- Sizes: WS, WM, WL, WXL (see chart)
Multi-panel 'performance' fit.
Zest Riding Top — geargals.com, Jan 14
Online cycling clothing company Ground Effect's Zest riding top is a beauty. Short sleeves, a long, long front zip, deep pockets and a snug cut: this formula’s an old favourite, and it’s one that works.
It is such a relief to find some women-specific mountain bike clothing that does not include butterflies, flutter-bys, flippant swirling scrolls or sickly shades of pastel. The irrelevant-decoration-free Zest comes in bold colours, so it wins big in the appearance stakes. (The latest selection includes brighter-than-bright red and a funky blue-green.) This shouldn’t say much at all, but with so many outdoor clothing options for women being covered in styling detail that suggests we’re all over-grown Princesses in search of a babysitter, making a riding top in strong colours with a few practical bits of reflective tape says 'we get it'. And they do.
The Zest is super-comfy on the bike. Cut to fit but not feel like a vacuum-pack, the Zest was loose enough to let me manoeuvre the bike out on the singletrack freely, but did not flap about in the wind on road rides. The raglan sleeves meant there was no drag under the arms or across my shoulders, and with the Zest's elastic-free hem, there was no bunching up or tightness around my waist and hips either. Like all Ground Effect riding tops, the Zest is cut to sit over the waist of your riding shorts or knicks, no matter how low your riding posture (or shorts), with extra length at the back (a feature Ground Effect calls a 'WhaleTail'). The concept works: I have a long trunk and when a bike top rides up I can get cold very quickly, but the Zest’s WhaleTail kept all those kidney-kicking breezes at bay.
The Zest is a summer-weight top has been around for a while, but Ground Effect revamped it for the southern hemisphere 2013/2014 summer. The biggest change is a fancy new high-performance fabric called 'HyperActive,' which Ground Effect touts as a lightweight fabric that wicks sweat away from your body and dries quickly. I put the Zest through its paces in a range of climates and weather conditions – in New Zealand, in Oregon and Idaho in the States, and in Victoria and around Central Australia in Oz.
While the newer Zest felt a little heavier in my hands, out on the bike it felt softer than the old version, and the HyperActive fabric lived up to the hype. It felt cooler and dried out quicker, even in the much drier and way hotter arid desert climate of Central Australia, which is about as far from the New Zealand summer climate as you can get. It also didn’t snag like the fabric on the old-version Zest did.
HyperActive is a bi-component fabric that has polyester on the outside and nano-charcoal on the inside. Apparently that nano-charcoal does all kinds of good things, like wicking (which is how it keeps you feeling cool) and eating up smells with more enthusiasm than the animations in an advert for laundry detergent. Meanwhile, at my house, the Zest was regular smelly straight after a ride, and when I left the Zest on the floor for a few days it cultivated some full-on fumes. But the bad smells lost their grip on the HyperActive in a regular wash, and there were no 'subtle lingering aromas,' even after a few months of wear.
As a summer-weight cycling jersey, the Zest has a UV protection rating of 50+, and a stand-up collar for further sun protection. Not being a scientist, I can’t say if the Zest met its UPF rating, but I did notice differences in the collar. The new HyperActive fabric and the new seam, just on the outer facing, mean the collar on the revised Zest stays where you put it. If you sit the collar up, it gives about 5mm more height than the collar on the out-dated Zest. Of course, there’s still a bit of skin to cover in sunblock, but every mil of barrier protection helps.
I did notice the neckline wrinkled up sometimes – it could have been due to that hefty new collar or it could be a user-generated wardrobe malfunction. Either way, the Zest's HyperActive fabric is soft enough on the skin that the wrinkling did not cause any discomfort, and a Fonzie-inspired adjustment corrected the slouching collar no worries.
Around the back, the side-back pockets on the Zest are elasticised and angled so they’re low enough for me to reach into easily, while being still deep enough to hold all the gear I like to take on a two- to three-hour mountain bike or road ride. (They carried a pump, a multi-tool, my phone and house keys, coffee tokens, and food – lots of food – no worries.)
If you like to carry a bidon in your back pocket, you'll find the Zest can hold that too, but the top slouches under the weight, and you have to use a side pocket because the middle pock has a narrower, zippered closure. When I'm not product testing I don't carry drink bottles in my jersey, and I liked the added security of the zip on the middle pocket. It's good to know for sure that no matter what kind of ride I've had or how many tumbles, I will have cash close at hand for my post-ride fuel-up.
All up, I'm pretty stoked with the new-model Zest. My only regret is that I have just the one new Zest; I’d like to replace my old Zest too, but it's not showing any signs of wear…
Zest, Vim and Vigour — bicycles.net.au, Oct 13
Buying my first cycling jersey was a big deal. It meant I was serious about this cycling gig, but I had no idea what to look for in the way of features, construction or performance. Did it fit? Yes. Bought it. I learned later that it was a men's jersey. Despite cycling for several years now, Ground Effect's Zest women’s short-sleeved summer riding jersey is my first women’s specific jersey and it didn’t take me long to spot the differences. On my first ride, I started to appreciate the benefits.
The Zest is a slim fit jersey with extra front and back panels to shape the breast, waist and hips. The waist is non-elasticised, so it sits at my hips without cutting in, while the longer back doesn't ride up. The back panels are cleverly shaped and in a contrasting colour, to highlight the slim fit design. I may be generalising here, but I am fairly confident that most women will appreciate anything that accentuates their body lines in such a positive way.
