GROUND EF­FECT NEOPOLI­TAN JER­SEY

Australian Mountain Bike - - Tested - WORDS: MIKE BLEWITT IM­AGE: TIM BARDSLEY-SMITH

Around the world, com­pa­nies pride them­selves on mak­ing their prod­ucts lo­cally. And while many (or most) cloth­ing com­pa­nies have given up on that ideal, Ground Ef­fect have stayed true to their orig­i­nal busi­ness model. They wanted to make func­tional, hard-wear­ing cloth­ing in New Zealand, and sell it di­rectly via mail or­der – and now on­line. In the past two years, Ground Ef­fect’s no-non­sense cloth­ing has re­ally come of age, with a few sharp ad­di­tions to the line that has won over even the most fash­ion con­scious moun­tain bik­ers. The ZZ top with three-quar­ter sleeves, and the women’s Jig­saw have proved pop­u­lar with some of our crew – and match per­fectly with the Snipers or Jug­ger­nauts (or Mar­ti­nis for women). The Neopoli­tan car­ries on a sim­i­lar aes­thetic, but comes in a long-sleeve in Heat­wave Merino ma­te­rial. The fit is very much the same as the ZZ top, be­ing well-tai­lored but by no means a ‘race fit’. It feels great on, without any ex­cess ma­te­rial to snag on trees, and cer­tainly not so re­veal­ing that you would think twice about an ex­tended stay at a pub or café post-ride. In short, it’s an ex­cep­tional long-sleeve trail jer­sey. The name clearly comes from the three-way colour scheme, and while off-white looks great it might not be the best choice if you live any­where near red dirt (and red mud). The ma­te­rial though, is fan­tas­tic. Heat­wave Merino is es­sen­tially two lay­ers in one. You have the fine-wo­ven Merino next to your skin, and the hard-wear­ing polyester on the out­side. This means the odour-fight­ing, com­fort­able, nat­u­ral fi­bres are next to your skin, and the harder wear­ing ma­te­rial is against the el­e­ments. Long sleeve jer­seys some­times get missed by a lot of Aus­tralians, but I rode with this jer­sey on cooler sum­mer days, as well as au­tumn, in com­fort. Long sleeves give greater sun pro­tec­tion than putting sun cream on, and of­fer added pro­tec­tion from Aus­tralian scrub, which we all know can leave a mark. The jer­sey has a small zip­pered pocket, which I was happy ei­ther putting a sin­gle car key in, or cash and The Big Three (Visa card, li­cence and Medi­care card) - but us­ing it for any­thing heavy or bulky won’t be that com­fort­able. The back length is long enough that with a back­pack it doesn’t get too short if the jer­sey bunches un­der your bag – and the shoul­ders are de­void of seams in silly places. All in all, the Neopoli­tan has proven to be a very com­fort­able trail jer­sey. It’s not for the height of sum­mer where I live in Queens­land, but the range of tem­per­a­tures the jer­sey is com­fort­able in might sur­prise you. I paired the Neopoli­tan with the proven Snipers, which have a great length to just above the knee, and match the slim-line fit of the jer­sey per­fectly. The ma­te­rial is light enough but strong, they have min­i­mal pock­ets and some vent­ing at the front. Plus they’re cut high enough there is no un­wanted vent­ing in the back. If you wanted some­thing a bit longer – check out the Jug­ger­nauts. If you like to try cloth­ing on be­fore you buy it, you might hit some prob­lems. But Ground Ef­fect do have a great pol­icy for ex­changes and their siz­ing guide is su­per ac­cu­rate. The jer­sey is pricier than some of the cur­rent trail jer­seys on the mar­ket, but I think the ma­te­rial well and truly jus­ti­fies that. I’ve got some of the cur­rent crop of trail jer­seys that are syn­thetic and they don’t deal with all-day odour as well, even af­ter a few times out. What re­ally strikes me about Ground Ef­fect is how con­nected to the sport and the com­mu­nity they are. Their fac­tory is down the road from their of­fices, and their test­ing ground is just out the back of that build­ing in the Port Hills near Christchurch. It’s no won­der that they can pro­duce cloth­ing that you just don’t think about when rid­ing.

HITS

- Great fit and ma­te­ri­als - Ex­cel­lent bal­ance of form and func­tion

MISSES

- No try be­fore you buy

RRP:

Neopoli­tan jer­sey, $120 Snipers, $130 ground­ef­fect.com

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