The dhb Aeron Lab Raceline Short Sleeve Jersey 3.0 is a pure race day option. The fit is tight and designed for cheating the wind, but the pockets will struggle to hold a large smartphone. If you are looking for every advantage in a road race or time trial this is an excellent option.
- Pockets have plenty of reinforcement at the seams
- The large plastic zipper is easy to use and won't corrode
- Pockets are narrow and lack stretch
dhb is the house brand of Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles and as a result of that fact alone, there are some who will immediately write it off as lesser quality. Doing so would be a mistake, though, as being part of the largest UK online cycle retail market means there are immense resources available; huge buying power keeps costs low and large budgets have room for talented people and real research.
In particular, dhb’s Aeron Lab collection is part of a partnership with the continental road race team, Canyon dhb SunGod. The goal is to be as fast as possible and leave anything beyond that to other options in the lineup. In 2019, the Aeron Lab Raceline Jersey was further massaged through extensive wind tunnel testing. Having already seen success through the racing partnership, the goal was to make it even faster.
The result of looking for every last bit of speed through racing and testing is the Raceline Short Sleeve jersey 3.0. It's a design that's unlike anything else in our list of the best cycling jerseys and we spent time testing to see if different was a good thing.
Design and aesthetics
The dhb Aeron Lab Raceline Short Sleeve Jersey 3.0 uses an unusual fabric for its construction. The main body material is only eight per cent elastane. For a cycling jersey, that is shockingly low stretch and it's obvious in the feel against your skin as well as in the fit. Between your fingers it feels almost like paper, there's a slight resistance to wrinkling that's completely different from what you expect in a cycling jersey, but put it on and you can immediately feel the benefit.
The low stretch makes for a fabric that naturally wants to remain smooth. Instead of following your body exactly, it tends to smooth out your figure. It remains flat over the small highs and lows of the body. You don't need access to a wind tunnel to see how it benefits aerodynamics.
The sleeves are contemporarily long and lack any seam at the shoulder. The outside of both arms and the top of the back, above the shoulders, is all one continuous piece of fabric. The fabric used is higher stretch than the rest of the garment, but even with 24-per cent elastane content, it's still on the low end for a cycling jersey. To deal with the low stretch there's a dart in the centre to gather material, and it's nice to see that it's reinforced at the bottom of the seam.
This continuous piece of fabric is part of the design for aerodynamic efficiency. When riding in the aero position, the leading edge of your body is, ideally, the top of the shoulders and the upper back. With no seams to impact aerodynamics, it's also important to keep the air attached as long as possible. With this in mind the fabric here has a hexagonal texture of cells with raised edges. It's another reminder how much the jersey design comes from the wind tunnel.
Outside of the top of the shoulders and arms, the rest of the jersey uses that same low stretch fabric. That includes the pockets which are not only low stretch but also thin and long. Below the pockets, the rear of the jersey is on the long side of average. The edge is a wide glued hem with a small amount of silicone grip material. Given the doubled-over fabric and how wide it is, there's almost no stretch in this section.
There is a lot to love about the dhb Aeron Lab Raceline Short Sleeve Jersey 3.0, but it's also important to understand what it's meant for. The fit is tight, so if you like your cycling clothes a little looser, this isn't going to be the right option for you. I love a race fit though, so the fit is a high point for me. It's designed for aerodynamics but when combined with the smoothing effect of the fabric it has the side benefit of looking great.
As well as being tight, the jersey is very short in the front, which works well with an aggressive riding position and a base layer that's low enough to give you the coverage you need. On my bike, it works well, but I'd like to see more structure in the neckline to go with it. The small neck panel is only a single layer of fabric and it's hard to get it sitting in just the right spot. I'd also like to see more stretch in the fabric used across the shoulders and upper arms for an even closer fit there.
The other challenge I had with this jersey is the pockets. I don't carry anything on my bike and instead of a saddlebag, I use the Rapha Essentials Case as well as a Topeak Roadie DA G mini pump. These go in the centre jersey pocket and in most cases there's more than enough room plus extra for a jacket if I need it. With the Aeron Lab Raceline Short Sleeve Jersey, there wasn't room for the pump and the case in the same pocket. Even my phone - small by today's standards - is hard to get into one of the pockets.
My weekday rides tend to be in the 30-mile range and roughly an hour and a half of hard riding. On these rides, the dhb jersey works well. I don't carry extra food or clothes and my intention is to stay as low and aerodynamic as I can the whole ride. This is where the jersey comes alive, but on a long-distance endurance ride, it's not really an option because of the lack of storage in the pockets.
The best way to think of the dhb Aeron Lab Raceline Short Sleeve Jersey 3.0 is to think of it as the top half of a two-piece speedsuit when paired with the dhb Aeron Raceline bib shorts. dhb makes this clear by stating it plainly, but it's not always obvious just how much to believe the marketing. In this case, it is being completely truthful. The pockets are there for your energy gels and not much else. The fit is tight and designed for performance before anything else.
If you've got a time trial category that doesn't allow speedsuits, this would be an excellent choice. It would also be a good choice for a shorter weeknight road race or even a crit if, again, you'd rather not choose a one-piece speedsuit. Taller people who have a hard time finding a one-piece option that fits just right might want to take a look as well.
Sometimes a product is great because it specialises and that's the case here. If you are looking for the right kit for long-distance endurance riding on a relatively upright bike there are better choices. But if you are looking for an all-out speed weapon then you'll find a great partner in the dhb Aeron Lab Raceline Short Sleeve Jersey 3.0.
Tech Specifications: dhb Aeron Lab Raceline short sleeve jersey 3.0
- Materials: Main: 92% polyester, 8% elastane; Panels: 76% nylon, 24% elastane
- Size availability: XXS-XXL
- Price: £120 / $150.00/ AU$200
- Temperature: 16°-28°C
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