There was a time that if you tried to sell me a one-color jersey with an embroidered logo I would have laughed in your face. And I wouldn’t have been the only person laughing. I suspect everyone I rode with at the time would have had the same reaction: a laugh so knee-slappingly powerful that it would leave my sides sore. We have former Tour de France director Felix Levitan to thank for turning cycling sponsorship into a patchwork of penny-spending companies each assigned to one corner of a jersey. If we have anything to thank Lance Armstrong for, it’s alienating so many potential sponsors that the only choice some (many?) teams have is to go all-in on a single sponsor. In cleaning up the look of jerseys the austere appeal of a single color has been allowed to emerge from the shadows.
I, for one, am grateful.
Of late, I’ve been wearing two jerseys from 7Mesh, a company founded by some of the brainiacs from Acteryx, which in the world of skiing is revered as some of the very best stuff out there. The Callaghan is a tech wool jersey great for cold rides, while the Mission is a somewhat lighter weight jersey cut primarily from Polartec Powergrid that yields a surprisingly warm jersey for the weight of the garment.
One of the issues I consistently confront in long-sleeve jerseys and jackets is the fit. Often, if the torso is cut on a good taper for a cyclist’s body, then the sleeves are too long. If the sleeves are the right length, then they are too room and the torso suffers from too boxy a cut. After a change to their patterning 10 years ago Assos pieces stopped having arms that were too long and their fit has been—for me and for many riders I know—perfect. Pearl Izumi and Castelli are right there in their fit as well. And now I have another brand to place alongside them: 7Mesh.
Like a great many MAMILs, I put on some weight in the winter and then (usually) take it back off in the summer. I buy my kits to fit me best in the summer and be a bit tight in the winter. I find the reminder that I have weight to take off meaningful.
Even if you’re skinnier than a climber at the end of a grand tour, most jerseys, to follow your form need to not only taper from the shoulders to the waist, it needs to flair back out a tiny bit for your hips because most jerseys don’t just stop at your waist. If it doesn’t flair some it will end up bunching around your waist and making it hard to access the pockets. That’s an important piece of what 7Mesh got right in both the Callaghan and the Mission.
The other big piece of jersey fit is the sleeve length. I’ve got a few garments that feature sleeves so long I could poke a hole in them and push my thumb through like thumb stirrups. Ideally, a well-cut sleeve will seem a bit long as you stand with your arms at your sides, but fall exactly at your wrists when you reach for the hoods. I want the sleeves to meet the bottom of a closureless glove and for a winter glove with a gauntlet to cover the sleeve by at least 2cm. The Callaghan and Mission both share this fit as well.
Every now and then I encounter a jersey that is so perfect for the season that I do laundry every couple of days so that I can wear it more than once a week. That’s the Callaghan. This is a Merino tech wool—that is, Merino blended polyester—with a brushed inside finish so that it feels more like a fleece on the inside than than a wool jersey. In an unusual turn, 7Mesh went with just two rear pockets, cut high and at an angle to give you great storage capacity and easy access. I could carry a kitten in each pocket and still have room for an energy bar. There are additional inner pockets to hold your phone away from your gel wrappers and to make it easy to find in case your sweetie calls. A full zip makes the jersey easy to don and remove, even when you’re in a post-ride coma.
The neck on the Callaghan is cut so high you could add a collar and have room for a tie. At first look the high neck makes the jersey appear a bit like a Star Trek uniform, but on a fast, chilly descent that high neck prevents the wind from invading the garment and chilling your torso.
One problem with many fall/winter garments is the way the collection of seams can add up to unnecessary bulk; 7Mesh is so thorough in their patterning that all the seams are micro-stitched, reducing bulk to soak up sweat and decreasing fabric that can chafe or cause pressure. Micro-stitching also helps a garment follow a body’s contours better because conventional seams create stiff zones in garments, the thicker the fabric, the stiffer the area. I’ve got a thermal jacket that has such bulky seams it’s stiff as if it has boning in it.
With just a light base layer, this is warm enough for temps between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. With a long sleeve base layer it’s good down to the upper 40s, but for conditions colder than that, I like to add something that will stop the wind. I’m sure there are people who will be comfortable in this with a mid-weight base layer down into the low 40s.
The Callaghan goes for $175, comes in three colors and six sizes (XS-XXL).
At less than two-thirds the weight of the Callaghan, the Mission is a reasonably lightweight long sleeve jersey. The Polartec grid fabric that makes up most of the garment gives the jersey an interesting feel on the outside, but a light, fleecy feeling inside. Inside, it looks a bit like the 21st century version of the classic waffle pattern of cotton long johns. Sections of a woven 4-Way Stretch Nylon make up the cuffs of the sleeves and the back pocket to improve the garment’s durability. It looks reasonably stylish as well.
Like the Callaghan, the Mission features two large-capacity pockets with angled entry and two smaller pockets for your phone or other small items. What’s different with the mission is that the pockets here are zippered to keep everything in if you’re getting rad off road. Also like the Callaghan, the Mission is built with a full zip.
With a short-sleeve base layer, I’ve worn this into the upper 60s, perhaps past 70; with a long-sleeve base layer, it’s pretty good into the mid-50s. However, like a fleece garment, the Mission does its best work when it’s combined with a jacket. The jersey is so light that at anything fast than a climbing speed (provided you’re can’t climb in the big ring) the wind goes right through it. When combined with a windbreaker or a rain jacket the Mission becomes a valuable middle layer
The Mission runs $200, comes in two colors and six sizes (XS-XXL).
Final thought: Who’s laughing now?