If you’re a regular reader of CycleTechReview you’ll know I’m a fan of Isadore clothing and you’ll also know about the background of the company. If that’s the case skip the next paragraph and get straight into the review of the Isadore Merino base layer and jersey…
Aah, you’re still here. In that case I’d better tell you about Isadore. Based in Slovakia it was established by Martin and Peter Velits. Twin brothers and pro cyclists who among other achievements have both competed in, and finished, the Tour de France. It’s therefore safe to say that these guys know a thing or two about designing quality cycling kit.
Now that temperatures are struggling to get in to double figures I’m back to wearing a thermal base layer for early morning rides and to be honest most of the ones in my wardrobe have seen better days. Fortunate then that Isadore have a line of Merino wool base layers. Figuring that if I’m going to wear a base layer to keep warm I went for the long sleeved option.
For those of you unfamiliar with Merino wool it comes from a breed of sheep of the same name and is claimed to be the softest and finest wool available. I just know it happens to make rather lovely cycling tops. When the weather gets cold my Merino tops keep me warm and when I pedal hard enough to work up a sweat, it wicks well too.
For its long sleeve base, Isadore uses 140g/m Merino wool fabric and cuts the garment with a great deal of thought as to the fit a cyclist needs. It’s short at the front, long in the back, and with wonderfully long sleeves. Normally, I find most sleeves, and not just cycling kit, too short. Not this time and there’s the added bonus that Isadore has made its sleeves even longer than necessary, even for a cycling top, to allow for thumb holes at the ends. Thumbs through the holes, at first it felt a bit strange having a hem running between my thumb and forefinger and across my palm, but I soon forgot about it. Well I say forgot, but that’s not really true as I did notice the lack of drafts around my wrists. All good then.
This attention to detail is a hallmark of Isadore’s designs. At times I find myself wondering about some of the features on the company’s clothing, then there’s a light bulb moment and it suddenly makes complete sense; I find myself wondering why everyone doesn’t do it the same way… A case in point is the washing instructions, which are printed on the outside of the base layer. What’s wrong with a regular label at the back of the neck just like everyone else? That’ll be the label that I always cut out after the first ride because it annoys me so much.
However, there are a couple of small tags on the top, and those who are familiar with Isadore’s tops will know why they’re there; for those who don’t, if you wear earphone while riding you can use the tags to thread the wire through and keep it out the way. It’s one of those ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ features that makes me such a fan of Isadore kit.
Now that I’ve got my base layer sorted I can move on to a suitable jersey… You can see where this is going can’t you?
The package I received from Isadore included one of the company’s olive green, long sleeve Merino wool jerseys. Isadore doesn’t use the neat Merino of the base layer. Instead the jersey is made from a Merino bi-component material, which combines the wool on the inside with an external synthetic layer. The thinking behind this is that you get the comfort of the wool next to your skin with extra wicking properties of the outside layer.
My previous experience with an Isadore Asymmetric jersey, which I reviewed for CycleTechReview here, means that I know just how well this set-up works. And just like that jersey, this one has a host of really thoughtful features. As you would expect there are the usual three pockets across the back of the jersey with a strip of Scotchlite on the left pocket, which makes sense when you consider the jersey’s designer rides on the right-side of the road.
Over on the right side of the jersey, behind the open pocket there’s zippered pocket that has a button hole inside it so you can keep your mobile or mp3 player secure in there and run the cable for the headphone up the inside of the jersey. To help you do that there’s a small fabric tab on the inside of seam at the back of the jersey, too.
Suggesting a certain quirkiness in the jersey’s design there’s an additional pocket on the front of the jersey. Imagine taking the breast pocket of a regular shirt and placing it on the inside; that’s just what Isadore has done here. Okay, I’ll admit I thought it was a bit frivolous at first, but its location stops anything in it from falling out when you’re bent over. I’ve found myself keeping some change in it for the tea stop when I’m out on a ride. It’s just so much easier to get to than reaching around and trying to get money out of the zippered pocket on the back.
Even quirkier are the patches on the elbows of the jersey; think of a geography teacher’s jacket and you’ll get the idea. I have no idea why they’re there, but it’s the sort of detail that sets Isadore apparel apart from run of the mill cycling kit and the reason why I keep going back to order more kit more kit from Slovakia.
I’ll admit the cost is at the upper end of the market. At 115 Euros for the jersey and 60 Euros for the base layer this is Rapha or Assos money, but the attention to detail and quirky design touches are justification enough for me to keep returning to the brand.
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