cyclewear

Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Löffler women’s cycling jersey review: Gore 1beats2 Windstopper technology provides effective wind protection

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I’ve been trying out the Löffler Windstopper FZ women’s cycling jersey. The jersey features a Gore 1beats2 Windstopper membrane, making it windproof, water-repellent and breathable. It’s been such a mixed summer in the UK – particularly in the north – that a windproof jersey has been surprisingly welcome, despite it being August.

The Gore 1beats2 Windstopper laminate is designed to work best at temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees, so for less-than-perfect British summer days and early autumn, it’s ideal. It was developed to help protect cyclists against the cold and the wind, without having to add extra layers. Windstopper jerseys are designed to keep riders comfortable from dawn to dusk on the bike without the need for adding jackets and gilets. They’re said to provide the same thermal insulation as the combination of a regular jersey plus breathable windbreaker jacket while weighing up to 35% less than the two together.

Gore 1beats2 Windstopper

Löffler is not a well known brand in the UK cycling market but this Austrian cycle wear company makes serious, sensible bike kit. It might not set your heart racing, but it performs solidly.

I can’t say that I have been all that interested in short-sleeved windproof jerseys before. I was of the opinion that if it was cold enough to need a windproof garment, it would probably need long sleeves. Testing this has actually made me realise that there is a place for short-sleeved windproof jerseys, after all. We’ve had a lot of windy weather this summer and – to get all up close and personal – does anyone else find that cycling on windy days causes really sore nipples? It doesn’t have to be a cold day for me to be in some serious discomfort if the wind is up. So, for that reason alone, I take back what I said. Short-sleeved windproof jerseys might have a place in my cycling wardrobe after all.

Gore 1beats2 Windstopper

I’d be lying if I said the Löffler Windstopper jersey excited me; it’s a very functional-looking piece of kit. But, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the photographs: I actually think it’s quite flattering, and it was very comfortable. I like the stand-up collar – again, good for keeping draughts out – and the fabric feels nice. As autumn approaches, it will be useful paired with arm warmers (more on those later).

However, it’s a bit lacking in design features. It only has one pocket, a rear pocket which zips. It’s generous enough to fit my enormous Sony Xperia Z5, but there isn’t enough storage for inner tubes, bananas and the like. I would also expect a bit more reflective detailing on a very functional garment.

Gore 1beats2 Windstopper
The jersey would benefit from more pockets and reflective detailing

It’s a fast drying jersey which is remarkably breathable considering how robust the fabric feels. Wind is blocked really effectively, and sweat is wicked away nicely. The jersey is stretchier than I expected, though a little bit short in the body and prone to riding up. Another inch in length and a stickier silicone grip strip on the hem would be useful.

If you’re looking for a good quality, windproof jersey for commuting, the Löffler Windstopper jersey is a decent buy with excellent windproofing thanks to the Gore 1beats2 Windstopper technology. However, future iterations would benefit from additional pockets and reflective details.

Gore 1beats2 Windstopper

A word of warning – sizing is quite small. I usually wear size medium jerseys but this one is pretty snug, and I would be more comfortable in a size large. (I’m 172cm and weigh 69kg).

I have also been testing the Löffler Windstopper Softshell Light Arm Warmers, when I can wrestle them off Matt who is particularly taken with them. In the summer it’s unusual for me to reach for arm warmers as I’m quite a hot blooded sort – but Matt’s clearly spent too long in the south of England and feels the need for warmth on early morning rides, no matter what time of year!

Gore 1beats2 Windstopper
The reflective detail is effective, but it should feature on both arms for better visibility

The Löffler Windstopper Softshell arm warmers are really nice to wear. They are lined with Thermo-Velour for warmth and it is really soft and cosy – lovely against the skin. They stay put, and they are very lightweight and flexible – no bunching inside the elbows.

The reflective logo on the left arm is really bright, but it’s a shame it isn’t on both arms. We’re not huge fans of hi-vis cycling kit, but as bike commuters we are very big fans of reflective detailing.

Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Svelte London bring British Heritage to cycling with the Long Sleeved Jersey

The Long Sleeved Heritage Jersey from Svelte London
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It’s no secret that Matt and I are not shy of bold colours and prints when it comes to cyclewear. We embrace floral emblems and jaw dropping hues – but that’s not to say we don’t also appreciate a subtle palette and classic styling.

A subtle palette and classic styling is precisely what cycling clothing brand Svelte London have delivered with their range of Heritage cycling jerseys. Svelte sent us the latest incarnation to road test, the Long Sleeved Heritage Jersey in a wonderfully seasonal shade of dark green.

Made in England, the Heritage range is a three-season jersey for Autumn, Winter and Spring cycling. It contains merino wool for warmth and moisture wicking and has three pockets, including a button down pocket for valuables. The jersey retails at £110.

The muted shade, dull brass button and natural fibres make for an elegant bit of kit that doesn’t scream “WE CYCLED HERE!”

Both Matt and I are wearing size Medium. I won’t lie: it’s a snug fit, and if you’re planning to overindulge at Christmas, you should definitely order a size up. It’s a very athletic fit with extremely narrow arms which looks fantastic – sleek and flattering – but won’t allow much in the way of extra layers underneath. Given the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been experiencing in the South East this winter, that hasn’t been a problem: we’ve both teamed the jersey with the Isadore Apparel sleeveless merino baselayer which has been providing just the right amount of warmth on 10-12 Celsius days. On chillier outings, a gilet over the top has been enough to keep us warm.

The Long Sleeved Heritage Jersey from Svelte London

 

We both love the look of the Heritage jersey. The muted shade, dull brass button and natural fibres make for an elegant bit of kit that doesn’t scream “WE CYCLED HERE!” when you meet friends for a drink in the pub. Worn with cycling jeans rather than tights, it’s a jersey which could even be worn in the office without raising an eyebrow making it a useful addition to the wardrobe.

Both jerseys have been machine washed with a gentle wool detergent at 30 degrees and air dried – they’re spot on post-laundering.

The Long Sleeved Heritage Jersey from Svelte London

 

Svelte London have produced an elegant and useful piece of cyclewear with the Long Sleeved Heritage cycling jersey. We wholeheartedly approve of the styling and functionality, but would recommend going up a size.

You can purchase the jersey from Svelte London for £110.00.

 

Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Getting warmer: a review of the Rapha women’s winter collection

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The Rapha women’s winter collection features some very good looking pieces of kit; the long sleeved cycling jerseys and jackets are particularly smart. I’ve been testing the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket and Women’s Padded Tights in recent weeks.

The Rapha Souplesse women’s jacket is soft and comfortable to wear. It’s lightweight, hugs the body in a very comforting way and doesn’t ride up.

This is my first winter of road cycling and, as a winter creature who longs for cosy knits and boots all year long, I’ve been looking forward to bundling up and putting cold weather kit to the test. But this year, it’s hard. We’re now well into December yet the mercury remains frustratingly high: the challenge isn’t keeping warm, it’s staying dry and upright when high winds are buffeting you from every direction. For those of you reading from cooler climes, it’s been so mild this week that I’ve been able to wear short fingered gloves for commuting… So, while I’m testing winter kit, it’s not being put through its paces in brutally cold conditions and I can’t comment on its effectiveness in subzero temperatures.

The Rapha women’s winter collection features some very good looking pieces of kit; the long sleeved cycling jerseys and jackets are particularly smart.

I’ve cycled in the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket and Women’s Padded Tights four times now, in temperatures ranging from 6 to 12 degrees Celsius. They have also been worn in rain, drizzle and high winds. The jacket has been laundered twice and the tights four times.

Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

 

Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket

Style & Design Features

  • Water repellent
  • Form fitting
  • Reflective detailing for visibility at night
  • Zipped pockets on the sleeve and back for credit card and keys
  • Cosy brushed lining for warmth and softness

The Women’s Souplesse Jacket is available in black and pink, or the colour I’m wearing, which is described as blue. I can assure you it is not blue. It is most definitely purple – a lovely strong violet, with a contrasting back in a deep magenta hue.

Rapha Women's Souplesse Jacket

Comfort & Performance

The Rapha Souplesse jacket is beautifully soft and comfortable to wear: it’s lightweight and hugs the body in a very comforting way. The lining is fleecy and feels, for want of a better word, snuggly against bare skin on milder days.

The off-centre zip is sturdy and easy to adjust one-handed if you’re feeling warm as you pedal (as I invariably do).

Rapha Women's Souplesse Jacket

The jacket is fairly water resistant: not one to wear in a torrential downpour, but fine for drizzly outings. It’s breathable and the brushed lining means that it doesn’t feel damp and clammy making it a useful cycling jacket for the recent mild, damp weather.

Overall, the Rapha Souplesse Women’s Jacket is a cracking cut: feminine, flattering and not at all boxy.

It washed well at 30 degrees and dried overnight easily.

 

Fit & Sizing

The Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket errs a little on the small side: I’m wearing size Large which is comfortable but comparable in size to a Medium at Isadore Apparel or Rivelo. I’d definitely recommend ordering one size up from your usual.

I can comfortably fit a baselayer and jersey underneath the jacket which has plenty of stretch: it doesn’t feel restrictive with extra layers underneath.The sleeves are very nice: close fitting, plenty long enough and featuring a comfortable contrast cuff which feels and looks good.

Rapha Women's Souplesse Jacket

I would like the jacket to be a little longer in the front: the back is spot on but an extra inch on that front hem would be welcome. I’m not unusually tall at 5’7″ but it feels a little bit skimpy in body length.

Overall, the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket is a cracking cut: feminine, flattering and not at all boxy.

 

To buy, or not to buy?

£190 isn’t cheap, but for a good winter outer layer, you can expect to pay upwards of £150. If we compare it to the well known Castelli Gabba and the lesser known Isadore Apparel Women’s Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket, I would say it is more versatile and comfortable than the former, and more flattering but less robust than the latter.

The Rapha Women’s Souplesse is a beautifully cut, comfortable women’s cycling jacket which is flattering for feminine curves with plenty of well thought out design features. I like it a lot – it makes me feel foxy when I’m out riding, which has to be a good sign. I would say it’s a Buy. (Or one to put on your Christmas list).

  

Rapha Women’s Padded Tights

Style & Design Features

  • High-rise waist with grippy waistband to keep them in place
  • ThermoRoubaix fleece-lined fabric for warmth
  • Back pocket
  • Reflective calf stripes for visibility

The Rapha Women’s Padded Tights come in one colour, black. They’re a really true, solid black and they’re not remotely see-through which is always good. (Nobody needs to see my cellulite rippling through flimsy Lycra.) I do think it’s a shame the tights don’t come in navy like the ¾ version; I’d happily switch it up from time to time.

Rapha women's winter collection

 

 

Comfort & Performance

One of the nicest things about these tights is the absence of any uncomfortable zips around the ankles. Zips to the side hurt my ankle bones and zips at the back hurt my Achilles tendon, so I’m very happy to wear a pair of women’s cycling tights that have a stretchy enough opening that no zips are required.

Rapha Women's Winter Tights

The waistband stays put nice and high thanks to the cut and the silicone grippers, so there’s no danger of a gap appearing between top and bottoms. (Nobody likes a gap between their top and bottom when they’re pedaling).

That said, for those of us with – let’s say – less-than-perfect abs, there is no escaping the fact that waist tights result in muffin top in a way that bib tights never do. I think I will be probably stick to bib tights in the future for a smoother silhouette (at least until the, erm, 100 stomach crunches I’m doing each day take effect….)

(Oh, who am I kidding? My squidgy abdomen is here to stay…)

The chamois pad is very comfortable indeed, and the tights have washed well (four times now, at 30 degrees and air-dried overnight).

The waistband stays put thanks to the high cut and silicone grippers, so there’s no danger of a gap between top and bottoms. (Nobody likes a gap between their top and bottom when they’re pedalling in the cold).

 

To buy, or not to buy?

The fabric is superb. The pad is very comfortable. They sit nicely on the waist, and they don’t have any irritating zips around the ankles. They get a wholehearted thumbs up for quality and comfort.

If you’re a dedicated winter warrior in need of comfort and warmth year round, the Rapha Women’s Winter Tights are a sound purchase – despite the slightly wince-inducing £150 price tag.

