We’re all familiar with internet shopping. There’s nothing about buying some cycling kit online that is going to cause any great surprise. Shop around, choose a website, ponder your kit choices – being sure to avoid any glaring cycling fashion faux pas – enter your card details, and off you go.
Except with Australian brand Eleven Velo, and their custom kit designer, there’s an added extra step in all this. I logged on half-expecting a clunky, gimmicky, unsatisfying process that would produce for me a piece of kit that I’d had some small part in customising.
But I was wrong.
The kit design tool is user friendly and engaging, and the end product is far better than I was expecting. You can also go on there and have a play with no obligation to buy.
After a good couple of hours messing around with colour schemes and patterns I decided to get focussed, and settled on a French ‘Tricolore’ inspired design – without restricting myself to some kind of theme I might still be there now, fiddling and playing.
My chosen design was navy blue, with red and white sleeve stripes; simple, classic, and understated.
With the merino content I was expecting something resembling Sportwool, which sacrifices some of the merino softness for a more durable synthetic content. What you actually get is a jersey made from beautifully soft, fine material that is a joy to wear.
I’m a merino fan, and so take little convincing with this kind of thing. The beauty of good merino wool is that it traps your body heat when there’s a slight chill in the air, but breathes to allow heat and moisture to escape in all but the warmest conditions.
I was really pleased with the quality and the feel against the skin.
The style I went for was ‘super domestique’ which is described as being suitable for racing or training. I’m usual a pretty standard size large, and the 40inch chest was just right – not skin tight, but with a touch of looseness and no more.
The sleeves and the body of the jersey have a nice length to them, the full-length zip feels sturdy and functional, and the collar works nicely; it zips up comfortably, or it hangs slightly open without flapping around unduly. The style, of course, is down to you, and I found the different patches of colour to be well manufactured and put together. In addition, the Eleven Velo logo on the rear is stylish and discreet.
It’s worth pointing out that the three rear pockets perhaps lack a little bit of security, being un-elasticated around the entrance – although style wise, elastic would probably spoil things a bit
They can cope with a gilet, a pump, and a couple of gels, but they are fairly loose and you wouldn’t want to risk carrying too much more than that. Having said that, for many rides for most of us, that kind of carrying capacity will work fine, and this jersey is more of a stylish favourite than an every-day workhorse piece of kit.
The other thing to mention is that, in common with other merino jerseys I’ve tried, I found it couldn’t really cope with genuinely hot temperatures. On one occasion I tested it in temperatures of around thirty degrees – just to be thorough – and I found myself overheating and bathed in sweat. I have to qualify this by saying the ‘super domestique’ is not designed with very hot weather in mind, and for the vast majority of short sleeved rides here in the UK it would cope well.
All told this is a really nice, stylish, good quality jersey to add to your wardrobe, with the added bonus that you can design it to match your other kit, your bike, your shoes, your hair colour, or the wallpaper in your living room if you prefer.
It’s worth mentioning the price, too.
In the merino jersey market kit at £90 and upwards is par for the course. At around £75 (depending on exchange rates), the ‘super domestique’ is a lovely thing for the money.