I rarely buy clothes. The occasional pair of jeans, maybe a dress for summer, a new swimsuit – but that’s about it. Everything else I get by way of Christmas gifts (jumpers), or test products. Luckily I can wear bike gear (clean stuff, obviously) to the office, as well as out on my bike, meaning that shorts and T-shirts are definitely not on my shopping list.
These tops from Mons Royale are certainly attractive enough to wear for work – stick a jacket on and you can probably get away with these in a smarter office than mine. A trendy design company maybe, but perhaps not a law firm. The fabric is a very fine merino wool based mix (83% merino, 13% nylon, 4% elastane) which has a lovely drape to it. Not clingy, certainly not itchy (and my skin is quick to let me know at the merest hint of a tickle), and soft like a favourite old cotton T-shirt was until it wears thin. It’s hard to believe they are mostly merino – especially the short sleeve version.
This should come as no surprise – Mons Royale, from New Zealand, make clothing predominantly from Merino wool. As well as a ‘Radventure’ outdoor active range, casual post-exercise kit (check out the Monsie, a merino onesie – it is possible that I need this in my life, even if I can’t imagine ever ‘going public’ in it), they’ve got a bike wear range. With slightly longer backs, ventilation and practical necklines these are geared towards riding – hard or pootling.
In warm weather these tops are breathable and pleasantly non sweaty to ride in. This is helped by the ‘Air-Con’ fabric back, where there is a more open weave – it’s not really a mesh, you can’t see your skin through it – and so air can circulate that bit more. They’re a real fresh change from usual technical wear, but no less functional for their lack of man made fibres. Aside from the fabric, there are no real ‘features’ apart from a small glasses wipe. There are no pockets – and I suspect that with the fine weight of the fabric a pocket would spoil the drape.
In cooler weather I’ve successfully layered them up together, providing a comfortable solution for those turn of season days where a jacket is too much but a jersey too little. I’ve also worn them as under layers in truly freezing weather – on a cold ride in Finland a fellow rider was astonished that I’d been riding in a thick merino T-shirt with just the long sleeved Mons Royale top over the top. With the thumb loops deployed it’s easy to eliminate any gap between gloves and arms too. The magic of merino – both cool and warm.
The tops come in a range of short, long and 3/4 length sleeves, patterns, plain blocks of colour, and Mons branded designs. Neckline options include ‘Henley’ style button down collars, v-necks, and scoop necks. Those tested were practical and avoided cleavage exposure. I really like the colours and patterns – they’re all the kind of thing I would choose for a trip to the pub just as much as the trails – and with so many options there is surely a sleeve, neckline and pattern combo to suit most tastes.
As well as my women’s jerseys, Rob has had the men’s jerseys on test and has returned similarly singing the praises of the designs and the fabric. We’ve both worn these many many times and washed them often (though being merino I admit I’ve worn them quite a few days on the trot without any stink). There has been no bobbling, no pulls, no fading and their survival against such punishment speaks to the quality of the tops.
Sizing wise, the long sleeved tops in both the men’s and women’s range comes up quite big – this may be an asset if you want things baggy for the summer and loose enough to wear as a jumper in the winter, but size down if you want something more fitted. Conversely the men’s 3/4 sleeve was fairly snug, so you might want to size up if you’ve got gym-goers forearms like our Rob.
Yes, at the price you’d expect quality, but these are the kind of tops that mean you need less choice in your wardrobe as you can wear fewer items for more days and more often without them looking tired.
Overall: And so back to the fact that I don’t buy clothes. And I definitely don’t buy T-shirts. Well, I bought myself an extra T-shirt from the Mons Royale range. With my own actual money. I don’t think I can speak more highly of a riding top than that. Recommended.
|Product:||Phoenix L/S Tee, Phoenix Cap Tee, Redwood 3/4 Raglan Tee, Redwood Button Down|
|Tested:||by Hannah (and Rob) for 4 months|