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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
Merlin's Core short-sleeved jersey (not to be confused with Rapha's rather more expensive take on a 'core' product bearing the same name) currently comes in at a measly £17.99. With that price tag in mind, if all you're after is a lightweight jersey for your warm spring, summer and autumn rides without breaking the bank, it's a top option.
Constructed of a 100 per cent polyester blend, the jersey weighs in at 111g on our scales, which is light enough to almost forget you're wearing it. That makes it great for warm-weather riding, as well as for acting as an extra layer underneath something more hardwearing and insulating.
The quality of the construction is good too, and durability seems fine, lasting through my usual delicate 30 degree wash for cycling gear with no issues. The seams seem to be well made and sturdy enough to last for at least one full season of use, and probably more.
Other areas that impress are acceptably deep pockets, which are fairly easy to access while riding, and a half-zip that works smoothly and is easy to adjust on the move when you do get a touch hot. The neckline is comfortable too, and not restrictive on me – decent, considering the width of my shoulders, which inevitably puts stress on the seams in that area.
Nice style inclusions include discreet reflective logos (someone asked me if I was in fact wearing something of the same ilk as Rapha!) and contrasting arm bands on the sleeves. These aren't 'ruined' by silicone grippers on the inside, which I personally found a relief, and meant the sleeves fitted comfortably with no chafing.
The hem does sport a bulky gripper, which Merlin says is designed to stop the jersey riding up. It's necessary because of the cut of the jersey – this isn't a racy, skintight affair, more a halfway house towards a a touring fit. This will be a boon for those who aren't whippet-thin, but as someone who tends towards skinniness, I can report that it leaves a bit of excess fabric around the mid-section, in which case a degree of riding up just happens anyway.
Other than this, there's nothing wrong with the Merlin Core for relaxed roadies and first-timers. And if black-and-white isn't your thing, a reverse white-and-black option is available, while a more colourful red-and-black colourway completes the range.
Simple and effective for the chilled roadie, commuter or first-timer looking for a good-weather riding top
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Merlin Core Short Sleeved Cycling Jersey
Size tested: Large
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?
Merlin says: "Core is aimed both at beginner cyclists and experienced cyclists. Cyclists who are looking to buy their first proper riding kit and regular riders who are looking to bolster their existing wardrobe with a few more choice pieces of kit. You can never have too much cycle clothing. Made of fabrics that work well. Tailored to be a bit less full-on racey. Core stuff is not baggy, just a bit less hugging.
"A simple but effective jersey for cycling. Slightly more relaxed cut than most traditional jerseys but still made from performance fabric. Complete with three pockets on the back for handy essentials."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Entry level cycling jersey.
- 100% polyester micro.
- 25cm zip.
- Silicon gripper on the hem to prevent the jersey from riding up.
- Slight casual cut.
- No silicon gripper on the sleeves.
- Discreet reflective logos.
- Solid colour design to match the rest of your other cycling gear.
- Suitable for short blasts and commutes as well as some proper weekend rides.
Wicks moisture very well and is comfortable to wear.
The lightness of the fabric probably won't help in this regard - and it'll snag on wooden cafe stop seats and the like. I can see it lasting a season or two if looked after.
The extra space around the mid-section won't suit many roadie types, but for the general user it's fine.
Comes up true-to-size. A large is ideal for me, as I'd expect.
111g on our scales. A proverbial feather.
The waist gripper isn't the best, but elsewhere I have no complaints.
£22.99 for a jersey like this? Yes, please. £17.99, currently? Definitely!
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Seems to take my usual delicate wash in its stride. The thinness of the fabric means I'd hesitate giving it a more robust wash, but no troubles so far.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good - I'd be happy to wear it on commutes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lightweight, discreet, go-anywhere styling.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Silicone waist gripper, mid-section fit.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd prefer something more slim cutting, so no.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they were a newbie or looking for a commuter jersey.
Use this box to explain your score
Value cycling products can be hit-and-miss. This one is a hit.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding