The Lusso Race Base Mesh base layer is a performance garment as its name suggests and it delivers in all areas, including value for money. However, the very fine fabric is delicate.
Fabric prone to pulls
The Lusso Race Base Mesh is a super-lightweight summer base layer from the Manchester brand. It uses Italian fabric that is made up of a repeating pattern of tiny dots of an even finer mesh than the ‘background’ mesh. It’s what’s known in the textile industry as a multi-filament yarn and is intended to work like a high-tech string vest. The ‘string’ section holds the outer garment – the jersey in a cycling context – clear of your skin to avoid clamminess while the holes channel out the hot air and sweat.
As well as being incredibly light, the Lusso is soft and also very stretchy in all directions so that with its anatomical-shaped panels it fits very snugly without any rucking at all with a tight jersey pulled over the top.
The sleeves are short enough that even if you’re not wearing a jersey whose sleeves stop just short of the elbow you won’t risk flashing your base layer. Lusso also has in its range a sleeveless base layer – the Race Base Mesh Vest (£22.99).
The Lusso Race Base Mesh has a dropped tail that extends four inches above the front on the size small – in fact, it’s more of a short front than a long back but either way the cut is exactly right, with the front hem clear of that crease just above the pubic bone where chafing can take place.
The seams are not flatlocked but because they’re held directly next to your body without moving you don’t feel them and they don’t rub.
Riding in hot weather the Lusso wicks very well indeed, holding onto next to no moisture and supplying a comfortable barrier between the skin and the Lycra skinsuit-style jersey that is the current style.
It goes without saying that a mesh base layer can also do the opposite and trap warm air for chilly starts, and the Lusso does a great job of this too.
Another point in the Lusso Race Base Mesh’s favour is that it doesn’t seem to hold on to underarm whiffiness post-wash. Our sample has been through a good few wash cycles now and has thankfully come out smelling fresh each time.
However, the very lightweight fabric is very delicate and slightly prone to pulls. Of course, as it’s 100 per cent synthetic it isn’t going to come unraveled and since it’s under a jersey you won’t even see the pulls, but I don’t expect to get years of use out of it.
There are other base layers on the market that have more complicated and higher-tech constructions with variable-thickness fabrics, such as the Odlo Top Performance Light, or different-sized holes depending on the area of the garment like the Le Col Pro Mesh but the Lusso is cheaper than them and no worse for its simpler approach.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
And the vital statistics:
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