Cycling apparel

Cycle ClothingFeaturedReviews

Fix up, look sharp: we ride out in tailored cycling jackets from MEAME

MEAME Featured
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For overly competitive types who feel the need to get everywhere fast (looking at you, Matt!) there’s value in reminding yourself that actually, cycling can just be a way to relax and get around; that not every journey needs to be a race. We spent some time over the bank holiday weekend sporting the beautiful MEAME Altair Biker Jacket and Alpha Reflective Tweed Blazer and enjoyed a gentler pace in the spring sunshine.

London-based premium cycling brand MEAME was founded by Central St Martin’s graduate Megan Aylott who has brought high-end fashion design to the world of commuter cycling apparel. Incorporating highly technical fabrics and clever design features to make the life of a bicycle commuter that little bit easier and a whole lot smarter, we believe the MEAME collection is far and away the most stylish urban cycling apparel on the market.

Victoria – MEAME Altair Biker Jacket

MEAME Altair Biker Jacket

I’ve been wearing the MEAME Altair Biker Jacket and I’m in love. I’ll run through the technical details shortly, but from a purely aesthetic perspective, it’s gorgeous. Now, as far as sizing goes, think European; it’s pretty small. I’m wearing size Large which is a size up from my usual, and there isn’t much room to squeeze in extra layers. But the cut is wonderful, and the Altair is pleasingly nipped in at the waist for a lovely feminine shape. Even allowing for my ‘freakishly long torso’ – the kind words tactfully spoken to me by a radiologist ten years ago – the jacket is plenty long enough in the body.

The MEAME Altair Biker Jacket is impeccably tailored from a breathable Italian stretch fabric which incorporates a waterproof membrane. It’s fully taped to ensure seams are watertight, and the zips are water repellent, too. MEAME takes the British climate seriously: the jacket also incorporates an extending rain guard with a reflective MEAME logo to keep your bum dry. It’s not all about being prepared for terrible weather, mind. The Altair Biker Jacket also features underarm zips which you can open for ventilation when the mercury rises (or when you’re late for work). Better still, the sleeves can be fully detached so that you can wear the jacket as a gilet (which looks amazing).

It features pleated shoulder panels for ease-of-movement on the bike and reversible detailing on the cuffs and breast pocket flap which are reflective for visibility at night.

MEAME Altair Biker Jacket
In warmer conditions, the sleeves can be detached and the garment worn as a gilet. You can see the reflective detailing with the camera flash on the lower pictures.

 

MEAME Altair Biker Jacket
(L-R) The jackets sleeves are detachable for warmer days; The breast pocket flap can be flipped over for reflective detailing; the jacket features an extending rain guard to keep your bum dry in wet weather; when not in use, the rain guard fastens inside neatly with magnets; and the construction features a mesh back panel for ventilation.

So: there you have it: an extremely chic jacket which looks great off the bike, and also features water resistance, breathability, versatility and reflectivity. Now, this isn’t a jacket for tough rides. This isn’t something to wear when you intend working up a sweat, or when the weather’s just ghastly. But if you cycle to a smart place of work where you’d look out of place in Endura, or if you want to be able to wear the same jacket you wore to cycle in for after work drinks in a chic bar, you’re covered. MEAME have nailed it with the Altair Biker Jacket.

 

Matt – MEAME Alpha Reflective Tweed Blazer

MEAME Altair Biker Jacket

I suppose my problem is that I’m no good at doing stuff just for fun. If it’s not competitive and backed up by gadgets and statistics that let me see who I’ve beaten, then it feels a bit pointless. So when it comes to cycling at a gentle pace in nice clothes, sans-Garmin, I find myself wondering what it’s all for. But then Victoria gives me a lecture about how life isn’t always a competition, about how sometimes, we just need to take time to appreciate our surroundings, and that she doesn’t want to meet our non-cycling friends at the pub in head-to-toe Lycra.

I take her point: even I can admit that the sight of a (not quite) middle aged man in tights at lunch is off putting.

If there’s a time and a place for elegant cycling apparel, a Surrey gastro pub is probably it.

MEAME sent me the Alpha Reflective Tweed Blazer to try. The menswear sizing seems pretty true: I’m wearing my usual size Medium and it’s spot on. In daylight, the fabric is subtle and classically British; ideal with dark denim for lunch with friends. But what impresses me is the way it glows in headlights when dark falls – the reflective fibres in the Herringbone weave are really effective. We were fortunate to be wearing the jackets in good weather, but the fabric also has a Teflon water repellent finish in case you’re caught in a shower (which, let’s face it, is always a possibility in the UK).

MEAME Altair Biker Jacket

I wasn’t too sure a jacket like this would be very wearable on a road bike – the tailoring looks more suited to a sit-up-and-beg style – but the pleated shoulder panels actually give a lot of flexibility. And the natural temperature regulation afforded by wool coupled with subtle under-arm ventilation eyelets means it’s comfortable to wear – though, as Victoria said, these are not jackets to wear on long, sweaty rides. I’m not going to wear this up Leith Hill; it’s for shorter or slower rides where you want to look sharp at your destination.

