersey of this weight down to about 10°C with arm warmers and a light underlayer, the mesh sleeves and shoulders were a bit too breezy for this setup.
I am also a little skeptical of Donda's claim that the design allows for 'the most straightforward of commutes". The mesh construction on the shoulders mean it's not the ideal choice for commuting unless you don't carry a rucksack, as mesh under a bag strap would likely wear through quickly.
At the back, the jersey includes three pockets that are well positioned and large enough for everything you might need for a longer ride. There is also a fourth zip pocket on the furthest right pocket for valuables, which can be used on the go with an easy-to-grab zipper.
To keep everything in place, Donda has used a silicone gripper around the full circumference of the bottom of the jersey. This works really well; I didn't find the jersey riding up at all.
The fit is slightly more casual than some while still retaining some performance elements, such as elongated arms and wide silicone cuffs to keep them in place. Sizing is also a little larger than some British brands, which helps with comfort too – for instance, the medium size that I tested would probably be closer to large in brands like Rapha or Endura. (It's not me in the photos.)
One thing this jersey really has going for it is the pricing, which, for the quality you get, is very impressive: £60 for a jersey that wicks well, looks good and is comfortable for long hours in the saddle is a good price.
Overall, I was generally impressed with this jersey. For the price, it offers almost everything you could want for a jersey for weekend riding. The use of mesh across the entire shoulder does limit its use, though, both in terms of wearing it in lower temperatures and for commuting. However, for the majority of summer rides you won't go far wrong.
A good jersey from an exciting new brand, though the mesh on the arms and shoulders limits its use
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Donda Jersey #3
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Donda says, 'The combination of technology, quality and unique design allows our everyday cyclist to ride the toughest climbs, leisurely tour or the most straightforward of commutes.'
It's designed for everyday riding, but with mesh across the shoulders it wouldn't be practical for any commute with a bag.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Race-fit neck (made from a separate panel)
Reflective strip at the base of a three section load bearing pocket
Easy-stick lining on sleeves and base and a reactive extra-stretch sleeve.
Feels like a well made jersey with strong stitching and a robust zipper.
Good fit and wicking meant I was comfortable for several hours in the saddle.
Early days but the full mesh panels on the shoulders mean it likely won't be the most durable... and using it for a commute with a bag wouldn't be the best idea.
Fit was good, helped by the stretch in the material.
It sized up larger than I would expect from a British brand, with the medium fitting closer to what I would expect from a large.
A good fit and decent breathability meant that I could comfortably wear this for a long ride over several hours.
It's good value compared with many, and for the quality of material you get. It's the same price as Rapha's excellent Core Lightweight Jersey, and £10 less than the Chapeau Club jersey.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy – stuck it in with everything else at 30 without any issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It is not ideal for commuting with a backpack, but for everything else it performed well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The looks – the retro simplicity of this jersey is great.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The full arm and shoulder panel mesh – any commute with a bag is likely to wear through the shoulders quickly.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
You can pick up the Rapha Core Lightweight Jersey for the same price, while the Chapeau Club jersey is £10 more.
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
A good jersey for most riding types, though the use of mesh across the entire shoulder limits it a little as it can't really be used with arm warmers or for commuting with a backpack. However, aside from this, it is a good looking jersey that puts in a strong performance.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.