With its collarless button neck and ribbed fabric this new merino mix top has an old-timer redneck vibe but the price is very much Beverly Hillbilly considering its fairly simple design, especially compared to other best mountain bike jerseys out there. The fabric might make some people itchy too.
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Design and specifications
7Mesh always goes deep thought even in its simple seeming designs. While the front of the Desperado is a cowled T-shirt cut over the sleeves, the back scoops into an almost race back design with a separate yoke at the neck. It’s a generous length at the doubled back hem and the sleeves are really long too, with a double seam creating a raised external rib just above the cuff. The 47 percent merino wool mix is designed to be super versatile in thermal terms as it cools well but stays warmer while wet. It’s a distinctive micro-ribbed weave too, but it’s very thin/light in weight and the 53 percent polyester element isn’t listed as being recycled or otherwise eco in any way.
The round neck and four button ‘cowboy/old timer' thermal vest opening which presumably gives the Desperado its name isn’t the most performance optimized but it gives the jersey serious hipster points. Branding is limited to just a single small embroidered ‘7Mesh’ on the left sleeve and an embroidered logo on the nape of the neck. There are no pockets or reflective details anywhere which makes the price seem very high. To reduce the heartbreak of trashing a new top 7Mesh does offer discretionary free repair/replacement in the first 30 days of ownership though. You also get an offer of low cost repair for the reasonable lifetime of the garment which helps make it look more of an investment.
The clever shoulder cut and very stretchy fabric gives the Desperado a great fit. There’s plenty of length in hem and sleeves to stop draughts and keep it usable if it shrinks over time. The open neck definitely keeps it colder than it would be with a higher neck though. While you can undo it and do it back up on the bike if you’re patient and dextrous, the button fastening is definitely much less practical than a zip or poppers.
Opinions on the fabric varied between testers too. Personally I thought it felt great as I’m used to old ‘hairy Mary’ shirts, but more sensitive skins found it itchy at first. It does calm down after a few washes but like all wicking materials, keep fabric conditioner away from it. While it adds to the high warmth to weight ratio, the high percentage of merino means it also holds onto water a lot longer than less woolly or fully synthetic fabric. That translates into a jersey that’s still damp in the morning after rain or just a sweaty climb the day before.
If you’re after a ‘wild west’ look with a premium feel and subtle detailing the Desperado will definitely appeal. It’s a great example of just how versatile a mixed merino top can be in terms of warmth and comfort for lower intensity riding. The button neck is definitely fashion over function though and you can get lightweight merino mix base layers from other brands for half the price if you shop around.
Tech Specs: 7 Mesh Desperado long sleeve top
- Price: $90 / £85 / €90
- Sizes: XS-XXL
- Options: Port (tested), Black