A hundred and twenty quid for a jersey? There, I said it for you. It's a very lovely jersey that your hundred and twenty quid buys you, the Meccanica Marl Casual Retro Cycling Jersey is the sort of jersey that you ride to work in and then do everything else in too. It's got enough bike features to make it practical to ride in, not so many that it looks stupid elsewhere, and it's among the comfiest garments I've ever had the pleasure of wearing. Sizing is miles out, but I'll forgive it that, and so should you, if they make one that'll fit you, though that's by no means a given.
Meccanica make their jerseys from Italian Merino and they stitch them together in the UK. This Marl Casual Retro is, erm, casual and retro. Not just a clever name, then. The simple two-colour design is pleasing. There are three buttoned pockets to the rear, and a quarter zip at the neck, which is ribbed like the sleeves and hem. That's about it, really. It's not doing anything particularly clever.
It's lovely to wear. Really, really lovely. The fabric is among the most comfortable I've tried. It has just the right amount of stretch to be a reasonably close fit, without being so elastic that your back pockets end up rubbing on your rear tyre. This is a merino top, so it does stretch more than synthetics when you load up the pockets. But it's not too bad. I tend to ride in this jersey on bikes that either have a saddle bag or a pannier (it's more that kind of top) so it's not a big deal.
A lot is made of Merino's natural antibacterial properties. Merino tends to be better than synthetics, and some Merino tops are better than others. Again, this is one of the best I've tried. You can live in it for days at a time. I deliberately wore it on the bike, sitting around bonfires, cooking, around town, whatever I could to get it to start reeking but it remained pretty neutral even after a week of wearing. A cold hand wash is recommended, and after that and a hang on the line it's good to go again.
The material is fairly durable. It's not the fine, close weave of a jersey such as Vulpine's excellent Alpine, it's more like a fine jumper. It weathers like a jumper: the fabric is starting to fluff a bit and there's the odd bobble. It still looks good though.
The weight of the fabric makes this Meccanica too hot for the full heat of summer. I know Merino is breathable, but you'd cook in it on a fast ride in the sun. It's much better for cooler days, evenings, or as a base layer under a shell when it gets a bit colder. You should be able to find a use for it in most UK conditions.
A word on sizing, then. Meccanica make great play of the jersey being available up to 4XL for bigger riders. That's great. However, I'm 1.90m and 101kg, and I'm currently wearing a medium, which isn't tight. Chances are if you weigh less than 80kg the small size is going to end up being a bit flappy. That rules it out for quite a lot of people, which is a shame. The sizing definitely needs addressing.
And should you pay the £120 asking price for one? Up to you, really. There are lots of good Merino jerseys for less. This one has become a firm favourite of mine, and it's made in the UK. It's two tanks of fuel, or a cheap espresso machine, or a year of Spotify. It's your money.
Part jumper, part jersey, all comfort; great for riding or not riding from Autumn to Spring
road.cc test report
Make and model: Meccanica Marl Casual Retro Cycling Jersey
Size tested: Medium - Grey, Red
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Classic British made retro cycling jersey made from 100% extra fine Italian merino wool in an ageless design. Sizes up to 4XL mean people of all sizes can enjoy this beautiful instant classic. As worn by Sir Chris Hoy.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% highest quality Merino Wool
Designed and made in England
Quarter zip with Centurion detail
Three back pockets with buttons
Seamless construction - no rubbing
Merino is naturally anti bacterial
Everything in its right place, stitching all tight, washes well.
Too hot for heavy bike work but brilliant for living in.
Fairly heavy merino cloth can take a bit of abuse but it will fur and bobble over time.
Weight is good for Autumn/evening riding and good under other layers when it's colder.
They don't get much more comfy than this.
Great jersey, expensive to buy. You pays your money...
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a firm favourite now.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, performance, odour-shrugging.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Sizing is all to cock.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 190cm Weight: 102kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.