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Surprise, surprise, the Chapeau! Men's Merino Short Sleeve Base Layer is made from merino wool. Merino has long been regarded the holy grail of cycling kit on account of the yarns' beautifully soft nature, which is light years away from those itchy knitted jumpers of our childhood and trumps synthetics on pretty much every technical level.
The colourful stripes and street styling mean that not only does this baselayer do the job when you're riding, it doubles as a nice T-shirt off the bike too.
When the weather turns chilly, merino tops will keep you warm; when it's roasting hot, they'll keep you cool, while trafficking rider-generated moisture out pretty much seamlessly, neutralising nasty niffs en route. No need for body mapping technology here.
Fierce competition has done wonderful things to pricing – at least from a consumer's perspective. Nowadays, several big retailers are offering long sleeve designs for around £35, which is in line with sophisticated synthetics and might make the Chapeau seem just a little steep – especially since it's designed and tested here but made in the Far East.
Indeed, comparing it with one store brand favourite, little separates them in terms of quality control. However, the Chapeau is snug, rather than figure hugging, which is brilliant for blending with civvies or worn in place of a jersey on summer tours, and even on the indoor trainer.
I've been testing a fair few thermal polyester training jerseys of late, and while these have supressed the natural fibre's true capabilities in some regards, wearing the merino underneath makes them a lot more pleasant to use when the effort's high and temperatures are middling.
Spinning along on the fixed at 90rpm for 40 minutes or so and things turned a little moist around the chest, pits and lower back. However, any lag was quickly tackled and I remained fragrant in the socially acceptable sense, despite successive rides and deliberately wearing the unwashed Chapeau.
Fear not, it has also responded well to regular machine washing and even survived an accidental tumble dry – which is more than can be said for a rather nice retro woollen jersey, which emerged fit only for my farm cat!
Objectively, if you're on a budget and only wanted something for riding in, there are several cheaper options. But I've really enjoyed Chapeau's take on things and would recommend a closer look if you want one that doubles as a stylish T-shirt.
Comfortable, stylish baselayer that can be worn all year round – on and off the bike
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Make and model: Chapeau! Men's Merino SS Base Layer
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?
Chapeau says: "Our lightweight merino Base Layer is designed to sit against the skin underneath a jersey or jacket. With a snug performance fit you'll barely notice it's there, apart from the sense of warmth and comfort. Perfect for rides from Autumn through to Spring."
Certainly lives up to the hype and washes beautifully too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% Merino wool.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been delighted with the combination of style and comfort, which have kept me temperate and fresh regardless of context or conditions. Slightly relaxed fit means it can be mixed and matched with civilian wardrobes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Merino's incredible chameleon-like properties, flattering cut and neutral styling mean it also looks good worn with casual clothes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief. Ticket price is a little steeper compared with some long-sleeve competition but not unreasonable.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Nicely made and certainly on par with other merino garments of comparable tog weight, though I'm not convinced its markedly better than some shop branded versions costing a tenner less.
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81cm Weight: 70kg
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)