As both the sheep placidly munching on the rain-lashed hillside and the salaryman cosy in his Marks and Spencer's socks know, wool is a superb material for keeping you comfortable.
It was also the original wonder material for cycling clothing. Lending an insouciant style to the sport’s heroic age, nowadays its appeal is in no way confined to retro geeks. Thanks to clever tinkering, the latest merino materials banish any residual notion that wool jerseys might provide a scratchy or slouchy fit.
Instead, what remains is the result of millions of years of evolution; a natural material that stays warm when wet, is inherently antimicrobial, environmentally friendly, and is superb at wicking away moisture. Far out-performing any petro-chemical based alternatives, a Merino wool jersey will keep you comfy and composed over a wide temperature range, won’t stink when worn for multiple days, and, in general, is very hard to make look anything other than stylish and non-try-hard when wearing.
From the very modern to the scrupulously retro, the seven jerseys we’ve lined up all contain a degree of wool along with other materials for easy care and repeated wearing.
Isadore Medio Merino jersey
For those unconvinced that cycling should be about unrelenting suffering, Isadore’s long sleeve Merino jersey comes with a brushed, super soft interior lining. Available in both men’s and women’s versions, both major on low-key style and arrive in a mucky condition appropriate dark blue shade.
Medium in weight, its exterior is denser for improved wind-blocking and durability. With all the accoutrements of a modern jersey, it benefits from a stiff, elasticated hem and reflective details. Using a comparatively small dollop of Merino fibre, this is just enough to give it some added luft and comfort, but not so much that you can’t just throw it in a regular wash after miles of mud of sweat.
ashmei Signature Merino jersey
More than any other brand, Ashmei is all about Merino wool. The wonder material has worked its way into virtually every product Ashmei sells, and the brand is certified by global authority Woolmark for the quality of its product. The ashmei Signature Merino jersey uses Merino wool combined with carbon threads. That space age design means the jersey can wick sweat far quicker and doubles its drying speed.
Ashmei has a strong focus on sustainability, but this doesn’t translate into a hippyish aesthetic. Instead, this Signature jersey is minimalist in style with a clean yet versatile cut.
Made with a high 65% Merino content, you’ll get the full effect of the wonder material – meaning it can survive several days without getting stinky. Not that you’d have to worry about washing it, as it doesn’t suffer the fragility of some Merino apparel and has no trouble rolling its way through a hot wash.
Rapha Classic cycling jersey
You can’t get more canonical than Rapha’s Classic jersey. As good a choice now as when it was first introduced, it’s possible that without it we’d still be wearing the kind of dye-sublimation printed horrors common to the 1990s and early 2000s.
A wardrobe staple, it’s easy to wear and pairs well with most things thanks to a monochrome design that sees a black body accented with a bright white armband and pink details. Smuggling in 36% wool into its main material, this feels good against the skin while the jersey’s cut flatters everyone from the athletic to the only aspiringly so.
Pearson Richmond Park Laps Jersey
£120, Shop Now
Pearson’s Richmond Park Jersey is named after the shop’s local stomping ground. A 17th-century deer park beloved of South London cyclists, the wool for each jersey is foraged from wild Merino sheep also introduced by the park’s creator, Charles I. That’s not actually true. However, its Sportwool material does still impart excellent moisture transfer and breathability thanks to a 39% Merino content, foraged or otherwise.
With two rear pockets and one single zipped security pocket, the jersey benefits from a full-length zipper and comes in a single neutral green colour. Offset by a dark band around the middle, it’s pleasingly retro without being too old-fashioned in its cut or features. Joined by jerseys commemorating other popular out-of-London rides including to Brighton (Red) and Box Hill (Blue), you can find the profile of each printed on the label inside.
Dhb Merino long sleeve jersey
Why make life harder than it needs to be? This keenly priced jersey supplies an above-average serving of Merino-based cosiness. Designed for spring, autumn, and winter, its 35% Merino fabric is blended with Polyamide to allow for extra stretch, while a second layer on the interior helps feed moisture to the outer wool surface where it can more easily evaporate.
Stretch panels help balance the more woolly sections’ propensity to sag, while a silicone hem keeps the rear of the jersey glued above your bum. Three conventional pockets, a stash space and reflective tabs combine to give you reason to pause before considering spending more. Available in black, along with neutral shades of green and navy, it also comes in an aggressively cheerful bright orange.
De Marchi Salvarani replica wool jersey
£160, Shop Now
Wear it because you hanker after an era of steel frames, because you would rather there was brandy in your bidon, and don’t much care about the extra drag its relaxed fit will generate.
Alternatively, grow out your sideburns and wear it down to Soho and pretend you’re a mod. Italian brand De Marchi has been outfitting the peloton since 1946. Still made in Italy with religious adherence to their original patterns, the company makes a slew of authorised replica team jerseys, including Faema, Cinelli, Cicli Pinarello, Learco Guerra, and this Salvarani model.
From the cut to the weight of the material, unlike some others, each feels spot on. Perfect for a bit of retro cosplay, they’re also superbly comfortable both on and off the bike.
Pedaled Essential Merino jersey
Almost painfully tasteful, Pedaled appears to have ingested several decades’ worth of stylistic cues before rendering forth this cycling jersey that’s simultaneously modern and retro.
The weight of the material is bang up to date, as is its ability to deal with high-intensity efforts and mixed conditions. More classic is its subtle banded design, high wool content, and ever-so-slightly relaxed fit.
Designed in Japan and made in Italy, it’s available in six muted shades, none of which will unsettle the horses. With a warm collar, ribbed cuffs, and stash pocket both you and your stowables will be kept well wrapped up.
Isadore 3/4 Sleeve Gravel Jersey
£160, Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s
Made for adventurous rides in declining conditions, Isadore’s Gravel jersey features ¾ length sleeves. Ideal for seasons other than summer, its combination of Merino wool and recycled polyester is tough yet soft against the skin. Zipper pockets and the ability to stay fresh even when worn on back to back days suit it to extended outdoor escapades.
With a lightweight membrane helping to accentuate its natural breathability, its extended sleeves and medium weight provide great insulation when used alone or underneath a shell jacket. With understated styling, it’s at home blending in among the natural shades of the wild. At the same time, once you return to civilisation there’s no reason not to use it for conventional road cycling or even commuting.
Café Du Cycliste Claudette Merino jersey
From Bernard Hinault to Lucien Georges Mazan, aka the Petit-Breton, Brittany has a storied cycling history. Jaunty enough to banish the blues, this striped jersey from Café Du Cycliste takes the region's famous Breton stripes and wraps them around the rider.
Offset by a bright red full-length zip, it’s a very hard jersey to feel down in. Tailored in both men’s and women’s cuts, these are relaxed enough to be comfy while stopping in for lunch, yet won’t drag when on the bike. A high collar and medium weight make this a good choice for clear but fresh shoulder-season days. Alternatively, its 25% Merino makeup will also help it wick away sweat when secreted beneath a shell layer.
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