The Triban Long-Sleeved Merino Wool Bike Touring Jersey from French sports giant Decathlon represents incredible value for money, harnessing all the qualities of the famous fine sheepswool and looking chic both on and off the bike.
Pros: The performance of merino; functional and good looking; very competitively priced
Cons: Those with longer arms might find the sleeves slightly short in the cycling position
Packing for a multi-day cycle tour focuses the mind like nothing else. The knowledge that you have to lug everything with you up all the hills forces you to think very carefully about every single item. Do you really need that pair of pants or can you ‘go commando’ in the evening? Should you wear flip-flops? Saw the handle off your toothbrush?
A single, reliable, super-versatile jersey that with some canny layering can be worn every day in all conditions takes out a lot of cycling kit-related guesswork. One that can all do that and double up as a pub jumper is priceless. The Triban merino jersey is one of those.
The simple, solid burgundy colour with subtle black trim (also available in navy blue with orange trim) disguises what is a sophisticated and feature-packed construction: the 49% merino/51% acrylic main fabric is stitched into panels separated by breathable zones down the centre of the back and under the arms. Here a mesh fabric is deployed. The quilted shoulders incorporate an extra layer of fabric for windproofing, since merino on its own is not windproof.
The photos show the locations of the reflective strips – always good to have and these ones didn’t crack or peel after the first wash.
There are the three standard pockets at the rear plus an extra side one to the left.
A large single mesh pocket covers them, providing extra carrying capacity if a rain jacket needs to be stowed on the fly.
There’s also a two-in-one zipped breast pocket that I found useful for sticking the Garmin in while juggling the rest of the luggage at the end of each day.
Based on our medium sample, the sizing is accurate. The fit is relaxed, as you’d expect for touring, but although great for standing upright with hands by your sides it doesn’t work quite as well in the cycling position, with the sleeves riding up slightly (my arms are slightly longer than the model’s in the photos) especially with a close-fitting gilet pulling them up into the armpits.
The collar has a decent height and when zipped up fully is comfortable against the neck thanks to a well placed ‘zip garage’.
Although there’s a silicone gripper at the rear, it’s not enough to stop the jersey sagging when the pockets are loaded, something that wouldn’t be an issue if the back was cut slightly shorter.
At 10 or 11°C with a summer-weight baselayer underneath, the Triban performed faultlessly. The merino traps enough heat to keep you warm for slower riding, but for potentially sweaty hill slogs heat escapes easily through the breathable fibre itself as well as through the mesh zones.
Talking of sweat, the Triban didn’t get at all whiffy in three very big days of Welsh riding. A fresh baselayer each morning – touring best practice – absorbed odours and the merino stayed impressively pong free.