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Ashmei Merino Cycle Bibshorts and Carbon Cycle Jersey review

12 Jul 2016
Verdict:

Ashmei’s cycle clothing is all about the fit, but does it live up to the price tag?

Price: 
£95/£235

A random Google search reveals that £235 will get you a Manfrotto Carbon Fibre 4 Section Tripod, a Square Short Projection toilet or an EBAC 21 litre dehumidifier. And who doesn’t want an EBAC dehumidifier? (For the record, a short projection toilet is one that sits close to a wall as opposed to one you have to stand close to.) It will also get you a pair of Ashmei Cycle Bibshorts. That’s a lot of dollar, so what makes them so expensive?

‘The outer fabric is a new formula for bibs,’ says Ashmei’s founder, Stuart Brooke. ‘It uses microfibres that are woven, not knitted, so they breathe more than normal bibs, yet because of the weave is so tight the bibs are inherently water and wind resistant. They also have twice the stretch of normal Lycra, therefore they can compress your thigh muscles. The chamois is unique, made out of 3D high-density foam that doesn’t absorb water or sweat, nor compress over a long ride, and the seams are ultrasonically welded for better aerodynamic and strength benefits.’

If it sounds like a lot of tech then it’s because it is. First up, the seams. ‘Sonically welded’ means the seams are bonded, not stitched, so the bibs sit perfectly flush to skin without any bumps that cause chafing.

Brooke warned me to expect to have to ‘bed the shorts in’, such is the compressive property of the fabric. This was good advice, as at first the shorts felt uncomfortably tight, and the pad far too rigid. However after a few rides, and a couple of washes, any hint of discomfort evaporated and the shorts began to feel like a second skin.

Off the bike the bike the cut feels a bit odd; the compressive nature of the fabric cuts in just under the buttocks, and the pad rides high over the crotch. These aren’t criticisms though – cycling shorts are for cycling in – but rather points to note for prospective customers. Don’t judge the Cycle Bibshorts until you’re actually riding a bike in them.

Weather resistance was genuinely excellent, especially given there’s no special DWR-style treatments. On wet and windy rides they offered a good level of warmth, and resisted becoming sodden and heavy - noticeably so in the pad, which maintained a soft bounce rather than becoming waterlogged. On really hot days I think I’d want something with less compression however. Don’t get me wrong, the compressive nature of the shorts felt not just comfortable but somehow comforting on most rides of typical British weather, but for the odd day when the mercury tipped 25° I felt the compression was a bit stifling, although that could just be me. Elsewise, the Cycle Bibshorts are exemplary, and superbly comfortable for big miles. Sadly, though, I can’t say the same about the jersey.

There and not thereabouts 

Ashmei’s current garment offering is relatively concise (though expect this to expand pretty soon), so the only jersey to pair with the bibs was the Merino Carbon Cycle jersey, a blend of merino wool and carbon filaments that is anti-bacterial and which Ashmei says dries ten times more quickly than pure merino.

As a stand alone garment the jersey is OK, but in the context of the racy, techie Cycle Bibshorts, it fell far short of the mark. The fabric, though soft to the touch, felt heavy when worn and had a significantly baggie middle with a flappy hem. Brooke says Ashmei is aware of this and plans on making the next generation of jerseys slimmer cut with a tucked up hemline. If it can pull it off it will have a decent jersey, but one I’d say still leans more towards a ‘café’ piece than a racing number. But that’s just the nature of merino fabric.

If Ashmei can develop a jersey that performs as good on top as the Cycle Bibshorts do on bottom it’ll have a truly desirable outfit on its hands. As it stands, it’s halfway there. It’s a very, very good half though.

ashmei.com

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