At this point in the year, most of us have been enjoying warm weather riding for a while now. Whether you have previous years of cycling under your belt with your favorite options already dialed in, or you’re totally new to cycling this year and are progressing fast, a new jersey might feel like an appropriate purchase. Wherever you are on your cycling journey, if it’s time for a new jersey and you are looking for something different, I think the Eliel Del Dios is one you should consider.
In our guide to the best cycling jerseys, we’ve covered options from the big brands and we’ve covered options from the fashion-oriented brands. As a small brand, with an intense performance focus, Eliel and the Del Dios collection stands out from both camps. It’s a pairing that caught our eye and now that we’ve had a chance to put the product to the test, we are ready to share our thoughts. If you are looking for a new summer jersey that’s a little different, keep reading to see if the Eliel Del Dios jersey is the right choice for you.
Design and aesthetics
I recently reviewed the PAS Normal Studios Mechanism jersey and found that one of its defining characteristics was that it’s available in a rainbow of color options. The Eliel Del Dios jersey moves in the opposite direction, where instead of using performance features as a vehicle for visual design, it sticks to black as the only option. The focus here is performance first and to that end, there are four unique fabrics in the jersey.
The biggest coverage area in the Del Dios jersey are the front and back panels which can use the same fabric. This is unusual compared to most hot weather jerseys which often switch to some type of mesh for the rear panel. Instead, Eliel uses a polyester-based fabric that while soft, lacks the silky feel you often find in jersey front panels. The feel is almost like cotton and the reason has to do with a microstructure surface. This barely perceptible texture creates air pockets between the garment and the skin helping to dry perspiration. The idea is to enhance the natural way your body cools itself.
Sandwiched between the main front and rear panels is another fabric. This time you’ve got a nylon-based choice that’s much more akin to what you’ll often find in the rear panel of a hot weather jersey. It’s thin enough that when held against a backlight you can see through and the striped structure is on display. There’s no three-dimensionality to the stripes like you find in the front and back, but instead, the fabric is light enough to vent on its own. The stripes help balance that lightness with enough strength to provide the expected compression. This panel starts on the underside of the sleeve, runs through the armpit, and eventually down to the bottom of the jersey.
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For the remainder of the sleeves, as well as the rear shoulder and across the upper back, there’s yet another fabric. These are the leading edges as you lean into the wind on a bike and these panels have specific aero considerations. The most obvious effect of the aero consideration is a 3D texture that helps keep air attached. This time it’s not a microstructure but rather a completely obvious pattern with an alternating wave design.
The last pieces of the jersey with unique fabrics are the lower edge in the front and rear. In the front, there’s yet another new fabric, which is nylon based again and offers even higher compression than the others. The strand orientation arranges the compressive stretch horizontally across the front of the jersey and the rear features extensive printing of silicone grip material. Across the bottom of the back and side panels, Eliel has chosen to use actual elastic instead of this same fabric. Although the front hem fabric limits stretch vertically, the elastic completely eliminates it. The elastic is also much narrower and there’s silicone grip again but this time just a single, uninterrupted strip.
Yes, there’s a lot of black and a lot of fabric details but there is also a bit of branding to add some visual flair, and unlike some brands, Eliel does a great job of walking that fine line between subtle and interesting. Eliel is an American brand and it ties its identity tightly to its California base. The state flag features a bear and in the center of the rear pockets is a reflective tag with a stylized bear, the brand name, and visual treatment of the Del Dios name. The tag is reflective and there’s another small reflective tab on the left side of the pockets. On the right-hand side panel is another reflective tag but this time it’s small and printed directly on the fabric. There’s a matching one of these tags between the shoulder blades and the last bit of branding shows up on the front. On the right side of the chest, where a tastefully sized bear and the Eliel brand name sit. Once again, both are printed and reflective.
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Lots of unique high-performance fabrics are a joy to write about. They weave a story that’s a little different and they are visually interesting. Despite that, they aren’t important just because they exist. When it’s time to put the Eliel Del Dios jersey on, the fabrics only matter because of how they affect the experience of wearing it.
