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Madison Stellar Cycling Jacket: we put this commuter jacket through its paces

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The Madison Stellar cycling jacket is for commuters in need of a highly visible, waterproof, windproof garment. (So that includes pretty much everyone who commutes by bike in the UK…)

The Madison Stellar cycling jacket will certainly help you to be seen. I’ve been testing the “Diva Pink” version (which happens to match my Bont shoes and Rapha bidon very well). I know that a lot of female cyclists have an aversion to pink because it’s all too often a lazy way for manufacturers to make something more ‘female-friendly’ but I love a really ballsy shade. Day-glo pink doesn’t make me feel girly, it makes me feel gutsy. So, let me state for the record: I have no problem with pink. (Although the name “Diva Pink” does make me want to barf).

 

Fit and Sizing:

I have been wearing size 12 in the Stellar and it fits my 5’8”, 150lb frame pretty well. It’s quite a straight cut so not very fitted at the waist but a close fit over hips and bust. The sleeves are generously cut and the collar comes up high enough to keep draughts out without making me feel as though I’m being strangled. (I’m not good with zips that press against my windpipe).

The Madison Stellar cycling jacket is satisfyingly long, both front and back.

Madison Stellar cycling jacket
“Diva Pink” may be a horrible name but the shade coordinates well with my Rapha pink bidons, Bont shoes and Fizik bar tape…

Comfort:

I have yet to ride out in a hard shell jacket that I find truly breathable. Any jacket that keeps the rain out keeps some sweat in. I didn’t find this jacket to be particularly sweaty, but some underarm ventilation wouldn’t go amiss.

The arms are nicely shaped and the jacket didn’t pull across the back even when I was in the drops. The sleeves can be tightened with Velcro at the cuffs to keep rain out.

 

Functionality:

The Madison Stellar cycling jacket is designed to keep you dry and visible when you’re on your bike, and it does what it says on the tin:

  • It is fully taped and kept me dry in the rain;
  • It’s hard to miss even at that tricky time of day when the light is just starting to fade;
  • The generous reflective panels on the arms and back help with visibility at night;
  • A roomy zipped rear pocket is handy for stowing valuables and an easily accessible front pocket is ideal for keys, debit card and tissues. (My nose runs a lot when I’m cycling in the cold).
  • The jacket is long at the back, providing good bum coverage against spray and road dirt.

 

Madison Stellar cycling jacket
A generous rear pocket and high reflective detailing make this a useful commuter jacket.

Visibility:

My concern with cycling jackets which rely on reflectivity rather than visibility is that they are only effective when it’s dark and when a bright light is shining on them. Don’t get me wrong – the Proviz 360 is incredible at night when headlights are switched on, and make cyclists super visible. But what about those rides in miserable grey weather? What about the dull mornings with poor visibility? That’s where this bright jacket comes in useful.

Madison Stellar cycling jacket
The front pocket is handy for those items you want easily accessible: keys, debit card, tissues…

Does the Madison Stellar cycling jacket deserve a place in your wardrobe?

Let’s face it: no jacket suits every eventuality. A comfortable, non-sweaty soft shell will keep you toasty but not bone dry in a downpour. A Proviz 360 will ensure you are visible at night in headlights but does nothing to help on dull grey days. And a bright, hi-vis hard shell won’t look particularly cool, but if you’re a ride-no-matter-what-the-conditions cyclist, a bright jacket is a useful item. This is a hard wearing, lightweight and comfortable cycling jacket for people who want to be seen on the road. If you’re a commuter, it is definitely worth a look.

The jacket is available from various retailers including Tredz and Wheelies for £89.99. The women’s version is available in pink, purple and hi-vis yellow. The men’s version is available in paprika, hi-vis yellow and black.

