I’ve been cycling in Komraid gear for a few years now, since I first saw their multi-coloured (and now classic in my eyes!) Jammer kit.
For 2020, Komraid has introduced two batches of new designs (as previously reported on The Sartorial Cyclist) and I recently got my hands on the Merlin Sky complete kit, comprising shorts, jersey, arm warmers and wind vest.
The design for me is evocative of the ‘invasion stripes’ that adorned allied aircraft in the days leading up to – and month after – the D-Day landings in June 1944 (I was surprised to learn that within a month, the stripes had been painted over on virtually all aircraft, as one has the impression they became a permanent feature through to the conclusion of the war – not so).
And so of course it makes perfect sense that Komraid have done two versions of the Merlin design – one in Olive (which reminds me of the plain olive green colour that adorned the majority of the C47 Dakota troop carriers) and one in Sky Blue (which looks like the Spitfire below!).
Merlin has to be a reference to the most famous of all piston engines ever, but the Komraid boys are tight-lipped!
Anyway, I digress…
I’ve always found the Komraid cycling kit to be of a very high quality and nowhere is this more evident than in the bib shorts, where they use one of the most comfortable pads I’ve ever found. Obviously, cycling pads are subjective and personal, but I know I’m not alone in rating Komraid’s choice highly.
I’ve noticed though that either my legs are getting chunkier or the bibs are getting smaller. I’m going to go with the former, after a long winter in the gym. Still, I can just about squeeze into a size small without too much tugging of lycra! Aside from the stripes on one leg and a blue Komraid logo on the other, the short design is nice and simple.
The jersey is a summer weight item (hence you can extend the usability of the kit with the wind vest and arm warmers for spring and autumn - Komraid also does some plain black knee warmers, too) with a full length zipper, nicely breathable back panels and arms that fit snugly without being restrictive. They don’t have any super-fancy scaly surfaces, but they’re comfortable and they don’t ride up too much on the bike, which is a bonus. Again, I opted for the small size and if it were 100% my choice, I’d make the chest a tiny bit tighter still (I’m about a 36” chest) as I have quite an aggressive stance on the bike and the front does rumple up a little. This might also have something to do with the length of the jersey and the fact I’m a short-arse (5’ 9”). The jersey features the ‘invasion stripes’ across the chest and back.
The arm warmers come in a pair (surprise!) where one arm is plain blue and the other has the stripes. So the biggest question is whether you wear them so that the arm with the stripes is on the same side as the stripes on the shorts, or reversed?! Decisions, decisions... I opted for the reverse configuration.
Finally the wind vest (also small). A snug fit over the jersey (just how I like it) with a high neck, a windproof front and a mesh back. As such, it truly is a wind vest and won’t do anything to protect your back in a downpour. But the benefit of the mesh back is twofold – first, you won’t overheat when wearing the gilet on days that start chilly but warm up. Second, the vest packs down small enough to easily fit into one of the three jersey pockets.
I’m biased, but I think Komraid has done it again with the Merlin design, whether Sky or Olive. In fact, I can see options to mix and match and try both the Olive and Sky together. The blue and olive seem to be a good compliment to one another.
In terms of sizing, as above I'd say Komraid is true to their sizing charts, but do note that the clothing is "race fit" so size up if you prefer it to be less like a second skin (as you can tell, the tighter the better for me..). As for pricing, it's not cheap. But then it's as good quality as you'll find, certainly better than a lot of other brands that charge significantly more. My Jammer kit still looks great after many, many rides (and washes!).
For more details on sizing and pricing, visit www.komraid.com