The ashmei Men's Cycle Croix De Fer Jersey uses a mixture of carbon and merino to create what is a very breathable and high wicking piece of clothing. The whole garment is well cut, has loads of neat details and impressive performance – exactly what you want from a £128 jersey.
The Croix De Fer is an ascent of 22.7km with an average gradient of 7% that has featured in the Tour de France many times. Viewed from the summit is an iron cross, which is what this ashmei jersey pays homage to with the cross detailing along the chest and running down the back.
Thanks to the material blend used in the jersey, even a very hot ascent to the iron cross wouldn't see you getting to the top as a sweaty mess. The whole time I was wearing the ashmei I felt cool, and even though the jersey has a performance fit the fabric never feels clingy.
The material is pretty thin, as you can see from the pictures, and even on the hot days in April when the temperature was well into the mid-20s I could feel the breeze blowing through. It is also rated to UPF 50+ for when the sun is beating down. Those cross logos are also reflective as well, another neat little addition.
It's not just the thinness of the fabric that helps though, it is also the construction.
Merino wool has long been touted as a bit of a wonder material, keeping you warm when it's cold and vice versa. Also it has the added benefit of not getting smelly thanks to antibacterial properties.
Some brands chuck a little bit of wool in – 10 to 15 per cent, for instance – just so that they can call it a merino jersey, but ashmei has gone for 65 per cent, with the rest coming from a technical polyester called 37.5. This has two types of particles embedded in the fibres: a mineral made from volcanic sand and activated carbon derived from coconut shells.
You can read the full details here, but basically it is said to react to humidity. When you are hot the active particles embedded in the material use your body's energy to remove moisture and cool you down, and if you are cold, they retain the body's energy to warm you up. It's called 37.5 because it designed to keep your core at the ideal 37.5°C temperature and 37.5% humidity.
Now, I'm no fabric expert so I'm not going to try to quantify all of that, but I will say this: the fabric is hugely breathable and keeps you dry.
Heading off for my daily exercise early in the morning when it was still chilly, I had a windproof jacket on over the ashmei and when hitting a long climb I did start to get hot. Removing the jacket, the jersey was damp around the shoulders and upper back, but even while continuing to climb it dried out very quickly.
The fabric feels soft against the skin too.
When it comes to the cut, the Croix De Fer has a performance shape to it that works right when stretched out on the bike. The hem is cut high at the front, reducing bunching and the chance of the zip rubbing on your bib shorts while you ride, while the rear is dropped to give good lower back coverage when in the saddle.
The full-length front zip has a metal pull with ashmei branding which is easy to grab should you need to lower the zip when riding. When fully up it is enclosed behind a piece of fabric to stop any neck irritation. It also has a strip of fabric running behind it to stop any contact between metal and skin if you aren't wearing a baselayer.
You get four pockets at the rear: three in a horizontal traditional layout and on the outside of the right one there is a zipped valuables pocket, something I always like to see.
The pockets aren't the largest I have ever used, and the middle one especially is quite narrow to get your hand into when on the bike. It does have a clever little loop inside to hold your mini pump in position though.
Being quite a lightweight material it isn't that taut and therefore not that supportive when carrying lots of heavy kit, like a large phone and a multi-tool plus inner tubes, for example. It's not that the stuff isn't going to remain in there, it's just that there is a bit of bounce as you go over bumps.
The Croix De Fer jersey costs £128, which does put up there with some of the higher end tops we've tested, though it's nowhere near the most expensive.
For your money you are getting very good performance and the quality is top notch. The main seams are all flat and wide, so there is nothing to irritate your skin, and they are very neat and tidy too, with just they odd stray thread end here and there.
Another jersey that performs in a similar way to the ashmei is the PEdAL ED Odyssey. It's slightly different in its design as it is aimed at adventure riding, but I was very impressed with the fabric's breathability and softness against the skin, something it shares with the Croix De Fer. It's £125, so just a few quid less than the ashmei.
If merino is your main buying priority, there is the 7Mesh Ashlu jersey; Tass tested the women's version and was, on the whole, impressed. The men's version is priced at £130, although it does get a higher amount of merino than the ashmei at 89 per cent, and you get five pockets in total.
Overall, I was very impressed with the way that the Croix De Fer jersey deals with the differing temperatures. Because of that and the softness of the fabric, it is a very comfortable jersey to wear for long or short periods in the saddle, all backed up with excellent quality.
Excellent performance in a range of temperatures and a very comfortable jersey to wear
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road.cc test report
Make and model: ashmei Men's Cycle Croix De Fer Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
ashmei says, "Fit for any pro rider, the high-performance fabric is second to none in terms of regulating body temperature. On a practical front, three rear storage pockets plus a zipped security pocket provide ample storage needs. The Jersey boasts superfine Merino wool as it is peerless in performance terms. The addition of carbon to the blend allows the fabric to wick moisture 10x faster than regular Merino and helps it dry twice as fast."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Highly breathable, wind-resistant fabric
Croix De Fer icon graphic reflective chest & rear stripe print
Reflective hem binding with silicon gripper
Three rear stuff pockets with pump loop
Alcantara zip guard
Blended MERINO + CARBON with 37.5® Technology fabric
Super lightweight, high performance – 167g
YKK® Reverse Coil #3 Zipper with enlarged zip pull
Sun protection of UPF 50+
65% Merino Wool, 35% 37.5® Polyester
Cool wash at 30C
Wash dark colours separately
Do not use fabric softeners
Do not tumble dry
It is cut like a performance jersey but the fabric has quite a bit of give so you don't need to be racer thin to look good in it.
Sizes up as stated on ashmei's size guide.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
ashmei gives washing instructions of 30 degrees and no fabric conditioner or tumble drying. I stuck to this and had no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This is a very good jersey for all types of riding, helped by the fact it is highly technical but quite classic in looks.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The material – it delivers everything I want.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Some sag from loaded pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a similar price to the men's 7mesh Ashlu and PEdAL ED Odyssey jerseys.
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
An all-round great jersey. The fabric certainly seems to deliver on the claims, and the comfort, cut and quality go a long way to justifying its price tag.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!