Looking at the pictures of the Freshmax Maidstone shirt you are probably wondering why we are reviewing this smart, tailored item that seemingly has no connection to cycling. There is no cycling specific cut to this, no long tail or extended sleeves and it isn't even made from any technical material, it is 100% cotton. So what makes this shirt so special? Well, this is a shirt that its manufacuters claims doesn't show sweat. That's all down to the fact that contains SmartWeave technology apparently which actively prevents sweat marks, that's what. Can this be true?
I am a pretty sweaty person, I 'run hot', steam escapes from the collar of my shirts when I ride in one (it actually does - ed). I have to wear a vest under a shirt as an absorbent layer but once that gets saturated, that sweat goes straight into the shirt and I look like someone has thrown a bucket of water over me! It is nigh on impossible for me to wear a plain shirt and ride without sweat marks so I was highly sceptical about the claims made here.
My first test was to wear it like I normally wear a shirt, over a vest/t-shirt. The shirt has a very nice fit, similar to say a T M Lewin shirt, and definitely looks the best part of the £50 price tag. Putting a warm coat on, I then pedalled off into town to meet a friend for a drink. Keeping up a good pace over the 8 mile journey I had definitely worked up some perspiration, in fact I was boiling. I could feel my t-shirt clinging to my chest and back. Oh dear, I am now at the pub and I am going to have to keep my coat on or look like I have just come in from the rain. Unzipping my jacket and wiping the steam off my glasses I've got to say I was a flabbergasted to see that the light blue shirt showed no visible signs of dampness.
The founders of SmartWeave are two former Machester University graduates who have spent the last 8 years trying to solve the problems of sweat marks – as you do. Apparantly this SmartWeave technology is beginning to be used in sports tops for improved climate control, it is certainly impressive in action.
SmartWeave works because, as the name implies, of the very clever nature of the weave. The inner surface wicks sweat away from your skin, distributing it across the whole garment while the outer surface directs it away from the outside of the shirt thus preventing unsightly sweat marks from appearing. By spreading the moisture out it increases the surface area and therefore helps it evaporate quicker. The shirt I wore to the pub still felt damp to the touch yet within half an hour it was dry (although my t-shirt under layer was still soggy). So it really does work. To keep it performing requires washing it at 40 degrees without any fabric conditiner and ironing it, presumably to keep the weave in check (pun intended). After several washes and not that many irons, the shirt is still performing admirably.
So while it isn't a technical cycling garment the Freshmax Maidstone shirt should be a boon to anyone that needs to ride a bike in normal clothing but who doesn't want to get to work, the pub, that important meeting - sporting a sweaty shirt. A word of warning though, just because you can't see the sweat doesn't mean it isn't there, fresh sweat doesn't smell that much and this shirt will dry out quickly, but you certainly wouldn't want to leave it too long between washes for it... or you.
A smart shirt that takes the sweat out of your commute.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Freshmax Maidstone shirt
Size tested: 15.5
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?
100% cotton shirt that prevents sweat marks from showing. Designed for busy people building up a bit of steam.
If you need a smart shirt and you are someone who gets a bit sweaty, this is your shirt.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% cotton with SmartWeave technology
All FreshMax shirts have understated branding-
* Green stitching around the lowest button-hole
* A small flag at the side of the hem
It has a nice feel
I was impressed by how well it worked. It takes a while to realise that the sweat isn't showing. It also helps you keep you cooler.
There will be a time that the weave doesn't perform as well as it did when it was new but after several washes and not so many irons it is still doing it's job.
Feels like a quality cotton shirt. It does get quite damp on the inside as it distributes your perspiration but dries quickly.
It is a little more that your standard smart shirts but it has a nice cut and this technology is worth it especially if you make presentations at work and are prone to swat patches.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
At first you can't believe it, where has the sweat gone?
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
No sweat patches. Good cut. 100% cotton.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
You HAVE to iron it.
Did you enjoy using the product? yes
Would you consider buying the product? no sweat, of course
Would you recommend the product to a friend? defo
About the tester
I usually ride: Bike that I am testing at the time My best bike is: Giant CFR pro, old school carbon converted to fixed. Kinesis Convert 2 fixed. Shorter cafe racer
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed, bare back