Ashmei was founded by sportswear designer Stuart Brooke who has designed kit for the likes of Rapha and Vulpine. Cutting their teeth in the run market, Ashmei has been producing high-end kit for runners for a few years now, however they’re now putting their talents to cycling. We set Ben the task of reviewing the softshell jacket – it’s a hard life eh? Here’s what he thought.
Ashmei design all their clothing around key merino fabrics, mixing in high tech, manmade materials for critical weather proofing. Merino wool is a bit of a magic material when it comes to cycling, and well any exercise as it regulates heat well, wicks sweat, keeps you warm when you’re wet, and won’t start to smell.
It started with a bike show
We first met the Ashmei team at the London Cycle Show 2015, where we were given a look at the full line. As you’d expect, it all looked pretty spot on. The high-end cycle clothing market that was once ruled by Assos has had increasing competition in recent years, and we were keen to see how this stands up against the best.Gallery – the test:
Now I think it’s important to set the scene here, as I don’t generally like red. I actually don’t own anything that is red and definitely wouldn’t choose it for a new piece of kit. This is why my first impression stood out to me, as I immediately loved it. I really can’t put my finger on it, but it oozes quality and style, and the fact I love it and don’t like red speaks volumes.
The materials are clearly high in quality, and the finish and detailing are first class. It actually reminds me of an Assos HaBu in terms of quality, and that’s no bad thing. As for the colour I actually really like it now, and aesthetics are as good as anything on the market, with an offset front zip and wide striped detailing on the chest and rear.
Trying the jacket on and the fit is spot on for me, with a little more length in the arms than some. Fit is always a complicated one, particularly for men, but I’d generally say this is comparable with any race fit clothing, if not a litle more generous, but only marginally. Also, because the materials are so stretchy there is probably a bit more room for error when choosing a size.
On The Road
I was determined to put this trough it’s paces in a range of conditions. When a jacket/jersey costs £210, you want it to do pretty much everything bar bringing you a cup of tea in the morning. The first ride I took it out was 2-5°c and dry. I was a little skeptical due to the thin windproof chest panel that I would get away with just a base layer so I doubled up. Big mistake, maybe if I was on a slow pootle this would have been fine, but I cooked.
Thereafter in anything from 1-9°c it was strictly one base layer only which regulated heat pretty well. Interestingly just prior to writing this over the hot 16°c Easter weekend I didn’t have any warm weather kit with me, so I used this jacket with no base layer and it did itself proud. All ventilation was open and I was warm, but it wasn’t unpleasant.
The way the jacket is constructed see’s the rear made from a merino wool blend and the chest and arms from a stretchy wind and waterproof material. Ashmei admittedly themselves on Rapha style wise, and Assos for performance which is evident. It has an offset zip so as not to rub your chin, plenty of ventilation and some good sized pockets with a zip pocket big enough for my iPhone 6 and a dedicated pump pocket. No centre pocket does mean you have to carry all your bits in the side pockets, and for me this was a bit of a pain as I like to keep any weight very central in the jacket.
Room for improvement?
One thing that did occur from loading the side pockets, was that one of the seams gave way. This wasn’t an issue for me, as it’s only a finishing seam and the structural seam under it was solid as a rock. Added to this, Ashmei offer a free repairs service like some of the other high-end clothing manufacturers so its not really a problem just a slight inconvenience. One other little niggle is that the ventilation flaps at the rear flap about a bit. This being said its a small price to pay for a jacket that performs better than anything I have ever tried.
It’s hard to fault this jacket, and it’ll be my go to for the next few winters come rain or shine (and snow but we try to avoid that stuff on two wheels). The style is first rate and the materials are as good as I have ever seen.