New cycling apparel do-gooder Hommage au Vélo donates 10% of its profit from its product sales to World Bicycle Relief, and after six weeks spent with the Poli Blue Shetland Merino Jersey, I hope it has a best-seller on its hands: it's lovely.
The sourced-from-the-Shetland-Islands merino blend construction we reported on when we got a first look at Hommage's offerings is the reason it feels so lovely to wear. It's super-soft against the skin, and the performance characteristics of merino itself should need little explanation.
It's breathable, cool in all but the hottest weather, and warm on chillier mornings, giving it a three-season working range, and it's got a slim-yet-forgiving cut. Hommage au Vélo says that this is a more relaxed cut than its two race-cut jerseys, but it's still performance-orientated.
You could do sportives in it if you wanted, but I think the Poli's real forte is in long Sunday group rides and audaxes.
There's 8% elastane in the whole jersey, which allows it to stretch in areas that you might be filling, but it hugs the body nicely. This meant my shoulders had enough space to fit in despite being a medium (a rarity for me, when I usually have to opt for large jerseys), and the sleeves too had plenty of give to fit my arms. You don't need to be a rake-thin cyclist to wear this jersey, although if you are it'll probably fit just as well.
The non-grippered double-thickness sleeve cuffs ensure comfort is about as high as it's possible to get, and a medium-height neckline is capacious enough for those with wider necks. It all fits flush against the skin, and there's no hint of irritation when you're covered in sun cream and sweating buckets.
The truth is that the light-to-mid-weight nature of the jersey means it's not the coolest in the height of summer, but with the high-wicking properties of merino it dries quickly if you do happen to sweat a lot.
The waistline is an elastic affair backed with a low-profile silicone gripper band. The elasticity of the band is enough on my relatively thick trunk to keep it in place, but the silicone element will help it stick if you're slimmer than me.
On the back are three pockets that, although not large in the way Rapha's wool-blend Brevet jersey (a personal favourite of mine) is, are perfectly big enough for an all-day ride, and benefit from the elasticity of the overall fabric. The tops are cuffed to help prevent contents from falling out.
There's a zipped security pocket on the left side that features a reflective border. Personally, I'd prefer it to be situated on the right side to favour my (and most other's) more dextrous right hand, but it's hardly worth getting worked up about given that you probably only really open and close it when you've stopped. Handily, it's lined too, so sweat and showers aren't going to trouble it.
In terms of build quality, it impresses too. The seams are flat and low profile, showing no signs of degrading, and the full-length zip is easy to work on the go with a zip garage up top that stays proud and gives plenty of coverage for the small YKK zipper.
After six weeks of on-off use, the outer surface of the merino fabric has just – just – begun to pile, but it's worth bearing in mind that I've been washing it in my usual 40 degree wash along with my other kit, rather than the 30 degree or hand wash tag recommendations. The good thing, though, is that it doesn't require a delicate wash, and the classy design – available in this blue, or a burgundy – continues to look great.
In terms of value, its sourced-from-Shetland merino and polyester construction invites comparison with Rapha's Sportswool jerseys – the Brevet, mentioned above, is £130, while the Classic II is £110, so the Hommage's £75 is quite appealing. Even dhb's Merino jersey doesn't undercut the Poli.
Best of all, Hommage au Vélo's business model allows it to donate 10 per cent of its profits to World Bicycle Relief, which is a great reason to treat yourself to this excellent luxury performance jersey.
A luxury performance jersey that's practical, comfortable and classy – and does good with each sale
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Hommage au Velo Poli Blue Shetland Merino Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Hommage au Vélo says: "Our Poli cycling jersey is made from the finest, softest Shetland merino wool in timeless colours and style.
"Many merinos are scratchy on the skin, especially in the heat. Not this one: it has a cashmere-like feel to cosset you all the way to your finish line, be it the coffee bar or the top of Ventoux.
"A cycling jersey with a slightly more forgiving cut and discreet hues for the cycling aristocrat in everybody."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Features (from the Hommage au Vélo website):
- Made from the finest Shetland Island merino
- Super-soft to the touch; luxurious on the skin, more forgiving cut than our Bourlon and Bahamontes cycling jerseys.
- Excellent heat regulation
- Three practical rear pockets + 1 zipped pocket with for credit card & keys
- Traditional folded & sewn sleeves for a classic look and comfortable fit
- 41% Shetland Merino, 51% polyester, 8% elastane
- Recommended cool wash by hand [30 degree mark on tag]
The construction really is excellent.
Aside from in the hottest weather (which we've had plenty of lately), it's excellent.
The outer fabric has just begun to pile, so you may want to consider washing on delicate or hand washes as recommended.
Slim, but flexible around the body with plenty of give. Perfect.
It sizes normally. I fit in this medium thanks (in part) to the flexibility of the fabric, but it is technically a little on the small side on me, as it should be.
Given the luxury fabric and feel, 151g is perfectly fine.
It's a fair chunk of money, but 10% of the profits goes to a good cycling-related cause and it is a great jersey – and cheaper than some similar offerings...
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It requires a more delicate touch than some sports kit – 30 degree or cool hand washing – but it has stood up reasonably well to my usual 40 degree assaults.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable, luxurious feel, great fit, practicality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, 100%.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I like this jersey so much that I'd love to give it a 10, but it is just a little delicate (in terms of washing) to give it a perfect overall score.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding