The Milltag Men's Northern jersey turned up in time for summer testing, but with its short sleeves it should be ideal outer-wear for Geordie's unsupported bike ride to the South Pole – though he'll be pleased to hear it fits well with arm warmers, should temperatures dip.
'Where are you from? Where are you going? Where have you been? Borders don't define us, we are all in this together, but our heart belongs to the point of the compass. Be proud, ride for your team.' So says Milltag on its website about the Northern Jersey. It says the same about its Southern, Western and Eastern jerseys too, which are just the same should you be unfortunate enough not to actually be northern (and prepared to admit it publicly).
One shouldn't take Milltag's website descriptions too seriously, though. After all, this is the company that sponsors Team Top Bonk (Flemish Fish Flans of Flanders) and seems to be associated with The Coefficient of Drag, an occasional cycling magazine with a distinct banana theme. So if you should happen to be, say, Western and decide to ride in a Northern jersey, well – I can't see Milltag getting all hot under the collar about it.
Talking of collars, this one, when zipped right up, features a very nice little medallion (the 'tag' bit of Milltag I'll wager) which makes it nice 'n' easy to do up or undo, even with gloves on.
Front, back, pockets and collar are all made from the same 'Coolplus' fabric, which is micro-perforated for good ventilation without allowing in a draught. The side panels, while appearing the same at first glance, are actually slightly lighter weight and made from something called Carbonmesh, which Milltag says is antibacterial and 'active wicking'.
At 166g this is not at the lightest end of summer tops, which meant that the chill and persistent northern wind that has dogged my summer riding was kept tolerably at bay for the most part. If you've been sweating and labouring under a hot sun through June, there may be cooler tops out there for you – possibly even some that aren't black.
However, for real UK summers, the weight combines with the versatility of the full-length zip to create a jersey that can cope with most conditions, especially as the raw cut sleeve cuffs work well to keep draughts out of the tops of your arm warmers (yes, even in July I've had to resort to this). The sleeves themselves are made from a stretch fabric that is lighter than the fabric of the body and they fit quite closely, as does the garment as a whole. This close fit might be in part down to the fact that I was testing a medium, when Milltag's own size guide recommends a large for me, and this may account for why I found it a little short at the waist, so I suggest heeding its sage sizing advice.
At the back, there are the standard three elasticated pockets and a small zip pocket at the right hand side for keys and coins. While the middle pocket was only just deep enough to swallow my waterproof phone wallet, it held everything securely through some long days out and I had plenty of space for a black pudding butty and a ferret.
The jersey is made in Europe, and the finish is tidy and the stitching strong. Most of the seams are not flatlocked and I noticed that the internal join between the top of the sleeve and the shoulder had fluffed up a bit, either in wash or wear (possibly in contact with a bib short shoulder strap). I'd prefer to see flatlock-stitched seams when possible, especially in jerseys which fit closely, to eliminate any risk of chafing, though in fairness I didn't experience any here.
Value-wise, £75 is upper-mid-range pricing and, while I have ridden in cheaper garments that offer similar levels of performance, the Milltag Northern does incorporate some good features, such as the stretch sleeves and raw cuffs, that help justify the price, as does the cool styling and the 'club' exclusivity. Make sure you wave to anyone else you see wearing one.
Not just for Notherners, the Millband jersey is a stylish summer top that's not over-cooling in typical UK summer conditions
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Milltag Men's Northern Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"The Milltag Club jersey gets compass treatment with the Northern Jersey.
"Where are you from? Where are you going? Where have you been? Borders don't define us, we are all in this together, but our heart belongs to the point of the compass. Be proud, ride for your team."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Milltag lists these technical features:
Club fit; high wicking Coolplus micro-fibre body, rear and collar; anti-bacterial and active wicking Carbonmesh sides, Lightweight Stretchfit sleeves for increased aerodynamics, sleeve cuff, full length hidden zip, silicone gripper strip around hem, three rear pockets with extra hidden zip pocket, reflective strip underneath pockets, and flat-lock seams for comfort.
Well made, but I would prefer flatlock stitching on the internal seams in a close-fitting jersey like this.
Versatile enough to use in most UK conditions; it's not over-ventilated so can be used in cooler conditions, works well with layers, and has a full-length zip for extra airflow when things warm up.
Looking good so far, though like a lot of these perforated fabrics it's best kept away from anything that will pluck it.
Bearing in mind I was probably wearing a size too small, the fit was comfortable and quite close. No sags, droops or bulges evident.
Exactly as Milltag predicted; a large would have been ideal for me, but I was quite happy in this medium so if you are in doubt go with the sizing guide.
A mid-weight top for UK summers.
Not bursting with innovation, but well made and well designed so far from outrageously priced. The exclusivity of the design adds a little to the value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Robust fabrics that seemed to wash perfectly well in the sport cycle. Best kept away from Velcro.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Milltag is strong on design (the company produces a lot of bespoke kit) but certainly doesn't forget about the performance. While the weather here in the north hasn't tested the jersey to both extremes, it performed very well indeed in some cool and blustery, as well as mild and blustery conditions. The fabric choice is a good one for typical UK temperatures, the long zip allows full choice over ventilation, and the sleeves fit well with or without arm warmers. I liked it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good fit, good looks and a full-length zip with a neat pull tag.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Perhaps not quite innovative enough to put it into the upper reaches of a mid-price jersey, but performance-wise it hits the mark and should fit the bill any time the temperatures get up into the teens. Fit, quality and looks are all spot on.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking