Torm Torm Torm

Last week, I discovered a new range of cycling jerseys from a new British manufacturer (I assume the ø in “Tørm” is a stylistic device but I may be wrong). To be fair, what led me to look them up was the suggestion that they were a straightforward Rapha rip-off (and it seems Rapha’s designer feels the same way), “made in the same factory to the same specifications [NB I have no idea if this is the case], but 1/3 the price”.

Obviously that last bit was what got me salivating. Rapha is a hyper-premium brand which produces top-quality stuff but has created an entire lifestyle, or even mythology, around its products. Wearing Rapha transforms you into a lean, wiry, chiselled climbing legend, conquering cols for fun, regardless of your actual reality. But in my humble opinion, it goes too far up its own arse, and I’m too self-conscious to wear Rapha without feeling a bit of a branded ponce.

I do own one Rapha garment, though, a short-sleeve sportwool jersey I won in a Bikeradar competition a couple of years ago. And it is a superb garment – beautifully designed and perfectly fitting, made from the ideal cycling material (39% merino wool and 61% polyester) which keeps you warm in winter, cool in summer, and never smells. So the prospect of gear of similar quality, without the subtle yet somehow ostentatious branding and under half the price, was a big draw.

A few days earlier, I had vowed to myself I wouldn’t buy any more cycling tops (I’m approaching 30 of the buggers, not including base layers), or at very least I would save up money I didn’t spend on buying expensive coffee and only then treat myself to some polyester loveliness. It didn’t work. And (in a counter-intuitive occurrence that should make marketers everywhere salivate with excitement), when I noticed that the price of the jersey I coveted had gone up by £10, I could no longer resist.

I bought the T5 jersey for £50 (and a short-sleeved sportwool base layer for luck), had it hand delivered to my office, which is a nice touch, and wore it home yesterday and into work today. It’s getting chilly now, maybe 10 degrees C or so on both rides, and I wouldn’t want to wear this jersey alone, despite its long sleeves (and the fleecy bib 3/4s I had on underneath), in much colder weather.

Having said that, the comfort levels were excellent, the material is soft and cosy, and the jersey fits well. Tørm’s Large size is a little more generous than Rapha’s (I have to admit I was expecting it to be identical), which is a real plus as that means you can actually take the sizing at its word – a rarity in cycling clothing – but it was slightly disappointing that the arms were just a bit too short.

They’d be fine on a civvy jersey, and the T5’s subtle stylings do make you wonder if some of its more, er, confident owners might wear it as such – the base layer even more so, as it looks fantastic on and I’m tempted to co-opt it as a t-shirt, especially when I shift the remaining spare tyre. But on a racing bike where you’re leaning significantly forward, the sleevs are pulled backleaving a gap of almost two inches between the cuff and my gloves. My arms are fairly long, but not that long, so I reckon adding an inch in the sleeve would be a good move.

That said, it is a really attractive top with great attention to detail. The logo is nice and subtle, and the colour is a gorgeous deep grey (not nearly as blue as it looks in the above pic). It’s cut in a very cycle-friendly way (notwithstanding the arm issue), with three open pockets and two smaller zipped ones on the back. The full spec is on the website, so I won’t repeat it, but I will note that it’s fully machine washable and tumble dryable – I’m always buying lovely things that I only later discover have to be dry cleaned.

Tørm also do a jersey that’s supposed to “protect from the elements”, the T6, and if it’s a windproof version of the T5 (I’ve emailed to ask), I’ll definitely get one. One of the pluses of dealing with new companies is you often get very personal service from the staff, and this has been the case with Tørm, with hand delivery, feedback to questions and an email to check all was okay. Add in the bargain price and it’s a no-brainer – as with the Shutt bib shorts I bought some weeks ago (and reviewed on this site), I’m delighted to support small businesses which prioritise value, service and quality.

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  1. Addendum – I wore the base layer on the ride into work this morning and, well, there’s not a lot to write about base layers, other than that it was effective, warm, comfortable to the point of me not noticing it, and it’s a good size and cut as well as being extremely good looking (not that this matters as the missus has told a disappointed me that no, I can’t get away with it as a t-shirt). Definitely good value at £25 for a sportwool top.

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