Matt Willey

Matt Willey

Cycle ClothingFeaturedReviews

Vélobici René jersey review: Craftsmanship and quality in British cyclewear

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It will come as no surprise to avid readers of Vamper.cc that Victoria and I are admirers of craftsmanship and quality in garment manufacturing.

Victoria in particular has had a close relationship with the textiles and garment production industry. From watching her father’s business flourish as a child to her university courses in fashion, manufacturing and business, fashion and textiles have been a common thread throughout her life.

I have never given the role of the pattern cutter as much consideration as I have since I started wearing the Vélobici René. It’s construction has focused my mind on how much I appreciate the craftsmanship of a jersey.

It goes without saying that we have our favourites when it comes to cycling kit design, and we certainly have high expectation when it comes to cycling jersey manufacturer. Leicestershire-based cycle wear brand Vélobici more than meets those expectations; it’s the quintessence of British manufacturing excellence.

From its Market Bosworth manufacturing base to Nottinghamshire, the home of its fabrics, the brand exudes heritage and understated style that make its cycle wear so coveted.

When Vélobici contacted us to see if we wouldn’t mind running the rule over the René jersey, its latest high-performance cycling jersey, we jumped at the chance.

The Vélobici René jersey comes in two colourways, wine and sand. I’ve been testing the wine version in a marked departure from my usual palette of black.

The René is constructed from a super-lightweight honeycomb performance fabric with UVA/UVB protection, specifically developed by Vélobici.

The resulting jersey provides the sleek race-fit we all crave with an incredible capacity to contour to the body – without feeling restrictive. The René feels like a second skin as it moulds to your shape.

Billed as a three-season jersey, the René performs exceptionally under warm conditions thanks to the fabric’s impressive wicking capabilities. On our test rides, which were mostly dry and [reasonably] warm, the René kept my core comfortable with my body temperature remaining securely in the sweet spot. I can’t yet attest to the seasonal range attributes of the René, but I’m looking forward to testing it further once Autumn arrives with base layers and arm warmers. To be honest, I can also see it getting an outing in winter, too, as part of well-planned layering on those crisp, sunny mornings.

The resulting jersey provides the sleek race-fit we all crave with an incredible capacity to contour to the body – without feeling restrictive. The René feels like a second skin as it moulds to your shape.

The René is a four-pocket, full-length zip jersey – one zipped and waterproof – which provides ample storage for every mid-ride incidental (including a lightweight waterproof for this British summer).

The cut is a classical race-fit, featuring a dipped hem. My only minor gripe with the jersey is that, for my 6ft frame, the front is just a little bit on the short side. However, the rear of the René provides ample coverage and the front prevents the bunching you can sometimes find on jerseys with straight-cut hems.

The René features ‘Vélobici’ breathable jacquard detailing to the side panels and underarm providing additional ventilation. Embroidered René and VB logos adorn the chest area and reflective binding to the rear pocket and hem finish the exquisite detailing. (Victoria is thoroughly envious that I get to sport a jersey bearing her initials.)

Both the hem and sleeves feature silicone grippers so that nothing rides up – a particular bugbear of mine – and preserves the sleek silhouette of the jersey throughout a ride.

As a premium, Made in England item, you’d hope that it would launder and wear well. Over the few weeks that I’ve been testing it its been washed several times and hasn’t lost its shape or colour at all.

The verdict? The Vélobici René jersey has been everything I had hoped it would be. It has reaffirmed a love affair with finery and it confirms that craftsmanship and quality in British cycle wear is alive and well. It proves that in this age of materials technology, elegance and performance can walk hand in hand.

I have never given the role of the pattern cutter as much consideration as I have since I started wearing the Vélobici René. It’s construction has focused my mind on how much I appreciate the craftsmanship of a jersey, how much the crafted lines matter and on how difficult it is to pinpoint what cumulatively leads to overall excellence.

What is abundantly clear is that the René is a glorious cycling jersey. It has added more than a splash of colour and style to my cycling wardrobe and has firmly placed Vélobici in my arsenal of revered clothing brands.

The Vélobici René jersey is priced at £175 and is available from Vélobici.cc.

Cycling AccessoriesFeatured

The Camden Watch Company debuts special cycling edition Camden x KPP Cycling Watch

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The Camden Watch Co., an independent British watch brand, has launched its special edition, the Camden x KPP Cycling watch.

Celebrating its passion and the UK’s long-standing love affair with the bicycle, the brand has created its first cycling focused timepiece in collaboration with cyclist and brand ambassador Kitty Pemberton-Platt.

The Camden x KPP Cycling design pays tribute to the aesthetics of vintage cycling. From the saddle-inspired studs to the gear-shaped crown, from the jersey-style embossed letters on the strap to the subtle wheel design in the centre of the dial.

Available on a detailed tan nato strap with white stitching or as a Club Kit edition with an extra black nylon strap and an exclusive Camden x KPP Club badge, the watch will appeal to bike lovers and admirers of vintage design alike.

Anneke Short and Jerome Robert, founders of The Camden Watch Company, said: “Cycling has always been a passion of ours — we even have a small Camden Watch Co. cycling team — so working on this watch with Kitty was a delight. From small cycling details that we had never noticed ourselves to great anecdotes about cycling adventures, we not only learnt a lot but we had fun doing it.”

Further details are available from  www.camdenwatchcompany.com – Prices start from £149.

Cycling AccessoriesFeatured

Bristol-based design studio Huxlo launches its Maurad mount on Indiegogo

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Young Bristol-based design and build studio, Huxlo, has confirmed the launch of its latest product, Maurad, a flat-packed, easy to use, and affordable answer to a common bicycle storage problem.

Digitally designed, manufactured and hand-finished in the UK from from high quality and sustainable FSC approved timber, Maurad is the brainchild of founder Matthew Mew, who dreamt up the concept whilst studying for his Engineering Masters at the University of Bristol.

Huxlo is seeking to crowdfund over £10,000 via the Indiegogo platform. Aiming to upscale production after a string of smaller successful production runs, Maurad is being brought to the masses in a 30 day public campaign starting on 21st August. Contributors to the campaign will receive their very own Maurad.

With safe and secure bike storage being an ongoing problem for commuting cyclists, Huxlo created a solution from a simple concept design and many iterations that would keep their bikes indoors, off of the floor and save on valuable floor space. Maurad arrives as a flat-packed kit, ready for self-assembly. Its precision cut and manufactured parts mean that all of the components fit together perfectly forming a solid and durable mount.

Huxlo have a production-ready and cost-effective product, which they are now looking to upscale. They have secured a local manufacturing partner in Bristol, with the capabilities to produce Maurad on mass to Huxlo’s specifications and high standards.

Maurad is designed to hold an average adult-sized bicycle and it is precision crafted from birch plywood to hang on the wall. Maurad will compliment any contemporary space with its simple design, utilising the walls to save precious floor space. The light birch plywood of Maurad is inspired by Scandinavian design.

For more details on the crowdfunding project visit the Huxlo Indiegogo page

Maurad

Maurad Instructions

Cycling AccessoriesFeaturedNews

Kickstarter Alert: Winter rides may never be the same with Polar Seal Heated Tops

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With the winter season lurking ominously in the background and the prospect of chilly winter morning commutes returning one new Kickstarter campaign is aiming to banish the cold winter blues forever.

The PolarSeal Heated Top range is currently seeking funding on the popular crowdfunding website and with 18 days left to go it has already smashed its HK$ 390,000 goal, raising a total of HK$ 2,300,206 so far.

Designed to be super lightweight, flexible, and breathable, Polar Seal tops come in a range of colours and sizes in both men’s and women’s cuts. The tops are designed to provide heat for up to 8 hours, meaning you can go a full day in the saddle without feeling the cold.

Polar Seal is compatible with standard USB power banks giving you the freedom to choose the power bank that suits your needs and taste, or use USB power banks you already might own.

Design Process from POLAR SEAL on Vimeo.

Embedded between two ultra thin dissipation layers, the heating element is fully integrated into the garment, making Polar Seal flexible and breathable.  It is also water resistant so no need to worry about using it on soaking wet rides. It can also be hand washed and washed with detergent.

The Polar Seal buttons are engineered to endure shocks without changes to the settings and are reactive enough to be operated with gloves on, which means that you can adjust your heating preferences mid-ride without having to remove any gear.

The fabrics are composed of 92% polyester and 8% elastane, making the garment warm, breathable, comfortable, and flexible, ideal for most outdoor sports activities.

Full details on Polar Seal and the Kickstarter campaign can be found here: Polar Seal

Featured

The Cycle Show returns to the NEC from 22-24 September – tickets on sale now

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The Cycle Show, the UK’s largest bike show, is inviting visitors to its regular home, The Birmingham NEC, from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 September.

Now in its 16th year, the 2017 Cycle Show celebrates all things bike-related; from road, MTB and BMX to leisure, urban and e-bikes.  

The annual event will host more than 300 exciting exhibitors featuring brands including Boardman, Canyon, Cube, GoPro, Nukeproof, Oakley, Orange Mountain Bikes, Selle Italia, Wattbike, and many more.

Top riders and cycling celebrities, including Olympic gold medallist Joanna Rowsell-Shand and retired Rapha Condor and NFTO road racer Dean Downing, will make appearances on the Wattbike Stage, with further photo opportunities available throughout the show.

There isn’t another cycling experience of this scale in the UK, and whether you’re a life-long road racer, novice mountain biker or simply enjoy cycling as a pastime, there really is something for everyone – The Cycle Show’s Event Director Stephen Morgan

There will be a range of bikes on the Road Test Track, with top brands such as Bianchi, Canyon, Condor, Pinarello and Trek available to test. After great success last year, show-goers who want to experience the fun of electric mountain bikes can enjoy on Bosch’s eMTB track, the UK’s first indoor eMTB track.

Cycle Show 2016 from The Cycle Show on Vimeo.

Adding to the e-bike experience this year, Shimano STEPs will have over 100 different e-bike models available for testing at their e-bike village, with brands including AMPS, Cube, Haibike and KTM.

A special addition to next month’s show is the Pirelli Supercrit Race, with men’s and women’s elite races taking place in the afternoon of Saturday 23 September. Cyclists wishing to take part in the Supercrit can enter the race via British Cycling’s website here.

With athlete nutrition a vital part of cycling, riders and spectators will be treated to Vifit Sport samples and visitors can learn more about nutrition and hydration throughout the course of the show with Inkospor.

NEC Cycle Show 2016 © Gary Morrisroe Photography

The Cycle Show’s many family-friendly attractions include the Ridgeback Kid’s Test Track, with demonstrators on-hand to give children the best experience, the Islabikes Kid’s Demo Track and the British Triathlon Trust’s Kids Dry Tri, giving children the opportunity to try their hand at a dry triathlon (run/cycle/row).

This year for the first time ever, The Cycle Show will be offering a VIP ticket package, for those who want to make their Cycle Show experience even greater. The package includes entry to the show, fast track queue jump, early priority access to book the Road Test Track, exclusive access to the VIP Cycle Show Lounge, a chance to win a GoPro, a complimentary copy of Cyclist magazine and much more.

NEC Cycle Show 2016 © Gary Morrisroe Photography

Stephen Morgan, The Cycle Show’s Event Director, said“We have really developed the show this year into something extra special. It’s the largest dedicated cycling exhibition in the UK and we have an unbelievable amount of names from the cycling industry supporting the show. There isn’t another cycling experience of this scale in the UK, and whether you’re a life-long road racer, novice mountain biker or simply enjoy cycling as a pastime, there really is something for everyone.”

Sally Carter, Head of Marketing at Wattbike, said: “It’s great to be at The Cycle Show again this year.  It’s the largest cycling exhibition in the UK so it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet with the cycling community and bring our obsession with performance to life. This year is particularly special as we will be delivering the Wattbike Stage; thought-leading experts and world-renowned ambassadors will take to the stage to discuss cycle trainings hot topics, including the benefits of training with power and pedalling technique. We will also be bringing something new and exciting, which will be a must-see at the show.”

Ticket Prices
Adult – £13.95
Child (aged 5 and under) – FREE
Child (aged 6-13) – £1.95
Young Adult (aged 14-17) – £9.95
Senior or Student – £11.95
VIP – £34.95

For information about The Cycle Show ticket sales click here.

For more information visit www.cycleshow.co.uk
Twitter: @CycleShow
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CycleShow
Instagram: www.instagram.com/cycleshow

Cycle Clothing

Vélobici to offer Di Luca’s Killer heat-moulded cycling shoes to the UK

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Vélobici has become the exclusive UK stockist of a new cycling shoe with heat-moulding technology, designed by Italian road cycling legend Danilo Di Luca.

The new DL Killer KS1 shoes from Di Luca’s Killer Collection feature a 100% carbon fibre shell and an ultralite sole, engineered to mould to the shape of the rider’s feet.

The heat-moulding technology is activated by heating the shoes in boiling water and setting the sole to the rider’s individual footprint, and is designed to deliver unrivalled comfort and performance on the road.

Chris Puttnam, owner of Vélobici said: “The revolutionary technology involved in creating these shoes makes them a perfect fit for Vélobici and we are pleased to be able to add these shoes to our collection of performance roadwear.

“The shoes have been developed with the input of Di Luca along with other top professional cyclists and are scientifically proven to increase the rider’s power output on the road, thanks to a carbon hull that moulds to the shape of the rider’s feet to provide exceptional comfort.

“This, coupled with the lightweight design and increased ventilation, helps to keep feet at a comfortable temperature while on the road and therefore helps to increase performance.

“Our premium cyclewear benefits from the latest technology and we are continually working on developing new lines that push the capabilities of these fabrics, so it is great to be able to offer customers cycling shoes that echo our own ethos.

“Our partnership with Danilo Di Luca has already enabled us to create our own Vélobici road bike and we have plans to develop further lines in the future.”

The DL Killer KS1 shoes feature an ATOP lace system with dual direction capabilities and are adjustable with one hand, allowing them to be tightened or loosened on the move.

The shoes benefit from increased breathability thanks to ventilation holes on the sides of the front upper and tongue, and the carbon sole, to help to keep the rider’s feet at an optimum temperature during activity.

Arch support also provides total comfort by preventing pronation movement and features engineering to guard against the rider’s arch rolling.

The DL Killer KS1 shoes are now available from Vélobici’s Market Bosworth shop and website, and are available in six colours. Priced at £390.

