Since adventure cycling became all trendy, clothing brands have been scrambling to grab a chunk of the market by releasing their take on the ‘ultimate’ adventure range. Quite what earns a range the ‘adventure’ tag is up for debate, but our take on it is this: it must be light, durable and offer more than the standard issue 3 rear pockets. A material that doesn’t get stinky when used for multiple days is a bonus if you want others to ride with you. Ashlu from 7Mesh ticks all these boxes.
7Mesh Ashlu Merino Jersey
The 7Mesh Ashlu jersey is a classic example of an ‘adventure specific’ garment. The fact that it has been a ‘current model’ for some years now, simply demonstrates the 7Mesh philosophy to design clothes that they want to wear. The Squamish team clearly love a bit of gravel adventure.
7Mesh have developed a reputation for (quietly) blazing their own trail. Quite simply, they make cycle kit that works. Being ‘on trend’ is usually more coincidence than design.
The 7Mesh Ashlu is a good example of their products. Made from an ultrafine 17.5 micron Merino wool and nylon knit fabric, the Ashlu feels incredibly soft to the touch. It is more durable than most wool jerseys however, thanks to the nylon mix.
One of the best known benefits of Merino wool is its natural anti-bacterial properties which make it such a good choice for long distance riding. It is also pretty good at wicking away moisture. I’ve given it some multiday use, washing it in the sink the evening after a ride and leaving it to dry overnight. No pongy smells or complaints from ride buddies to report.
Like all 7Mesh clothing, it is designed to fit best when you are sitting on a bike. Otherwise it can feel a little odd,. A bit tight across the chest and under the arms in particular. As soon as you adopt the riding position though, it fits like a glove. Clever eh?
The Goldilocks Fit
The cut of the 7Mesh Ashlu is neither racer tight nor tourer baggy. I think of it as the Goldilocks fit.
This medium example weighs 174g and fits me nicely( 5’10” and 38” chest). It is a good length too. We have noticed that a lot of jerseys are coming up short this year. Some of them are so short they look more like crop tops than full length garments.
Sizes are available from XS to XXL.
You will notice the absence of silicone grippers around the sleeves. I wondered whether this would result in them riding up or flapping, but I need not have worried. They were perfectly behaved!
The dropped tail features silicone tabs which grip perfectly adequately.
7Mesh obsess about zips and predictably, the full length zip on the Ashlu is nice and easy to use. I could adjust the zip on the move without resorting to clumsy fumbling or gripping the collar with my teeth. The string toggle on the zip might be a little low-rent, but it is easy to grab even in full fingered gloves. And as the Squamish team pointed out in defence of the string toggle, they’re ultra compressible. So you can bundle the Ashlu up into a ball and stash it easily in a bikepacking bag or similar.
Colour options are muted rather than flamboyant. There is black, grey (as tested), slightly darker grey and then a dark blue. But the best shade is a dark purple called… Death Plum. Sounds like a parody thrash metal band!
What makes a great adventure jersey?
Other than being made of breathable, natural fibres, storage is the name of the game. Unsurprisingly, the 7Mesh Ashlu does pretty well in the pocket stakes too.
Three large rear pockets in the usual roadie format are accompanied by a pair of zipped side pockets.
Merino jerseys and loaded pockets do not generally go well together. Put much more than a spare tube in your pockets and the jersey will droop. It can even end up lower than your saddle, which is far from ideal. So how do you combine the best properties of Merino wool and avoid the less desirable ones?
7Mesh have successfully overcome this conundrum by constructing the entire storage area from a much more stretch-resistant nylon. This solution has proved totally effective, even when crammed with junk.
Large reflective details are positioned low on the sides of the jersey, and that is it. Their angle means they face both to the side and to the rear. Nothing faces to the front or straight back. Side facing reflectivity is often lacking on cyclists, so we can give 7Mesh some extra kudos for thinking that one through as it is not something we have seen before.
As with all the 7Mesh kit I have used, the Ashlu has proved to be exceptionally durable. It still looks as good as new despite five months of constant use. It has endured countless cold, muddy rides, stifling hot and sweaty days plus an unimaginable number of washing machine spins. This is the real measure of a top class garment.
For £110, the 7Mesh Ashlu is a premium jersey. The fit is fantastic, it uses top quality materials and has some well thought out storage options. All of this and it still undercuts a number of its prime competitors on price. In a closet awash with lycra, it’s the Ashlu I always reach for first when planning my kit for a cycle trip away.
Last modified: 9th June 2019