The Boardman Relaxed Fit Jersey is a generally capable budget garment, with most of features we've come to expect and several appealing colours to choose from. However, sizing was a bit of a sticking point, and it faces stiff competition from store brands boasting more sophisticated yarns.
I have always interpreted 'relaxed fit' as meaning a looser cut, the sort that works well with non-Lycra shorts or 3/4s and other street-style longs. In this context, it simply refers to freedom of movement.
Sizing is more comprehensive than most, ranging from XS right through to 3XL, and the chart is pretty comprehensive, covering sleeve length, chest and waist measurements. Even so, judging by our S/M – which felt a bit too snug around the chest and shoulders – I'd recommend trying a size larger than usual.
The jersey is a fairly basic but practical 100% polyester blend designed to wick sweat and other moisture efficiently, and felt less synthetic than I was expecting. Given the price, I wasn't surprised by a lack of sun protection and anti-bacterial technology in the fabric.
The seams sit flat, so no unsightly branding after a few hours, and the stitching is uniform and durable throughout. Ours has seen its fair share of trail action and remains unscathed despite brushes with brambles and similarly prickly foliage.
Up front we have a full length zipper, perfect for fine-tuning airflow or showing off your finisher's medallion. As ever, the zipper tag could be bigger, but wasn't a problem wearing mitts.
Round the back we have the time honoured three-pocket terrace plus a zippered side-entry one for stashing cash/other valuables. A silicone hem hugs all but the most slippery Lycra, doing a decent job of preventing incremental creep no matter how frequently I alternated between hoods, tops and tri-bars on the open road.
The pockets offered dependable tenure to keys and smaller compact cameras, even across washboard tarmac or blasting along unmade roads, but they are surprisingly shallow by contemporary standards, which proved problematic with bigger smartphones, mini-pumps and 750ml bottles – the latter being ejected into a hedge during one 20-mile outing. Using a back bottle solved the issue during testing, but ideally the pockets need to be deeper/made from a more accommodating blend.
The tops did provide a reasonably secure mounting point for LEDs, though, and the cut ensures they're aligned at driver eye-level rather than pointing skyward.
Its ability to help you maintain a comfortable climate is good rather than great; the Boardman is a heavier weave than the £10-more-expensive PBK Montagna, hence the familiar glow kicked in more intensely after 20 minutes in comparable heat/humidity.
Like for like, it takes longer to dry too, especially around the armpits and lower back. That said, given 20 minutes and a moderate breeze, things turn pretty arid, accelerated by dropping the zipper to half-mast.
Things did turn mildly funky at the close of long, steady miles, which wasn't the case with the PBK thanks to its anti-bacterial fabric. This was easily dismissed along with any ingrained grime, given a 30-degree machine wash.
On the plus side, if you like to extend your summer kit through autumn and early spring then the heavier weight fabric will be an advantage.
The Boardman Relaxed Fit jersey is by no means a bad one, and a few years back this sort of specification and performance was what I'd expect from this end of the market. Indeed, a zipped pocket is still sometimes missing from higher priced jerseys. But some store brands are offering more sophisticated fibres with sun protection factor and anti-bacterials and sharper detailing for similar money, so it's facing plenty of competition.
Decent budget jersey but facing stiff competition – and check the sizing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Boardman Relaxed Fit Men's Cycling Jersey
Size tested: Small/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?
Boardman says: "Hit the road in style and comfort with the Boardman Mens Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey. This jersey is made from breathable fabric and a relaxed fit for comfort. It includes three rear plus one zipped pocket for security. In addition, the jersey also features Qwick-Dri fabric which helps to wick away moisture, keeping you cool and collected."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Boardman lists these features:
Relaxed fit for comfortable riding
Quick drying, wicking fabric to manage sweat
3 rear jersey pockets and a zipped security pocket
Full length zip
What I have come to expect from this price point.
Generally good in most contexts but, being a middleweight weave, it didn't wick as efficiently as some when the mercury soared into the high 20s/low 30s.
Seems rugged enough.
What I'd expect from a race-inspired jersey: it doesn't gather, and hugs the wearer well, so no risk of it fluttering like a builder's tarp on a blustery day.
Sizing is a little peculiar. On paper at least, S/M should have been a reasonable fit; it was for the most part, but I felt constricted around the chest and shoulder areas.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Pretty effortless. Wear, wash, repeat. Emerges pristine from a 30-degree wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Not a bad jersey overall, but it faces stiff competition from shop-branded models offering thinner weaves with sun protection and similar features. That said, the heavier material may lend itself better to the cooler months. The pockets are well designed and the full-length zipper permits easy tweaking of climate control. My main issue isn't with the jersey per se, rather the sizing: I found the S/M rather restrictive around the shoulders and chest, otherwise, it fitted me in good proportion.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Subtle colours, decent pockets.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fit/sizing was my biggest turn-off.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they wanted a budget jersey and could find the right size/fit.
Use this box to explain your score
It's an above average jersey, but faces stiff competition from higher spec store brands. The sizing was a little tricky for virtual click-to-cart purchases.
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, mountain biking
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)