Formerly known as the "eco-friendly bicycling photographer" of Long Beach. I've since traveled 10,000 miles through the US as PathLessPedaled.com. I now find myself in the US bike epicenter - Portland. Join me as I re-enter the working world to save for the next adventure.
(This is a review I wrote some time ago for BikeCommuters.com, but I think it works well here too. Besides, fall is coming soon...)
SWOBO Men’s Short Sleeve Merino Jersey
The Look When this jersey came in, I was all oohs and ahhs. The black version of the jersey is a no nonsense sharp looking jersey. It’s classy and low-key with subtle contrast stitching to create the lines of the jersey. Restraint seems to be the guiding principal here. No giant Reese’s Pieces on this baby.
The left sleeve has SWOBO embroidered on it and that’s it. This jersey has nothing to prove but gives you a little wink to let you know you’re wearing some quality threads.
The feel of the wool is soft right out of the bag. No breaking in or washing in necessary. I’ve owned some older wool jerseys and some early jerseys from Portland Cyclewear that really took a wash or two to get the wool soft. Not so here. The hand is smooth and plush without being overly thick.
The weight of the wool makes it pretty flexible. I did a few long rides in the jersey in temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the upper 70-s and it performed well. Again, it really depends on your riding style. You could probably wear it lower if you hammer and keep your body-heat up. The nice thing about wool is that even if you’re sweating in it, it will keep you warm. You could also wear it into the 80’s and 90s if you have the zipper down and aren’t completely hammering.
For me, I ordered a size larger so the fit is a little looser. I’m not a racer. I’m a commuter and a bike tourist. This really makes it flexible. The extra room lets me wear a featherweight or midweight wool baselayer underneath and coupled with some arm warmers and gloves, I’m good to go into the 40s without the bulk of a jacket.
Does this make a great commuter jersey? Heck yeah. Its flexibility with temperature, coupled with the fact it won’t stank when you get to the office is a great mix. Plus, it doesn’t look like Photoshop vomit. You can ride in the street without feeling like a big sweaty billboard.
Am I going to bring it on my next bike tour? You better believe it. You can wear wool for several days without washing and it won’t be odoriferous like your plastic tuxedo jersey. Plus, it’s black, and it won’t stain as easily :) The jersey also has pockets on the back to carry your phone or snickers for the long ride home.
Pros and Cons
Pros: -All around great jersey for racing, commuting and touring…can’t go wrong with basic black -Stank protection…nuff said -Soft out of the bag…no breaking-in needed -Performs great in a wide temperature range -Nice, understated styling you Philistines…
Cons: -Wool ain’t cheap…price may be a bit of a barrier, but this could be mitigated by the fact you don’t have to buy as many jerseys since you can wear it over and over