MEAME Altair Biker Jacket
We weren’t photographing the jackets in the dark, but you can see from the flash photo on the right how the reflective fibres stand out.
MEAME Altair Biker Jacket
Suede shoulder patches, naturally temperature-regulating wool and pleats at the shoulders for freedom of movement – just some of the features of the MEAME Alpha Reflective Tweed Blazer.

 

The jackets are available from Meame.co.uk. The Altair Biker Jacket the Alpha Reflective Tweed Blazer are both priced at £295.

Cycle ClothingReviews

The Proviz PixElite Gilet – cycling apparel that literally stops traffic

Proviz PixElite Softshell Gilet
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Has anyone ever pulled up alongside you in a Porsche at traffic lights to ask where you bought your reflective gilet? – no, I thought not. But that, quite seriously, happened to me the other day.

Let me backtrack for a second…

All of us cyclists (ok, most of us) (oh, alright, some of us) resist facing up to an inconvenient truth: that being visible on these increasingly dark autumn/winter rides is marginally more important than our sartorial sensibilities would generally allow.

It can seem like a bit of rum deal – a fly in the ointment – to be forced to contemplate spoiling the aesthetic of your beautifully considered kit choices by making concessions towards your visibility on the road.

I can’t imagine there are many cyclists in these enlightened times who relish dressing up like a trainee Police Community Support Officer in order to feel a little safer on the roads.

While super high-viz neon does have its place within the cycling community, for those of us with more than a passing regard for style as well as function its adoption can seem like a compromise too far.

It is show-stoppingly bright, giving you a sense of security that – while not being something to take for granted – is a welcome feeling on roads where you need every bit of help you can get.

British sportswear brand Proviz has come up with the definitive solution to this issue with the launch of its latest PixElite collection, a supremely eye-catching range of refelctive garments that satisfies the desire to be seen in all senses.

The PixElite range features a jacket, jerseys (long sleeved and short sleeved), gilet, bib shorts, arm warmers, gloves and shoe covers. The jacket and jersey are available in both men’s and women’s specific cuts.

The PixElite Softshell Gilet (the focus of this review) is billed as a “high-performance, Italian-manufactured garment for those chillier days when you need an extra layer.” It is those things and more.

 

STYLE, COMFORT & PERFORMANCE

Having bought the PixElite Gilet initially to improve my overall safety and visibility on evening commutes, I have found myself wearing it on almost every ride since it arrived. It has elongated the lifespan of my summer kit (with the aid of some great Sportful arm and leg warmers) and kept me warm on cold-snap days. It is an incredibly versatile piece of kit that marries great visual appeal with warmth and protection against wind and showers.

The PixElite collection is a supremely eye-catching range of high-visibility garments that satisfies the desire to be seen in all senses.

The PixElite reflective fabric built in to the shoulders, sides and lower back is astonishingly effective in car headlights. The micro-beads which make up the reflective element of the fabric bounce headlight beams back toward the driver; it should be impossible to miss a cyclist in one of these garments when it is illuminated by a car’s headlights.

The PixElite Gilet features rear pockets giving ample room for all your ride essentials and with a lock-zip middle pocket you can keep valuables secure.

FIT & SIZING

The sizing of the PixElite Gilet is a little closer than garments from some of Proviz’s other ranges (360+ and Switch in particular). If you are usually a large in either of those styles, I would consider going up a size.

The bulk of the gilet is made from a soft-stretch mix of polyester, elastane and brushed thermal microfibre. Think race fit, especially if you are going to be wearing it over another long sleeve softshell or gabba-style garment.

I’m 183cm and weigh around 75kg (165lbs) and with fairly broad shoulders I’m around a 38-40 inch chest. The large is comfortable, but might be a little tight or short for those above a 40 inch chest. If you prefer your fit a little looser then it might be worth going up a size or two.

VALUE FOR MONEY

The PixElite Gilet is available on the Proviz website for £69.99, putting it in competition with gilets from many other brands. What sets this apart, however, is the additional safety functionality. In daylight it looks just as good (if not better) than most cycling gilets, but at night it really comes to life. It is show-stoppingly bright, giving you a sense of security that, whilst not being something to take for granted, is a welcome feeling on roads where you need every bit of help you can get.

Which brings me back to the intro of this review…

Having a sports car labour slowly behind, pull up beside you – the window already on its way down – might lead you to expect a terse exchange (although my riding is always exemplary of course). In this instance however nothing could be further from the truth: a polite gentleman simply wanted to compliment me on the visibility of my ‘top’ and ask where I bought it.

It made me love the PixElite Gilet even more.

Pixelite_gilet_03

 

REVIEWER STATS

Height: 183cm

Weight: 75kg

Measurements: 38 inch chest, 32 inch waist

Cycling activity: 80-150 miles per week, in moderate British conditions.