A tailored fit, longer polyester sleeves, cooling black fabric and PVU pocket support combine in the well-designed PRO Leader jersey from Pearl Izumi.
Pearl uses a fabric called In-R-Cool for the body of the jersey. Designed by Eschler, the material does feel cooler in the sun than a standard black jersey. The stretchy raglan sleeves provide an aero fit but the top is comfortable when you’re standing off the bike or riding in the drops.
The elastic hems keep the sleeves in place without constriction or bunching. Like the sleeves, the collar is a bit longer than normal, and we found it to be the least stretchy part of the top.
When it comes to summer jerseys, manufacturers have struggled with making something super light that doesn’t sag when you load up the pockets. Typically, one characteristic or the other has to give.
Pearl has addressed this issue with criss-cross braces that support the pockets. The jersey isn’t featherweight but it is light, breathable and you can cram a vest, warmers, food and even a bottle in the pockets without the tail sinking down like a nightgown.
Reflective details are blended in for visibility, and aesthetically we appreciated the black-and-white design.
On the downside, the small phone/MP3 player area inside the center pocket often interferes when you want to cram something into the pouch. And US$200 does seem a bit of a high price to pay for a good jersey.
All in all, the PRO Leader is a solid summer/hot weather top that feels as comfortable at the end of a long ride as it does when you first pull it on.