The cycling gods were once more smiling on me as I ventured out last Sunday morning on an Imogen-dodging assault on the Henhurst Face of Mount Leith. Having blown more than Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions, the wind had subsided to a mere bluster and afforded me a window of opportunity to test out the Synergy jersey from Canadian thread-meisters 7Mesh.
Designed, so the blurb says, to "be an all-in-one solution, providing incredible comfort in a wide range of riding conditions" I placed mediocre trust in the copy-line and packed a windproof gilet, just in case. My compromise was to wear a short sleeved base layer, an item I am rarely without, come rain or shine.
The Synergy itself is an incredibly light softshell, quite a change from other garments of mine that are comprised of Windstopper. The weather-proof panels make up the whole front of the body, the front and shoulders of the arms and there's a small section around the back which helps reinforce the pockets. The back of the sleeves and jersey are lighter weight and breathable, yet wicking and robust enough that windchill (should you be fortunate enough to have a tail wind) is not a factor.
The ride to the Surrey Hills takes about 30 minutes from my house so I had ample time in which to warm my climbing legs. I'm ashamed to say, I kept the gilet on for this first half hour and built up quite a fug beneath it's non-permeable skin. What better way, I thought (afterwards) than to test the Synergy's wind-proofing, than to do a 50kmh descent past Leith Place, dripping with sweat?
Off it came, stashed easily in on be of the generous cargo pockets at the back - one of five, two of which are zippered for security - and off I went. Dreading the worst I braced myself for a teeth chattering, shivering blast down to Ockley, but it became apparent that I was not getting any colder. In fact, without the flappy clattering of turbulence from the gilet, it made for a very pleasant dive down to the main road, albeit one that involved dodging gravel, sticks and potholes - de rigeur for any February bike ride around most parts of the U.K.
I left the gilet off for the entire return journey and even when I had to slow down behind a convoy of horse-drawn carts - yes, I can go THAT fast - I felt no ill effects. Not until I dismounted at home and realised I may've pushed myself a bit too hard on a minimal breakfast.
Cussing my cowardice, I resolved to go out again another day, and on a crisper but no less windy morning, I pushed off once more, but this time without a gilet. Despite being a good, close fit the Synergy has none of the stretchy tightness around the arms that puts me off other long-sleeved jerseys and allowed me to use a full base layer and still be able to bend my arms. The gated zip, with a simple but effective cord to help numb or gloved fingers pull it up, is also weather proof, something of a weak spot on other garments in this arena.
Sadly, the flame red 'ember' colourway I coveted from 7Mesh's catalogue was substituted for their grey 'ash' version, but there are some flashes of frivolity on the excellently snug cuffs. There are no silicon grippers along the rear hem, but the fit seems to encourage the back of the jacket to stay in place, assisted by some more stretchy Windstopper.
Two hours later I rolled home with frozen thighs but a toasty torso, looking far better than I should do in a garment that fitted so close. I usually end up looking like a relief map of the O2 whenever I have to don anything aero - the understated grey, however, appeared to keep my 'middle-age' spread a little more evenly. Another thing I like about this Synergy is the cable routing, as I am one of those cyclist that wear earphones and I hate having cables whipping around my face.
The team behind 7mesh are all passionate cyclists and their kit is rigorously tested on the trails around Vancouver (the 'models' in their beautiful product images are in fact the kit designers and their friends). And with each 7mesh garment being engineered to survive offroad riding in the wilds of British Columbia, it seems a safe assumption they'll cope with the worst the Home Counties can throw at them.
I can see this Synergy jersey getting a lot more use in the weeks to come, especially since the weather seems so unsettled. The essence of this garment is no matter what the conditions turn out to be, you're more than prepared.
And, with the gilet left at home, it also means I have more pocket space for ride snacks. Now that's a result.