Not everyone wears them, but I reckon a good quality baselayer is one of the most important parts of a cyclist's wardrobe no matter what the weather, and the Chapeau Mesh SL Base Layer is such a thing. It's not the best I've worn but it does offer a great balance of quality, comfort, performance and price.
For warm weather riding I prefer to choose one of the many mesh style baselayers I have in my collection as they just feel much lighter on and nice and airy.
The Chapeau feels exactly that, especially when paired with a lightweight summer jersey. On descents you can feel the air blow through, removing the heat from your body, most noticeable after a long, hard, sweltering climb.
In such conditions the Mesh SL draws moisture away from your body, mostly without getting massively overwhelmed; if it does, it soon dries out in the breeze as soon as your speed picks up.
Both the front and rear panels use the mesh material and it's plenty comfortable enough, though not as soft and pleasurable against the skin as Lusso's Race Base Mesh Layer.
The sides are made from a smooth fabric and these extra panels give the Mesh SL a nice defined fit. Sizing is spot on to Chapeau's chart, with this medium fitting me closely, avoiding any wrinkles or bunching under a jersey.
A clever touch is the use of the fabric from the side panels over the top of the shoulders, preventing the compression from bib short straps from irritating by rubbing against mesh.
With an rrp of £24.99 it's pretty much in the ball park for a lot of the baselayers we've tested recently. The Lusso I mentioned above is the same price and the excellent Pearl Izumi Transfer Sleeveless is just a fiver more. Five quid the other way will get you one of dhb's Blok Mesh Sleeveless baselayers for £20.
The Chapeau looks and feels to be well made and I gave it some really good stretches to test the thin mesh fabric without managing to tear it or pop any of the seams.
There are a good range of sizes from S to XL and four colour options: white with Exe Blue logo or Exe Blue stripes like we've got here, or the same in Hot Pink.
Smart looking baselayer that does the job for sensible money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chapeau Mesh SL Base Layer Exe Blue Striped
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Chapeau says, "Our new summer base layers are quite simply, very good. They look superb and do what they should do, which is help regulate your body temperature as the mercury rises. Available in short sleeve or sleeveless options, they are also very handy as a top to wear when training indoors."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Chapeau says, "The main kite mesh pattern fabric is made in Italy and takes on the task of moving moisture away from your skin quickly whilst the soft touch side panels allow for a bit more flexibility of fit. A base layer should of course be quite fitted but the addition of side panels increases the comfort as well as adding to the aesthetics."
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Being a baselayer it gets washed quite often and I've had no issues with it; it comes up clean and fresh each time.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does a decent job of wicking sweat away from the body.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lightweight and breathable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fabric isn't the softest against the skin that I've worn.
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 overall score
There is nothing revolutionary about the Chapeau but it's a decent baselayer that works and has a complementary fit. Against some of the competition it's priced sensibly too.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!