Vulpine Merino T-shirt  £55.00

8/10

Full-merino wool cycling Tee that's subtle enough for use off the bike too

Weight 180g   Contact  www.vulpine.cc

by Mat Brett   April 20, 2012  

Vulpine tshirt

The Vulpine Merino T-shirt is a subtle cycling Tee that's particularly handy for days when you're likely to spend time both on and off the bike.

This is 100% merino wool rather than a blend of natural and synthetic fibres. One of the best things about merino wool is that it doesn't start stinking as soon as you get to the end of the road. We've all had man made fibres that, let's be honest, reek once they get the slightest bit sweaty. Merino doesn't. This Vulpine shirt is amazingly odour-resistant. If you've never used merino before, you'll be stunned. That means that this T-shirt is ideal if you want to ride across town to work or the caff, for example, without the need to change as soon as you get there.

When you do put the shirt through the washing machine (you can't leave it forever) it comes out smelling all clean and new. It doesn't gradually accumulate odours like some synthetics and you never have to sling it through the wash a second time after performing a quick sniff test. So that's the smelly side of things dealt with.

The other big plus is that this Vulpine shirt feels really good. Its fine-grade fibres are soft and they wick moisture away effectively. With a little air blowing over the shirt as you ride, you stay dry and comfortable even in warm temperatures. You could also wear it as a base layer for more sporty rides.

The Vulpine shirt is cut close but not skin-tight so it neither flaps about ridiculously when you're riding nor looks out of place when you're wandering around town. The rear is a little longer than the front so you don't get a draughty back when you're stretched out towards the bars and, again, it's not so extreme that it looks weird when you're off the bike.

All the seams are flat-lock stitched and there are no labels inside to irritate you – the washing instructions are printed on the wool. You get a little buttoned pocket on the back that's big enough to take your mobile and/or wallet. You wouldn't want to put too much in there because the wool is pretty stretchy and will get pulled out of shape, but that's not a problem for me – my wallet really isn't that heavy.

There's a reflective strip across the pocket to aid visibility when you're riding at night and all the logos are embroidered so they're going to last. Some might find the price tag a little salty, but it is made from good quality merino and the price is certainly not out of the ball park for garments of similar quality.

Verdict

Full-merino wool cycling Tee that's subtle enough for use off the bike too

road.cc test report

Make and model: Vulpine Merino T-shirt

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?

Vulpine say: "The ultimate cycling T. Odour-free, sweat-wicking, soft, cut long and slim for cycling. Use for casual riding or as a base-layer. This T is made from the 100% highest grade mid-weight Merino, with a small button pocket and subtle reflective detail to rear.

100% Merino Wool

Extraordinarily odour-resistant

Very breathable

Cycling fit

Fast dry-wicking

Flatlock stitching for comfort

Rear button pocket

Subtle reflective detail on pocket

Embroidered Vulpine branding"

I've no arguments with any of that. I'm not a massive fan of merino as a base layer for high-intensity rides because it can get heavy with sweat, but some people will have nothing else. This T-shirt's real value is for days when you're likely to be both on and off the bike and don't want to change clothes.

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

Merino wool is naturally antibacterial and naturally high-wicking... which is why sheep have been using it for, ooh, ages.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

The flat-lock stitching and embroidered logos are good. Making a T-shirt isn't the most complicated process in the world but it's all done very well.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

It's good-quality merino wool with all the usual merino qualities.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

It's well made and after quite a few washes it's still the right shape. I can't really see anything going wrong for the foreseeable future.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Rapha's short sleeve merino (Sportwool) base layer is £55. DHB do one at 30 quid although that's exceptional value.

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

It performs well

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The cut is spot on for the type of riding it's designed for and I think this is the best use of merino wool.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nada.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly. I think the subtle bikey-ness is pretty cool

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yup

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

 

19 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Lovely, but £55 for a t-shirt? Who are the people who actually BUY the stuff reviewed here?

posted by wakou [82 posts]
20th April 2012 - 12:53

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Well I'd buy one for starters..but got to wait until one of my many howies merino tees falls apart first.

55squid may sound like a lot but merino is fantastic stuff, and worth every penny if you ask me. Big Grin

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
20th April 2012 - 13:08

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For me, that price is just a bit too high. I don't mind paying a premium for something which is both good looking and technical. I have lots of merino gear (of varying levels of quality and price) and I know how good it is when it is done right. But I still can't bring myself to stump up for such a simple garment.

I like the look of them though. If they did a bundle-offer (3 for £100ish, say?) I'd probably go for it...

posted by step-hent [670 posts]
20th April 2012 - 13:30

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wakou wrote:
Lovely, but £55 for a t-shirt? Who are the people who actually BUY the stuff reviewed here?

I have one of these ! Not cheap, no, but top quality...
Smile

matt_fantastic's picture

posted by matt_fantastic [74 posts]
20th April 2012 - 13:41

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"For me, that price is just a bit too high."
Ditto - will check back at sales time. I know that one can always go to the website, but how about a picture of the reverse, showing pocket and reflective strip?

posted by Dr_Lex [130 posts]
20th April 2012 - 13:44

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Hi guys, I designed the T, along with all the range.
Really interesting feedback. That merino is The Best out there. There fabric alone costs far more than ten times that of cotton for a T. Its 100% Tasmanian Merino. We get people having a feel and they love it. And the flatlock stitching is second to none. Not even any scratchy labels on the inside.
I think £55 IS a lot of a T-Shirt. But it'll last an age, is highly technical and has all the best put into it.
Oh, and the bundle idea is a very good one. I couldn't possibly afford £100 for 3 (!!), but definitely something I'm going to work on now, so thank you.
Any questions, just shout.
Nick.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [300 posts]
20th April 2012 - 13:47

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Dr_Lex wrote:
"For me, that price is just a bit too high."
Ditto - will check back at sales time. I know that one can always go to the website, but how about a picture of the reverse, showing pocket and reflective strip?

If you read my blog you'll know I'm no BS, so hopefully you'll trust me that I can't see there being a sale on this T in the future. We're currently looking to get more stock with extra sizes and colours in, as going like the proverbials. We're also not doing 'seasons', just classics, so I don't THINK we'll be doing seasonal sales.
Watch out for the bundles though! Smile

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [300 posts]
20th April 2012 - 14:05

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Brilliant, a bundle sounds good - will keep an eye out. And this is what is good about companies like Vulpine - genuine dialogue with potential customers and the ability to decide to offer something and then do it.

Now if you could just make the arms on the jackets long enough for my monkey arms, I'd be all sorted... Big Grin

posted by step-hent [670 posts]
20th April 2012 - 14:11

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So far both Merino garments I have owned have suffered from moths. One ended up looking like a string vest and was in unwearable.

posted by malmesburyclarioncc [26 posts]
20th April 2012 - 17:22

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The price is a bit rich for me too, but that's because of my impecunity, not the t-shirt being poor value.

I do have one of these, in grey (looking at the pic, I slightly wish I'd got the black) because I did a guest blog for Nick before the Vulpine launch, and he was kind enough to consider a t-shirt fair exchange for the collection of weak puns and sub par surrealism I sent him.

I can honestly say the t is really, really good. The fabric is lovely. I've worn merino that was coarse and scratchy (HELLO, DESCENTE) the Vulpine fabric is a world away, beautifully smooth & comfortable. My impression is that it's a slightly lighter weight than my other good merino jersey (the Shutt Velo Rapide "Velocast" jersey). The quality of manufacture seems top notch too (nicely finished seams &c) to my untrained eye. The cut is excellent, and the t genuinely does look good on and off the bike. I'm with the reviewer on the back pocket not being heavy duty, but I'm usually wearing pocketed trousers or shorts (Zymes or Hummvees) with the t shirt anyway, so no big deal.

I reckon a couple of these would cut down touring luggage nicely, as they'll do double duty for riding to town, and then evening mooching about. Being Merino, they'd also easily go a couple or more days of wear, so long as you're careful eating your Vlaamse Karbonades Smile

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

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posted by John_the_Monkey [418 posts]
20th April 2012 - 20:15

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Im surprised you can afford vlaamse karbonades what with yer impecunity John. Big Grin

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
20th April 2012 - 21:21

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err no idea about the quality but just saw Planet X doing merino tops for £14.99!

posted by belgravedave [167 posts]
20th April 2012 - 21:30

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mat wrote:
it's really good!

everyone wrote:
£55 for a t-shirt? what's the world coming to? etc and so on

Are Vulpine the new Rapha then? discuss Big Grin

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7311 posts]
20th April 2012 - 21:35

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Fringe wrote:
Im surprised you can afford vlaamse karbonades what with yer impecunity John. Big Grin

Eh, don't skimp when you're on tour, fella. Especially not on the food. And the booze. And the chocs. And the cakes.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

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posted by John_the_Monkey [418 posts]
20th April 2012 - 22:17

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belgravedave wrote:
err no idea about the quality but just saw Planet X doing merino tops for £14.99!