At first glance I was concerned about the three-quarter length zipper. With other jerseys I've found the ends of these zips can irritate and I've developed a preference for short or full length zippers. I was pleasantly surprised to realise, after several hundred kilometres of riding and multiple washes, that I was never aware of the zipper.
The twin elasticised angled pockets are easily accessible both on and off the bike, with just enough grip to securely hold that essential banana without crushing it. The centre security pocket is as deep as the other two pockets and I could safely carry the essential coffee money, credit card for emergencies, and mobile phone safety.
The Zest's lightweight summer fabric (75% polyester, 25% nano-charcoal polyester) does the expected in terms of wicking the sweat away. It dries very quickly and that's going to come in very handy on multi-day rides when laundry time is limited. The other advantage is that I don't have to wait too long between outings, which is a good thing because this jersey has quickly become a favourite.
The Zest arrives rolled in a light cardboard sleeve with a nifty zip perforation for opening and 'Tech Tips' for safer riding printed on the inside.
Zest Jersey — Nic Learmonth, Oct 13
Short sleeves, a long zip, deep pockets and a classic action cut: this formula’s an old favourite, but Ground Effect’s taken it to the next level. The Zest riding top is cut for the female physique and comes in colours as strong as the roadies and mountain bikers it’s made for. Not a butterfly, flutter-by, frippery or shade of pastel in sight.
Aussie-based Kiwi mountain biking writer
A lightweight summer fabric packed with technology to keep you cool and dry as. The bi-component knit backs a sharp-looking polyester outer with a smooth layer of nano-charcoal polyester against your skin. Nano-charcoal disperses sweat to accelerate evaporation and is naturally anti-microbial to fight nasty smells. The fabric dries at the speed of light - great when reduced to hand washing on tour - and even performs its quick-drying magic in the wet under a rain jacket.
- Composition: 75% polyester; 25% nano-charcoal polyester.
HyperActive's UPF 50+ rating extends your no-burn time by 50 times over bare skin. Designs with a stand-up collar and long sleeves maximise protection from the sun's UV rays. Yank 'em up if it gets too stifling.
Check out the chart to suss out where you fit. This is a guide only - if you fall in-between sizes, the right size for you will depend on your body shape and how loose or tight you like to wear your clothes. It's no hassle to swap it, if your first choice is not the best fit.
88 - 92 cm
93 - 97 cm
98 - 102 cm
103 - 107 cm
63 - 69 cm
70 - 76 cm
77 - 83 cm
84 - 90 cm
89 - 95 cm
96 - 102 cm
103 - 109 cm
110 - 116 cm
Unisex vs Women's Sizes
If you're struggling to find that certain something in the Outskirts™ women's range, then check out Ground Effect's standard range of unisex gear. As unisex items tend to be larger than our women's designs selected products are also available in XS (approximately women's small) to provide a more complete range.
Some Ground Effect designs have an additional 'fit' description to help guide your sizing choice.
Closer fitting tops and jackets with less flap. Typically favoured by disciples of the tarmac, intent on travelling hard and fast. Size up if you need more room.
Also describes the Snug-as-a-Bug fit of Heatwave™ Merino bodywear. These tops are intended to hug your body, ensuring the fabric sits against your skin to wick sweat away — keeping you dry and not chilling out.
Middle-of-the-road comfort for all-purpose riding. Not too tight or too loose — just right for most cyclists in most conditions.
Big and breezy to match your attitude. Lets the breeze blow up your kilt and helps ease the transition from singletrack to café. The default choice when matching with baggy shorts.
Velo-verve coupled with hot-weather cycling performance for clocking miles on the road bike or nailing that elusive section of singletrack. HyperActive™ fabric wicks away sweat. Great for those not-so-lazy, hazy summer days when your body exceeds its euphemistic glow.
> Stand-up collar for UV protection.
> UPF 50+
> Raglan sleeves and multi-panel 'performance' fit.
> Long front zip for maximum venting.
> No-elastic hem for warm weather comfort.
> Rear security pocket coupled with and twin elasticised angle-pockets.
> 'Backpack-friendly' rear zip slider garage.
> WhaleTail™ covers your back.
> Hidden emergency tube repair patch.
> WXL size option.
> Made by us in New Zealand.
What's the SPF Rating for this top?
> UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is a rating for sun protective textiles and clothing. Unlike SPF (Sun Protection Factor) that measures only UVB, UPF measures both UVA and UVB.
> Hyperactive fabric has been tested to a maximum UPF 50+. In practical terms this extends your no-burn time by 50 times over bare skin. Designs with a stand-up collar and long sleeves maximise protection from the sun's UV rays. Yank 'em up if it gets too stifling.
> HyperActive tops enjoy a warm machine wash. Try to avoid cold-water detergents and those with bleach. The cold-water varieties have little enzymes that are super-charged to brave the cold but can damage technical fabrics and cause skin irritation. Bleach strips the dye and may also cause irritation. As a rule of thumb, product that is easy on the planet is also easy on your body. Select a mild plant-based soap like Ecover, Ecostore, Earthwise or Aware.
> Hand washing is sometimes the only option on tour, but a washing machine rinses more thoroughly and is preferable if you have the choice.
> HyperActive tops will be almost dry out after the spin cycle of your washing machine so using a dryer is unnecessary - if you must then choose a warm (not hot) cycle.