IF YOU’RE looking for a non-nonsense, all-rounder jersey that can cope with the rigours of racing, clubruns or, in our case, multiple trips to the café, then look no further than the catchily titled T7 from TØRM.
Made from Sportswool, the T7 is a well-made jersey that copes well in both chilly and humid temperatures. According to TØRM, the T7 is “lightweight for comfort but tough enough to survive anything the cycling life can throw at it”.
Now down to the styling, as it would be silly not to address the elephant in the room. There’s no getting away from the fact there’s a slight resemblance between the plucky British company’s jerseys and those belonging to a certain upmarket label. You know the one – it sounds like ‘Jaffa’ and uses words ‘bespoke’ and ‘epic’ like they’re going out of fashion.
Let’s get one thing straight, classic designs – whether they have one or two hoops on the arm of the jersey, across the chest or right down the middle – are ‘classic’ because they existed for a long time and, more importantly, before either companies were founded.
In other words, no-one has copyright over classic-looking jerseys. Both TØRM and Rapha had their differences in the past, but to their credit they sat down face-to-face and sorted it out like gentlemen. Good on them.
Now that lengthy explanation is out of the way, time to crack on with the review. I first heard about TØRM – the slashed ‘o’ in their logo is a nod in the direction of their Scandinavian fabric supplier – a few years ago from my mate Dan. He sent me a link to their website, I had a nose at a few of their tops and decided to make a purchase.
Back then, I opted for the T5 jersey (£59.00). It’s a lovely long-sleeved top. Perfect for autumn and winter if teamed up with a decent base layer or winter jacket. It’s also my ‘go-to’ top when I am sat behind the goal-line shooting football matches every week in my main job as a press photographer.
It even performed well in minus 10 degrees one time when I was in Bulgaria covering the Champions League. Although, that was while wearing a decent jacket, I might add.
What I like most about TØRM is that there are no airs or graces about them. It’s just two blokes, Paul and Al, running the business above a bike shop in Kent. They keep the company deliberately small and don’t bother with any advertising. Instead, they prefer to rely on recommendations from customers to other cyclists in order to remain “honest and removing the hype from our products”.
TØRM’s range is surprisingly simple, too. They only sell a few different styles of jerseys – six short-sleeved; two long-sleeved; two types of base layers and arm-warmers. That’s it. They don’t do shorts, jackets, chamois cream or bespoke holidays. They just stick to simple and traditional-looking jerseys.
Also, they let the product speak for itself. Yes, TØRM’s jerseys are made from Sportwool – the same fabric used by ‘that’ other company, but so is a hell of a lot of other cycling clobber nowadays.
Why? Well, here’s the science bit – Sportswool is a blend of polyester and merino wool developed by the Australian company CSIRO. Merino wool, as the name suggests, comes from a particular type of sheep, a variety of woollyback found almost exclusively in Australia.
It is one of the finest of wools available – the fibres are, on average, between 19 and 24 micrometres (that’s thousands of a millimetre) thick. Hence, the softness against the skin.
The fibre’s thermal qualities come from millions of tiny pockets of air inside the fibres, which are heated by the wearer’s bodily warmth. Even when the wool gets wet, these air pockets retain heat. Furthermore, merino has natural odour-eating properties.
Being a mash-up between pure wool and a synthetic, Sportwool shifts sweat pretty well and you have to work pretty hard to get this jersey heavy with moisture. It doesn’t dry as fast as 100 per cent polyester, but it’s not especially cold or unpleasant when a bit damp – it still feels okay next to your skin. More importantly, you won’t stink as much when you arrive at the café after a particularly hard ride. An important feature in anyone’s book – no-one wants to Billy ‘B.O.’ No-mates.
Now the boffin stuff is out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks. Admittedly, this review has taken a fair while to do, as – in true testament to my vanity – I wanted ‘good’ photos of myself looking all gritty and northern. Unlucky for me – and probably you lot, too – that never happened. So we’re making do with my ‘approved’ selfies – vain git, I know.
Anyway, a few months ago, I decided to treat myself to a new jersey. Having previously owned the T5, I wanted a short-sleeved version for the summer. Looking through the website, I opted for the T7 and decided on the black jersey with white bands on both arms to match the kit from my club, Liverpool Century.
TØRM currently only stock two short-sleeve jersey designs with a full length zip – the T3, which is a no-nonsense top that has no crazy colours, logos or stripes – and, of course, the T7, which has an understated yet stylish design with the company’s recognisable twin stripes.
Having a full-length zip enables the T7 to a bit of jack-of-all-trades. Not only does it look good and perform well on the bike, it also doesn’t look out of place when paired with some jeans. So far, I haven’t had any strange looks wearing it in my local supermarket on a last minute shopping trip to grab some bananas for that particular day’s ride.
Another good feature is the fit. Like me, you probably cannot keep track of what size jersey you wear. I have tops that are large, XL and the odd ones that are XXL – even though my normal, non-cyclist tops are all medium. It gets a bit confusing sometimes switching between the sizing of different countries.
Have no fear, Al and Paul produce their jerseys based on standard sizes in the UK. For instance, my T5 long-sleeved top is a large and it fits perfect with a little bit of room to spare – mainly for that extra timber I end up putting on over winter.
Again, the T7 is of a similar fit. However, this time I opted for the XL so that I had a bit more room for wearing off the bike. Admittedly, I should have opted for a large, as I have lost a fair bit of that aforementioned timber. No great loss, though. It still fits reasonably well and that extra room proves valuable when you stuff the rear pockets with various bits and bobs.
Speaking of pockets, TØRM’s T7 has two zipped valuables pockets. Also, the right and left cargo pockets are reinforced to maintain the integrity of the fabric and are also angled to make access when riding a hell of a lot easier. Another nice touch is adding zips to the two valuables pockets, which ensures keys, change and even small mobile phones can be stored without worry of them jumping out.
All three main cargo pockets are of reasonable enough depth to store larger smart phones. Though, if you own a mobile as big as an iPhone 6 Plus, it will poke out over the top of the left or right cargo pockets. However, it will fit snugly in the centre pocket, so it’s not all bad.
One thing that I did notice about the jersey is that the collar is a bit higher than normal. This may be down to the fact that I haven’t really got a long neck, but it’s a welcomed feature. Not only will it keep the air out on a cold descent, but it’s also useful for protecting the back of your neck from the blazing sun on hot rides.
TØRM stock the T7 in five colours – black with yellow bands; red with white bands; blue with white bands; white with black bands and, my favourite, black with white bands. Again, the styling is classic and more closely resembles vintage club jerseys.
For instance, the blue jersey with white bands looks like the old Liverpool Mercury kit, while the black top with white bands looks like Liverpool Century. Al and Paul even stock the T11 jersey, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the famous kit of Manchester Wheelers. In fact, I spotted a few riders sporting this version on the last two editions of the L’Eroica Britannia and my mate Dan, who is a member of the Wheelers, has the exact same top.
TØRM’s jerseys seem to strike a chord with northern cyclists and it’s easy to understand why. They look good, perform great and, more importantly, cost a fraction of similar jerseys made from the same materials and design. They even wash well. Having owned my T5 long-sleeved jersey since 2013, it still shows no signs of bobbling or colour fading. Amazing value for a top that costs just £56.
Paul and Al will even customise your jersey for you – if you ask nicely and don’t make fun of Paul supporting Arsenal. For an extra £20, plus £6 per embroidery, you can add whatever text you like to your jersey – both front and back. It’s a great option and adds an extra personal touch that you just can’t get with many other manufacturers.
If you’ve never consider buying one of TØRM’s jerseys, then you’re missing out. We simply cannot put into words just how much these jerseys represent excellent value for money.
You’re never going to see them marketed as an aspirational cycling lifestyle brand or worn by unfeasibly cool hipster-types, covered in tattoos and with more facial hair than Father Christmas, while being artfully photographed in grainy monochrome as they fix their thousand yard stares on the next mountain top.
But that’s a good thing. The fact that it’s just a two-man band running the company from above a bike shop adds to the earthly appeal of TØRM. They’re genuine, honest and not full of PR bullshit. They’re not trying to sell you some fluffed up tripe of how a mega-expensive, super-light jersey made from exotic materials will suddenly made you a cycling God. They’re just simply saying: ‘Hey, try this – it’ll do the job and we think you’ll like it’.
Indeed, Paul and Al seem more focused on making sure their customers get more bang for their buck than cultivating a slick marketing image or air of exclusivity at a premium price. Instead, they’re more interested in the unsung heroes of the road – the weekend wheelers, who grind out the miles in all conditions throughout the year, never asking for any recognition or glory.
You can almost picture their office above that shop. It won’t be a slick, well-polished or decked out in expensive mahogany – it’s more than likely a converted flat, filled with ageing cycling posters, cardboard boxes and half-drunken mugs of tea. Honest and genuine – just like their jerseys.
To view TØRM’s full range, head over to torm.cc – we think you’ll be please with what you find.