Isadore, a cycle clothing company backed by Etixx-Quick Step rider Martin Velits, aims to bring pro quality and performance to the everyday roadie, and succeeds with this top quality baselayer.
Constructed of 100 per cent merino wool, the fashionable and generally go-to fabric for its moisture-wicking capabilities (as well as a handy knack of resisting body odour), the short sleeve version was able to handle cool late summer/early autumn mornings and warm daytime sunshine with great efficiency, proving one of the great additional benefits of merino wool: its wide operating range that means it'll keep you warm when it's cool, and cool when it's warm.
On one particularly hot and humid day, the baselayer performed exceptionally well – the rapidly appearing and disappearing sweat patches were testament to this – though I'd still probably go with a super-lightweight baselayer (or none at all) in temperatures over 25 degrees.
In terms of fit, you can tell Isadore is inspired by one – if not two (twin brother Peter) – pro riders, with the cut feeling more like a compression top than I'd expect. I usually wear medium or large size baselayers and jerseys, depending on the brand, and a medium Isadore baselayer fitted me very closely.
On top of this, the length is somewhat shorter than others I've worn, without the extra long backs sometimes seen on competitors. Frankly, though, after consideration I came to realise those others tend to bunch at the waistline anyway, which suggests this cut works better as a cycling-specific baselayer.
Further inspection of the sizing table on its website also tells me Isadore tops do come up on the small side (a medium fitting a man with an 88-94cm chest), so if you happen to have wider chest/back/shoulder measurements, it's better to go by this chart than your usual default size.
Style wise, everything is rather classic, coming in grey and black, and finished with a stylish Isadore print on the upper chest. This sits just below a mini-v cutout on the neck, which helps loosen the neck line without losing the crew-neck feel, in turn helping you to relax as you breathe hard on the bike. Simple but clever.
When it comes to washing, merino wool is a fickle creature – put it on any setting above 'cool' and you're likely to get it back modified to fit a toddler. Perhaps it's just me, but it's certainly an issue I've had in the past so I was extra careful this time, washing it only at the recommended 30 degrees. I'm happy to report that each time the baselayer went in, it came back in its proper proportions. Phew. A small amount of fluffing is visible after the third wash, but this is par for the course with merino products in my experience.
As for value, this puts the icing on an already ample cake. Retailing at €50 (around £36.80), plus €10 postage, it's over £20 cheaper than Rapha's equivalent, which is what I'd say it's up against in terms of quality and performance. That makes it, if not a bargain, certainly a worthy consideration for anyone looking for great quality in their baselayer without too much financial pinch.
Decent value for a very competent baselayer with a choice of sleeve options
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Isadore 100% Merino Short Sleeve Baselayer
Size tested: Medium, Grey
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Isadore says: "This piece of garment can make the difference and make you feeling totally comfortable on your ride in the widest range of weather conditions.
"Combining natural characteristics of Merino wool and sensitively developed short sleeve cut bringing you this key part of your apparel.
"Slim fit but comfortable enough cut to feel free when moving.
"So soft on touch and itch free it will make you want to wear this Isadore base layer even when not riding your bike.
"Comes in two naturally subtle colors, black and flecked grey.
"Distinctive collar cut construction.
"Label and tags free to avoid any discomfort with extra collar and side eyelet to safely drive the cables from your favorite tunes player.
"Proudly handcrafted in Slovakia."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Constructed from 140g/m 100% Merino Wool fabric, providing odour resistance, excellent perspiration wicking and thermoregulation.
Sweat patches appear and disappear in almost record time. Big thumbs up for that.
With slight fluffing seen after a few washes on the merino fabric, durability is perhaps limited by the fabric itself. That said, it didn't affect performance on subsequent rides.
I forgot I had it on, save for the comfortable compression.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Extremely well – better than any other merino baselayers I've ridden in in warm conditions
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great compression, and that it also comes in long and short sleeve as well as sleeveless options.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Tendency to fluff and look slight raggedy out of the wash, albeit without affecting ride performance.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If the acid test with a baselayer is not noticing it while it works when out riding, this certainly achieves that.
About the tester
Age: 25 Height: 188cm Weight: 83kg
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding