7mesh entered the cycling market earlier this year on a wave of anticipation and hype. 7mesh was able to gain enough early coverage to get noticed without giving away their secrets. Based in Squamish BC, the word is that 7mesh is founded by former leadership of Arc'Teryx (also British Columbia based). Word of this new brand started surfacing around Interbike 2014 and well it's 2015 now and 7mesh has finally entered the foray.
The current 7mesh lineup consists of 12 styles set in two disciplines, road and mountain bike. Within those disciplines the lineup is divided again into two main groups, technical apparel for 7 hours and apparel for 7 days. Think of this as day riding and touring, with each offering qualities that address the differing situations they'll find themselves in.
Earlier this year I picked up the S2S short sleeve jersey. Read below for my review
The pedigree behind 7mesh is very apparent. Upon first sight and first touch its uniqueness is unmistakeable. However, this uniqueness is a fit that you're either going to love, or you're not going to care for. For me, it took a while to get used to how the jersey was designed. I'll expand on this throughout the blog post. What did feel reassuring was the sense of quality in craftsmanship and the textile choices. You can tell that this jersey is built on hours of testing and refining through an adaptive R&D process. What they've come up with is something really special.
Materials are high end as you'd expect.. with prices to match. The greater 7mesh lineup includes use of Gore-Tex and WINDSTOPPER membranes and while both are the best on the market, neither is included in the S2S so I'll skip any further detail there.
The S2S does come in three colours. Black, GoldStone, and 2 Ball Blue. 7mesh uses a combination of 2 different fabrics for the S2S jersey. The front is a Rema 4-way Stretch Weave and the back is an Omega 105P lightweight polyester knit with a UPF factor of 50. These fabrics feel lighter than Lycra but have the added benefit of much better moisture management. So far I've been pleasantly surprised with how the jersey handles cool and warm temps out on the road, especially for an all black jersey. From my experience they are unmistakably different materials and they perform differently as intended.
The design includes 5 rear pockets. There are 3 traditional vertical entry pockets and 2 horizontal pockets, each with a secure zip closure. These zip pockets also have a button hole for passing headphone cables through and a headphone loop on the collar for better cable management.
All of the zippers have a generous nylon pull cord. The zipper chosen is well suited to the task. It's not too thick, not too thin, easy to use, and folds well to prevent bunching.
The traditional approach to designing road cycling jerseys is to rely on the elastic properties of stretch fabrics (lycra) to achieve fit across varying body shapes. However, the design philosophy of 7mesh is to focus on intensive and detailed patterning matched with meticulous textile choices to achieve the ideal fit. The designers have refined their pattern around the riding position. So while the S2S jersey never feels right off the bike, as soon as you reach for the hoods it just fades away. This fit for the riding position isn't unique to 7mesh however. Assos bibs and POC jerseys are designed around the same principal but the lack of reliance in textile elasticity with 7mesh is the key difference. Moving into riding position doesn't relieve stretch tension. Your more moving into the shape that the jersey wants to be in. Think of it as pre-articulate positioning. For this reason it is hard to explain beyond it's a better way of doing it.
Ok but how do they do this? For example, the S2S jersey pattern includes well placed darts to bring the jersey into this pre-articulated shape. Many of these can be found on the back and across the shoulder blade areas. While the reliance and focus on patterning is refreshing, this is really where the crux of the uniqueness of 7mesh can be felt. The lack of stretch means that unless your body shape is close to or exactly like their fit model then you're going to have some fit issues to contend with. Here is what I mean, if you are like me in that your shoulders are much broader than your waist then you'll have a jersey that fits across the shoulders and chest but has spare room around the midsection. For this reason, I think it's best that you be aware of this and try one to make sure you love the fit or not. You need to approach the purchase differently because they are approaching the design in a whole new way.
The waist and sleeves have an average size hem which is not as thick or as inclusive of silicone grippers as the current trend would allow. Just below the rear pocket there is a small reflective tab for visibility. It's very small so definitely don't use this to substitute a good rear light on your bike if you want to be seen.
7mesh score some good points here. Branding is at a minimum on the S2S jersey. There are two logos on the exterior. One is on the left front chest and one is on the upper middle of the back. Each is a print of the 7mesh logo done in a reflective ink.
The S2S to be honest performs more than fine. It does what you need it to do. It does well to keep you cool when it's hot and comfortable when it's chilly. The zips are all easy to open and close while riding and the pockets fit the usual supplies for a days ride with easy entry. The pre-articulated fit to the riding position does mean that it's not going to be as comfortable around the cafe, but it's more important that it works on the bike anyways. After a few months the S2S jersey has held up well to wear, tear, and frequent washes. The material has not shown any tendencies to snag or pull, nor has it gotten that smell that never comes after a few too many hard workouts.
Life is a beautiful detail, but sometimes things aren't perfect. There are two honest critiques I have of the S2S jersey.
First, while I deeply appreciate the approach to design that 7mesh have used, it doesn't quite fit perfectly for me. Because I have a much wider upper body it means that the midsection has some extra material. When riding, all that stuff I have in my pockets moves around, up and down over bumps, and slides side to side when pedalling out of the saddle. That does not mean the jersey is sub standard, I just don't match the fit model and that's my problem. It's a minor annoyance at best and likely solved by sizing down.
Second, headphone ports. I really don't like this. Yes I know you don't have to use them but putting them on a jersey encourages people to put headphones on while riding. This is anot a good idea. When you're on the road you need to hear everything for the safety of yourself and everyone else around you.
Real quick, this is a great jersey. It's very different than standard fair and that's the first thing you're going to notice. Everything thing about the S2S jersey is different. It's a fresh perspective on a piece of apparel that desperately needs new thinking. It's not the cheapest jersey on the market, it's also not the most expensive. You will get more quality than you pay for in the S2S from 7mesh. And supporting a new brand doing new things is good too. If you're into technical apparel and don't like sausage casing compression race jerseys then find your way to a fitting room to try this jersey on. Just try before you buy.