DHB have completely overhauled their clothing range for winter 2011, essentially going back and designing a whole line-up of new products that includes several superfine merino wool base layers.
We’ve been riding in the Merino Zip Neck Long Sleeve Baselayer in DHB’s M_190 fabric. M_190? It means it’s a 190g-weight fabric, as opposed to the M_150 fabric that’s another option in this same design. The M_150 version (£36.99) is obviously a little lower in bulk; the M_190 one provides a little more insulation – that’s the top and bottom of it. They’re both 100% merino with no synthetics added into the mix.
As well as the zip neck model, DHB are offering a Short Sleeve Tee in the M_150 (£29.99) and a Long Sleeve Tee in both fabrics (£31.99 and £34.99). Most of these are also available in women’s cuts at the same prices. Get all that? Cool.
Okay, so what you get here is a slim-cut base layer with plenty of stretch – the side panels are extra springy – so whatever your shape, you get a body-hugging fit without it feeling tight. We’ve found both the arms and the body plenty long enough to keep us covered and the collar is generously high too. That’s good news; cold air over your neck in winter can leave you nursing stiff muscles for ages.
The zip is a high-quality offering from YKK so it’s unlikely to die on you any time soon, and a chin guard up top stops any scratching. The seams are flat stitched – all of ’em – so you don’t get any annoying ridges, and the build quality is spot on.
Hit the road in this base layer and the first thing you notice is its warmth. It really is toastie in there. You might well find yourself wearing fewer layers if this is one of them. And there’s no reason why you couldn’t use it without an outer layer over the top for autumn and spring rides, as long as you can cope with the absence of pockets.
It feels soft and comfy next to your skin too. This is nothing like that scratchy Brillo Pad wool they used to buy off the devil and knit into school jumpers – it’s almost silky. Lovely!
When it comes to keeping you dry, merino behaves differently from synthetic fabrics. You do feel this base layer, like any merino garment, getting heavier with moisture than, say, polyester or polypropylene when you sweat hard. Fact. And it doesn’t dry nearly as fast, so if you get it too damp early on in a ride, it might well stay that way until you get home.
On the other hand, it’s true that merino has pretty good wicking capabilities to stop it getting waterlogged in the first place, and it’s also true that it’ll still keep you warm for a while even when it does get soggy. Plus, this top doesn’t start to stink a few miles into a hard ride, or retain odours after washing like many manmade fibres.
We’ve tended to use this top on lower intensity rides when we’ve wanted a lot of warmth – not for hill reps in the sun – and it’s kept us super-comfortable on these. And with no pockets to drag it out of shape, we’ve not noticed any stretching over the course of our rides, or any shrinkage during washing. It’s had a good few spins through the machine now – 40°C, no problem – and we’ve no reason to think it won’t stand up to the rigours of regular use just fine. We’ll let you know if there are any changes on that score.
Overall, this is a very impressive merino base layer with a great cut and a high build quality. For 40 quid you really can’t go wrong here. DHB are going to clean up with this one.
Super-comfy merino base layer made to very high standards – and a killer price
road.cc test report
Make and model: DHB Merino long sleeve zipneck base layer
Size tested: Medium
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?
DHB say, "Our lightweight M_190 series merino provides slightly more insulation [than our M_150] so it can easily be worn solo on an autumn high adrenaline ride. Wear it next to the skin and keep yourself comfortable all ride long. Overlapped flatlock seams for comfort."
It's suitable for all kinds of autumn, winter and spring riding, although we tend to use merino on lower intensity rides when warmth is a higher priority than moisture management.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely
About the tester
Age: 39 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.