Performance Ultra SL Jersey and Shorts Review

Riding cobbles is kind of the ultimate test for not only a rider, but for their equipment. It’s a crucible that tests everything from the bike to clothing. If any piece of gear isn’t up to par, you’re in for one miserable day on the bike.

When we headed to Belgium to ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen Cyclo gran fondo, which included several cobbled sections and four cobbled climbs, we knew we would need some great bikes—which Ridley graciously supplied us for the day, but it also struck us as the ultimate proving ground for our new Performance Ultra SL bib shorts and the Ultra jersey. Ultra is Performance’s line of performance-oriented clothing, designed for riders who expect the very best from their clothing, in all circumstances. If it could survive a day on the cobbles, then it was certainly ready for the prime time back at home.

The new Ultra kit is an evolution of last year’s break out redesign of the Ultra line, and is engineered to be lighter, fit better, and help you perform better on the bike. Constructed using our Physiodynamic design, made with lighter weight Eschler fabrics, coldblack treatment, and Aerocool technology to help you stay cooler and perform better, this pair of short and jersey are designed for long hard days. The all-new SL shorts feature a less bulky chamois, a finer mesh on the upper for better breathability, and a slimmer cut than the standard Ultra shorts.

The Jersey

Our first impression of the newly redesigned Ultra jersey was that it is unbelievably airy and light. On our ride to the ride, we actually needed a jacket in addition to our usual baselayer and arm warmers, because the jersey held in so little heat. The Aerocool fabric is definitely that—cool. In fact, the faster you ride, the more it seems to suck air in and channel it under the jersey. The fabric has an almost silky feel to it that wasn’t clingy like some other jersey’s we’ve tried. The high collar is a nice touch, since a sun burned neck is something we’re usually keen to avoid on long rides, and the arm bands were a fan favorite. As cyclists we’ve generally let our arms wither away to nothing, so it was nice to find a jersey that had sleeves that actually felt snug around our arms. The fabric was a little on the stiff side, but it seemed to loosen up a little as the day went on.

Performance Ultra kit at the Tour of Flanders

Riding in the Ultra kit at the Tour of Flanders Cyclo

The locking zipper was also a nice feature. The day we rode the Ronde Cyclo ended up being fairly hot and sunny, so it was crucial to be able to easily open up the jersey to get more air, especially on the longer climbs.

Another nice benefit we noticed was the bellowed rear pockets. One of them is apparently sweatproof, but we didn’t know that at the time, and didn’t get an opportunity to test it. The pockets proved more than able to pack in everything we needed for a long day. We filled ours up with 2 tubes, multitool, tire levers, mini pump, iPhone, wallet, packable jacket, 3 gels, 2 stroop waffles,  and a route card, and we still had plenty of room. One of the real tests—and one seldom mentioned—for a jersey though is how well it performs with fully loaded pockets. Many race-fit jerseys feel great until you load up the pockets, and then they just end up stretching and drooping as the day goes on. The Ultra jersey though seems to have hit that sweet spot of being light enough to keep you cool, but with enough structure in the back panels to keep the pockets from sagging or bouncing around as you ride. Definitely a solid touch.

The Shorts

As great as a jersey is, the shorts are really the center piece of any clothing line, and if they aren’t up to snuff, you’re in big trouble. Especially when riding on cobbles, which feels a little like riding a bike with a jackhammer for a seatpost. We were a little apprehensive about riding a new shorts that we’d never before worn before – hoping against hope the chamois would be worthy of the challenge. It turns out that we had nothing to worry about!

The TMF Skyve chamois found in the Ultra SL shorts was more than equal to the cobbles. Normally this reviewer is not a big fan of multi-density pads—it’s just a personal preference, but in this case it was exactly what the doctor ordered. The different densities did a really a fine job of soaking up what could have been some…ummm…uncomfortable cobble hits. We definitely knew we were riding over the rough stuff, there’s only so much your shorts and bike can do, but we shudder to think what it would have been like with a lesser chamois. And the pad didn’t just excel in the cobbles either—we spent about 5 hours in the saddle that day, and never had a single complaint. No chaffing, no rubbing, no issues. At no point did we ever really think about the chamois—which is one of the highest compliments you can give to a pair of shorts. If you don’t notice them, they are doing their job.

Peformance Ultra Kit

Testing the Ultra kit in Belgium

The overall construction was also really nice. The contoured Eschler gridded fabric construction moved easily with us, and provided a nice snug fit without too much compression, or the ever-irritating stretching out that sometimes happens. The leg band was nice and snug, and held the shorts in place—even when wearing knee warmers, which is fairly unusual.

The Verdict

The Ultra jersey and Ultra SL shorts were definitely the right tools for the job. The distinctive styling didn’t have us feeling out of place amongst the ever well-dressed Europeans, while the high performance features kept us comfortable and helped us ride well during one of the toughest rides we’ve ever done.

Testing the Ultra kit at the Tour of Flanders Cyclo

Our testers at the finish of the Tour of Flanders Cyclo

Whether you’re racing or going for a longer-distance ride, the kit provides a nice aerodynamic fit that can help you gain an advantage in the paceline, and had all the comfort features you would want for long distances.

Now that we’re home, this is definitely a kit we’ll be reaching for again for some other adventures we have coming up…so check back for more soon.

