Merino-centric brand Mons Royale is widely known among the skiing community, but has now branched into the mountain biking world with some super stylish and technical mountain bike jerseys. The firm has limited availability outside its New Zealand homeland, but ships worldwide.
Mons Royale was started by former pro skier Hamish Acland in 2009. The Kiwi craved a technical garment that could be worn as a base layer all day, then be suitable for heading straight to the bar in for apres drinks. At that point, there were plenty of great technical garments on the market but they were all too often lacking in the style department.
Following an injury, Acland set out on his mission to create technical merino base layers that didn’t look like something pulled out of your grandmother's closet. After plenty of success in the winter sports market – including outfitting the New Zealand Winter Olympic team with ‘wooly underwear’ – Mons has moved onto the challenge of creating stylish merino wool mountain bike jerseys. So how do they stack up?
The Mons Royale Raglan T is good looking, no doubt about it
Made from a 95% merino and 5% elastane blend, the Mons jersey fabric is super soft, and uber comfy. In fact, in this tester's experience, the three-quarter sleeved Riders Raglan T always seems to find its way to the top of the drawer, often going through the laundry before some of its poly cousins see daylight.
When you first put on the jersey it’s a little warm until you get some sweat going, and then the merino blend kicks into action, doing well to regulate body temperature. It’s definitely not suited to the hottest of hot days, but the Raglan T handled everything the hot and humid Aussie summer could throw at it. The merino mesh back panel served as an effective exhaust, even under a pack, while the relaxed fit allowed for some airflow.
The Riders Raglan T seems to slot in as a perfect weight for multiple seasons and those three-quarter sleeves help to provide a little more warmth and a bit of sun protection as needed too.
Unlike synthetic tops, the Riders Raglan T doesn’t stink and can be worn on consecutive rides without your buddies forcing you to ride at the back. That said, it’s a little bit slower drying than an equivalent poly based jersey and you can definitely tell where your riding pack has sat.
The zippered pocket us actually big enough to be useful
On the back is a zippered pocket big enough for a modern smartphone, with a headphone port for those who ride with tunes as well as a cord loop at the collar. Also hidden inside the jersey is a goggle/sunglasses wipe that came in handy on many occasions.
With a three-quarter sleeve there’s plenty of room for pads, yet the sleeves aren’t floppy and annoying as some jerseys' can be.
The fit is slim through the body but long in length with a drop tail to prevent the sun from shining where it shouldn’t. But, the best part of this jersey is that you’ll avoid the sheep flock as it doesn’t look like a mountain bike jersey at all. So much mountain bike gear is motocross inspired – and in one BikeRadar tester's opinion shouldn’t be touched with a 10ft exhaust pipe.
At first glance you’d think this is a dugout tee (think baseball), so much so that one tester was able to sneak past the bouncers at a fancy bar in Sydney’s north to meet some friends for a post-ride beverage. In fact, the bar staff only cottoned on when they noticed his muddy riding shoes.
But, and there’s always a but, for all of the style and comfort you’ll have to pay for it. The Riders Raglan T will cost you a whopping NZ$140 (Approx $110 / £65 / AU$146).
So to answer the burning question, has Mons Royale successfully made the switch from snow to dirt? We think the brand has absolutely nailed it – the Riders Raglan T is one of the most comfortable mountain bike jerseys I’ve worn, and would have received a perfect score had it not been for the price. You do indeed get what you pay for, and if you're willing to pay for what Wanaka-based Mons Royale has to offer, you’re getting one of the best.
Note: This garment sells for NZ$140 (the prices quoted above are based on currency conversions at the time of publishing). Mons Royale ships worldwide