Review Review of Wabi Woolens jersey – edited for brevity by removing non-Wabi Woolens-related content.

Initial Review – Posted on Friday, 7th of March 2008
merino jerseys arrive in many guises: those designed exclusively for leisure wear - effectively a wooly pullover with cycling pretensions (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that - even cyclists have to be civilians now and again), those with some semblance of being for cycling use, such as three rear pockets and those that are expressly offered as a merino replacement for the day to day cycle jerseys. the very lycra that i mentioned earlier.

in this last category, i may well have found the rolls royce of merino cycle jerseys, hailing from the world's cycling mecca, portland oregon. living up to the ethos of their japanese derived name, wabi woolens have produced a jersey that is simple, fresh and unpretentious, while incorporating a sense of rustic beauty. and as if that weren't enough, the colourway sent to the principality is espresso - and we all know how important that is in the world of thewashingmachinepost.

the colour is superb - if i stood behind the counter in debbie's, i'd all but disappear. but it doesn't just stop there: wabi jerseys are designed to shrink slightly when first washed, so they're supplied slightly baggier than necessary, with considerable length in the sleeves and body - major brownie points as far as the post is concerned on that score. collar and cuffs are ribbed and in contrasting colour to the jersey (black in this case), the latter being not as high as some, but quite luxurious in its softness. the area round the ykk zip and back of the neck are all double layered - very thick and appearing indestructible.

the body is tailored for cycling, tapering towards the waist and cut noticably longer at the back with enough elasticity to hold the jersey in place during those alpe d'huez or milan san remo moments. just the way it should be. there are three open rear pockets, commendably secure at the top and with more than adequate depth. these are augmented by what i believe should be a legal requirement on all cycling jerseys of whatever ilk - a zipped pocket for debbie's coffee loyalty card, and the wherewithal to pay for that jersey matching tiny cup.

on the bike, with simply a merino baselayer for company, it wasn't quite the right thing to wear for islay's march weather - i only managed a brief scoot round the estates, and a waterproof had to be donned long before half-way. but the comfort factor was way off the scale. as stated on wabiwoolens' website intended to quietly enhance the outdoor experience without becoming the focus of the experience. couldn't have put it better myself. and, of course, there is the added joy of not looking like a peloton escapee when dining al fresco (maybe not at this time of year, but you get the idea). aside from the giveaway clacking of cleats on concrete or lino, wabiwoolens espresso jersey would keep your secret identity as just another everyday pedestrian/civilian hidden from prying motorists and taxi drivers enjoying an afternoon break.

wabi jerseys are available in three colours: espresso, sandstone red and eggplant, and in sizes too numerous to make any sense here. bearing in mind the advisory note about shrinkage, prospective buyers should spend more than a minute looking at the comprehensive size chart on the wabiwoolens website. there is also the longest set of washing instructions i have ever come across, featured both on the website and delivered along with the jersey - it makes more than a little sense to pay special attention to these; this jersey is soooooo good, there is not even an itsy bitsy chance i am going to endanger its wellbeing by failing to heed the experts in this matter.

the jerseys cost $140 (£70) each plus postage to your country of abode. even at double the cost, these would be an absolute steal. very highly recommended.

Review Update – Posted on Sunday, 16th of March 2008

as stated at the time, the wabi woolens merino jersey is specifically designed for wearing actively on the bike. admittedly it did look rather cool slouching around the coffee table in debbie's at lunchtime (something that lycra is not particularly good at), but it is easily at its best when hammering into a cold headwind (yes, that's still there), and was surprisingly warm and not just a little windproof.

thewashingmachinepost bikeshed resides at the rear of the country mansion, an area that frequently finds itself quite sheltered; pedal round the front, however, and the strength of the wind and its heat sapping temperature becomes all too apparent. thus, it was colder than i had expected, and for once i had on only a short sleeve merino baselayer - not always cosy for the arms. the wabiwoolens did a remarakble job of keeping the steering limbs cosy and warm throughout the full 70km managed this morning, and had a similar effect to those rapha threequarter bibs - it amost felt as if it wasn't there. the length of the arms, the general fit is quite excellent. just like a second skin.

you may have gathered from previous posts that i am a great believer in the second coming of wool; it would be very easy to put this down to listening to the hype that tends to attach itself to this natural fabric, but the wabi woolens example rises above all that. it just plain works - no bull sh1t.

if you would care to avail yourself of a similarly fine example of portland, oregon cycling apparel, point the browser to, because you're not borrowing mine.