To find out more about available collections or to shop online visit www.velobici.cc

FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

Zwift Academy registration now open for 2017 following Rapha Club House London launch event

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Zwift, the global online fitness platform for cyclists, has announced that registration is open for the 2017 CANYON//SRAM Racing Zwift Academy in a continued partnership with the Women’s WorldTour team.

Launched yesterday evening at the Rapha Club House, in Soho, London, the global talent ID program invites female cyclists to compete to win a UCI World Tour contract by riding Zwift.

The success of the first year showed that not only could we discover a world-class talent, but we could inspire a global community of female cyclists – Ronny Lauke

In 2016, the inaugural Zwift Academy saw 1200 registrants from 51 countries. Building on the success of last year’s program, Zwift and CANYON//SRAM are hoping to triple that number in 2017.

“When we announced the 2016 Zwift Academy, there was a lot of curiosity on whether the program could deliver on its lofty goals,” said Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM’s Team Manager and Sports Director.

“The success of the first year showed that not only could we discover a world-class talent, but we could inspire a global community of female cyclists. With that proof of concept, the sky is the limit for the 2017 edition.”

Winner of the 2016 Zwift Academy Leah Thorvilson with Eric Min, Zwift co-founder & CEO

Following the registration period, the Zwift Academy will commence on September 1st with a six-week Qualifying stage, open to all women who want to challenge themselves to be the best cyclist they can be. Participants will be tasked to complete a series of group rides & structured workouts in Zwift.

“My transition from running to cycling to elite level cycling was unreal and only made possible because of Zwift,” said Leah Thorvilson, winner of the 2016 Zwift Academy.

“I hope my story will inspire thousands more women to strive to be a better cyclist by being part of the 2017 Zwift Academy. It is more than just a competition, the Zwift Academy also created a super friendly and motivated international women’s cycling community, so I’d encourage women of all abilities to sign-up!”

“Introducing a racing component to the Zwift Academy provides the judges with another important evaluation component” –  Eric Min

Zwift Academy is partnering with leading training software, Today’s Plan, to organize and track participants’ ride data and coaching partner, TrainSharp, to prescribe the workouts and analyze performance. The biggest change for 2017 will be the introduction of eRacing to the Semi-Final stage in November.

“Introducing a racing component to the Zwift Academy provides the judges with another important evaluation component,” said Eric Min, Zwift co-founder & CEO.

Hannah Barnes, British Road Race Champion and Canyon//SRAM rider and Leah Thorvilson take to the stage

“Zwift Academy eRacing will be an ideal testing ground for measuring and gauging new talent in an expansive, fair, effective and competitive environment.”

Hannah Barnes, British Road Race Champion and Canyon//SRAM rider, added “I’m super excited about the launch of the 2017 Zwift Academy, it’s such a wonderful opportunity to open the sport up to more women. I can’t wait to meet & ride with our contestants in Zwift!”

Three 2017 Zwift Academy finalists will be invited to the CANYON//SRAM Racing team camp in Mallorca, Spain, in December of 2017, with the overall winner of the pro-contract announced shortly afterwards.

Riders interested in joining Zwift Academy can visit academy.zwift.com to find out more and sign up starting today, June 12th.

Zwift Academy 2017 Schedule:

  • Registration: June 12 – September 1
  • Qualification: September 1 – October 13
  • Semi Finals: November 1 – 22
  • Finals: December

 

Cycle ClothingFeatured

Vélobici aiming to keep riders cool with new René and Continental super-lightweight summer jerseys

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Premium cyclewear brand Vélobici has developed a new super-lightweight fabric for its latest collection of performance jerseys and bib shorts. The snappily named VB/Pro-VR2 is described as “a high-tech performance nylon, developed with a honeycomb fabric construction and providing a lightweight 150g fabric that excels on the road.”

The new three-season kit promises to perform exceptionally under warm conditions due to the fabric’s ease of movement and wicking capabilities.

Velobici’s Rene jersey in wine with Rene bib shorts in black

The René is a high performance full-length zip jersey benefitting from a standard race fit. It features superlight ‘vélobici’ Jacquard detailing to the side panels and underarm for added ventilation, and is completed with Vélobici’s classic eye for detail, with embroidered René and VB logos to the chest and the brand’s recognisable reflective binding to the rear pocket and hem.

The use of performance nylon, over polyester, keeps this four-pocket jersey (one zipped and waterproof) durable, while delivering better moisture wicking and odour resistance. It is available in sand with wine and black detailing or in wine with sand and black detailing. The René jersey is priced at £175.

Designed to complement both jerseys, the René bib shorts are made from VB/Pro-VR1 performance fabric (280g) to ensure extra comfort in the saddle. It features a new VB pad, constructed using foam carving and wave body technology, this is then covered with bioceramic anti-bacterial fabric that is made using clay minerals. The minerals help reflect F.I.R infrared rays emitted by the human body, providing the rider with unrivalled comfort and thermoregulation. Vented lightweight centre back, silicone leg grippers with Vélobici butt and VB thigh embroideries finish the classic look. They are available individually at £180 and are available as a set at £310.

Velobici’s new lightweight Continental jersey and bib shorts

The biggest selling jersey in the Vélobici portfolio has been given a lightweight makeover for summer, with the classic Continental kit now available in 150g honeycomb fabric. A versatile roadwear staple, this short sleeve Continental jersey delivers the same superior comfort and stretch in the saddle, but with a cool and lightweight feel, making it an essential piece of kit for the warmer weather.

This navy jersey is completed with a full-length zip, lightweight ‘vélobici’ jacquard side panels and under arm, gold VB and Continental embroidered logos to the chest, and the brand’s recognisable reflective top pocket and hem binding in gold. Seamless silicone gripper on the hem and sleeve cuffs keeps everything where it should be, regardless of the conditions. The Continental jersey is priced at £175.

The new Continental bib shorts are made from Vélobici’s exclusive VB/Pro-VR1 fabric (280g), they benefit from four-way stretch and exceptional wicking. The Continental bibs again feature the new VB pad.

They are available individually at £180 and are available as a set at £310.

The Rene jersey in sand

To find out more about available collections or to shop online visit www.velobici.cc.

For the latest news check out @velobici_cc or www.facebook.com/velobici.

Cycle ClothingCycling Accessories

Shoe Doping with Artful Kicks: raise your cycling shoe game to the next level

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It often said that clothes maketh the man (or woman). The same should be said of shoes but, when it comes to cycling, they’re all too often overlooked. We see ever more wild jersey designs, sock designs (#sockdoping, anyone?) and of course, crazy caps – but the rate of creative development seems rather slow when it comes to the aesthetic evolution of cycling shoes.

There has been scant opportunity to establish your sense of self and to stand out from the pack with your choice of cycling shoes, until now. But fear not: Artful Kicks has entered the building.

This fledgling bespoke footwear business is the brainchild of Simon Fellows from Dorset, who has quickly become the go-to name for fancy footwear with his outstanding designs. We have been talking to Simon about how Artful Kicks has developed, about his stellar client list, and what the future holds for this growing company.

Tell us a bit about your background, Simon. Where are you from, and what inspired you to start Artful Kicks?

I’m Simon Fellows, 25, owner of Artful Kicks. I was born in Leeds and my family moved south to Dorset in 1999. I’ve always had an interest in art, but the subject was not a major feature of my education. However, sport most definitely was and I graduated from the University of Chichester in 2013 with a degree in Sports and Exercise Science before relocating to Bedfordshire.

Towards the end of 2014 my partner and I travelled around New Zealand for 4 months with a number of University friends. Before we went travelling I was stuck in a dead-end retail job with no career progression but I had always said to myself that I would relish the opportunity to start my own business. I just didn’t know what path I would take. After returning home from New Zealand I decided to embark on a career in the sports industry and it was during this period that my hobby turned into a full-time profession.

In between career searches I started to paint canvases of various footwear as a hobby (I have an ever-growing collection of sneakers!). I was lucky enough to sell a variety of these canvases to customers over Instagram; this was where Artful Kicks was created and I was soon able to produce my very first pair of custom hand-painted sneakers – a pair of Adidas Superstars. That was the birth of Artful Kicks.

How has the first 18 months been for you and Artful Kicks, and how did the move into bespoke cycling shoe designs come about?

The last 18 months have seen me produce over 400 hand-painted pairs of shoes for casual and performance wear and what began as a hobby developed into a full-time profession. I’ve created casual pairs of sneakers for professional footballers such as Leroy Sané, Maarten Stekelenburg and David Meyler, and public figures including Alex Cannon. More recently, I’ve ventured into the world of cycling and performance wear.

I was approached by professional cyclist Ian Bibby (now of team JLT Condor) requesting a pair of hand-painted cycling shoes. I had never thought that this could be an option, but with my interest in sport and being a keen recreational cyclist I accepted and started to experiment on what materials I could work on with the equipment I use. The shoes were subsequently worn by Ian in various races across the UK circuit.

The product basically promoted itself and before I knew it I was inundated with emails requesting custom cycling shoes from amateur to elite riders. I came to the realisation that there was most definitely a market for this and that I wanted to take Artful Kicks in this direction. Both recreational cyclists and those riding on the pro-circuit contact me on a daily basis to create something unique and bespoke, allowing them to stand out in the pro-peloton or alongside their riding partners.

Your customer roster is becoming a bit of a who’s who… which commission left you the most starstruck?

I’ve been lucky to have been approached by a large number of pro cyclists over the past year commissioning unique pairs:

  • Ian Bibby (JLT Condor)
  • Kristian House (ONEPRO Cycling)
  • Gianni Meersman (Quick-Step Floors)
  • Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
  • Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin)
  • Lucs Liss (German International)
  • Gudi Stock (German Olympian)
  • Mark Stewart (Team GB and An Post-Chain Reaction)

The next couple of months looks as if they’ll be extremely exciting with a number of Tour de France riders contacting me – there’s no better race in the world to have your work promoted! I have pairs in the pipeline for Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Arnaud Démare (FDJ) – I’m sure there’ll be a few more wanting to stand out in the peloton to before the TDF starts!