Can't speak for Planet X's top, but the difference between my Descente merino jersey (£30, as I recall) and my Shutt Jersey (£65?) and the Vulpine shirt is pretty significant, and favours the latter two significantly. (The Descente jersey is scratchy, and the seams are coming apart after not too many outings).

For all that, the Descente jersey is what convinced me Merino would work for me though, before I shelled out more. In terms of how it handles temperature (much less need to keep donning/removing gilet in changing conditions, I find) and doesn't whiff, it's almost magical stuff.

If you've never tried a wool jersey, £15 from PX isn't a bad way to see if you like it or not - just bear in mind a pricier one (Shutt, Vulpine, Rapha) will probably be nicer still, if you do like 'em Smile

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [418 posts]
20th April 2012 - 22:25

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Have tried merino products a few times in the past ( Ralpha and dhb) but I'm a heavy sweater and find they can't cope, they just don't seem to have the wicking abilities. During a hard ride the material seems to get overpowered. Manmade fibres work best for me with Assos, Gore and Craft my current favs in that order. Oh and it loses shape once it's wicking abilities have been overpowered (soggy and baggy). To be honest I'm a bit bemused by how many people online rave about merino.

posted by belgravedave [167 posts]
21st April 2012 - 5:00

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belgravedave wrote:
.... To be honest I'm a bit bemused by how many people online rave about merino.

I've not worn the Vulpine top in proper hot weather yet (for reasons that are probably obvious, given I live in the UK). The Descente top & Shutt Jersey are definitely a bit too warm once the mercury rises significantly - I reckon they're best (for me) below 18/20°C, with the Descente (because of its thicker fabric) being at the lower end of that scale. I've not noticed them getting damp, as such, they just feel too warm, and I'd pick a synthetic in those sorts of temperatures, unless I'm pottering that day. IME, they definitely don't like rain though (I did the last hour of the Stoke Tour Ride in my Shutt jersey, in a downpour, and it was grim).

The Vulpine feels lighter than the Shutt fabric (to me) so might have a temperature range that's a few degrees higher. Caveat - I don't race, so my idea of a hard ride could well be different to some.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [418 posts]
21st April 2012 - 9:44

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dave_atkinson wrote:
mat wrote:
it's really good!

everyone wrote:
£55 for a t-shirt? what's the world coming to? etc and so on

Are Vulpine the new Rapha then? discuss Big Grin

I'm assuming that's stirring Dave? Wink
I hope we are similar in concentrating on quality, longevity and design. That'd be a great compliment.

Regards synthetic vs merino, I had the fun task of building the range from scratch, so what worked, was used. There was a huge amount of R&D. Merino is very hydrophilic, meaning it pulls the sweat off your skin, unlike polyester, so it'll wick away faster. But that wicking always relies on the ambient conditions, and if its humid or so hot that you sweat more than the fabric can take, it'll be wet. But you may touch a polyester top and it'll feel dryer because its not pulling water off your skin, rather it stays there. And sweat doesn't wick very well without air flow. Water off your skin equals more comfort and better temperature control.

One of my favourite tests was to do 90 minutes spinning. The temp and stagnant air in those rooms is full-on, and I'd come out soaked. But then 10 minutes later I'd have a dry top, and I can go about my day with the top the same and not smelling like a bin. Bit weird walking around knowing I hadn't showered after dripping with sweat (my hair was still wet an age after the top had dried), but it worked.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [300 posts]
21st April 2012 - 15:09

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belgravedave wrote:
Have tried merino products a few times in the past ( Ralpha and dhb) but I'm a heavy sweater and find they can't cope, they just don't seem to have the wicking abilities. During a hard ride the material seems to get overpowered.

Personally, I don't wear merino if I'm going out on a high-intensity ride in the sun (although I know a lot of people who do). But, for days when I'm on and off the bike – riding around town for a bit, sitting in a caff for a bit – it's spot on.

I also use merino in the winter when I want lots of insulation and know I won't sweat too much.

posted by Mat Brett [1856 posts]
28th May 2012 - 12:03

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