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