California-based Swobo launched its unique line of wool clothing in 1992, and has broken new ground with a Merino/synthetic mix for 2010 with its US$110 Merino 753 jersey.
“The 753 material came to be because we were looking for a lightweight Merino fabric that performed beyond anything in a similar jersey category,” Swobo founder and president Tim Parr told BikeRadar. “Our traditional Merino tops serve their own purpose, but it’s a completely different customer than the mass marketed polyester jersey crowd, which is about 99 percent of the jerseys out there.
“Poly comes with about 100 different branded names, but come the end of the day, it’s just polyester,” he explained. “We know that Merino is a superior material, but how do you deliver the benefits of Merino to people who are new to the sport or simply don’t understand it? So it sent our partners in New Zealand to the drawing board…”
Parr said that ultra-light Merino is a great fabric for baselayers, but wouldn’t recommend it for a jersey application. The lightweight silk-like fabrics just are not intended for pocketing, he added, so it limits their application to baselayers.
Swobo’s 753 solves these issues by combining the best of all worlds. The next-to- skin layer is 100 percent New Zealand High Grade Merino, which acts as an insulation layer that transports sweat better than any fiber available. This layer also provides a high level of comfort next to skin.
“The second , or outer layer, does a great job of repelling wind and moisture to maintain a consistent core temperature of the user,” Parr said. “This outer layer also gives the final product a level of durability so we can design pockets and other features.”
The end result is a long sleeve Merino jersey that is the weight of a longsleeve polyester jersey (our large sample weighs 7.2oz/204g), but with all the high end technical benefits of Merino, including a high level of comfort.
“We’ve never ridden in anything like it; it’s pretty cool stuff,” he added. The Merino 753 garment is made in Fiji, ‘ridden around the world’, according to the label.
According to Swobo, you care for these just like you would any other jersey you own: machine wash and tumble dry on low heat.
Available in silver with red zipper and accent stitching, or pewter and orange accent stitching (pictured), in sizes S, M, L, XL and XXL.