We've tested Icebreaker's Sphere top. Although billed as a tee shirt it serves well as a cycling baselayer too
New Zealand’s Icebreaker was one of the original proponents of merino clothing for outdoor activities and claims that it chooses the best quality wool from that country’s Southern Alps. Coming from the merino sheep whose wool is very fine, merino is non-itchy, odour resistant, warm and breathable.
The Icebreaker Sphere is marketed as a t-shirt, although I’ve been using it as a baselayer. It’s not quite as tight-fitting as most baselayers, being cut with wider sleeve openings and a bit more room all-round. Nevertheless, it tucks in well under a cycling jersey and has enough rear length that I did not get a cold gap on my lower back.
Icebreaker says that the Cool-Lite fabric is its lightest and most breathable. It’s not pure merino, unlike many of the brand’s garments, being made of 65% merino with Tencel and nylon, which Icebreaker says makes it quicker drying than pure merino.
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I certainly found that it did not get sweaty under harder efforts and was odour-resistant so that I could wear it for several rides without feeling I was getting antisocial. It also kept me warm under a cycling jacket in colder conditions or under a jersey once the weather started to warm up, without feeling over-hot. It retains merino’s characteristic softness too.
The Icebreaker Sphere is available in five different earthy colours and five sizes. True to its tee shirt billing, it’s also available as a V-neck and a buttoned version too. Although it’s not as performance-oriented as many cycling baselayers, this has the advantage that it’s a garment which you can use for more casual rides and off the bike too.
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The Icebreaker Sphere top is a comfortable performance part-merino baselayer which is good for more casual use too