The Bike List

Howies Ladies Slipstream Jersey £80

Tested by Claire Maxted, tester for The Bike List

I had to wait until that fantastically warm July we had this year (2010) was over before I could test out this cycle top from Howies made from 100% Zque accredited Merino wool. Hang on a minute, what's Zque? This endorsement is given to the highest quality Merino wool farmers who make sure their sheep are healthy and well cared for, you know, good food, stylish shearing and relaxing trips to the sheep dip spa. So wearing this, you know you are doing a little bit more for animal welfare, but how does this baa-friendly top perform?

Howies Slipstream Jersey SideAlthough the flat seamed fabric is stretchy, it isn't as tightly figure hugging as traditionally sleek cycle jerseys. It has a long cut with a slight drop tail and unusually for a cycle top, doesn't have rubber grippers at the hem to encourage it to stay put. This makes for a looser, more casual feel and look, which is great if you're not a fan of looking like you've just taken a scenic detour from the Tour de France but may not work for more serious cyclists making every aerodynamic second count. The half zip is great for venting, the snug collar provides extra warmth if you flip it up round your neck, but there is no flap of fabric to house the zip, which would be a nice touch for extra comfort when fully zipped up.

Merino wool excels at wicking sweat away from your body, but even so, this relatively thick top is definitely too hot for high summer. However, now August is giving way to autumn, the Slipstream Jersey is coming into its own. It is very comfy, warm, wicks sweat quickly and very importantly, does not smell. I defy you to Howies Slipstream Jersey Zipmake this top pong in the same way a synthetic top will do after one hard ride. For this reason it's a good jersey or baselayer for commuting in all cooler seasons, but be aware that it doesn't have any reflective piping for extra protection from cars as the nights draw in.

There are two large rear pockets, low down for easy access. Unfortunately these tend to sag with heavier items like phones and multiple energy bars. I am also slightly wary of putting any thing of value in them for fear it will bounce out. A light zip, Velcro or elastic would easily solve this. Being super comfy, anti-smelling Merino wool, it is a good choice for cooler rides, but it does slightly bother me that you pay £80 for this and simple, small cycle-specific design features like a comfy zip housing and the pocket security have not been thought of. For this price you should not need to sew on extra bits to make it more cycling friendly, but if you want a fashionable, nice-looking cycling top then go for it.

Find out more & buy from www.howies.co.uk

Howies says:

A slim fit half-zip cycle jersey with shaped armholes and panels for movement. Slight drop tail with pockets at the back. Made from 100% Zque accredited Merino.

  • 100% Merino wool
  • Machine wash
  • Made in Fiji

 Sizes available: 8,10,12,14,16 - Regular fit

At a glance

Verdict A very warm, comfy, loose-fitting, sheep-friendly 100% Merino wool cycle top great for casual riders in cooler weather but no reflective trim, no zip housing and the rear pockets can sag and lack security so it is more of a fashion item than dedicated cycle top
Value
Performance