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Ashmei cycling kit round-up

1 Jun 2017
Verdict:

Individually excellent pieces of kit, but there’s still work to do in rounding out the Ashmei range

Price: 
Jersey: £129. Bibs: £235. Gilet: £110. Hooded jersey: £179. Socks: £15

OK, this kit is expensive business, but then a good coffee these days is borderline three quid, there are plenty of pubs that’ll charge north of a fiver for a pint, and in the 1960s the average house was half the average salary, in 1995 in was 3.2 times as much and today it’s 6.2 times. Globalisation, Thatcher, the rise of neo-liberalism or the age of the individual. Whatever the reason, life is just pricey.

Still, you can’t just charge silly money for a poor product, which is why Ashmei has created a host of new kit with heaps of bang for the bucks.

It really is premium stuff, and here’s why.

Best fit

Across the board, this latest slew of Ashmei kit - KoM Jersey, Bib Short, Gilet, Hooded Wind Jersey and Merino Sock - oozes quality. Every time I zipped up the Gilet or put on the Bib Short I felt that same wonderful sensation you get when pulling on new cotton socks.

That smooth, cosseting crispness which explains far more than catalogue terms like Alacantra zip guards or terry-looped Merino wool ever could.

The Bib Short is a good place to start. The first iteration was very good – made from tight-weave, high-stretch cloth with all-weather attributes, and crisp, lazer-cut lines.

There were areas to develop though, and Ashmei has managed.

First, like a Brooks saddle they improved with age but that meant they took a portion of time to ‘bed in’. Second, they were also verging on too compressive.

This latest generation has an identikit racing cut but the chamois has been changed to a lighter density foam, which is no less comfortable but immediately more contour-following, and the fabric still has that figure-hugging, premium aero feel but the compressive edge has softened.

The bib and straps have also been lightened up with the use of more mesh.

Whether the overall product suits you as a cyclist will still be subjective debate, but my penneth-worth is they fitted like the proverbial glove and at times left me struggling for a more original line than it felt like I wasn’t wearing anything at all.

Warm up top

The Gilet and Hooded Wind Jersey are very similar beasts. They have a high-stretch, high quality feel and stand up to the elements far better than their light weight would indicate.

That means windproofing on the Gilet and Hooded Jersey fronts, breathable backs, and where the jersey is concerned, warm enough arms. I say warm enough as this is certainly a jersey not a jacket.

If you’re working hard on a cold ride or just bimbling in on a morning commute, this and a baselayer is all the coverage you’ll need, but I would recommend pairing it with something extra if you expect the weather to dip below 9°C.

The hooded element indicates this is more commuter or touring piece than sports-performance, but it tucks away with a narrow leather strap and is figure hugging and thin enough to be worn under a helmet like an integrated hat.

The cut is just about relaxed enough to be worn down the pub too, so it’s precise application is probably more down to you than any category Ashmei could market it under.

Still, race jersey this isn’t, although it does have a tight, aero fit.

On the back of the Hooded Jersey is a wide zip that gives access to any pockets concealed below. It’s a nice touch, although in practice I found unzipping and zipping it a bit of a faff and soon reverted to hoisting up the Hooded Jersey’s hem over the pockets in the usual way, or just leaving it open.

The Gilet has an offset zip, which snakes to the right of the throat so it doesn’t butt-up uncomfortably against any zip underneath.

Again a nice touch, one that works very well and one I’d have liked to see on the Hooded Jersey too. This is a piece I’d want on a chilly but high-tempo ride.

Coherent offerings

Last but not least, the KoM jersey. The feel of the merino-carbon blend wool (the carbon is for antibacterial reasons) on skin is pleasant, the weight is good, there’s not too much sag in the pockets and again the jersey feels premium.

Yet, also again, I find myself impatiently tapping my foot.

Lovely as the KoM jersey is it’s not sporty enough to complement the Bib Short, nor is there a pair of bibshorts on offer laidback enough to complement the KoM.

Don’t get me wrong, I have happily pedalled 100s of kilometres in the KoM, but while I’d readily reach for the Bib Short for a gran fondo or high-tempo ride, I would hasten to do so with the KoM. It’s just not that kit.

It’s hard, therefore, to summarise. Ashmei is a brand making some extraordinarily high-end pieces, but to me there are still gaps I’m waiting for it to fill, namely in the jersey department.

Oh, and socks. The Merino socks Ashemi makes are just fantastic, longer cuff that before and stand up to washing well. But do they match the Bib Short or the excellent Ashmei 3Season kit?

I’m not convinced.

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