Frankly are convinced that their Neobi fabric is "set to change the performance industry forever", according to their website. It certainly has impressive wicking qualities and in conjunction with a jersey of softshell jacket moves a lot of moisture away from your body quickly and efficiently. In more restrictive conditions, though, it tends to suck some of that moisture back in, and when it does it's fairly slow to dry.
Neobi is a similar concept to Sportwool, in that the Merino sits next to the skin with an outer layer above. In sportwool that's Polyester, here it's cotton; the mix is 65% cotton, 35% wool and the 200g weight fabric is at the heavy end of the base layer spectrum.
Putting it on for the first time the Frankly feels very comfortable and nice and snug. The neck is quite large; there's a half-zip version with a high collar available too if that's what you prefer. The flat seams don't rub and the whole top feels well made.
The Frankly website talks a lot about commuting, and the first thing i did was chucked a soft shell on, donned a rucksack and rode the five miles home. The last 2 miles is up a pretty big hill and I'm always, erm, glowing by the time I reach the top. It didn't help that I got into a race on the steep bit. Which I lost. The wicking qualities of the Neobi fabric are excellent. Take off the softshell and you can feel the dampness on the outside of the base layer from the exertion, but the inside was dry.
Well, almost dry. Left free to do its work the wicking of the Frankly base layer is up there with the best, but restrict the airflow - under a rucksack, for example, or a heavy winter hardshell jacket - and the wicked sweat starts to soak back into the fabric after a while and the fabric, being mostly cotton, is pretty absorbent. Frankly suggest that outdoorsy types could "limit the weight for their backpacks on a hiking trip so they can sleep and hike in their Frankly garment". Assuming you're hiking at a decent lick, and carrying a rucksack that makes your back sweat, you're not really going to want to sleep in your base layer. It's fine while you're moving but you start to feel the chill a bit when you stop.
I've worn it a few days on the trot and I can confirm that it's pretty odour neutral, about the same as a full Merino base layer. If you're the kind of person that mostly rides in breathable outer layers (softshells and jerseys) then this baselayer is well worth a look; The wicking qualities are up there with the best. If you favour hardshell jackets, or you wear a rucksack, or you're just really sweaty then you'll probably find that the fabric starts to get wet after exerted efforts, and you'd probably be better off with a synthetic baselayer that'll dry much more quickly. As an all-round performer it gets a 7, but if your riding attire is suited to the fabric then it's worth an 8.
Comfy and well made baselayer that's best in conjunction with a softshell jacket
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Frankly Men's Basic Crew Tee
Size tested: Khaki - L
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?
People want natural garments that perform. Garments that are comfortable, wicking, renewable, quite cool, durable, biodegradable, and that minimise odor.
Garments they can wear on the cycle commute, and keep on wearing through a day at work. Or climb a mountain and back down again. Or limit the weight for their backpacks on a hiking trip so they can sleep and hike in their Frankly garment.
Garments that work hard for the lives they live.
Frankly is not a brand that creates landfill or uses depleting resources. In fact, we like to say that Frankly grows old gracefully with you and gets better with age.
Neither is it about superheroes, muscle performance or high-tech chemical innovation.
It is about a refreshing and simplified way of looking at products that need to perform. Long term.
It is about getting back to basics.
And it is about having fun.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Neobi is a new fabric based on a combination of merino and cotton fibres. Soft, fine merino sits next to the skin and organic cotton forms the outer layer making it comfortable against the skin and more durable on the outer than regular merino garments making this product excellent for sports such as climbing due to this other benefit.
Very nicely made, flat seams and good attention to detail
Wicks really well, can get clogged under heavier layers
No issues during testing, survived a few machine washes with no deterioration. Frankly suggest it'll give out a bit in time and become baggier, which it has a bit.
About right for spring/autumn
Very comfy dry, and pretty comfy when it does get wet, a bit chilly when you stop
It's not super-expensive but there's full Merino baselayers out there for quite a bit less
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well in the right conditions
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nicely made, comfy when dry
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Absorbent in the wrong conditions, slow to dry
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes if they were the right sort of rider
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.