Merlin Cycles has already proved itself adept at creating good value for money bikes and clothing (see here for road.cc reviews) – and the Sport Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey is another largely impressive offering.
Featuring a fleece interior, excellent for keeping you warm on cold days, the Sport is great for when the weather gets down to single figures. The fabric is stretchy enough to keep from flapping around too much as well, which helps to release unwanted sweat when riding at tempo.
If I'm honest, I've always had misgivings about the concept of long-sleeve tops – why have a garment that locks you into using it when arm warmers are more convenient and can be taken on and off when the weather changes? Surely, I've nearly always reasoned, the power of choice when out cycling is a great positive... However, when the weather is cold and will stay that way, I'll accept that long sleeves do have their place.
With a fleece lining that also covers this area too, the Sport jersey ensures you get great insulation. The sleeves are also long enough when you're in the riding position (and then some), which ensures complete coverage.
Unfortunately, you won't find any Windstopper fabric here, so wind can penetrate when it picks up and is particularly chilly. However, if it does get through, then it gets through equally throughout the garment, making predicting what you need to wear in the morning easier to do.
That's because the seams are well made, and do a good job of maintaining the fitted cut of the jersey. It's by no means a performance cut, and isn't compressive – in fact, there's a little excess fabric baggage around the upper arms if you're of a sporty cyclist's build, and around the gut too, signified by the folding of the zip in my riding position.
Back length is good for taller cyclists, though, and is helped by a silicone gripper similar to that used with the Core short-sleeved jersey too. I criticised it on that jersey, but as the Sport is heavier and more hard wearing, it's more in-keeping and performs better with no annoying riding up.
The zip is good quality: a full-length affair that zips up and down easily. With one hand, because of the soft nature of the fabrics used, it can be a bit tricky to get good purchase, but on the whole it's very good and doesn't snag.
The three open pockets are easy to reach on the move, and deep enough for carrying your essentials. In fact they are generously sized and also lined with fleece, and are augmented by a useful zipped compartment acting as a fourth for valuables such as keys, phone and cards.
Stylish Merlin symbols are present on the cuffs and breast, with reflective tabs on the rear for added visibility. In the navy blue I had on test, it's a good looking cycling top, I think you'll agree. However, if black or red is more your thing, these colours are available too.
The fleece maintains well without bobbling in a delicate wash – consider using a wool-focused detergent for best results – and is comfortable for ride after ride. Certainly, it has two applications: first as a jersey on its own, or as a long-sleeve layer to wear over the top of a short-sleeve jersey.
The Sport's RRP of £49.99 is pretty good, but with a 30% discount available online now, bringing the price down to £34.99, it's an even better deal.
Overall, this is a well made, nicely styled and good value long-sleeve jersey. If you're in need of a comfortable insulating layer for single-figure riding, you could do far worse.
A good value, comfortable jersey for single-figure temperatures
road.cc test report
Make and model: Merlin Long Sleeved Cycling Jersey
Size tested: Large
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?
Merlin says: "A fitted long sleeve jersey suited to colder months. The brushed lining to the fabric is extremely cosy and comfortable but the added elastane content ensures a performance fit with subtle compression aspects."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Athletic cut for subtle compression and aerodynamism.
- Good breathability and wicking for mid- to high-end intensity riding.
- Tailored arms and drop lower tail for perfect on-bike fit.
- Full length flexible zip.
- Three rear pockets plus an additional zipped security pocket.
- Reflective detailing integrated into Merlin Wear and snowflake logos.
- Elasticated waist with silicon gripper.
Seams are well made, keeping out excess wind, and the fleece lining is of a decent quality too.
The fleece can get a touch wet on the inside under stress, which doesn't help if you're trying to stay warm. But if you don't ride on the rivet, you'll be fine.
Good quality fabrics in and out will resist snagging, and after washing it came back like new time and again.
Good back and arm length slightly spoiled by excess material at the waist and upper arm. But the jersey isn't designed to be tight-fitting, so swings and roundabouts here.
A large from Merlin is ideal for me and matches up true-to-size.
This isn't a lightweight top at 369g on our scales, but it's not very bulky with that.
I found it extremely comfortable, thanks in no small part to the full fleece internal lining.
Pretty good value at RRP, and it's currently discounted to £34.99 which is even better.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good – no major complaints.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Soft, luxurious feel, long sleeves and back.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Excess fabric on the upper arms and a little around the waist. No Windstopper tech to be seen.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? It's not my top choice, but that's only because I do prefer to use arm warmers.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A good design with just a couple of minor niggles that just bring the overall mark down slightly.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding