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High-end, high performance cycling gear:  is it worth the money?

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High-end, high performance cycling gear: is it worth the money?

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December 1st, 2015

Ride25 were lucky enough to attend the Rouleur Classic 2015 Cycling Emporium in November.  At the event we met lots of interesting cycling-related brands and businesses – one of which was ashmei. ashmei is a British-born sportswear brand renowned for selling high-end, high-performance sportswear who expanded their successful range into the cycling market just over a year ago.  Rivalling the likes of Rapha, we wanted to find out whether the ashmei price tags matched up to the performance – and what you really get for the money – so we asked ashmei founder Stuart Brooke a few questions about his business and clothing…

Why did you set up ashmei?

We have a sister company that has been designing and producing high performance sportswear for blue chip sportswear brands since 1997, so we know a thing or two about sportswear, fibres, sourcing and the general market. I noticed a gap in the market to produce sportswear focussed on the athletes needs rather than targeting specific key retail price points. It’s a similar R&D philosophy to Dyson or apple: focus on getting the best product in the world and cost isn’t relevant because there are consumers out there demanding the best.


ashmei’s stylish softshell cycling jacket is made from a mix of breathable softshell fabric and a merino blend to provide the ultimate microclimate and comfort


Is the ashmei range worth the investment?

Most definitely. If it isn’t we won’t launch a product and go back to the drawing board. Being the best is what we stand for.

All sportswear brands start with a target price point in mind. By doing this it instantly locks in the performance, features and quality. We never have a price point in mind and create a list of what the athlete needs with regard to performance and features. We then start to look at the relevant fibres required to create the fabrics, what mix of fibres would work best, how are the spun, are they knitted, whats the ideal construction and how heavy is the fabric. I call it the ingredients of the garment, basically selecting the very best formula to create the best garment. If you get any of these ingredient wrong by simply selecting off the shelf materials then the garment won’t work as well.

We follow this “perfect ingredients” rule all the way through the R&D, designing the best features, selecting the best components and sourcing the best labour and skills to end up with something truly unique.


ashmei’s men’s cycle bib shorts have ultrasonically welded seams and bespoke HD foam chamois


Where can you buy it? is our online store but our brand is sold in some of the best specialist retailers around the world. We select the retailers who we want to represent our brand as they need to have the expertise and product understanding to really sell the benefits of our gear. Smaller independents that sell high end bikes and quality clothing are where you will find ashmei such as Velo House in Kent, Ronde in Edinburgh or Cycle Right in Northwood. We plan to be in a  total of 8 specific cycle stores in the UK. Enough to give us distribution but not too much to weaken our message when it’s sold to consumers.

What research and technology have gone into developing ashmei?

It depends on the specific item but take our MERINO+CARBON fabric that we use on the cycle jersey, it took over 2 years to develop. We tested version after version after version, slightly altering the fibre content, weight and structure until we knew we couldn’t increase the performance any further. We gear test on athletes so we get a physical read out of how it performs in action and also test it in the lab so we can understand results that are not biased by human choice.

Our chamois took over 25 different prototypes to get right until we were totally happy to launch and we are already developing the 3rd version of this as we constantly want to improve, not only over our competitors products but also to our own production. Every time we re-produce styles we look for improvements in performance, making them lighter, softer, more durable & breathable, basically evolving them in the same way Porsche do with the 911, making it better and better over time.

What’s next?

We have a full collection of cycle products to launch. We are currently concluding testing on the range and plan to launch in 2016 so our customers can ride anytime of the year head to toe in ashmei.

Any pro riders signed up?

No, not yet. We are open to discussions but not if we need to get the cheque book out. We don’t really agree with having to pay someone to wear our gear. Ultimately this fee is charged back to the consumer and I think its becoming very transparent that celebrities and athletes are being paid to act before the camera. Instead we run an ambassador program that encourages every day riders to do something epic and share their journey. We give them a platform to write about this journey, how they train, their nutrition, their fears, goals and achievements. Our customers resonate with this because they can identify better with someone that doesn’t have a huge support team around them and could be doing challenges that they would also like to achieve. Winning the TDF isn’t really a feasible achievement for the majority of ours or our competitors’ customers!

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