How long does the commission process usually take? How do you decide on the perfect design with a client?

On average I can create around 2-3 pairs of cycling shoes in a week, this of course varies depending on the complexity of each design. I have been very fortunate in the fact that a lot of my customers have seen my previous work and just ask me to freestyle a design based on a vague concept or idea that they supply, although you do get customers who have a very set design in their mind bringing all their personal artwork together on one pair of shoes.

All the work displayed on my social media channels and website has been created via a collaborative process and the exchange of ideas between me and the customer – I don’t produce ‘mock-up’ designs so I make sure that both the customer and I are on the same wavelength with the design and I keep them updated throughout the production of their custom shoes. I have a lot of experience working on a large array of different brands and materials so I definitely have a good idea as to what would work best for the customer.

Have you had much interest from the female cycling community?

I would say that 90% of my customers so far have been from the male cycling community, but I have noticed that the vast majority of influencers with a large following on social media are from the female cycling community – maybe we are starting to see a swing of the pendulum in regards to the split between gender communities. I am in contact with Kate Hammond (@purelypalmer) who has over 125k followers on Instagram about producing a pair of customised Specialized S-Works. Her following has grown tremendously over the last few months and it’s influencers like Kate that are getting more and more people into funky, out-there kits and equipment.

The cycling scene seems to be very receptive to new ideas – do you think that’s the case?

I most definitely believe this is the case, especially when it comes to the way cyclists like to express their style. In my opinion there is an obvious divide between plain and extravagant cycling wear, there is very little in between but we are seeing a rise in kit companies producing flashy, patterned and brightly coloured attire.

Another reason for wanting to take Artful Kicks in the cycling direction is that there are a huge number of plain white cycling shoes worn around both the amateur and elite circuits – it’s only very recently that I’ve seen a few designers willing to push aesthetic boundaries. I’m aiming to push this boundary even further and to give a riders’ shoes a personal touch – that little something to help them stand out while racing.

Which brands’ products do you most enjoy working with?

I have worked on various brands such as SIDI, GIRO, Fizik, Specialized, Rapha, Lake, Bontrager and Shimano, but I must say that the GIRO Empire SLX, Rapha GT, Specialized S-Works 6/Sub6 and Fizik R1B are amongst the best pairs to work on. They offer a large single-skinned area and the synthetic and natural leather is a perfect canvas for me to produce a wide range of designs. If a customer asks then I will always suggest a white pair of shoes – this makes the colours really pop and the whole effect is so clean and sharp.

What have been the highlights?

The biggest plus for me over the past year has been the fact that I wake up and get to produce a different design each day. Every product is a marriage of the customer’s ideas with the knowledge I have gained as to what works and look best on the shoes. I go to bed thinking about the following day and how I will produce something that the customer will be over the moon with.

My Instagram account @artfulkicks has gained over 20,000 followers and a large number of these are keen cyclists. There are a great number of key influencers from across the world of cycling, including four-time Olympic Gold Medallist Laura Kenny who recently clicked the follow button alongside a variety of GB hopefuls and athletes on the pro circuit.

Social media is, of course, a fantastic way to give Artful Kicks exposure – however, recently I was lucky enough to be approached by GQ magazine to feature in the May, June and July issues. If you receive ‘Cyclist’ magazine you will also see an advertorial of mine, during June, July and August.

Might we see some collaboration projects on the horizon?

Apart from the collaboration between multiple Tour De France riders and social media influencers I will be hoping to send in pairs of hand-painted cycling shoes to a variety of Cycle-focused magazines, to hopefully generate some reviews and editorial for features in their issues. I still have a dream to be able to create a range of cycling shoe designs for a major company in the cycling world; not necessarily hand-painted, but to be able to be part of the development process in producing a limited-edition range using my ideas and input.

Who knows where Artful Kicks will venture to next….

Simon and Artful Kicks can be contacted for commissions or other expressions of interest via email: artful.kicks@outlook.com or using the social media accounts below:

INSTAGRAM: @artfulkicks

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Cycling AccessoriesNews

Introducing the Fassa fork bag: next-level protection for transporting your bike

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Fassa has launched what it describes as the first ever padded fork bag, designed to protect your expensive new front fork upgrades when the front wheel is removed.

Made from durable, waterproof materials, and padded with 4mm closed cell foam, the Fassa Padded Fork Bag protects the fork from those back of the car dings and garage scrapes.

Fork Bags are available for Road (one size) and Mountain bikes (three sizes – short, medium and long travel sizes).

Prices begin from £40.

Who is Fassa?

Fassa is a Dorset-based business that designs and makes products to protect bicycles in transit and in storage.

