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The 7Mesh Women's Ashlu Jersey is a very comfortable merino top, with great storage and a fairly relaxed fit but a high price tag.
I tested a size large, which some of my measurements suited, but could easily (I think) have gone for a medium. It's quite long in the body, which I like; some jerseys are described as having a dropped tail but really don't, and leave you a little exposed. That's not the case here.
I did find that it was longer than some jackets – the Gore Shakedry High Viz only just covered it in some heavy showers (though it did quite a good job really, considering how much was stuffed into the jersey's five pockets).
Yep, five pockets – three open ones in a typical arrangement across the back, and two zipped ones either side, sitting on top of the outer two open pockets.
They have a 'semi-static design to reduce sag', apparently, but there's still enough stretch to let you stuff loads of kit/food/spares into them. Last ride, I ended up carrying that Gore jacket, two halves of banana, four or five energy gels, a couple of energy bars, a thin gilet, toe covers, arm warmers, and a cycling wallet with phone and cards.
What you cram in the pockets can pull the already-long jersey down a bit, though.
Despite mine being slightly on the large side, the jersey isn't loose, but it does have a more relaxed than racy fit. It's not designed as a sleek, aero racing top, it's 'made for roads, roaming and pretty much everything in-between' says 7Mesh. I like it. It's close but not skintight. It's perfect for pootling down the Wylye valley, stopping for coffee and cake, commuting not too many miles, wearable for three days on the trot...
Merino is well known for its anti-bacterial, anti-pong qualities; here it's combined with nylon in an 89/11 per cent mix. Pure merino can go fuzzy on the surface, but there's none of that here. The merino that 7Mesh has used is mulesing-free. The fabric also has UPF 50+ sun protection built in.
It can feel a little warm on really hot days (I preferred the £35 Van Rysel jersey if it was blisteringly hot), but on long days when it's cool in the morning, warms up midday, feels cool in the afternoon shadows, cold when the clouds start leaking... it's perfect.
When the light does go, the jersey has a couple of reflective patches at the rear to help keep you visible, attached to the black pocket section. It all helps, especially as it's not the most stand-out colour – which, incidentally, 7Mesh has called Death Plum. Nice.
The strip of black nylon/elastane across the shoulders and the rear of both sleeves (one single piece, from sleeve end to sleeve end) is stretchier than the merino, presumably helping with fit if you've opted for a smaller size.
Although 7Mesh is a Canadian company, the Ashlu jersey is made in China. The quality is very good – some flatlock seams, some overstitched, all holding together well after plenty of wearing and washing – but I'd like a zip garage because the top of the zip can irritate your neck, whether it's done up or not. Even the £35 Van Rysel jersey has a zip garage.
There's also some slight curling of one sleeve end, where the fabric just doesn't sit properly (not the one below – there's a close-up in the gallery of photos up top). The sleeve design is unusual – they're not separate from the front of the jersey, it's all the same piece of fabric, with no seams going over the shoulders. The sleeve 'sections' are then angled, and the ends are cut on the bias. Maybe if it was a tighter fit around my arms it wouldn't happen, and it's only one sleeve so maybe just an anomaly with this particular top. Still, if I was spending £110 on a jersey I'd like it to be close to perfection.
That price puts it up with the likes of Rapha's Classic II, which has exactly the same rrp. The Rapha does come in three colour options, though, and has that all-important (to me) zip garage...
Overall, I'd say the Ashlu is a really nice jersey for long day rides or multi-day touring. It's great for commuting – if a bit of an expensive choice – and the relaxed fit/look makes it ideal for more casual rides to a cafe/pub/picnic.
High quality, classy merino mix top, great for long days in the saddle
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road.cc test report
Make and model: 7Mesh Women's Ashlu Jersey
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
7Mesh says, "From fat tires and fenders to clinchers and cantilever brakes, Ashlu is our 'anything goes' Merino wool cycling jersey, made for roads, roaming and pretty much everything in-between.
"Tailored from exceptionally fine mulesing-free Merino wool and nylon knit fabric, Ashlu delivers the thermo-regulation and anti-bacterial properties that make this natural fibre so popular, with the strength and durability of a non-wool jersey.
"Trimmed with a smooth-running full-length zipper, Ashlu offers generous stow space thanks to three rear jersey pockets, and dual, zippered side pockets set out in a semi-static design to reduce sag.
"Rear-facing reflective accents provide a welcome touch of low light visibility if the sun descends faster than you do."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
89% Merino 11% Nylon Knit
78% Nylon, 22% Elastane 4-way Stretch Woven
#3 Coil Front Zip
Two zippered side pockets
Three rear pockets
Semi-static knit construction to reduce pocket sag
Stretch woven panels for increased stretch and support
Full-length front zipper
Some unusual features – such as the sleeve design/construction – and the additional stretchy strip across the back/sleeves. No zip garage though.
Early days, but all looking good.
It's quite long in the body – a definite plus for some, maybe not for everyone.
I'm a bit of a mix between M and L on 7Mesh's sizing guide. I like the relaxed fit, but could easily have gone down a size.
It's a nice weight for a wide range of temperatures, suiting most days of a UK spring, summer and autumn.
Relaxed fit is comfortable, fabric is soft, but there's a little irritation at the neck, whether the zip is done up or not; could do with a zip garage.
Expensive, but on a par with others such as Rapha's Classic Jersey II, also £110.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy – 30-degree wash with other sports kit. No shrinkage or ill-effects.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well – warm, comfortable, great storage, nice and long for coverage at the rear.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I really like merino tops, for the slightly more relaxed riding that I mostly do. Also, so much storage.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No zip garage, so can get slight irritation round the neck. Also, the colour. Well, not the colour, the name of the colour: Death Plum. Nice.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
As pricey as Rapha's Classic II.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If I could afford it, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's hard to score this lower than an 8, even though it is expensive. It's a very good jersey, and you're paying for the high welfare merino fabric and general high quality. It could really do with a zip garage though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
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: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined road.cc in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.