This dhb Merino Roundneck base layer is very good indeed for most types of cold-weather riding.
I've been testing the short-sleeve round-neck version. Other merino options from dhb include versions with long sleeves and with long sleeves and a high, zipped neck. The vests are also available in two fabric thicknesses (M 150 and M 190, the numbers refer to the fabric's weight in grams per square metre), and in men's and women's cuts. Oh yeah, and they come in a range of colours too.
I've never worn merino stuff before. I thought that wearing wool next to the skin would be itchy, but this vest has a very fine, soft weave, and it was instantly comfortable.
Comfort is one thing, but performance is another. Would the natural wool match the insulation and wicking properties of the synthetic fabrics used for other base layers?
My first test ride was a gentle tootle on the country lanes surrounding Road.cc Towers. The merino wool efficiently wicked the moisture away from my skin, and kept my body dry and at a perfect temperature.
Next I wore it on a longer training ride. With a faster pace, plus a few serious hills, I was exerting a lot of effort. But although the vest was soaking with sweat, I didn't feel cold. The insulation and wicking properties were still working very well, and the vest was still very comfortable.
Two tests down. One to go.
The final test was highly scientific. It involved coming home and making a cup of tea, while still wearing the vest. Here I noticed a difference between wool and synthetic fabric. Wool takes longer to dry out. Within five minutes I was shivering in a cold, damp merino vest, whereas it would be longer in a synthetic vest before the chills set in.
What does this set of fascinating experiments actually mean? It means the dhb merino vest is excellent for touring, commuting or more relaxed rides. It's also great for faster rides, such as training or sportives, as long as you're not planning to stop for long.
However, if you plan to ride hard, sweat profusely, and stop several times, then the vest is not ideal. In reality, this type of riding situation probably applies more to mountain biking, so for most roadies a merino vest could be just the thing for keeping cosy this winter.
The dhb short-sleeve round-neck merino base layer retails at a penny under £31 on the Wiggle website (dhb is Wiggle's own in-house brand). At the time of writing it's discounted to £29.44, which is very good value indeed.
Very comfortable merino wool base layer that's good for winter touring or commuting, and for faster training rides as long as you don't stop for long
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Make and model: dhb Merino SS Roundneck Baselayer
Size tested: Light Grey Marl - M
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?
The Wiggle website says, "This ultra fine merino wool is comfortable and smooth next to the skin ... In warmer weather you can use [it] like a stripped down jersey ... light low bulk in this season's dark, warm charcoal ... Unlike many synthetics, wool isn't quick to smell and always feels soft and warm against the skin. As it can be used as a base layer all seams are flatlock stitched to avoid unsightly seam marks when removed."
Personally, I don't regard features such as 'this season's colour' as important in an undergarment. And, to be honest, when I come home from a training ride, I'm usually looking pretty rough, so the lack of seam-marks on my lilywhite skin isn't going to make much difference. But the claims about lack of odours, and ability to wear it as a stand-alone garment are fair enough.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Wiggle website goes onto to mention the following technical features:
* Outstanding all round thermal management
* Next to skin, slim fitting
* Flat lock seams for comfort
* Ultra fine 18.5 micron merino yarn, smooth and comfortable against skin
* Low odour
* Naturally repels water
All these claims are fair, but there is a caveat on the first one ("Outstanding all round thermal management"). Because this base layer holds water for longer than synthetic equivalents, I wouldn't recommend it for rides where you plan to ride hard, sweat profusely, and stop several times.
Construction seems good, with tidy stitching and no loose threads.
Performance is excellent for touring, commuting or more relaxed rides. It's also great for faster rides, such as training or sportives, as long as you're not planning to stop for long. But it's not a total all-rounder; if you plan to ride hard, sweat profusely, and stop several times, then it'snot ideal because it takes a long time to dry out.
We've tested some other versions of this dhb base layer elsewhere on road.cc and they stand up well to continued use and many washes.
This base layer is light in weight, further adding to its comfort.
Extremely comfortable - more like silk than wool.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes. However, I'd explain it's suitable for most types of cycling, but not all.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
In many ways, merino wool is the perfect fabric - warm, comfortable, with good wicking and insulating properties, even when wet. If it wasn't for the issue of it holding water once you've stopped, this base layer would score 9 overall.
Age: 50 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,