The Le Col Pro Aqua Zero Long Sleeve Jersey isn't quite what it says on the tin, but it's still a very good thermal top that offers excellent breathability.
I'm a big fan of thermal long-sleeve jerseys. I find them useful during pretty much the whole year, from wearing under a rain jacket in the depths of winter through to the perfect warm-up and post-race choice during the summer. Le Col's Pro Aqua Zero has been perfect for the autumn and winter rides I've been on during testing.
When I received the Pro Aqua Zero for testing I was expecting something like Castelli's Gabba jersey, but the lack of windproofing and limited rain protection mean it isn't much more functional than a standard thermal long-sleeve jersey.
However, what it lacks in protection it makes up for in breathability and layering potential. I have worn this with a lightweight baselayer for autumnal rides then subbed in a heavy baselayer and added a rain shell for some properly grim winter miles that I really hope will result in some summer smiles.
The combination of excellent breathability and a comfortable yet close fit is what makes this such an effective layer. The breathability meant that the jersey coped well with harder climbing efforts and I was never left with that clammy feeling.
A close fit helps to prevent the fabric from flapping about in the wind but it is also essential for a garment that is going to be worn as part of a layering system. The fit is something that I think Le Col has nailed. The stretch in the material certainly helps, but everything feels well proportioned with a close race fit that tapers in nicely at the waist.
I'm slightly shorter in the torso than some so I'd have preferred a shorter front section, but for most the length will be fine.
Le Col has used a classic, and very comfortable, brushed fabric that as well as providing good thermal properties also feels incredibly soft against the skin. Not only is this great on long rides where I want to be perfectly comfortable, it also makes the jersey very nice to pull on in the morning and feel cosy before heading out into the cold.
The outside of this fabric is finished with a durable water-resistant (DWR) coating. In my time riding with the jersey I've found the protection extends only to wheel spray and lighter rain – I'd be reaching for a proper rain shell if the heavens opened – but it's useful if the roads are wet and you or your riding buddies don't have mudguards.
At £145 it's pretty pricey for what you get, though, and there are several excellent options out there for less, such as Gore's C5 Thermo Jersey at £99. While this doesn't have the claimed protection against the rain, I don't see that the Le Col jersey offers a £45 improvement. There is also the Sportful BodyFit Pro Thermal jersey at £90. You might be better off with Le Col's simpler Pro Long Sleeve jersey at £135, but this is still quite a bit more expensive than those excellent options.
In conclusion, the fit and comfort provided by the Pro Aqua Zero jersey mean that it's a garment you'll end up reaching for over and over again. The price is high, though, and I don't think the water resistance is good enough to justify the extra spend over a simpler thermal jersey – but at least with so much usability, over time you should get your money's worth.
Warm and comfortable with excellent breathability but a bit expensive for what it is
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Pro Aqua Zero Long Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says, 'Designed to offer three-season protection, the Le Col Pro Aqua Zero Long Sleeve Jersey combines a thermally fleeced fabric with a long-lasting hydrophobic coating for protection in wet conditions.
'Breathable and cut to give the rider an aerodynamic, racing fit, this jersey is ideal for riding in mixed conditions.
'Using three rear pockets for ease of storage and a rear reflective strip, this jersey is one of the most highly sought-after items in the range.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Le Col lists:
Hydrophobic rain protection
Three season long sleeve Jersey
Close aerodynamic fit and cut
High soft lined collar with zip guard
Full length waterproof zip
Three large rear pockets
Fourth waterproof security pocket
Reflective stripe on middle rear pocket
Made in Italy
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Wash cool and line dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed very well when used in a layering system.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It is usable year-round, which makes it a good investment.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The water resistance, while effective against light wheel spray and a bit of rain, doesn't add enough functionality to the jersey, especially when the price is considered.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It is high. Gore's C5 is £99 and Sportful's BodyFit is £90.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, I'd go for a simpler and cheaper design.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Great long-sleeve thermal jersey but it comes at a high price and the water resistance doesn't add that much functionality.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.