In this case, all the fabrics add up to a hot weather jersey that ends up feeling a bit more substantial than some of the alternatives. Heavy isn’t the right description, but with a weight of 106 grams, it’s not the lightest option out there. However, it’s still a few grams lighter than the Assos Equipe RS Jersey S9 Targa, to give just one example. More importantly though, there’s a substantial feel to it and that ends up being important when it comes to fit.
The Eliel Del Dios jersey is one of the smallest jerseys I currently have on hand. Fit is the best way for a company to elevate aerodynamics so it makes sense that a high-performance jersey like this is tight. Keeping a jersey this tight looking good and feeling good is complex though. It doesn’t matter how thin you are, your body is never going to be as smooth as is optimal for aerodynamics. The fabrics that Eliel uses in this jersey have enough structure that when you slide in, your body smooths out. It’s good for performance but it’s also nice for keeping you from feeling like a sausage in a casing.
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The separate hem panels in the front help with this as well as the choice of zipper. The front of the Del Dios jersey is extremely short. Because of that, it’s important that the front doesn’t move up and all that silicone grip up front makes sure that’s the case. Then as you bend over, the tall cut of the front panels help make sure that your lower abdomen remains smooth. The zipper is an important part of this as well as it’s got just the right balance of give and structure. It’s both easy to unzip one handed but doesn’t bulge at the bottom.
While the front keeps the lower abdomen smooth and optimized for aero efficiency, the rear has a different job. The pockets lack any bellows and instead rely on the natural stretch of the same fabric that’s used in the rest of the front and rear panels. If you leave them empty, they sit flat and out of the wind. When you stuff them full though the short panel below, and the elastic at the lower hem, act as virtual bellows. The upper back will stretch and that lower panel will fold over the elastic creating structure and keeping them from bouncing. Combined with the structure of elastic at the opening and lots of stitched reinforcements, these are some of my favorite pockets on any jersey. They are a bit high on the back, owing to the general shortness of the jersey, but it’s an easy overlook given how good they otherwise are. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a zippered valuables pocket as well.
One fit detail that’s a little tougher to overlook is the neckline. It uses the same fabric as the front and back panels but there’s an extra strip of elastic in the back just below the separate neck panel. That strip of elastic keeps a gap from forming at the back of the neck but it also makes for a very tight neckline. Typically, the feeling fades into the background pretty quickly but it is noticeable. It’s also understandable given the intentions of this jersey however I think there’s other ways to arrive at a good fit at the neck that are a little more relaxed feeling.
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The Eliel Del Dios jersey isn’t perfect. It’s an expensive jersey that’s a bit too tight at the neck and with pockets that are a touch too high. I’m not going to give it a perfect rating but at the same time, it’s my favorite hot weather jersey right now.
More than anything, it comes down to a fit that makes me feel good. When I put the Del Dios jersey on, I feel fast and I like the way I look. It’s not as loud as some of the jerseys I’ve gravitated towards in the past but never fails to make a statement. I also love that it’s a bit unique, so when I show up at a group ride it’s not likely that I’ll see anyone else with the same jersey.
If you are looking for a high-performance summer jersey from a brand that’s a little less well-known, the Eliel Del Dios jersey is an excellent choice.
|Pocket Quality||A little tough to reach but excellent structure and an extra valuable zippered pocket.||9/10|
|Neckline Comfort||Tighter than I’d like.||5/10|
|Zipper Quality||The teeth are plastic and it’s easy to undo one handed but lacks protection at the top.||9/10|
|Heat management||High tech fabrics that are very good at heat dissipation.||10/10|
|Ability of waist to stay put||It stays put and looks good doing it.||10/10|
|Fashion appeal (does it look/feel good)||Looks great and the branding is quite nice.||10/10|
|Sizing||Definitely tighter than most but no need to change sizes||9/10|