The Performance Ultra jersey and bib short pack a surprising amount of technology, style and comfort into a very well priced package. Ultra is the top of three levels of clothing from the North American mega-retailer.
Performance has made a small empire by offering low-cost bikes and components with good service. In the past, its name brand clothing — at least in our limited experience — was inexpensive but not very good. With the Ultra line, that seems to have changed.
Both the $99 and the $69 jersey feel similar to clothing that costs twice as much. Performance often discounts its clothing, also; at press time the bibs were $69 and the jersey was $40. At these prices, the clothing is an incredible value – we’d rank it five stars.
- Pros: Modern cut and styling with longer sleeves and legs, compression-band cuffs on legs and arms; lightweight mesh body, Coldblack treatment
- Cons: Compression bands are a bit stiff, especially on the arms; jersey zipper lower seam has hard, sharp edges
We like the modern look of the longer sleeves and flush cuffs at the arms and legs. Coldblack technology on the jersey shoulders and throughout the bibs reduces solar-induced heat. Really, it does; we’ve tested the technology elsewhere with an infrared laser thermometer.
Now, the Performance Ultra jersey and bib shorts are not the level of, say, Castelli, and we have a few nits to pick, but for the cost they are quite impressive.
Bib shorts: $99
Price-conscious bib shorts often skimp on the chamois — a huge crime in our book, as it’s the most important part of the garment. Yet the Ultra has a nice, four-way stretch Italian chamois that feels great on all types of rides. It has an ergonomic but not overengineered shape.
The side leg panels are a thinner, lighter fabric that’s more comfortable and pliable than the higher-wear areas of the shorts.
The bib straps are very comfortable, using mesh materials reinforced with flat-lock stitching on the seams.
The cuffs use a 3in compression band without silicone or any other type of grippy material. The result is a solid cuff that stays in place while maintaining a svelte look and some level of breathability. (Silicone bands can offer the same look, but at the price of some clamminess.) Depending on the circumference of your thighs, this compression band could be a bit tight, but we found it comfortable.
We love the thin, stretchy shoulders that give a form fit without constriction.
The long compression bands on the arm cuffs match the bib cuffs, but the material here feels a bit stiff, especially in comparison with the silky shoulders and the ultrathin mesh body.
The lightweight mesh body breathes very well. Our test jersey flapped a tiny bit in the wind, and the body seems slightly larger than the arms and shoulders, but that could just be a personal fit preference.
Ultralight jerseys often have saggy pockets, but the Ultra does not. Angled side pockets make for easy access, and a smart doubled-over pocket bottom adds capacity without bulk.
Reflective elements on the left sleeves, both shoulders and back add visibility.
The bottom of zipper seam on our test jersey had hard, sharp edges, which caused the shorts to pill at the contact points.
All told, for the price — especially the on-sale price — Performance has provided a great value road kit with the Ultra.