I was lucky enough recently to test a piece of serious luxury.
As purveyors of what they describe as the ‘world’s finest knitwear’, John Smedley are releasing their cycling friendly range of clothing for when you need something smart and stylish which will work on a casual ride, a commute, or off the bike.
Established in 1784, John Smedley boast the oldest manufacturing factory in the world, located in Matlock in Derbyshire, and remain a family run business. They were the creators of the original ‘Long Johns’, a kind of long legged thermal underwear, and are clearly proud of their heritage and ‘made in Britain’ label.
With their ‘cycling basics’ line they use their expertise with merino wool to produce garments which they describe as “the perfect crossover wear for commuters…a collection of pullovers and cardigans that will effortlessly complement your cycling style, while the impressive wicking properties of the Merino wool will take you comfortably from bike to boardroom.”
We all know how well cycling and merino wool go together; it breathes, it wicks, it keeps it’s shape, and it miraculously refuses to hold on to any sweaty odour you might produce. There is room for all manner of technical and state-of-the-art fabrics in our favourite sport, but merino wool has its own special place.
And if you want to splash out a beautiful and luxurious merino jersey to wear on a casual ride, or off the bike, you might as well get it from a place which supplies fine knitwear to HRH Queen Elizabeth II by Royal Appointment (no less).
Let’s be clear – the ‘Hugh’ jersey that I tried is not a jersey to wear on a five hour Sunday club run, or when you want to nail that Strava KOM that some local mystery man recently took from you, or on a winter evening battering around the country lanes. This is a luxury piece of knitwear cut to cycling friendly proportions, and with a nod to retro cycling style.
The quality – as you would expect at this price point – is absolutely superb; the cut is flattering, the detail is spot on, the wool is beautifully smooth to the touch, and the seams and collars exhibit what is clearly some top quality craftsmanship.
No corners have been cut here.
It works on the bike because of the fit, which hugs the body and has all the stretch and give that you need in the riding position. It also has the classic high-zipped collar of cycling legend. If you need to be able to park up your bike somewhere and immediately not look like and feel like a sweaty cyclist, then this would do that job with ease.
As I’ve mentioned, good quality merino wool really is brilliant stuff.
Without getting too graphic, you really can work up a proper sweat and this jersey will absorb it away from the skin and mysteriously dispose of it for you. Although I make a point of washing my clothes at an entirely civilised frequency I have (for the purposes of research, you understand…) worn a merino cycling jersey for three or four consecutive days on the bike without washing before now.
And yet it doesn’t smell. Even left to stew on the bedroom floor for a couple of days. I’m not exactly sure how, but that’s the truth of it.
Let me point out that should you buy one of these John Smedley jerseys I’m not recommending that you treat it in such shoddy fashion. This is top notch stuff to be looked after and cared for. I’m just saying you could do that and it’d be fine.
From bedroom floor, to bike, to boardroom.
If you had to.