Wool is hard to beat for chilly shoulder-season bike rides. I’m a freak for the fuzzy fabric and the warmth it provides on cool commutes.
Earth, Wind, and Rider, a small brand out of New Rochelle, NY, has taken wool back to its roots with vintage-inspired bike jerseys. The simple aesthetic is reminiscent of jerseys worn by Tour de France riders decades ago.
Despite the retro look, this wool piece isn’t your grandpa’s sweater. Each jersey is made of a fine fabric that’s 100-percent, no-itch merino wool. They are customizable, too — the brand will embroider your design or logo anywhere on the jersey.
The regular Earth, Wind, and Rider jerseys start at $160 for a basic long sleeve version. Customized jerseys must be ordered in bulk, and they cost around $100 each.
To start the customization process you choose a jersey style and color. Next, submit a file with your logo or artwork to a designer to settle on a rendering. From concept design to finish, the process takes about 90 days.
We had the long-sleeve jersey embroidered with the GearJunkie logo and were stoked with how it turned out. The custom design is sewn into the fabric of this jersey. This lessens the chance of the yarn snagging and gives it a cool vintage look.
I’ve been riding in the Earth, Wind, and Rider jersey this fall. The mid-weight wool fabric works great alone and feels comfortable (read: not itchy) against my skin.
The jerseys come in full or quarter-zip options. They’re ribbed along the wrists and collar, which gives it a snug fit, keeping cold air out. On the back, three sewn-in pockets provide a place to store snacks or your phone on a ride.
The looser cut gives it a more casual look that doesn’t stand out at the coffee shop like Lycra cycling clothes can. On the bike it offers the properties of wool we love, including warmth when it’s cool outside but also breathability.
You can wear the long-sleeve jersey on days from about 70 degrees down into the 40s without a layer on top — wool regulates across a wider temp range.
If it gets wet, from rain or sweat, the merino doesn’t chill you to the bone. It keeps on insulating even when wet.
The company cites a study on the advantages of wool: “Due to wool’s physical structure and its natural chemical makeup, wool handles body moisture under warm and cool conditions in a manner superior to any competitive cotton, down or synthetic fiber. Down and cotton have the additional disadvantage of losing their loft as they become damp.”
If you love one-of-a-kind craftsmanship or want a custom piece to represent a company or event, this is a high-quality option. The retro look turns heads, both off the bike and rolling on the road.
—Amy Oberbroeckling is assistant editor at GearJunkie.com.