The Solo Merino Wool base layer is a slim fitting and comfortable option that comes with the usual merino benefits of being naturally antibacterial and odour-resistant.
I guess you already know whether you're a wool-wearing type of a rider or not. Nine times out of 10 I'll go for a synthetic base layer, although I'll opt for merino when I want a little extra warmth or I'm likely to stop somewhere civilised mid-ride and don't want to sit there humming. Merino is definitely a winner on that score. There are plenty of other people out there who use merino as a matter of course.
This base layer puts in a good performance. For a start, the wool is superfine. Even after quite a few washes (40° in the machine, no worries there) it doesn't feel at all scratchy to me. In fact, it's among the most comfortable merino tops I've ever used.
It's a medium weight merino – 150gsm, if you speak that language – which is the same weight as Rapha use for theirs. The seams are flat-stitched and side-panels that extend to the underside of the arms ensure a good fit. The back is a little longer than the front – not massively, but enough to keep you well covered back there. The cut is slim so most skinny riders will get a close fit, and tons of stretch means it's not a problem if you have a bit more meat on your bones.
Merino naturally wicks sweat from your skin and Solo's base layer is no different from the norm in that respect. Like any merino, it can get heavy if you sweat loads and it doesn't dry especially fast compared to a lightweight polypropylene, for example, which is one of the reasons why I wear it selectively. It'll keep you much warmer and more comfortable than a synthetic will if you do overload it, though.
In terms of price, the Solo base layer is cheaper than Rapha's (£60 for short sleeve, £55 for sleeveless, and £65 for long sleeve) which, I would say, is a similar quality. DHB's 150gsm merino short sleeve base is considerably cheaper at £30.99.
Also available in a sleeveless model for £46.
Slim-fitting merino base layer that puts in a solid performance
road.cc test report
Make and model: Solo Merino short sleeve base layer
Size tested: XL
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?
Solo say, "Constructed from 150gsm super fine 100% merino wool, this baselayer is perfect for all season riding. It features a cycling specific cut and comfortable flatlock seams throughout. It's exceptionally warm and breathable and has all the natural benefits of merino wool: anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and odour repelling.
Note: There is a lot of stretch in the baselayer so each size covers a much bigger range than standard cycle jerseys."
Yep, I can't argue with that description. It doesn't have any amazing design features but it's a fine grade of merino and it's close fitting.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Merino can absorb a lot of water. Unlike cotton, though, it retains its warmth when damp.
Flatlock stitched throughout with side panels that extend to the underside of the arms.
There are no special features here but merino is a great option for certain types of riding.
Keep away from moths.
Not as expensive as Rapha, not as cheap as DHB.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It puts in a good performance
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The super-fine fibres and the skinny cut.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing comes to mind.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
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.