The name ‘Fassa’ came from the Giro D’Italia, perhaps the hardest road race of them all and a mountainous region in the Italian Dolomites called Val Di Fassa. It was once the site of fierce battles between Italians and Austrians but today everyone lives in perfect harmony. It’s also hugely popular with cyclists, and that’s the link: bicycles that once emerged battered and sometimes broken from the backs of vans now, thanks to Fassa products, arrive ready to ride.

Based on the South Coast, Fassa were in the ideal place to learn from workshops that make products that suffer in the harshest of conditions – out at sea. They met with ocean sail makers, outdoor clothing manufacturers and surf board bag makers to understand construction of products that need to work day in day out in high winds, salt water, sand and bright sunlight. Fabric type, thread strength and construction need to be strong, robust and hardworking. We learn’t a lot from and we wanted this high standard for our own products.

The Fassa workshop/atelier was set up in Wimborne, Dorset in 2015 where the brand invested in the finest sewing machines made by German firm, Durkopp Adler. They sought highly experienced industrial machinists to join the team.

Fassa launched its business and website in December 2016. They are attending trade events and sportives throughout 2017 where they will be giving riders the opportunity to view and purchase their products.

The full-range of products is also available to purchase at our website, www.fassa.cc

The brand also offers a bespoke service where customers can commission their own projects.

* NOTE

Vamper has been trialling the full Fassa range of bike protection when moving around the country with our beloved bikes. We will bring you a full review of our experiences shortly.

Cycling TipsFeaturedNews

How much does it cost to fly with your bike? – Charges by airline

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Travelling with your bike can be a bit of headache, trying to get your head around the various charges, limits and packing stipulations.

We were recently sent this very handy infographic series from the guys at Yellow Jersey Cycle Insurance which presents a useful overview of the requirements for travelling with your precious cargo.

Hopefully this will help you get prepared for that summer stint in Majorca or even further afield.

WITHIN EUROPE

NORTH AMERICA & EUROPE

ASIA/AUSTRALIA & EUROPE

AFRICA & EUROPE

CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA & EUROPE

NewsSportives

Yorkshire Velo Tours launches innovative online Route Store

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Ilkley-based cycle tour company Yorkshire Velo Tours has announced the launch of its online Route Store, which contains all the information you need to enjoy a classic Yorkshire cycle route.

Six routes are now available using a simple download facility.

With each route purchase you will receive details of :

  • Off street parking and toilet/changing facilities at the start/finish
  • Comprehensive description of the route with photos
  • Recommendations of the best cafe stops
  • Bespoke printable map of the route, showing key climbs and cafe stops
  • Link to route on Mapmyride
  • GPX file
The cost per route is £4.99 with a free test route (The Three Hill Thriller) available to download.
FeaturedWomen's Cycling

Zwift Academy initiative to return for 2017 with eRacing component; CANYON//SRAM Racing retains project partnership

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Following its immensely successful 2016 pilot, Zwift has announced that the Zwift Academy will return in 2017, with ambitious participation targets and the introduction of eRacing. The Academy will also run in continued partnership with CANYON//SRAM racing.

The initiative, which invites participants to try out for a UCI World Tour pro contract by riding Zwift, is aiming to triple registrations in 2017 and create the world’s largest community of female cyclists.

The announcement coincides with 2016 Zwift Academy winner, Leah Thorvilson, joining her new CANYON//SRAM teammates and management in Adelaide for the start for the 2017 UCI World Tour season.

Leah Thorvilson
2016 Zwift Academy winner Leah Thorvilson

“Zwift has showed itself as a credible talent identification platform and the 2016 Zwift Academy proved that CANYON//SRAM Racing were committed to adding a new dimension to women’s cycling in their very first season”, says Ronny Lauke, Canyon//SRAM Racing Team Manager.

“Our Year 2 program will build on what we achieved in 2016 by delivering new angles to boost registrations and benefits for all participants.”

Zwift and Canyon//SRAM are planning to more than triple participation in 2017 by attracting over 3,600 female cyclists to take part and graduate from the Zwift Academy program.

“Zwift Academy became famous when Leah Thorvilson earned a UCI World Tour contract but the very notion of an academy meant everyone should benefit” adds CANYON//SRAM rider Tiffany Cromwell.

“In 2016 the Zwift Academy brought together a global community of female cyclists who supported and encouraged each other regardless of ability level or experience on the bike. The best thing was that any female cyclist could take part and benefit, whether they were a newbie, an enthusiast or a racer. I’m looking forward to seeing this inclusive vibe go from strength to strength in 2017”.

Registrations for Year 2 of the Zwift Academy are expected to open in June, with the qualification phase starting in September. In keeping with the 2016 program, participants will be tasked to complete a range of group rides, training rides and structured training programs. The biggest change for 2017 will be the introduction of eRacing to the semi-final stage in November.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPHFuGL6Uq0

“eSport is coming to cycling and Zwift is leading the charge. Introducing a racing component to Zwift Academy provides the judges with another important evaluation component” said Eric Min, Zwift founder & CEO.

“Zwift Academy racing will be an ideal testing ground for measuring and gauging new talent in a fair, effective, competitive environment.”

Min also revealed Zwift are in talks to establish a CANYON//SRAM eRacing development team for the 2018 season. “This is a natural progression for Zwift and CANYON//SRAM Racing. This new and unique project will ease many of the budget constraints in women’s cycling by allowing rider talent to be developed online, in many geographies, and within a team structure.”

Three 2017 Zwift Academy finalists will be invited to the Canyon//SRAM Racing team camp at the end of 2017.

 

 

FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

The search concludes as CANYON//SRAM racing names Leah Thorvilson its Zwift Academy winner

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After an exhaustive 11-month search, CANYON//SRAM has announced the rider who will take a spot on its World Tour roster, after having scoured the globe via its innovative partnership with Zwift to uncover raw talent.

Leah Thorvilson, a former U.S. Olympic trials marathon runner from Little Rock, Arkansas, fought off 1,200 women from around the world to win the pro-contract and the opportunity to race for the CANYON//SRAM Racing during the 2017 season.

“It’s been an incredible journey and a totally surreal experience,” said Thorvilson, after spending the better part of the 2016 summer participating in group rides and completing structured workout programs on Zwift, before training with the CANYON//SRAM team in Majorca.

Zwift Academy winner Leah Thorvilson

“Prior to Zwift Academy, I never would have guessed this was possible. The other finalists, Jessie and Yvonne are tremendous athletes whom I now consider close friends. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, and I can’t wait to begin this next chapter with the CANYON//SRAM Racing team.”

“Our team is about challenging conventions and we’re super proud of Leah,” said CANYON//SRAM Racing rider Tiffany Cromwell, who first announced the competition during a virtual group ride with Zwift users.

“It’d be an honour to have any of the Zwift Academy finalists on team for 2017; they’ve put their lives on hold for this opportunity, but Leah distinguished herself in making the final cut. Leah is a welcome addition here.”

For each of the three rounds of competition, a panel of judges narrowed riders down by carefully analysing data gathered during online rides and workouts.

CANYON//SRAM Sports Director Beth Duryea, Professional Pursuit World Champion Mike McCarthy, and TrainSharp Founder Jon Sharples were part of the selection committee who chose twelve semi-finalists before narrowing it down to the final three.

“Finding talent in cycling is a numbers game, in terms of casting the net wide and drawing performance data back in. That’s what excited us about the Zwift Academy concept. Indoor training provides the accessibility for participants, a safe environment to train and a controlled environment to analyse data, then Zwift adds the social element to build a community of riders and spur them on. It doesn’t surprise us that Leah is our winner. We’re looking forward to seeing how she can develop into a bike racer,” said TrainSharp’s Sharples.

“When you see an idea really become something, it’s an amazing feeling,” added Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM Racing team manager.

“We took a chance with the Zwift Academy and we’re very pleased with the potential we saw not only in Leah, but in the other finalists as well. Watching and seeing all these women dedicate themselves to the sport, it makes one wonder how many more are overlooked.”

Zwift Academy Finalists Leah Thorvilson, Yvonne van Hattum and Jessie Donavan

Leah’s training and race schedule will be determined by the management of CANYON//SRAM Racing, including sport director Beth Duryea. “The immediate future is about further preparing Leah for bike racing at a professional level. The learning curve is going to be incredibly steep, but we will provide a plan with some specific areas for her to work on over the rest of winter. Leah will have a training program from our team coach and together we’ll discuss the first part of the season. It would be great to see her preparing to race sometime in spring.”

Zwift CEO & Founder, Erin Min concluded; “We knew that Zwift and its community were capable of producing a rider who could race at a World Tour level. But this was only made possible because of CANYON//SRAM Racing. This year was a pilot, and in this respect, our three finalists were true pioneers of their sport. No one can take this away from Leah, Jessie and Yvonne!”

Zwift, CANYON//SRAM Racing and Canyon have confirmed the Zwift Academy will return in 2017.

More on Zwift Academy Finalists

Leah Thorvilson

Thirty-seven-year-old Leah is a development director at her alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Leah’s prolific career as a marathon runner included multiple wins, and she competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Injuries prompted a move to cycling in 2015, and Leah quickly dedicated herself to the sport.

Jessie Donavan

A long-time endurance athlete and mother of three, Jessie lives with her family near Burlington, Vermont. The 40-year-old, three-time Ironman champion has repeatedly set triathlon-course bests on the bike, and has a background in backpacking and running as well as elite Nordic skiing. Jessie works as a senior enrollment analyst at the University of Vermont.

Yvonne van Hattum

Originally from Holland, Yvonne currently resides with her husband in Dubai, UAE and works in management for Valvoline. A veteran field hockey player, Yvonne, 37, has been a runner for nearly a decade but only discovered her talent for cycling in 2015.

CANYON//SRAM Racing Pro Team Zwift Academy Winner from vamper.cc on Vimeo.