It’s getting colder and colder that that means Merino. Say what you want about all the nifty technical fabrics out there, merino wool is a fantastic material for staying warm while riding.
Just to remind myself what merino wool is out there, I figured I’d do a quick google search to see what new brands might be doing merino.
However, I thought I’d start with my old standby Ibex. I have a lightweight and midnight cycling jersey from Ibex and I’m happy with both. Sadly, I discovered that Ibex has gone out of business. Apparently, the brand has been bought by an investment company and may relaunch. That was sad but hey, hard to exist in an Amazon-dominated retail world.
Nevertheless, my search continued and sure enough a few new cycling brands (or at least new to me) are out there doing merino.
First up, a company called Isadore. The name was vaguely familiar and a click on the Our Story was all the reminder I needed — it’s those retired brothers from the pro peloton. Martin and Peter Velits. They’ve taken all that racing knowledge and started an apparel company.Isadore
Here’s what Isadore has to say about their merino: “We manufacture a large part of our collection in the finest technical merino qualities. We believe that merino provides an extremely comfortable riding experience no matter what the weather throws at you.” Note: Isadore mixes merino with synthetics so there is no 100% merino garment.
Next up, Ashmei. They offer both running and cycling apparel with lots of merino options. Their base-layer and jerseys look really sleek and stylish. Here’s how they talk about our favorite wool: “Merino wool is peerless when it comes to performance: it is anti-bacterial, non-itchy, warm when it is cold and cooling when it is warm, recyclable and sustainable.” Like Isadore, these are merino blends.
“Highest quality and lowest pricing.” Well, doesn’t that tend to make people excited. That’s the claim of Oregon Cyclewear. The look is decidedly retro and basic but a long sleeve 100% merino wool jersey goes for just $88. It the cycling heritage look is what you’re after, check them out.
Their statement on merino — “Why Wool? Wool has the widest comfort range of any natural fiber in the world. Extremely breathable for evaporating sweat. Ride for hours and stay dry. Less layering and Fewer washes.”
Speaking of Oregon, there’s also Wabi Woolens in Portland. They do what they call sport, winter weight and adventure jerseys. Less retro than Oregon Cyclewear, this stuff looks solid and well-crafted but there’s not a wide range of styles or colors. You can score a sports series long sleeve merino jersey on sale for $110.
Here’s what Wabi has about their merino — “The fabric for both styles is 100% merino wool interlock. The merino fiber is imported from Australia, then spun, knit, and dyed in the USA. The process of knitting the fabric with an interlock creates a double-knit effect, which increases abrasion and weather resistance while reducing the chance of a hole or tear becoming larger. It is an expensive knit but worth every penny in the long run. Wabi jerseys feel substantial and hardy without heaviness – this is due to the characteristics of the Merino interlock fabric.”
Jumping to Europe, Cafe du Cycliste of Nice, France is a brand that’s very stylish and high end. Think Rapha, only French. I owe one of their lightweight short sleeve jerseys and it’s a favorite of mine. A smart company that seems poised for even bigger things.
They do quite a bit of apparel in merino, whether it’s for the road or more casual adventures. Cafe du Cyclist has a distinctive design style and it plays a lot of homage to France’s rich cycling history.
Here’s their view on merino. “Merino has been proven to breathe, wick moisture and regulate body temperature more effectively than synthetics. Unlike some other wool, high-grade merino also has a fine micron count which makes it super soft and comfortable against the skin. We have carefully selected fabrics that combine the best of what both nature and science have to offer.”
Also in Europe, Italian brand De Marchi has very stylist and classic merino wool jerseys in what they call their Heritage collection. Some beautiful things and unique, too. They also do some cool jerseys with a wool blend that are worth a clergies look. Nothing particular is said about the merino they use other than to call it “superfine.”
Digging deeper and moving over to Oviedo, Spain, we find Cima Coppi. Cima is Spanish for peak and Coppi is a nod to the famous Italian cyclist Fausto Coppi. They do custom work and have some sweet looking merino goodies. For example, their Varsity Logo Sleeve and V4 Ultralight jerseys look fantastic.
Their words — “Merino wool is nature’s performance textile which – in addition to the superb finish – is highly breathable, and manages moisture and odors better than any other sustainable fiber. With an aggressive, performance fit, our 97% merino jersey is knit with superb mechanical elasticity and has 3% elastane for compression and shape retention.”
Are you are merino wool-ed out? Well, there’s one last name and really, you could argue they were one of the first cycling apparel companies to jump start the return of merino wool: Rapha. Their Classic Long Sleeve Jersey II is about as iconic and timeless as you can get.
Rapha always runs a master class on branding and so naturally they don’t have just any merino. They have Rapha Performance Merino (RPM). “Unlike generic merino-blends, RPM190 is light, soft, breathable and adaptable to a huge range of conditions, and while heavier than the fabric used in the short sleeve version, it is lighter than the fabric used in first iteration on the Long Sleeve Jersey. Offering excellent pocket support and comfort in a wide range of temperatures, RPM is the most versatile cycling fabric in the world.”
There you have it. It’s Winter and you are well-stocked with go-to merino.