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The Merino Winter Tight from ashmei isn't cycling-specific but it certainly works well when on the bike, especially when it gets really cold. The merino wool blend is super-toasty and soft against the skin, and thanks to well-positioned seams the tights are very comfortable too. At nearly 200 quid, though, it is quite the outlay for something that lacks a pad.
ashmei has developed these tights to be used in a multitude of winter sports, which is why they don't come with a pad, but that is no big deal. Many brands make cycling tights without a pad, and when I was commuting five days a week I found that they cut down on the amount of winter kit I needed. I could rotate summer bib shorts daily underneath and just use the same pair of padless bib tights over the top every day of the week.
These ashmei tights aren't bulky in their construction at all, so they don't feel odd when worn over the top of a pair of bib shorts. The thin shoulder straps are unnoticeable, as is the thin bib section, so even if you are doubling up, things remain comfortable and breathable.
The main part of the tights is a blend of merino (51%), a polyester called CDPL (38%) and elastane (11%) that has a thicker, knitted feel to it than most Lycra-based tights, but the stretch doesn't feel to be affected.
The tights are close fitting and offer a small amount of compression but aren't restrictive in any way. There was also no bunching of the material behind the knees when pedalling.
The fabric is fleecy next to the skin for added warmth, and these tights can easily deal with temperatures down to freezing as long as the breeze isn't too keen because they aren't massively windproof.
Riding quickly into a northerly wind I could feel the cold more than when wearing a pair of tights with windproof panels, but it is minimal and won't be too much of an issue unless you are riding the same direction for the entire ride.
You do get a bit of water-shedding capability from the durable water repellent (DWR) coating, too, which is a nice touch.
When the temperature increases into double figures, they work well up to about 13°C, a little higher than ashmei's recommendations. Breathability is very impressive, and even when riding hard at those kind of temperatures I never felt that I was getting overly hot.
The quality is very good throughout, with very neat and tidy stitching from top to bottom, and all the seams are positioned well out of the way of where they could irritate when on the bike.
At £188 the ashmei tights are far from cheap, but they're not the most expensive we have seen on road.cc – though they might be when it comes to tights without a pad. Very few tights are made from this kind of material, though, so it's hard to judge their value against the competition.
Santini uses Power Wool in its Adapt Polartec Thermal C3 tights, which is a mixture of merino wool and synthetics. I found it worked very well and they cost £215 with a pad.
The ashmeis are very versatile – I found them great for running around the local trails in the wet and cold – and they can be used for plenty of other winter pursuits too.
Initially, I thought that the ashmei tights looked overly expensive for what they are, with no pad and so on, but the more I've lived with them, the more I have used them, on and off the bike. If you take part in plenty of outdoor activities then you'll be getting plenty of use for your money. Purely for cycling, they do lack some little details like reflectives, and you might be better served with tights more specific to the sport.
Not cycling-specific but work well on and off the bike, offering comfort and warmth, which helps justify the price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: ashmei Merino Winter Tight
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
ashmei says, "The 36 months in development starts with a blank piece of paper. We knew the product required a Merino Rich fibre to provide excellent thermo-regulative and anti-smell features, but also provide a product with high eco-credentials. We set out to develop a fabric that offered all of this but also offered excellent windproofing, water-resistance, durability and a next to skin fit. A complex engineering challenge.
"The result is a highly engineered piece of kit, with the simplicity and elegance of ashmei design. The close to skin fit offers a semi-compressive fit which hugs the body, providing the perfect thermal micro-climate. If exposed to the elements, a PFC free water-resistant finish keeps raindrops at bay, while the close-knit of Merino Wool offers excellent wind protection. The upper body is made using our Merino + Carbon blend, acting as the first layer of core protection."
ashmei Designer Lucy Smith added: "The aim of this piece was for it to be the first piece you turn to this Winter, no matter what outdoor activity you are doing. Although it's so comfortable you may start using it around the house too"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Merino rich, full length tight
Suitable for Cycling (tight does not have a Cycling Chamois, see 3/4 Winter Tight for this item)
Also suitable for Running, Snowsports, Rowing, Outdoor pursuits.
Next to skin fit, water and wind-resistant fabric
Precision laser-cut leg cuff
Reflective ashmei branded print for enhanced visibility
Enlarged ashmei zipper puller with Alcantara guard
Unisex fit, please refer to sizing spec for more information.
C0 - PFC Free Durable Water Repellent finish
Merino + Carbon Upper Body
Thermal weight – 312g (Size Medium)
Compressive, next to skin fit.
Fabric: Top - Top - 65% Merino Wool, 35% Polyester. Bottom - 51% Merino Wool, 38% CDPL, 11% Elastane. Exclusive of trims.
Machine wash cool 30°C
Do not tumble dry
Do not use fabric softeners
Do not dry clean
Do not iron
Do not bleach
The sizing guide is spot on and the tights have a close compressive fit without feeling restrictive.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Using a 30-degree wash and nothing else, I have had no issues with shrinkage or anything.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For a non-cycling-specific product they work well on the bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very comfortable and versatile.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
A lot of tights that don't have a pad are much cheaper – something like the padless version of the Lusso Classic Winter bib tights will set you back £85 – but in its defence the ashmei tights use some brilliant materials and that is reflected in the price. Something backed up by the RRP of the Santini's mentioned in the review.
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
If you want tights without a pad these are a good option because of their comfort, performance and breathability, but you do have to sacrifice things like reflective detailing – and they're not cheap.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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!