British sportswear brand Ashmei is expanding into the cycling market with a small range of high-end clothing. Ashmei, based in Hertfordshire, has been in the running world for the past three years and plans to extend the cycling range over time.
“Whatever we make has to be a game changer,” says founder Stuart Brooke, who has designed for the likes of Rapha, Vulpine, Brompton, Douglas Gill and Madison.
“We don’t choose a price point, go out and select a fabric, and then make the best product we can. We work from the fibre and develop the clothing for performance, then quality, then style. Every product has to be the best there is or we won’t launch it.”
Stuart says that Ashmei measure themselves against Assos in terms of performance, and against Rapha in terms of quality and style.
With that in mind, Ashmei create their own fabrics, blending the fibres they believe are the best for the job in each area of the clothing. They use a lot of merino wool for its ability to regulate your temperature according to the conditions and resist the growth of odour-causing bacteria, blending it with carbon to wick moisture and dry more quickly.
The initial cycling range is small, comprising a softshell jacket, short sleeve jersey and bib shorts, along with a hat, neck gaiter and socks borrowed from existing running range.
The Cycle Softshell Jacket (£210) uses a bespoke fabric at the front and over the shoulders, said to be windproof, waterproof and breathable, while the rear, where you need less protection, uses a stretchy merino mix fabric for extra breathability.
The details suggest a lot of thought has gone into the design. The front zip is offset so it doesn’t irritate your neck when done up, and you get pit zips and rear vents to control the internal humidity.
There are a total of six pockets around the back, including one that’s designed for a mini pump and another zipped one for your phone, and there’s a little pocket inside the front zip that’s just big enough to take a couple of keys.
The water resistant mudflap at the back is held out of the way by little magnets when you don’t need it.
The bib shorts are interesting too. Rather than using a knitted spandex fabric, Ashmei use a high-density woven microfibre that’s water resistant, the idea being that it’ll stay drier and lighter than other shorts fabrics out there when you get rained on.
There’s no leg gripper; Ashmei reckon the compression in the fabric is such that there’s no need for one.
Ashmei have developed their own seatpad using foam rather than sponge to minimise the amount of moisture that’s absorbed. The pad is bonded in place and nearly all of the seams in the shorts are ultra-sonic welded rather than stitched so they’re strong and flat. Little merino panels are designed to stop the shoulder straps from bunching up and causing discomfort.
If the price of the Softshell Jacket isn’t as eye-waterig as you might have imagined, the price of the bibshorts is pretty damn hefty: £235.
The jersey (£95) is made from that merino/carbon blend and, like the other clothing in the range, it has some neat-looking features including a chin guard and four rear pockets, two of them zipped.
Key seams are bonded, the idea being to keep everything flat and avoid chafing.
The merino beanie is £25.
The merino neck gaiter is £25.
And the socks are £15.
Ashmei are doing a trisuit too (£230), the main feature being that it’s said to absorb very little water. Ashmei say that their suit increases in weight just 40% after being submerged in water for 10 minutes whereas competitor trisuits increase by 121% in the same conditions.
The Ashmei cycling range will be available from the brand’s website and through a limited number of retailers from February, although you can pre-order now. Buy now by pledging via Kickstarter and you’ll get a discount of 15-20% before 5 December (assuming Ashmei reach their funding target).
Ashmei plan to extend the range over time, and that includes adding women’s versions of the initial products.
We’ve asked for items to review from the Ashmei range, so look out for that on road.cc early next year.
For more info go to the Ashmei website.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight 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 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.