Footnote:

It’s no secret that the Vamper team are not big fans of hi-vis apparel. Fluorescent yellow tabards are not our cup of tea and we tend to go for outerwear with high reflectivity rather than bright hues. However. HOWEVER. As commuters in West London where traffic conditions are just dreadful, we firmly believe that safety has to be the absolute priority for cyclists dealing with heavy traffic. There is plenty of time on sunny weekend rides to flaunt your best looks on the Surrey Hills; on Thursday evenings amid rush hour traffic in West London, it’s important to be seen.

I don’t want to get into any arguments here about whether or not it is the responsibility of cyclists to make themselves visible. Like many of you, we’re motorists as well as cyclists and we know how difficult it can be to spot cyclists who are riding on poorly lit roads, at night, without lights and in dark garments. Everybody has to take responsibility on roads to stay safe – pedestrians, motorists and cyclists alike. And that means alerting other road users to your presence, because nobody is omnipotent…

Cycle ClothingReviews

Legging it: Vamper.cc rides out in Rivelo winter bib tights

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There is a lot to like about Rivelo winter bib tights.

As we found testing the brand’s Garsdale and Larkstone winter cycling jackets, Rivelo product quality is excellent and the attention to detail makes the kit a pleasure to wear. It’s thoughtful, considered design.

There are two versions of Rivelo winter bib tights: a men’s specific and a women’s specific cut. We must admit – we’ve actually found them to be interchangeable; they look so similar that in the low light of winter, I’ve worn Matt’s Winnats tights and he’s pedalled in my Monsal version… We’ve each found both pairs comfortable.

Rivelo winter bib tights
The Rivelo winter bib tights feature top notch fabrics, reflective detailing and a great chamois pad. Happy bums make happy cyclists.

Both pairs of Rivelo winter bib tights score highly in our book:

  1. The fabric quality is very good. It’s a dense, dark black which isn’t remotely transparent. As I cycle directly behind Matt, I’m glad of this. His bum is lovely, but nobody needs to see it through semi transparent Lycra when he’s pedalling – that’s just off putting. I daresay he’d say the same about me.
  2. The ankle zips are well placed! I don’t really understand why any manufacturers of cycling tights put zips down the back of the Achilles heel. It invariably digs in. Rivelo have thoughtfully placed the zip on the outside of the ankle which is much more comfortable (and they’re flexible, too, so don’t cut in).
  3. The chamois pads are brilliant. They’re described as high density, covered with Oeko-tex certified antibacterial stretch fabric and you can really feel the quality when you’re wearing them. They’re not thick pads – they’re really quite discreet, and feel a bit like memory foam. It’s always nice to wear padded tights that don’t make you waddle like an adult in a nappy, so this is a win.
  4. They’re flattering. Unlike the weird boob splitter style favoured by Morvelo, or that super low front which just exposes the flabby bit of stomach between sports bra and waistband which features on so many bib tights, these are cut high and they look sharp. The Monsal women’s bib tights are high cut and cover my (supersize) sports bra which not only looks nicer, but also creates a smoother silhouette under a jersey and keeps my midriff warm. Clearly, Matt doesn’t need his tights to conceal his bra, but he appreciates the added insulation provided by the slightly higher cut of the Winnats bib tights.
  5. They’re comfortable. Rivelo winter bib tights feature mesh shoulder straps which are seam-free, supportive and don’t dig in. The stitching on all seams is soft and flat locked, so there’s nothing to dig in there, either. And the care label is made from soft fabric and sewn flat, so there’s no unpleasant scratching from a plasticky, bulky label. (Perfect for Matt’s delicate skin). (No, really – he’s very sensitive..)
  6. They’re warm. The MITI Thermo Roubaix Thermal fabric is soft and cosy, and DWR (durable water repellent) leg and seat panels offer robust protection against the damper elements. It’s been a mild winter in the UK so nothing we’ve tested has been put through its paces in sub-zero temperatures, so if you’re looking for a recommendation for tights suitable for cycling in the Arctic, we can’t comment. But for nippy and damp British winter days, the Rivelo winter bib tights have had us covered.
  7. The reflective detailing is effective and chic. We love the logo – this is a nice typeface! – and it’s a useful safety feature. Thumbs up.

