Merino has its disciples, others are less convinced; Lusso's Merino Short Sleeve Jersey aims to combine the good points of merino with the best features of modern synthetics and it's a cracking result. Its merino/synthetic mix gives a luxurious feel without sagging like 100 per cent merino can.
Several manufacturers have started putting out garments labelled as 'merino' without telling you that they're actually a merino mix. Lusso is upfront about this. This jersey is 35% wool and 65% polyester, and it's a proportion that works very well, with a lovely, soft-feeling fabric that gives manmade technical materials a good run for their money in the performance stakes.
The droopy cut of all-wool jerseys, and their tendency to sag under the weight of anything in the pockets, is the main reason I don't tend to wear 100% merino on the road bike (though it's good for touring and winter mountain biking). The Lusso has a close fit that, so far, after a few weeks of wear and several washes, shows no sign of sagging.
For typical cool UK conditions, the Lusso Merino proved very versatile. The wool content makes it snug and it mated well with various baselayers, arm warmers and over-layers. I experimented with a few different baselayers, which are bound to interact with the jersey in different ways, and had good results with all of them.
Even on days over 20°C, this jersey was pleasant to wear. Wool seems to work as well in warm as in cool conditions (I've never seen a sheep sweat). Ventilation is good, with a full-length zip and a central panel let into the back made of aerated fabric. I found this kept dampness down the back to a minimum.
The same fabric is used for the arm grippers which are comfortable and, while not the stretchiest, hold the sleeves in place. Lusso might also like to think about incorporating some aerated panels in the armpits for even better warm-weather performance.
The black-and-white pattern on the aerated fabric gives the jersey a classic, cool style and is good for contrast and visibility. (The jersey is also available in Grey and Plum.)
Three vertical back pockets look a little wrinkly when empty but have plenty of carrying capacity without sagging. A fourth, zipped pocket can take keys or a modest-sized smartphone, though it does encroach a bit into the space used by the right-hand pocket.
The waist hem is a fairly simple elasticated strip, flat-stitched into the garment and with a continuous Lusso-branded silicone gripper inside.
Construction, all done in Manchester, was generally tidy – just the odd stray thread poked out of the zip stitching. The zip itself is from YKK and has a small but robust pull-tab that's big enough to grip easily, provided you aren't wearing thick gloves. It parks tidily at the collar.
Eighty quid for a jersey isn't to be sneezed at, but in comparison to other good quality merino mix tops out there, the Lusso isn't bad value: dhb's Aeron Ultralight Merino Short Sleeve Jersey also mixes wool with synthetics and has an rrp of £85, Rivelo's Barbondale Merino (50/50 merino/poly) is £100, while Rapha's Classic Jersey II is £110. Specialized's RBX Drirelease Merino Short Sleeve Jersey retails at £80.
Sizing was spot on. My medium was just a little small for me (Lusso's size guide recommends I go for large and I'd agree with that). That manifested itself in a little tightness under the arms but I didn't really notice in use. If you follow the size guide you'll be fine. If you really want a figure-hugging top for time trialling or racing, this won't be for you, but for general riding and touring there's enough give to fit well without showing every bulge.
Combines the softness of wool with the good fit of synthetics and the performance benefits of both: a versatile garment
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lusso Merino Short Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
The Lusso Merino Jersey has been designed to be a close fitting garment that still retains its breathability, featuring odour resistance and high wickability so you don't overheat even on the hardest rides.
This Merino/Polyester mix retains its shape and prevents sagging, combining the best of what both nature and science have to offer.
Its Super soft and comfortable against the skin
Designed, cut, sewn and packaged in Manchester
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
35% Merino / 65% Polyester
4 Rear Pockets ( 1 zipped)
Full Front Zip
SC9 Hem Gripper
Reflective Element at Rear
Flat Lock and Over Lock Stitching
Made in Manchester
Well put together from good materials, all the seams resisted pulling.
Not too thin for cooler outings, not too warm for sunny days; it's very versatile.
Still only a few weeks old. Will it keep its looks into a second year?
Close, but not nipples-out tight; enough stretch in the merino-mix and the aerated back panel to keep everything in place.
From past experience I know Lusso's large size fits me. I went for a medium thinking the merino would sag and this would compensate but it didn't do that. So yes, a large would have fitted me perfectly.
I never rode in anything above 21°C but I didn't overheat, even in bright Alpine sunshine. However, this is reasonably thick so may not be the thing for foreign summer holidays. At the other end of the scale, I wore this on dull days at 10°C with a baselayer and arm warmers and was quite happy. So the middle-weight fabric is a versatile choice.
You can wear this against the skin without itchiness. Moisture transfer was good. The general good fit brings a lot to the comfort too.
Lusso short-sleeved jerseys start at £30, so this sits in its upper-mid price bracket. For the quality and function I'd say it's pretty good value compared with similar quality merino jerseys out there; on par with some, cheaper than others.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I treated this the same as other cycling kit: 30 degrees, no fabcon. So far it's come out looking good and it seems to resist snagging well too. Some all-wool garments I've owned have faded quite badly with time. We shall see whether the polyester mix is more resistant.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It kept me comfortable in a wide range of conditions, even on warm days. In cooler weather it worked well with layers. Not too sweaty, not draughty.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The soft feel, the good fit, general fit-for-purposeness.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not much. There's no women's version yet (there will be next year) and at first I thought it was only available in black, but actually there's a Grey and a Plum too.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
dhb's Aeron Ultralight Merino Short Sleeve Jersey also mixes wool with synthetics and has an rrp of £85 but can often be found discounted, as can Rivelo's £100 Barbondale Merino (50/50 merino/poly). Specialized's RBX Drirelease Merino Short Sleeve Jersey retails at £80.
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 overall score
It's very well made, good value and I was always happy to pull it out of the drawer for testing, in a wide variety of conditions. That, to me, is the sign of a good product.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking