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Verdict: 
Smart looking baselayer that does the job for sensible money
Weight: 
58g
Contact: 
Chapeau! Mesh SL Base Layer Exe Blue Striped
7 10

Not everyone wears them, but I reckon a good quality baselayer is one of the most important parts of a cyclist's wardrobe no matter what the weather, and the Chapeau Mesh SL Base Layer is such a thing. It's not the best I've worn but it does offer a great balance of quality, comfort, performance and price.

  • Pros: Well priced, lightweight, good wicking
  • Cons: Material isn't the softest I've worn

For warm weather riding I prefer to choose one of the many mesh style baselayers I have in my collection as they just feel much lighter on and nice and airy.

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The Chapeau feels exactly that, especially when paired with a lightweight summer jersey. On descents you can feel the air blow through, removing the heat from your body, most noticeable after a long, hard, sweltering climb.

In such conditions the Mesh SL draws moisture away from your body, mostly without getting massively overwhelmed; if it does, it soon dries out in the breeze as soon as your speed picks up.

Both the front and rear panels use the mesh material and it's plenty comfortable enough, though not as soft and pleasurable against the skin as Lusso's Race Base Mesh Layer.

chapeau_mesh_sl_base_layer_-_back.jpg

chapeau_mesh_sl_base_layer_-_back.jpg

The sides are made from a smooth fabric and these extra panels give the Mesh SL a nice defined fit. Sizing is spot on to Chapeau's chart, with this medium fitting me closely, avoiding any wrinkles or bunching under a jersey.

A clever touch is the use of the fabric from the side panels over the top of the shoulders, preventing the compression from bib short straps from irritating by rubbing against mesh.

chapeau_mesh_sl_base_layer_-_detail.jpg

chapeau_mesh_sl_base_layer_-_detail.jpg

With an rrp of £24.99 it's pretty much in the ball park for a lot of the baselayers we've tested recently. The Lusso I mentioned above is the same price and the excellent Pearl Izumi Transfer Sleeveless is just a fiver more. Five quid the other way will get you one of dhb's Blok Mesh Sleeveless baselayers for £20.

> Buyer's Guide: 15 of the best cycling baselayers

The Chapeau looks and feels to be well made and I gave it some really good stretches to test the thin mesh fabric without managing to tear it or pop any of the seams.

There are a good range of sizes from S to XL and four colour options: white with Exe Blue logo or Exe Blue stripes like we've got here, or the same in Hot Pink.

Verdict

Smart looking baselayer that does the job for sensible money

road.cc test report

Make and model: Chapeau Mesh SL Base Layer Exe Blue Striped

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

Chapeau says, "Our new summer base layers are quite simply, very good. They look superb and do what they should do, which is help regulate your body temperature as the mercury rises. Available in short sleeve or sleeveless options, they are also very handy as a top to wear when training indoors."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Chapeau says, "The main kite mesh pattern fabric is made in Italy and takes on the task of moving moisture away from your skin quickly whilst the soft touch side panels allow for a bit more flexibility of fit. A base layer should of course be quite fitted but the addition of side panels increases the comfort as well as adding to the aesthetics."

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for fit:
 
8/10
Rate the product for sizing:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Being a baselayer it gets washed quite often and I've had no issues with it; it comes up clean and fresh each time.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It does a decent job of wicking sweat away from the body.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Lightweight and breathable.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Fabric isn't the softest against the skin that I've worn.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

There is nothing revolutionary about the Chapeau but it's a decent baselayer that works and has a complementary fit. Against some of the competition it's priced sensibly too.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed

Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.