We’ve washed and worn both pairs of bib tights six or seven times now. There’s some minor pilling on the lower back where my rucksack creates some pressure, but overall, they’re wearing very well. There’s no transparency, no pilling on the seat or legs, no logo peeling, and the pad hasn’t shifted – it’s as good as new.

Rivelo winter bib tights
The men’s Winnats (left) and women’s Monsal bib tights both feature super high quality chamois pads, fleecy Thermo Roubaix fabric for warmth, and water resistant panels – handy for the British climate…

The women’s specific Rivelo Monsal bib tights are well sized. There is a word of advice on the Rivelo site to say that the fabric is not compressive, so if you are between sizes you may wish to size down; but the size medium is plenty big enough for my 5ft 8″, size 12 frame.

Matt has been comfortable wearing the men’s specific Winnats bib tights in size medium which fit his 6ft frame perfectly.

At their full price of £130.00 we think they’re a good choice for winter cycling. At the current price of £59.99 on SportPursuit, they’re a brilliant choice.

More good stuff from Rivelo. We’re looking forward to seeing what else this newcomer brings to the world of cycling apparel…

Cycle ClothingReviews

Isadore throws down the quality gauntlet with its Marsala Merino gilet

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When I first started this cycling malarkey those many moons ago I thought my seasonal wardrobe would be quite a simple affair: a few pairs of shorts and a few jerseys for the summer; a winter jacket and long tights for those really chilly days. Done!

Oh dear. I can be so naïve…

As it transpires, a combination of factors have converged to prove just how wrong I was.

My own personality for starters.

I should have known better. Never get into anything that has lots of stuff, Matthew! It is like a moth to a flame – temptation will always get the better of me.

Secondly, the weather. Yes, I am blaming the weather here. It really has been uncommonly mild – though sitting here writing that seems a little odd in the aftermath of Desmond (the storm, not the fictional barber from Guyana).

I’m slowly labouring towards the point. I’ll get on with it…

We believe Isadore Apparel is right up there with the very best in cyclewear brands

Anyway, it has become glaringly obvious to me with the benefit of hindsight that any good cycling wardrobe must behave like an orchestra: to get an outfit exactly right for any given occasion you must have the ability to conduct individual elements and bring them together into an ensemble.

Autumn/Winter/Spring/Summer – these are all just terms in retail designed to shift more product – but what makes a piece of gear vital to the orchestra is its ability to become cross-seasonal: to be important no matter what the weather.

The Isadore Marsala Merino gilet, designed and developed by the professional Slovakian riding siblings Martin and Peter Velits, does just that… This cycling vest revels in its role as part of the ensemble.

 

Marsala Merino gilet

It looks just as good over a softshell jacket as it does over a short-sleeved jersey. It can be used to bring additional warmth or can be layered with something light to provide wind-resistance without too much heat.

It breathes new life into summer kit with the aid of arm/leg warmers and it reinforces winter gear with an added layer of wind and rainproof security.

Style, comfort & performance

I have ridden in a variety of conditions with the Isadore Marsala Merino gilet: it’s been from the Surrey Hills to the sharp peaks of the North. It has kept the chills away on evening rides around Richmond Park and has kept my core as dry as a bone when Yorkshire had other ideas.

The fit is exemplary, as is the detailing from Isadore. In my opinion, as a brand they are right up there with the very best in cycle wear.

The Isadore Marsala Merino gilet features a lower back panel that can be unclipped to extend for even greater protection from rain and road spray. It has reflective logos to improve visibility and a waterproof rear pocket for personal items. The zips are sturdy and purposeful and indicate an attention to detail, workmanship and craft that is sometimes lacking in Isadore’s competitors.

The material choices (the gilet is a 30% merino, 65% polyester and 5% PU membrane) are pinpoint accurate and provide a windproof and waterproof garment that delivers highly in both function and form. Incidentally the Marsala Gilet carries a waterproof rating of DWR 10,000mm and a breathability rating of 10,000 g/m²/24h for those of you with more than a passing regard for raw stats.

The Thermoroubaix side panels have been treated with a Teflon protector to further enhance the water-repelling nature of the cycling gilet.

I am riding a large and it is perfectly cut, close enough to retain warmth yet not overly restrictive so as to hamper my riding position.

I’m 183cm, weigh 75kg (165lbs) and with fairly broad shoulders I’m a 38-40 inch chest. The large is a very comfortable slim-cut fit. For those that prefer a slightly looser fit it might be worth going up a size, although there is some room left in the large up to a 40.

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To buy, or not to buy?

The short answer is a simple, straightforward and resounding yes.

For the longer form answer I’ll revert again to the quality of the Isadore Apparel range. The fit, sizing, detailing and design work really are exemplary. Brands have earned almost mythical and untouchable reputations for quality within the cycling community for producing gear that doesn’t hold a candle to this.

While this sort of quality does come with a price tag to match, it is worth every hard-earned penny.

The Isadore Apparel Marsala Merino gilet is cycle wear that not only talks the talk, but very much walks the walk. With the concept of planned obsolescence seemingly becoming all-pervasive, it is beyond refreshing to see a brand firmly hanging its hat on quality, durability and style. At the back of my mind there is a nagging suspiscion that the Isadore Marsala Merino gilet might actually outlast me, it is that well constructed…

The Isadore Apparel Marsala Gilet is available from the Isadore Apparel website for €179.

Marsala Merino Gilet

 

Cycle ClothingNews

REDWHITE APPAREL LAUNCHES THE RACE BIB SHORTS AFTER A YEAR OF SUCCESS WITH THE BIB

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It’s just over a year now since RedWhite Apparel, based in Singapore, entered the market with their flagship product, The Bib.

The company, which was built around the need for long distance bib shorts, have secured dealers in US, UK, Australia, Korea, Japan and several Southeast Asian countries to bring The Bib to a wider market.

Now entering their second year, and following feedback from their customers and racers, they have launched The Race, a brand new bib short with a focus on long distance needs but also with more aggressive riding positions in mind.

The Race was 8 months in the making. Tested by riders around the world, it retains the key elements of The Bib with added refinements for racers.
The Race was 8 months in the making. Tested by riders around the world, it retains the key elements of The Bib with added refinements for more aggressive riding positions.

The Race was a product 8 months in the making. With several iterations and prototypes made and tested by individual riders and teams around the world, RedWhite has delivered a product that retains all the key elements of its flagship, The Bib, with added refinements for racers.

The key difference in The Race lies in the chamois.

The chamois follows the same design as the highly popular version in The Bibs, but with two new features: a dimpled surface for better heat dissipation, and a reduction in density and thickness at the mid layer.

 

The Race chamois features a dimpled surface for heat dissipation and a reduction in density and thickness at the mid layer.

The Race will be available for pre-orders through www.shop.redwhite.cc and dealer stockings will be announced shortly.

For more details on the race, please visit http://www.redwhite.cc/the-race/

Cycle ClothingWomen's Cycling

MEAME London offer: 25% off last minute Christmas purchases for Vamper.cc readers

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Boutique urban cycling brand MEAME London is offering a 25% discount to our readers for last minute Christmas purchases.

MEAME London cycling jacket
MEAME London apparel features clever reflective detailing concealed in elegant, tailored garments for city cyclists.

Vamper.cc readers can order clothing and accessories with the discount xmas2015 until Christmas Day. Last orders for guaranteed Christmas delivery must be received no later than 11.30am on Monday, 21st December.

We recently attended MEAME’s festive event at the East London Design Store where we chatted with founder Megan Aylott over mince pies and prosecco: we love the brand’s pared down aesthetic and impeccable tailoring. Watch this space for a forthcoming review.

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