Before this summer, Road Holland was a brand completely unknown to me. I’m still trying to recall the circumstances where I first heard of the line. What little I do remember is that I was away from home and that I liked the jersey enough that I remarked on it to the rider who was wearing it. There are good reasons for all these details; they aren’t just random bits that obscure an otherwise easy-to-follow narrative. First is that Road Holland is a really new brand. And second is that their designs have a simple, elegant look that is worth remembering.
Then there’s third. There’s always third. Third is that in a market where everything peddled to us has inflated in retail price, often by hundreds of percent over the last 10 years, Road Holland has gone and done the unthinkable. They’ve released a premium product in terms of look, feel and construction, but minus the premium price. The jersey shown above (I’m using their photography because mine can’t seem to do it justice) is their Utrecht and while I’ll get into all the details that have me loving this garment, here’s the bit that puts this jersey beyond all reproach: It retails for $120.
The look and feel of this jersey is highly reminiscent of Rapha. There’s just no way to dance around the fact that Road Holland is going squarely after the English company’s customer with their jerseys—and yes, so far, all Road Holland offers are jerseys. The Utrecht is a spring-weight jersey, so while it’s a short-sleeve cut, it’s meant for slightly cooler temps; think 70 rather than 85. Much of that owes to the composition of the fabric, which is a polyester (61 percent)/Merino (39 percent) blend. It’s enough Merino that at the end of a really hard ride I smell like a wet dog, but am, I can assure you, far more comfortable. The eight-inch zipper may seem short, out-of-keeping even with a jersey like this, but given the material’s weight, it makes perfect sense; this isn’t a jersey meant for a day where you need a full-zip design you can throw open on a climb.
Road Holland sent me a small to wear. The cut was less aggressive than some jerseys I’ve worn lately. I’d describe it as form-following; unlike some less race-oriented pieces I’ve run across, this didn’t go bell-bottom at the hem of the jersey. It is still meant for a relatively fit cycling. My only issues with the fit of the jersey were the length and the collar. I really prefer a slightly shorter length—that hem was mighty close to my chamois and that always gives me concern about catching the jersey on the nose of the saddle as I sit down. This could easily be cut a centimeter or two shorter without losing the ability to reach the pockets. And the collar seemed to be a bit high given the weight of the material; perhaps I was just more aware of it because I’m so accustomed to collars that are less than half as thick, but a slight taper to the front of the collar might be nice.
It would be easy to write off the jersey as just a knock-off of another brand were it not for the touches that make the garment memorable, even beyond the material and the attention-grabbing orange. The embroidered logo is a classy touch, but one that adds zero function. However, the way they deal with the pockets is even more notable. The two outside pockets are cut on slants to ease access and the are both larger than normal to give you extra carrying capacity for food, arm warmers and that sort of thing. So where did the extra capacity come from? The center pocket. It’s cut fairly narrow, just wide enough to slip in a cell phone. My iPhone in its protective case and snack-size Ziplock baggie (is anyone buying these things for actual snacks?) was a snug fit; there was no chance the phone would slip out if I dropped into a full tuck.
Knowing that a great many riders also wear ear buds to listen to music while riding, the middle pocket features a button hole to run your ear bud wire inside the jersey. And for riders who really can’t risk losing anything from a pocket, there’s a fourth, zippered, security pocket which is big enough to hold a key or credit card; a small flap keeps the pull from catching on anything and white ticking gives it a bit of visual pop. The pockets are graced with a small reflective trim to keep you visible.
A silicone gripper keeps the hem in place and it reflects the orange and white color palette of the rest of the jersey. And just above the gripper on the left pocket the full Road Holland logo is embroidered. Other color choices for the Utrecht include a dark blue with orange and white accents and black with orange and white accents.
This would be where the cynical reader jumps to the conclusion that to get all this quality the jersey must be sourced in Asia in some sweatshop where children labor while shackled to boat anchors and are paid in Ramen noodles. Surprise, surprise, the jerseys are made in Miami.
I’ve gone over and over this thing, looking for an example where they cut some corner, took the easy way out or in any way presented substandard work. I’ve yet to find it. If this thing isn’t worth $120, I don’t know what is.