You can buy both items from the Rapha.cc website.

 

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 ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Isadore Apparel strikes gold with Merino Membrane Softshell Women’s Jacket

Womens merino membrane softshell jacketThe Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane cycling jacket is waterproof, cosy and really, really chic
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I spend half of my life being much too warm and sweaty – and the other half being much too cold. My body’s temperature regulation seems, frankly, poor. In the absence of a thermostat engineer for the human body, I make as much use of natural, wicking fibres in my clothing as possible – particularly merino wool which dries quickly, doesn’t retain odours and insulates well.

The Women’s Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket from Isadore Apparel is a very smart piece of women’s cyclewear. Harnessing the breathability and warmth of merino is common for baselayers but unusual when it comes to outer layers. It’s a good move by the Isadore Apparel design team: it’s all very well wearing wicking base layers, but if your outer garments trap moisture, no amount of merino technology in your undergarments will keep you fresh and dry. As a particularly sweaty human being, breathability in all layers is important to me. It’s not that I mind sweating: it releases toxins and keeps my skin healthy. But on cool days, my temperature drops quickly once I stop pedalling and within five minutes I’m shivering in damp, sweaty garments.

The designers at Isadore Apparel have worked hard to develop a jacket that regulates temperature.

Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket
Victoria sporting the Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket. We particularly like the soft grey suedette and neon reflective detailing.

 

Style, Comfort & Performance

The waterproof and windproof Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket is beautiful. The fabrics are lovely: the merino mix lining is soft and smooth and glides over a long sleeved jersey without friction. The soft grey suedette detailing on the shoulders and zip placket adds interest to a simple style and the brushed lining inside the collar is soft and cosy for rides on cool days.

With style credentials to boot, this is one garment for which it’s worth raiding those rainy day savings.

The design features are really well thought out: reflective logos and a neon zip add visibility for night riding and a waterproof, chunky zip which is easy to manipulate with cold fingers or in wet conditions. I particularly like the nifty lower back extension which tucks away neatly when it’s not needed, but in wet conditions adds another layer of protection to keep your bum dry. And alongside the merino fibres which aid breathability, there are zippered ventilation pockets to increase airflow as required.

On its first outing, the weather was unseasonably mild but damp and blustery. I regretted wearing both a baselayer and a jersey beneath the jacket, but with the vents unzipped and the jacket partially open, I was only marginally too warm. Its second outing was at zero degrees Celsius, and I was a very comfortable temperature with a baselayer, jersey and jacket vents zipped shut.

The pockets are generous and secure with a zipped compartment for valuables and reflective details for visibility in headlights.

Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket
The jacket features a merino mix lining which is both warm and moisture wicking. The pockets are generous and secure with a zip fastening for valuables.

 

Fit & Sizing

The jacket is generously cut: the sleeves and body are plenty long enough and the elasticity of the fabric provides ease of movement.

Isadore sizing is surprisingly generous compared to other high end cycling brands. I’m wearing a size medium jacket and it is perfect for my 5’8”, UK 12 frame – even on the chest, where tops are usually a little too snug for me. The elasticity of the jacket means that you needn’t order a size up to be able to fit an extra layer underneath on cold days.

Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket
The fabric has high elasticity making it comfortable on the bike. The added stretch also allows extra layers to be added on cold days.

 

Value for money

The Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket doesn’t come cheap. At €255 (around £180) it is an investment piece on a par with the Castelli Gabba and Rapha Souplesse jackets, for cyclists who are determined to ride throughout the winter.

The Vamper team think Isadore’s cycle wear warrants the high price tags: the quality is second to none and the styling stands out for riders who want something a little bit different. This is a very well cut, robust jacket which will keep you warm and dry in winter conditions.

In terms of both practicality and style, this jacket deserves top marks. I hope the Isadore Apparel team launch another colour option: the softshell gilet in Marsala from the men’s range is a gloriously Autumnal shade that I’d love to see in the women’s collection.

Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket
The jacket is comfortable on milder days worn with only a jersey. When the mercury drops, it is roomy enough to easily accommodate extra layers for warmth. We can’t fault the Women’s Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket.