Sometimes you just want to ride your mountain bike, but without looking too much like a mountain biker. You know, whack on something a little more ‘basic’ and going for a shred leaving that anti-fungal-sweat-wicking-reflecto-multi-pocketed-silicone-grippered jersey at home and getting back to your roots.
This is what drew us to Nzo’s latest merino goodies, the Nomad Hoodie and Bart Tee. They reminded us of simpler times, when our riding kit didn’t have logos galore and wasn’t made from the same fabrics they use on the Mars lunar lander.
The look and feel is far from the razzamatazz of most cycling kit, but the Nomad and the Bart have two secret weapons:
1) They’re designed by Gaz Sullivan. Gaz is an actual real-life mountain biker. He started Nzo in Rotorua as a way to nurture his mountain biking lifestyle. He’s a mellow kind of middle-aged guy, who rides hard and often, likes nice bikes but likes nice trails more. Safe to say, he knows what real-life mountain bikers want.
2) They’re made from Merino wool, nature’s own super fabric. The Merino that comes from NZ’s omnipresent sheep is ideal for mountain bike apparel; it doesn’t get stinky, it’s soft to wear and it handles moisture exceptionally well.
The Bart is a pretty simple affair; it looks and fits just like a slim-fit tee-shirt, but it is made from superfine Merino. The knit is soft on the skin and ultra flexible too, not at all restrictive in spite of the slim cut.
Weight wise, it’s a heavier feeling garment than most cycling kit, but that doesn’t mean you’ll cook in it. We would say it’s better suited to cooler temps, but the Merino wicks sweat away quickly, so you never feel like you’re trapped in a sticky, hot sack even if it is a warmer day.
There are no pockets, but they’d ruin the casual vibe of this garment anyhow. We’ve machine washed ours from day one, and while it has shrunk a tiny bit, it shows no signs of wear or loose stitches. At $49 too, it’s a bargain for superfine Merino wool.
We cannot stop wearing the Nomad hoodie ($89), both on and off the bike. On the trail, doing downhill runs, on road trips – it genuinely feels like we’ve spent more time in the Nomad hoodie than out of it over the past three months. We’ve worn this thing to death, and while the weave has a slight wrinkle to it from dozens of runs through the washing machine, there’s no sign of wear and tear at all.
Like the Bart, it’s super comfy. The slim fit seems just right for most mountain biker’s body shapes (if there is any such thing!), and we wore this hoodie on plenty of rides throughout winter. It’s just a great, casual alternative to layering up in bright, shiny cycling garments.
There are two zippered pockets, both small enough that they don’t flap around or sag if you pop your keys in them, but it’s the proper full length zip we like most – it zips all the way up to right under your chin. The attention to detail is cool too, especially the print on the inside of the hood.
Like it says on the tag – ‘made from sunshine and grass’ – these are pure and simple riding clothes, for what is ultimately a pure and simple sport. You’re not paying for logos, you’re just paying for good kit. We like the ethos and we like the clothes.