Cycling gilet

Cycle ClothingReviews

Isadore throws down the quality gauntlet with its Marsala Merino gilet

Isadore 4

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 ClothingReviews

The Proviz PixElite Gilet – cycling apparel that literally stops traffic

Proviz PixElite Softshell Gilet

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.



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.


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.


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.




Height: 183cm

Weight: 75kg

Measurements: 38 inch chest, 32 inch waist

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