Check out our all new digital Spring Clothing Catalog to see more spring clothing from Performance Bicycle.

Product Profile: 2013 Performance Clothing

13PBS_PB_Clothing_Brand_FBOur new line of 2013 Performance clothing is our best lineup of Performance brand cycling gear ever. Our clothing team logged long hours designing and testing this gear to make sure that it meets the highest standards for both value and performance on the bike, for every level of cyclist. Give it a try and we know that you’ll love this cycling clothing as much as we do!

The new lineup of Performance clothing is divided into 3 levels: Ultra, Elite and Club.

Ultra clothing is designed with the latest performance technologies to meet the demands of serious cyclists. It’s optimized comfort and durability for racing and training, to give you a performance advantage.

Elite clothing is for the experienced cyclist looking for enhanced comfort and quality. It’s designed to take you from short group spins to all-day century rides with its precision designed support.

Club clothing is our foundation line for essential quality and value. It’s for cyclists who want comfort and value, from casual to long distance rides.

As the top level of our cycling gear, both our Ultra and Elite lines feature physiodynamic design.physioSo what does that mean? Think of it as the perfect synthesis of comfort, aerodynamics, and support for cyclists. It features a best-in-class Italian-made chamois with 4 way stretch, variable density and anti microbial properties – perfect for all day in the saddle. Aerodynamic leg and arm bands enhance airflow over the transition areas, while multi-panel construction supports cycling muscles for maximum power delivery. Plus maximized fabric placement wicks sweat and allows ventilation for all day comfort.

ULTRA  physio  coldblack

Designed for serious riders, our Performance Ultra cycling jersey with physiodynamic design has tons of new features that’ll enhance the way you ride, whether you’re training, racing or testing your endurance. Open knit fabric pattern allows air to pass through the fabric, moving moisture away from your skin for quick evaporation. Coldblack technology in the shoulders reduces skin temperature under direct sunlight, so you stay cool and comfortable. Next-to-skin fit enhances speed, compression arm bands stay put, silicone gripper hem prevents ride-up and three pockets hold race-day essentials.

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Performance Ultra jersey & shorts

Coldblack coldblackis an all-new finish applied directly to the fabric, which delivers better heat management and better protection against harmful UV rays. To achieve this double sun protection coldblack uses a unique combination: absorption and reflection. Coldblack reduces the absorption of heat in dark colors and reflects up to 80% of the sun’s rays, so the rider stays noticeably cooler.

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Performance Ultra jersey & shorts

Our Performance Ultra women’s cycling jersey maintains comfort without compromising competitive performance utilizing the same physiodynamic design and coldblack technology as the Ultra men’s jersey – in a women’s specific design featuring a tapered collar, gripper-free arm openings and next-to-skin styling.

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Performance Ultra jersey & shorts

Constructed for the weekend warrior or the everyday racer, the Performance Ultra shorts give serious riders the best technology at the best price. In addition to Coldblack technology on the fabric surface, we also added a new Italian chamois with Skyve technology to eliminate all possible pressure points while enhancing breathable support. The physiodynamic design with ergo-panels, flatlock stitching and compressive fabric promotes riding comfort. Powerband leg grippers stay put while cutting through the air. The Ultra shorts are the most comfortable, best-fitting shorts that money can buy under $100, and are available in men’s, men’s bib and women’s versions.

ELITE  physio

The Performance Elite men’s cycling jersey utilizes a physiodynamic design and has everything you need for every kind of ride. Polyester/spandex fabric moves with you, wicks moisture away from your skin and gives you a streamlined fit. Strategic mesh panels and full zip keep you cool while the tail light clip and 360° reflectivity keep you visible. Silicone gripper hem won’t ride up when you’re down in the drops and three pockets hold your extra gear.

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Performance Elite jersey

Physiodynamic design also helps to enhance the cycling motion for regular commutes, club rides, tours or off-road excursions while wearing the Performance Elite women’s cycling jersey (also available in sleeveless). It will be your new go-to piece for comfort on every ride, carefully designed with a women’s specific fit.

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Performance Elite jersey & shorts

The Performance Elite shorts are the best everyday shorts you can find. We combined our new physiodynamic design with the best technical properties and an updated fabric blend to keep you well-supported and comfortable on every ride. New Italian made, multi-density chamois gives excellent cushioning on longer rides; reflective accents, and new Comfortband leg grippers feature silicone prints for a soft, no-slip grip. The best quality shorts you can find for under $80, available in men’s, men’s bib, women’s and women’s bib versions.

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Performance Elite jersey & shorts

CLUB

Whether you’re pedaling around the neighborhood or training for your first charity event, the Performance Club II cycling jersey provides the cooling comfort you need to ride well. Polyester fabric leaves your skin dry, thanks to its fast-wicking properties and front zip keeps you well-ventilated as the day heats up. Reflective logo improves visibility and three pockets hold keys, nutrition, plus other essentials.

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Performance Club jersey & shorts

The Club II cycling shorts (available in both men’s and women’s versions) blend fast-wicking fabrics with comfort-focused features for everyday riding performance. Six panels follow the pedaling motion and stabilize your hardworking muscles. Breathable foam chamois with silicone inserts provides cushy support and eliminates hot spots. Adjustable drawstring waist gives you a custom fit. Silicone leg grippers stay put, plus they feel great.

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