It started with one shirt, but things escalated quickly.
words :: Ben Osborne
photos :: courtesy of Mons Royale
Just saying the term ‘merino enthusiast’ makes me cringe. When I got into mountain biking, I was the sort of bare-bones rider that would make any seasoned veteran cringe—Vans over Five Tens, board shorts over bike shorts, and whatever shirt I didn’t mind getting dirty.
I started to slowly accumulate the gear that would make me a better rider—first shoes, then shorts. The other day I realized something that snuck up on me without ever noticing—I’m a year-round merino enthusiast, maybe even an elitist.
The person that cringes at a lack of carbon cranks, a dated fork, or a bike that’s ‘too old’—the very thing that frustrated me about cyclists from the beginning is what I had.
The person that cringes at a lack of carbon cranks, a dated fork, or a bike that’s ‘too old’—the very thing that frustrated me about cyclists from the beginning is what I have become. But I can’t help myself.
For me, the benefits of merino have been well documented in the world of winter sports, and I had already been wearing it for years. But for biking, I was under the impression that it simply wasn’t necessary for biking.
After I picked up a few of the. Mons Royale riding jerseys, the transformation slowly began. I realized their jerseys tick all the boxes: they’re comfortable, they look looks good, and most importantly, they don’t hold scent. The last one is the most important.
Living in Squamish, BC, I ride anywhere from 4-7 times a week. Buying seven riding shirts is expensive, so not having to own that many is key for a budget mountain biker, and merino has solved that problem for me. I can brush the dirt specks off a shirt after riding and put it back in my drawer without worrying about too much of a stench.
Most recently, I put it to the test on a surf trip where I was out of service and away from a shower for 6 days total—I wore one shirt the entire time, the ICON T-Shirt, and I came back trying to justify washing it—it just didn’t smell bad.
I’ve never been a huge gear nerd, but this is one piece of “gear” that I’m sold on. On top of its functionality, Mons Royale uses ZQ Merino, a system that makes your threads traceable right down to the exact farm it came from.
Combine less (and more ethical) consumption with a comfortable fit and less gear maintenance, and there you have it—after all my resistance to bike tech, I’m a merino enthusiast. I might be slightly ashamed, but at least my life is that much simpler. —ML